Interning with AS – What I’ve Learned
By Mary Claire Henderson
Hi! My name is Mary Claire Henderson, and I am a junior at The University of Texas at Austin, studying Communication Sciences and Disorders while also on the Pre-Dental Track. I am currently interning with Austin Smiles and have really enjoyed getting to see firsthand the differences this organization makes in children’s and their families’ lives.
Each year Austin Smiles travels to unprivileged countries such as Guatemala and El Salvador to provide surgical and post-surgical care to children born with cleft lips and/or palates. They send a team of medical volunteers, including plastic surgeons, oral surgeons, dentists, orthodontists, and speech pathologists as well as nonmedical volunteers, to perform and facilitate these procedures. Being a speech pathology major, I understand the impact this condition can have on a child’s feeding, swallowing, and speech while I also can appreciate the basic dental care received as I hope to one day be a part of this career. Austin Smiles has allowed me to combine and learn more about my two interests, speech pathology and dentistry, while continuing to ignite my love for helping others.
As interns, we are tasked with many different kinds of jobs: disposing of old financials, planning annual events, contacting volunteers, etc; however, we also head tasks that align or are in the realm of our degrees. For me, I had the opportunity to oversee speech therapy sessions for new patients while also getting to pack, unload, and organize medical supplies and tools necessary for Austin Smiles’ medical mission trips. Through these tasks, I was able to get a better insight into what my career could look like, whether I pursue speech pathology or dental school, which has been an eye-opening experience.
Thank you, Austin Smiles, for letting me be a part of this transformative organization for the past semester. I have learned so much and will forever be grateful for the opportunity to work in such a loving, giving environment.
Mary Claire Henderson, Global Public Health Intern Fall 2021
University of Texas at Austin