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Internship Provides Valuable Experience for Volleyball's Shields
Women's Volleyball  . 

Internship Provides Valuable Experience for Volleyball's Shields

by Brad Muller, Director of Content

Mikayla Shields took part in South Carolina's Beyond Sports Program.

South Carolina junior volleyball student-athlete Mikayla Shields has enjoyed an eye-opening internship this summer thanks to the athletics department’s Beyond Sports Professional Development and Summer Internship Program. Shields, a biology/pre-med major, is interning with Palmetto Health USC OB/GYN, and hasn’t exactly been spending all her hours doing paper work and fetching coffee.

“It has been an amazing experience. I’ve been able to go into the operating room to see a few surgeries, and I’ve been able to see a delivery,” Shields said. “The coolest thing was seeing a C-section because that’s what I want to do. I want to be in there in delivery and be an OB/GYN. It’s really fascinating to me, so to be able to see one of those was an amazing experience.”

Beyond Sports is a professional development and summer internship program for South Carolina student-athletes that includes weekly educational professional development programming. One of the main goals is to provide student-athletes with a meaningful professional development and work experience, while also helping them to be better prepared for professional life after college.

This has sparked my interest in the field even more.
– Mikayla  Shields

Shields has earned numerous accolades in her two years playing volleyball for the Gamecocks, including All-SEC and honorable mention All-America honors last year as a sophomore. While she hopes to continue to be a big factor in the team’s success over the next two years and perhaps play professionally after graduation, she is already planning for her life after sports.

105392“In a perfect world I would be going to medical school and playing volleyball at the same time,” Shields said. “That way I would be doing what I love in both aspects of my life. Really, I think the future holds medical school for me. I would love to play professional volleyball, so we’ll see how the MCATs go next year.”

Shields had decided she wanted to get the ball rolling on her career outside of athletics and met with South Carolina Executive Associate Athletics Director/Senior Women’s Administrator Judy Van Horn about taking the next step.

“I had spoken to Judy Van Horn about what I could do to boost my medical school applications, and she suggested an internship and introduced me to Beyond Sports,” Shields said. “I was lucky enough to be matched with a great doctor in Dr. Wendy Hartshorne.  She is one of the best I’ve seen. She has made my experience there at Palmetto Health USC OB/GYN a really good one. I hope I can be just like her and channel her energy.”

Although Shields is not licensed to practice and is not a currently a medical student or resident, she has been able to gain valuable experience as an observer.

“I couldn’t be too hands-on,” Shields said. “I love the clinical aspect of learning, but shadowing the doctors and being able to see a different side of medicine has been very valuable to me.

“I was a little surprised at how much I’ve been able to see. I don’t feel like my experience is diminished even though I’m not literally hands-on. Sometimes observing can be the best way to learn.”

Just as teamwork is the key to any athletics team’s success, Shields’ internship showed her how that carries over into professional life.

“The most eye-opening thing for me was the first time I stepped into the O.R.,” Shields recalled. “It was fascinating how well-run everything was. Everything is fast-paced and smooth. To see how everybody worked together in there was amazing to me. It’s similar to the experience athletes have on a well-run team.”

As she prepares for her junior season, Shields is also excited about her career after sports, and won’t be shy in telling her teammates about the value of South Carolina’s Beyond Sports program.

“This has sparked my interest in the field even more,” Shields said. “I hope I get to do a lot more clinical stuff in the future. I’m not one who likes to just sit at a desk all day, so this was a good start for me. A lot of the girls on my team have interesting majors. This program is not only a good experience, but it’s also a necessary one to make sure you’re a competitive applicant for graduate school and jobs. It’s good to start the process early and learn what you like and maybe what you won’t like about a certain career, so maybe you can change your path or keep going on that path.”