Students practice life skills at the CDC

Nine students and two faculty members spent time at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta to learn about CDC operations and post-college opportunities.

WSU veterinary students went to the CDC Jan. 27 to learn about opportunities offered for veterinary students. They also learned more about the CDC internal operations. The contingent from WSU attended the conference with students from other colleges across America.

“Students learned from representatives about different career opportunities in the government, military and private sector,” said Jake Brandvold, second year veterinary student who attended the event.

The students first arrived on Sunday night and attended a welcome ceremony. On Monday morning members of the CDC presented cases they had worked on recently. The members also illustrated the way the CDC would react to an outbreak of disease, Brandvold said.

On Monday, students also participated in a mock disease outbreak where a fake exposure took place and students learned how quickly a virus like rabies could spread at a crowded event like the ones the students were participating in, Brandvold said.

Everyone filled out surveys to determine exposures to the mock-illness, and the participants collected information about the way people traveled, which hotel they stayed in, and which floor they stayed on in order to determine how far and how quickly the hypothetical disease spread.

The students learned about how specific types of exposures spread diseases, said Matt Sammons, a second year veterinary student who attended the event.

The outbreak activity also taught the participants who is at risk from exposure, how quickly it can spread, and how the CDC must take action fast, said Victoria Olsen-Mikitowicz, a third year veterinary student who also attended the event.

“A day is dedicated to veterinary students so we’re trained as scientists and problem solvers,” Olsen-Mikitowicz said.

The day also provided venues for veterinary students to learn about opportunities offered by the CDC, like externships. Externships are similar to internships but are typically shorter and often involve job shadowing.

After hearing about the possibilities, the students participated in a walking tour of the campus and tours of the CDC museum. The museum highlights the history of the CDC as well as notable diseases the CDC has dealt with such as aids and polio, said Mariah Woodbury, a third year veterinary student who attended the conference.

“Most (veterinary) students think just practices are available but it’s great to hear about other options available to us,” said Marie Salazar, a veterinary student who also attended the event.