Creating Smiles, Improving Lives

Interning with AS – Callie M.

Interning with AS – Callie M.

By Callie Mckay

Hello! I’m Callie, and I am a senior at New Mexico State University. I was awarded my Bachelor of Arts in Foreign Languages in May, and I will receive my Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology with a concentration in Exercise Science in August. For my Kinesiology degree, I am completing an internship for my final credits, so I am working as both a PT tech and as an intern at Austin Smiles.

What originally drew me to the internship was the dedication and passion that Renee and Ellise displayed throughout our initial Zoom interview. They explained the Austin Smiles mission and values in a way that caused me to feel excitement-like I could make a tangible difference in people’s lives. It was their inspiring words that made me join the team as a summer 2022 intern, and I am so happy that I took the opportunity. I was also interested in the fact that the organization serves Latin communities abroad, as one of my degrees is in Spanish. I learned the language in the fall of 2019 in both Ecuador and Peru, whom Austin Smiles will be serving in 2023. I felt like I had connections to Austin Smiles through both Peru and the passion of serving others. This internship seemed like a perfect fit for me!

I have been able to be a part of several projects over the course of the past month and a half. No matter how big or small the project may be, everything helps the organization and the community they serve. This idea is a big theme that I’ve learned from Austin Smiles and kept in mind whenever I am working. I’ve done everything from working with Renee on budgeting, packing/unpacking medical supplies, researching cleft palate care by state, and finding potential grant foundations, just to name a few.

Last month, I was able to attend a family day at Inner Space Cavern. There were about fifty people that came, and this was my first time meeting the families of Austin Smiles. It was lovely to meet them and hear their stories about how the organization has benefitted them throughout the years. It was also so much fun to watch the kids complete the activities, especially riding the zip line! The family day reminded me why I am doing this-it’s all to put a smile on the kids’ and their families’ faces.

Whether working in the medical field for a nonprofit organization, clinic, hospital, or other setting, it is paramount to have passion for the communities being served. Not every moment of work will be glamorous; sometimes you may have to do tasks that you find tedious or unimportant. You must look at the bigger picture, however, and realize that the little tasks add up to something much greater. The work leads to a pediatric patient receiving a life-changing surgery, in the case of Austin Smiles. Passion is so very important to any workspace, as it makes the job rewarding and worthwhile.

austin-smiles-intern-callie-m photo

Callie McKay, Global Public Health Intern Summer 2022

New Mexico State University – BS in Kinesiology


1 in 700 children are born with a cleft lip or palate

$250 covers the cost of one life-changing surgery

150 volunteers annually will change a child’s life forever

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