Once again, internship mentors have a life-changing effect on a City High student.

City High’s SaKyah Harris with mentor Kristina Hout, Programs Manager at the Humane Society poses for a photo in the operating room where Sakyah was able to observe surgeries performed by the Humane Society veterinarian.

Many people believe that a pet can make a person’s life healthier and happier. In the case of SaKyah Harris, a City High senior, this is so true!

Through her work with hundreds of animals as an intern at the Western PA Humane Society (now merged with the Animal Rescue League), SaKyah began to learn that her passion for animals could be the basis for a career. That’s because when she graduates, she plans to pursue a degree in pre-vet medicine. In many respects, this positive direction comes down to the perceptive career counseling City High offers. Helping all students explore their life’s direction is key to the program. It helps them decide if they really want to commit to a particular field early on in the process and explore various avenues to that end.

SaKyah Harris: By 10th grade, it all clicked.
“I thought, this is a good school – because they give us
laptops and they teach a lot of new things I never
got exposed to. They teach us how to
dress professionally to go into the real world.”

As a City High Charter School student, SaKyah entered freshman year with no real love for school (It was all about the free laptop for her!). But eventually she came to see herself as a real student… even one who would someday go to college. In many respects, it was her internship experience that made all the difference.

“I’m going to college,” reveals SaKyah. But it wasn’t always so. “I hated it the first day. I didn’t want to be there. Didn’t like the clothes [business casual is a requirement]. How they taught was different and even what topics they talked about. I was not used to reading articles or the news or typing into a computer and using technology to learn,” she admits.

But she hung in there.  And by 10th grade, it all clicked. “I thought, this is a good school – because they give us laptops and they teach a lot of new things I never got exposed to. They teach us how to dress professionally to go into the real world.” But it was her senior year internship that sealed the deal.  According to her mentor Kristina Hout, Programs Manager at the Humane Society, “Veterinarian medicine has long been a career interest for SaKyah. She was fortunate to spend time in both the animal care program and the health clinic. She grew her already-strong animal handling and care skills. She is incredibly observant, poised, self-confident and charismatic.”

She also notes that SaKyah’s calm and balanced personality is especially beneficial in this field. SaKyah has already been accepted into Indiana University of Pennsylvania, California University, Penn State Greater Allegheny and the Community College of Allegheny County and is waiting to hear back from several more. So as this promising young lady explores her college options, these traits will come in handy.

During her internship, SaKyah earned an impressive 176 hours (actually she spent over 200 hours because she loved caring for animals so much). Not only did she walk dogs and clean kennels, she also filled out medical sheets, checked on appointments, filed and alphabetized medical records and worked in every part of the facility. She observed surgeries and even learned to draw vaccines. What’s more, SaKyah created a PET Pantry location guide (a database of all food centers within a 2-hour drive) to help those who can’t afford pet food.

For SaKyah Harris, this internship was a dream internship because she loved to care for animals. It was also extra special as the Humane Society only offers internships to college or vet-tech medicine students performing their clinical hours. City High is the only high school participating in this program, and with good reason.  According to the Humane Society’s Kristina Hout, “City High career planning is like a well-oiled machine. The students are very mature and career-focused. They have great perspective about how this internship is going to fit into the rest of their life.” In SaKyah’s case, the internship confirmed her career choice and will lead her to college. And that’s pretty life changing.

About the Humane Society and Animal Rescue League


The Western PA Humane Society has been helping people and their pets in Western Pennsylvania since 1874. As an open door shelter, it provides the most comprehensive, compassionate and humane services to enhance the lives of companion animals for families and the community; to educate and to prevent the cruelty of all animals.

Combining forces with the Animal Rescue League means even more extended community reach, serving more animals and saving more animals. Together these great animal welfare organizations provide temporary shelter, food, medical attention, and comfort to all abandoned, neglected, and injured animals brought to us by the community; to restore lost animals to their owners or seek new homes for them, and to educate the public about the humane care of animals with a goal of reducing overpopulation.


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