Davis & Elkins College senior Lucas Sosa, right, and Lisa Bennett, a former staff nurse at Upshur-Buckhannon Health Department, work a drive-through COVID testing station. / Photo courtesy D&E

Internship at Upshur-Buckhannon Health Department helps D&E Senior find his vocation

ELKINS – Davis & Elkins College senior Lucas Sosa was looking to complete a 240-hour internship required to complete his six-hour practicum and earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Community and Corporate Health. What he gained was the realization that he could truly fulfill his vocation in life.

A resident of Bluffton, South Carolina, Sosa worked with the Upshur-Buckhannon Health Department through the uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although duties for the unpaid position varied – from assisting with property inspections to directing traffic for drive-through testing clinics and checking in on quarantined residents to making phone calls for contact tracing – he learned a lot about public service and about himself.

“It opened my eyes to something that had been far in the back of my mind – that I always wanted to do something to help people,” Sosa said. “I didn’t expect this from an internship. It was a wonderful learning experience being involved in the community and realizing that the amount of help you can provide is incredible. If you have the enthusiasm and energy, all you have to do is be willing to go out and make a difference.”

Sosa believes the internship did help him make a difference in the community, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. He and the county’s health inspector often dropped in on businesses to make sure everyone was following safety guidelines. While working alongside health care providers at testing sites, Sosa was charged with delivering specimens and paperwork; but he also kept an eye on co-workers who might need a break from their duties. Inside the office, he stayed busy on the phone answering questions and providing support.

“It was a long journey; but when it comes down to it, it’s just all about meeting people and talking to people,” Sosa said. “Listening to people is the game changer. Some people, especially during COVID, just want someone to talk to, and by listening you can make them feel better or you can understand that there’s something they need – information or support. We are all human beings doing what we can to help each other.”

It was mid-week when Sosa completed his internship hours, but he stayed on the job until the office closed on Friday. Sosa’s work ethic and dedication impressed health department employees and administrators so much that they offered him a part-time paid position.

Throughout the fall semester, he traveled approximately 25 miles to Buckhannon three days a week in time to begin work at 8 a.m. By 1 p.m., he was back on campus for classes and swim and lacrosse practice. His efforts again paid off with a full-time job offer once he graduates in May.

“Lucas was able to make his practicum a real life, real world experience,” said Chair of the Sport Science Department Dr. Mary Ann DeLuca. “The optimal results from a practicum in the Community and Corporate Health field is that the company or organization appreciates, respects and understands the contributions our D&E students make for the betterment of health for others. The Sport Science Department is proud of Lucas. He went out into the community to serve the public at the Upshur-Buckhannon Health Department. He utilized his education, personality and talents to help a population endure health issues and a world pandemic.”

Community and corporate health students at Davis & Elkins College have the opportunity to build their passion for health and wellness into a career. Through a variety of health-related courses, students build their skills in not only sport science, but expand their knowledge in cross-curricular studies including nursing, psychology and business. Students can also expect to gain hands-on experience outside of the classroom through independent studies and practicums with health care specialists in the community.

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