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October 18 - 31, 2014


Chandler teen logs 500 hours of community service BY SCOTT SHUMAKER

When 15-year-old Nicole Gehret received her certificate of completion for 80 hours of volunteer work at Chandler Regional Medical Center this summer, she brought her total middle and high school service hours to more than 500. This would make a busy schedule for anyone, but the Seton Catholic Prep sophomore also manages a 4.0 grade point average, plays on Seton’s golf team, serves on the student council and works as a student mentor at her school. Gehret is one of the few students who were accepted into the Dignity Health East Valley Summer Volunteen Program. It gives outstanding high school students a rare behind-thescenes look at Chandler Regional and Mercy Gilbert medical centers while they serve the community. “We give them meaningful work,” says Barb Farmer, volunteer coordinator for Dignity Health. Farmer says student volunteers serve in almost all areas of the hospital, including the intensivecare unit. They are also mentored by hospital staff, including top doctors involved with cutting-edge procedures. Gehret says she has always been interested in a medical career, but the experience at Chandler Regional

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this summer sparked her interest in surgery. “You’ve really got to go see for yourself what it’s like in a lot of different perspectives,” she says. “You got to see what it’s like as a patient, or the patient’s family visiting and the health professionals that work there. So you really got to view it in a unique way. I learned a lot.” Recognized as an innovative program for youth, Dignity Health’s program received plenty of attention this summer—as did Gehret. She was featured on TV news programs, but Gehret’s mother, Laura, says this was no problem for her daughter, who is part of Seton Catholic Prep’s Toastmasters Club, in which members speak in front of large audiences. Her communication skills came in handy while delivering flowers to Chandler Regional’s patients. “(The patients) are really going through probably some of the hardest experiences of their entire lives, so they’re really in a vulnerable state,” she says. “And so you have to have good people skills and you have to understand that you want to be something that they look forward to and something that brightens their day.” Gehret says she would like to return to the Dignity Health volunteer

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COMMUNITY SERVICE: Nicole Gehret, a sophomore at Seton Catholic Prep, recently completed a prestigious summer volunteer program at Chandler Regional Medical Center, adding 80 hours of community service to her total of over 500. Submitted photo

program for the next three summers. “Well, in the next year, of course, I’m going to keep my academics up, keep my grades great, and I plan on being a part of this program next year as well,” she says.

“But I really just want to continue my community service.” Scott Shumaker is a freelancer for the SanTan Sun News. He can be reached at

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Santan Sun News 10-18-2014: Issue  
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