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Education Reporter

Education reporter for the Herald & Review.

Bartholomew_Riley 2.21.19

Eisenhower High School student Riley Bartholomew fills a prescription while working at her internship with Dale’s Southlake Pharmacy on Thursday.

DECATUR — Riley Bartholomew has known she wants to be a pharmacist for a long time, so when the chance came along to be part of the Inspired Futures internship program in the Decatur School District, she knew she wanted to be placed at a pharmacy.

Fortunately, one of this year's new business partners is Dale's Southlake Pharmacy.

“She can go to any school she wants as long as it's St. Louis College of Pharmacy,” Dale Colee said jokingly, naming the college he attended.

One of the purposes of the internships is for students to explore fields they're interested in, and in some cases, the students realize it's not for them. That isn't the case with Riley, who is more certain than ever that she wants to be a pharmacist. 

Riley, a senior at Eisenhower High School, has not yet settled on a college, but has been around pharmacy all her life, thanks to her father's job at Extended Living Pharmacy.

“I've always wanted to do this, and learning more about it, it just really seemed cool to me,” Riley said. “(I'm doing) a little bit of everything, like counting, pharmacy tech work, follow the pharmacists and seeing what they do.”

Colee said he's had sixth-year pharmacy students, who have finished their classroom training and are completing their clinical requirement, realize that it's not the career for them at all.

Jackson_Markesha 2.21.19

Eisenhower High School student Markesha Jackson, front, and MacArthur High School Student student Emma Wilkinson perform their internships in a Macon County State’s Attorney Office at the Macon County Courts Building on Thursday.

“What if you find out that you've spent all this and money and it's not what you want to do? It just blew me away,” Colee said. “So I encourage students, especially at her age, to follow somebody around and job-shadow and find out what it's all about.”

This is the fifth year for the internship program, said Ashley Grayned, director of innovative programs for Decatur schools, who has led the program since its inception.

Students have an early-bird class five days a week at their respective high schools, when a business teacher helps them learn “soft skills” needed for career success, and Tuesday through Thursday, they work at their internship sites in the afternoons. The program has 30 business partners, from the Decatur Police Department to the Northgate Animal Clinic, and Grayned looks for partners based on the students' career interests.

Another new partner this year is H&H Family Dental on Pershing Road, and Grayned approached the dental practice because Kierra Smith, a senior at MacArthur High School, wants to become a dentist.

“She's learned to file, she observes our hygienist and our dental assistant, seen how emergencies go, crown appointments, cosmetic,” said Shannon Barber, office manager and dental assistant for the practice. “She's learning how to sterilize (instruments) and she's going to help me take X-rays. She also helps me in the office. A lot of dentists open their own practice, so I think it's nice for her to see the business management side.”

Kierra joked that she wants to be a dentist because “they make a lot of money,” but good dental health is important to her, and she's thinking of specializing in orthodontics. She knows she's facing a lot of years of training before she'll be in practice, but she's ready for that.

Mittleman_Bella 2.21.19

MacArthur student Bella Mittleman pulls a file while working as an intern in a Macon County State’s Attorney's Office at the Macon County Courts Building on  Thursday.

At the Macon County State's Attorney's Office, three young ladies interested in becoming attorneys are learning that it's not all spectacular courtroom arguments, as often portrayed in movies and on TV.

“This week was jury trial week, so they sat in on a couple of different trials to give them experience in what goes on in the courtroom and what our office does,” said Matt Martin, personnel director for State's Attorney Jay Scott, who oversees the interns.

Before the trial, a lot of research and paperwork goes on behind the scenes, and the three students are helping. They're matching up original case filings with paperwork, for example, and they enter information into the computer system when a case is closed.

“I thought it would be good experience to see what it's like to be an attorney, or something related,” said Bella Mittleman, a senior at MacArthur. “I didn't really know exactly what it would be like to be a lawyer and what they do here has made me more interested.”

She plans to attend the University of Oklahoma.

“(The law) is something I've always been interested in,” said Markesha Jackson, a senior at Eisenhower. “I've always liked helping people and growing up, I thought being an attorney is the way I could do that. I didn't know what kind of an attorney I wanted to be, and I began thinking malpractice, maybe, because my brother passed away four years ago and it was something to do with malpractice.”

She's going to Knox College in Galesburg. She chose it because the academic and basketball programs are good, she said.

“This (experience) is actually kind of pushing me toward criminal prosecution,” said Emma Wilkinson, a senior at MacArthur who plans to attend Brigham Young University in Utah. “I wanted to see if it's really something I want to do.”


The Riley Bartholomew photo caption has been corrected to show she attends Eisenhower High School.


Remember this? 21 photos of Decatur high school activities through the years

Contact Valerie Wells at (217) 421-7982. Follow her on Twitter: @modgirlreporter

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