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ASCP Career Ambassador Brings Dream Job to Life for Students

Monday, May 14, 2012

As a Medical Laboratory Scientist at St. Tammany Parish Hospital in Covington, La., Caitlin Gallegos, MLS(ASCP)CM, has the career of her dreams. Fascinated by science and biology in both middle school and high school, Ms. Gallegos, 23, said she had many "I want to be a scientist" dreams.

“Seeing the sparkle in students' eyes after they get a glimpse of the world of pathology is extremely encouraging. It shows that what I'm doing is benefiting today's youth and the future of health care as a whole.”
—Caitlin Gallegos, MLS(ASCP)CM
Initially, Ms. Gallegos admits she wasn't quite sure what such a job would look like—until her sophomore year of college when a teacher helped define a career as a laboratory professional. As a 2011–2012 ASCP Career Ambassador, she's determined to help young students define their dreams of being a scientist much earlier.

Ms. Gallegos has worked with middle school students at a career fair, several high school classes one-on-one, and at a large healthcare career day at a local high school. She tries to bring her profession to life, showing photos of what diseases such as mononucleosis look like under a microscope.

“I enjoyed sharing those images with the students because using a microscope and seeing the microscopic world truly inspired me to become a scientist,” Ms. Gallegos said. “It turns on a light bulb for students. It was like they had a door opened for them to this awesome career pathway.”

The bonus of a career as a laboratory professional is not only feeding her passion for science and discovery, but also knowing she is helping patients, she said. Her responsibilities at St. Tammany Parish Hospital include performing and analyzing blood tests in the hematology and chemistry departments. Ms. Gallegos also provides blood for transfusions in the blood bank department, as well as quality control and maintenance to make sure she is providing accurate results.

“Most students do not know what types of career opportunities are available in the laboratory,” she said. “I want to show students how exciting and rewarding the field of laboratory science is. Seeing the sparkle in students' eyes after they get a glimpse of the world of pathology is extremely encouraging. It shows that what I'm doing is benefiting today's youth and the future of health care as a whole.”

A 2011 graduate of Louisiana State University's Health Sciences Center, Ms. Gallegos just completed her first year in her first job out of college. For as much as Ms. Gallegos is helping students through her role as an ASCP Career Ambassador, she is also gaining valuable professional experience. Fostering leadership skills, confidence in public speaking, and staying informed about her profession are just a few of the perks that come with the position.

“Being an ASCP Career Ambassador is a great opportunity for me,” she said. “Like my profession, I find it to be very rewarding.”


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