JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. - Cadet Loise Aleria spent part of her summer by the waters of American Lake, Sequalitchewe Lake, the Soldiers Field House pool, and the Fort Lewis Waterpark here.
But instead of swimming, she was in search of insects, more specifically mosquitoes, and preferably female ones.
But this was just part of her mission.
Aleria, an Army ROTC cadet at Furman University in Greenville, S.C., was immersed in a three-week Army Medical Department internship program that included inspecting food at the commissary, witnessing veterinarian dental surgery, examining bacteria, shadowing Special Forces Soldiers, and learning how the active-duty Army functions.
Aleria is a senior, majoring in politics and international affairs.
Public Health Command-Pacific's detachment at JBLM hosted Aleria for her internship with the goal to provide an opportunity to experience a variety of specialties within medical logistics and preventive medicine, according to Maj. Seo Yatsushiro, the chief of Environmental Health and Engineering.
“I wanted to provide opportunities for our future leaders to decide if a particular job or [area of concentration] would be a good fit before commissioning,” said Yatsushiro.
Because Aleria expressed interest in medical logistics and preventive medicine, she was exposed to officers in a variety of fields, covering all sides of Army Medical Department missions and objectives, and PHC-P JBLM was ready.
Aleria's mentors focused their program on the 'One Health' concept, a way of looking and acknowledging the connection of human, animal, and environmental health. Aleria was welcomed with a plan that detailed the concept of operations and included a full calendar, which enabled the maximum use of her time.
“Maj. Yatsushiro scheduled my internship in a way that I was able to experience AMEDD [U.S. Army Medical Department] through multiple scopes," Aleria said.
"I was able to shadow under officers and Soldiers with different medical specialties," she said. "I met with Soldiers from the medical detachment of 1st Special Forces Group and partook in water and bug sampling with Madigan Army Medical Center’s Environmental Health Department.”
Aleria's three-week stay was filled with a variety of missions that included learning about air quality testing machines; waste and biohazard management; food safety; life cycles of mosquitos; assessing vector-borne diseases; and working in a veterinary treatment facility.
Aleria, a self-described 'Army brat,' said this was just one more phase in a decades-long progression.
“The Army was a big part of my life growing up," Aleria said. "Because of the influence it has had on my life, it was only fitting to join this organization."
Her father, Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Peter Aleria, is assigned to the 18th Military Police Brigade in Vilseck, Germany.
The internship not only left Aleria with a broader understanding of everyday life for Soldiers in the medical field, but in the process, the Army empowered a more well-rounded future leader.
The intern program brings more benefits than simply teaching regulations and conducting training, Yatsuhiro said.
"It involves teaching, mentoring, and providing real-world experience. Having an intern can enhance and multiply leadership in the Army,” he added.