Clinton -1

By Audrey Buchanan

Clinton School District

This is the twelfth in a series of articles about Clinton alumni and where they are now.

CLINTON – Shayna (Mueller) Somers, a 2001 graduate of Clinton High School, is now working as a Health Careers Educational Consultant with South Central Wisconsin Area Health Education Center (AHEC). She visits schools and provides education for any and all health career related topics. She educates the students about possible careers in the health industry that are available to them, and gets them thinking about the path in which they want to follow.

Somers explained, “When students think about careers in the health field, most people don’t think past being a doctor or a nurse. I help students to understand that there are many more health careers out there. I expand their thinking, and even mention that they don’t necessarily have to work with people if they work in the health field. There are jobs in IT, equipment design and repair, testing, lab work, and engineering, to name a few. These are all part of the health careers field.”

Somers did not always dream of educating people about health careers, but she did always dream about being a teacher. As a child, she would play school with her four sisters, and found that she was always “bossing them around” and making them be the students while she was the teacher. After high school, Somers attended Winona State University where she received her bachelor’s degree in special education and learning disabilities. She explained, “I have always been drawn to students with special needs. I decided that working in a school setting would be the best way to help the more vulnerable population.”

Somers completed her master’s degree in special education through Grand Canyon University in Arizona. She was then certified to teach all disabilities at any grade level. While finishing her education, her fiancé, Gene, a 1999 Clinton High School graduate, was transferred to Colorado for his work as an air traffic controller. The two were soon married in Colorado, and Shayna found employment at Kersey High School, where she taught for two years.

Her husband then requested a medical transfer to Madison because there was a member of their family who had fallen ill, and there was also a death in the family. Once they were settled in Madison, Somers began teaching at Marshall High School in Dane County, where she stayed for five years.

After the birth of their first child, and while pregnant with their second, the family moved to the Janesville/Milton area. Somers took a sabbatical from teaching with the intent of going back, but she never went back to teaching full-time in a school setting. She realized that she liked being able to spend time with her children at home, but still wanted to work at least part time. Many members in her family work in the health care field.

Her father is a veterinarian. Her mother and one sister are both nurses. Each of her other sisters are a dietician, doula, and a kinesiology researcher, so she has had a lot of exposure to health related careers. This helped to influence her decision to become a health career educator.

She began working for AHEC in 2013, and is thoroughly enjoying it. She is still educating students, but is able to set her own schedule and can be flexible around her family’s needs. Somers exclaimed, “I especially love working with the high school students and bringing the career component to them.”

The South Central division of AHEC covers 11 counties that include Dane County and the surrounding counties. Somers works with schools in Rock, Dodge, and Green counties. She visits some schools once each year, some once each semester, and there are some in which she conducts a series of health occupation classes in which she aligns her information with the curriculum in the health or physics and anatomy classes at a specific high school. Somers commented, “I really enjoy this program because I can get more specific and more intense about the material.”

Somers and her husband now have three children. Rollie is five years old; Finn is three; and Poppy is eight months old. They recently purchased a home in Clinton, and are looking forward to “coming back home.” Somers added, “We have come full circle. This is where we want to settle and raise our children so they can attend Clinton Schools as we did.”

Somers wants her children to attend Clinton Schools because she believes they will have many more opportunities to be involved in a variety of activities and clubs, adding, “They will have a chance to explore many interests and find what they are really good at and enjoy.” Somers participated in basketball, softball, cross country, musicals, band, and choir while in high school. She believes that she would not have had those opportunities in a larger school. She would have been limited to one or two.

Somers stated that she is proud to be from this community. She grew up in a large family, but she always felt the community was an extension of that family, explaining, “There are so many close knit families in this community. You can’t put a price tag on that. We value being raised here and want that for our children.”