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“Growing up, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do for a career,” says Dayanara Yamile Guillen Silva. “But I realized how much I care about people and that I’m passionate about helping them through difficult situations. Being an apprentice with Vail Health has given me a vision of what my future could be like in healthcare.”
Six months ago, Dayanara was happily rotating through various clinics, checking in patients at the front desk and building relationships with the nurses and physicians who serve the Eagle community. Then COVID hit, and like everyone else, Dayanara’s world became unrecognizable.
“Right away, I was assigned to work the phones to schedule COVID screenings,” she says. “It was really stressful, people were frustrated and upset and scared. I had to do my best not to get overwhelmed.”
Dayanara rose to the challenge, and as one of the only people on staff who is bilingual, she quickly became an indispensable part of the team. “Members of the Hispanic community were able to use the Mira Bus mobile clinic for free, and it felt really good to help them. People started asking for me by name, and speaking in Spanish made them feel more comfortable. But I really missed seeing patients in person.”
Despite the upheaval of the pandemic, students are proving adept at transitioning to a remote or virtual work environment — and employers are quick to recognize their value. “Not only are students generating positive revenue for their business, but their energy and ideas are increasing output and productivity from people who have been there for years,” says Erik Williams, Director of Community Development for the Vail Valley Partnership. ”The way our apprentices have inspired the workforce that already existed is one of the most beautiful pieces of the program.”
Dayanara has just started her senior year at Battle Mountain High School, and although it’s far from what she expected, she is glad to be back in a learning environment. Anatomy is her favorite class so far. Dayanara will earn her CNA credential next year, and she is considering a career as a medical translator with Vail Health once her apprenticeship ends.