Mentorship Comes Full Circle

The first Priory in the City senior class of the school year started off with a special visitor. Recent alumna Aliyah Abanes '18 returned to campus with Violet Horvath, director of Pacific Disabilities Center, to share her experience in the Priory in the City program, and her current internship at the Hawai'i Neurotrauma Registry Project.

Abanes presented a wealth of information about her internship site to the Priory in the City senior class. She explained that the project, which is in its sixth year, is funded by the Hawaii Department of Health and administered by the Pacific Disabilities Center. Abanes shared three main goals of the registry:

  • Free public education about stroke, traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries
  • Free information and referral services for survivors and their families
  • Voluntary, confidential survey

The registry is open to Hawai'i residents who have experienced a traumatic brain injury, stroke and/or spinal cord injury. The purpose of the study is to collect and analyze data to discover what resources survivors need. Abanes says that results so far suggest that more resources are needed on all islands and the data are skewed. Because most of the respondents are older and live on O'ahu, younger individuals and those living on the neighbor islands are needed.

Abanes said that her internship experience with the Hawai'i Neurotrauma Registry Project has helped her developed many valuable skills. These include thinking critically about issues and digging deeper, sharpening her research skills, gaining more experience in public speaking, and networking with professionals in fields in which she would like to work. She participated in all aspects of the project, from administrative work to taking part in events and presentations.

Horvath shared information about the types of traumatic brain injuries people can experience and shared the signs of a stroke with students. Students who learn about preventing these injuries and how to respond to them can potentially save lives. She reminded them that stroke, traumatic brain injury or spinal cord injury don't happen to one particular age group. She said that younger people can experience them through falls, bicycle or skateboard accidents, illicit drug use or vehicle crashes.

She also shared more about interning with the Hawai'i Neurotrauma Registry Project and some of the benefits to interns. These include gaining hands-on experience in areas of interest and having access to resources that can help them determine their career path.

"We're located in the John A. Burns School of Medicine and have access to helpful information related to our intern's interests," Horvarth said. "For Aliyah, I'm arranging for her to meet with one of the medical school students because we're at the school of medicine. This individual is going to sit down and talk with her about what medical school is actually like and she can determine whether it's something she'd like to pursue."

Primed and Prepped

During her senior year at St. Andrew's Schools, Abanes did an internship at the Queen's Medical Building Physician Office Building II under Dr. Joey Kohatsu, a geriatric medicine specialist. During her internship, she shadowed medical specialists, spoke one-on-one with patients and learned bedside manner.

Her main project involved compiling a resource binder for the office. Abanes also represented the office in meetings and at trainings and seminars, which increased her comfort zone and helped her develop her organizational and public speaking skills.

"Priory in the City got me out of an academic setting and forced me to explore more of what I actually want to do," Abanes said. "I'd done a lot of things in school but nothing out of school until I did Priory in the City. The program taught me life skills, like talking with people, writing resumes, securing and doing internships and dealing with rejection because you don't get a lot of call backs."

All sophomores, juniors and seniors at The Priory participate in the Priory in the City program. During their sophomore year, students identify their strengths, interests and passions. During their junior year, students learn career skills such as resume writing and interviewing. In senior year, students select and secure an internship at an organization in Honolulu. Previous students worked with attorneys, business owners, filmmakers, scientists, designers, doctors, writers, educators, and architects.

"In our design studio, students envision their life and career goals," said Priory in the City Director Marcie Uehara Herring. "This highly personalized learning experience helps students connect their college and career aspirations in a tangible way."

Abanes is headed to University of California San Diego in just a couple of weeks to begin her college journey, where she will be studying cognitive and neuropsychology science.