Shadowing Opportunities Let High School Students Experience Widener

Emma Irving '18
Two students from the shadowing program walking across campus talking
Students Marlaina Pappero and Emma Castellano chat on campus.

Websites and social media channels say a lot about an institution, but there’s nothing like experiencing the culture first hand. To help, Widener allows shadow opportunities for high school students who are interested in two of its biggest programs. 

For over a decade, Widener’s School of Engineering and the School of Nursing have welcomed prospective students to spend an extended amount of time on campus shadowing the people who know Widener best—our students. They share insight on classes and are ambassadors for Widener’s sense of community, marked by a welcoming spirit where students know they belong.

Dozens of future nurses and engineers come to campus each year to learn firsthand what a typical day at Widener is like. They attend a class and/or simulation lab, have lunch with their student guide, tour campus, and meet with a department chair or advisor.

“This experience is really up to the prospective students, so we try to tailor the day to fit their needs and answer their questions,” Dan Kiers, assistant dean of the School of Engineering said. “Some students want to meet with me, some head to the Office of Career Design & Development to talk co-op, but we really find that direct interaction with current students who can speak to student life is what makes the difference with these shadowing days.”

For future nurses like Widener first-year student Gyanna Carrasquilo, getting that firsthand look into the daily life of a nursing student was what set her on the path to a Widener education.

“While I was shadowing, I learned what my future health assessment lab would actually be like,” she said. “That day solidified my choice in Widener because I was able to see how professors truly help their students achieve academic success and how welcoming the Widener community is.”

Beginning this semester, prospective nursing students will be able to shadow a more advanced Medical Surgical Simulation Lab, giving them even more insight into what their Widener education would have in store.

Sharing the Shadows

While getting a peek into academic life can be eye-opening for prospective students, a bigger draw is learning about campus life from current students in their major. For the Widener students who guide prospective high schoolers around, providing that insight is synonymous with being a part of the Widener community.

Marlaina Pappero, a junior nursing major, first visited Widener during a time of strict COVID restrictions and so opted for a self-guided tour. But right away, she was welcomed to campus by some kind students.

“My family and I weren’t sure where Founders Hall was when we started our tour, but some current nursing students saw us and took the time to point us in the right direction, tell me more about their experiences, and answer my questions,” she said. “That interaction left a lasting impression on me and my parents about the temperament of Widener nursing students and their willingness to help others.”
Pappero enrolled at Widener and when she was invited to become a shadowing guide for prospective nursing majors, she jumped at the chance.
“I was very eager to take this opportunity so I could leave those same impressions, that I got when I first visited, on potential future students,” she concluded.

‘Secure in the Transition’

Some students who attend shadowing days have already enrolled at Widener and come to learn more about what to expect from the beginning of the semester.
Emma Castellano chose to join Widener’s class of 2027 for the unique robotics engineering program. While she was excited to embark on her studies here, she also had very limited choices because of her intended major and so made her college choice for practicality over passion. But her shadowing day lit that spark of excitement.
“Seeing the classrooms and talking more with the staff cemented my choice to come here and backed up all the great things I’d heard about Widener,” she said. “I left my shadowing day more excited to experience and learn in this robotics engineering program.”
Castellano’s highlights of her shadowing day included eating lunch with her student guide, walking the hallways with robotics engineering academic secretary Suzanne D’Alleva, and shadowing a robotics lab to see what upperclassmen were working on.
“The insight I got from this day made me feel more secure in the transition to Widener,” Castellano concluded.

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