Several of Saint Mary's Regional Medical Center student volunteers attended an appreciation luncheon on Monday, where they were presented with certificates recognizing their service. Pictured, from left, are Baylee Bowden, senior, Atkins High School; Shirley Garcia, sophomore, Russellville High School; Mariya Branch, junior, homeschool; Brynn Bowen, senior, Dardanelle High School; Kimberly Garcia, freshman, Arkansas Tech University; Freddy Rodriguez, junior, Arkansas Tech University; and Brittney Keys, sophomore, Dardanelle High School
Read more: The Courier - Your Messenger for the River Valley - Summer volunteer program winds down at Saint Mary's.
Though summer is often seen as a time for young people to sleep in and take it easy, a dozen area students spent their summer volunteering at Saint Mary's Regional Medical Center.
As of Monday, the student volunteers had completed 465 hours of volunteer service at the hospital. One of those students, Arkansas Tech University junior Freddy Rodriguez, was recognized for completing 100 hours of service.
At the start of the summer, students completed a one-day orientation before they started working shifts at the hospital. Much of their time was spent transporting patients from one area of the hospital to another, taking deliveries to the lab or other departments, delivering flowers to patients' rooms and helping patients and visitors find their destinations within the facility.
"One of the best things I've done so far is I got to deliver flowers to this lady, and to me, giving her those flowers ... it was really good," Mariya Branch, a high school junior who is home schooled, said.
Most of the students involved have an interest in pursuing a medical career in one form or anther. Some, like Rodriguez, who intends to go into pharmaceutical drug development, are fairly certain of their career paths. Others are using their time as a volunteer as a chance to learn about different medical careers to see what might be a good fit for them.
The volunteer program is a chance to meet professionals in the medical field, interact with patients and meet other students with similar interests.
"I really like getting to know people and getting to see what they go through and how they handle it, not just the medical side of it, but how the people do it," Brittney Keys, a Dardanelle High School junior, said. "It's just really interesting to see what they can do."