Graduate Spotlight: Bladen Wilfong, Independent Study Academy, Class of 2019.
Working with animals has always been Bladen Wilfong’s passion. An aspiring biologist, he was looking for a way to turn his love of animals into a practical career. Unfortunately, traditional schools didn’t offer Bladen the opportunities he needed to get ahead or grow as a person.
Bladen transferred to Visions in his Junior year for a flexible schedule free of social pressures. Here, he was able to explore his interest for wildlife and develop his professional skills through Visions’ Work-Based Learning Internship program.
“My mom told me about this internship with SeaQuest,” Bladen said. “Immediately, I was like ‘yes, I want to do this.”
Through Visions’ partnership with the SeaQuest Interactive Aquarium, Bladen secured an internship opportunity that gave him high school credit and real-life experience. At SeaQuest, he worked alongside staff and other Visions interns in a hands-on, immersive environment where he learned how to care for a variety of marine animals.
Additionally, Bladen learned practical career-building skills like resume writing, communications, and customer service. Interacting with the public on a daily basis forced Bladen out of his shell, something he credits with helping his anxiety.
“I had really bad social anxiety before SeaQuest; this was almost like a cure.”
Ready for a Career
After the internship ended and he graduated, Bladen was offered a volunteer position at SeaQuest! He’s currently attending Sierra College and plans on using this experience to transfer to U.C. Davis to pursue a degree in Wildlife Biology. Bladen’s experience at SeaQuest also comes full circle as he prepares to mentor the next generation of Visions interns that participate in the program.
“It’s really a growing-up experience,” Bladen said. “I hope more kids take advantage of this program.”
Download and share Bladen’s story here.