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Donovan Shows Professional Potential

Senior Kara Donovan is one step closer to achieving her dream of becoming a bioengineer. Last October, Donovan was accepted into a half-year internship with local prosthetics company, Dankmeyer Inc.

GT Resource teacher Dr. Melissa Kiehl believes that Donovan’s interest in this field, as well as her decision to pursue the internship, was influenced in part by the previous research projects that Donovan had completed.

“She had done a project on how technology could advance sports, and she really liked it, so I encouraged her to do this,” commented Dr. Kiehl. Given the difficulty involved in obtaining the internship, it is a promising sign for Donovan moving forward.


A selection of the prosthetic legs on display at Dankmeyer

Running from October to April, the Dankmeyer internship enabled Donovan to gain first-hand experience in the field of bioengineering by allowing her to shadow practitioners and see how  prosthetics are made and fitted on patients.

Donovan, who intends to pursue a career in the subject, believes that she became truly interested in the field after the Boston Marathon Bombings. “There was this little girl who lost her leg, and I remember wishing I could help,” added Donovan.

Erika Brannock, a Mt. Hebron alumnus and preschool teacher in Baltimore County, put Dr. Kiehl and Donovan in touch with Dankmeyer Inc., which is now credited as being Maryland’s largest provider of prosthetics. Brannock, a victim of the Boston Marathon Bombings, had to have her left leg amputated after suffering severe injuries from the blasts. Dankmeyer created a state of the art prosthetic for her in the wake of the tragedy.

“I knew that [Dankmeyer] worked with students in programs in college and high school, so I thought it was worth putting Melissa in contact with them,” said Brannock.

Dankmeyer has participated in several local and national research projects that have led to the development of several unique prosthetics. Brannock said, “They asked me what I wanted to be able to do, and I told them to be able to sit ‘Crisscross Applesauce’ with my students.”

“Everyone in the company is so incredibly caring to everyone that comes in,” Brannock added, expressing the utmost appreciation for the company and their mission.

Dr. Kiehl stated that one of the main goals of the Intern-Mentor class is “to help students find careers that interest them and careers that they would want to do after college.” However, student participation benefits companies as well. Aside from the benefit of extra hands on a job, companies get in touch with ambitious students like Donovan.

After interning at Dankmeyer, Donovan hopes to go to college for engineering and continue into the rapidly evolving field of prosthetics. “My goal is to use what I learned and one day make prosthetics more life-like and connect them to the brain,” said Donovan.

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