At age 5, Stephanie Malleo dreamed about working with horses. Now, at 21, the Scottsdale Community College student is taking a big step to realize that dream.
In November, she became one of 29 students from across the world chosen to participate in the prestigious Kentucky Equine Management Internship (KEMI). Of the college students selected, she was the only one from a community college.
The six-month internship will expose her to opportunities within the horse industry while being in the heart of horse country.
The internship also fulfills Malleo’s final requirement to earn her Associates of Applied Sciences degree in Equine Science from SCC.
“I never thought this (internship) would actually happen,” said the graduate of Willow Canyon High School in Surprise, Ariz. “The lesson here is don’t doubt yourself because it could happen.”
Malleo began the six-month internship Jan. 2. She is currently living near Lexington, Kentucky, where she is shadowing and working with veterinarians and a foaling manager in a foaling barn. (Foaling refers to the period when a mare gives birth until the baby horse reaches about one year old.)
Her ultimate goal is to become a vet specializing in equine sports medicine.
Despite long-shot odds of getting into the KEMI program, Malleo moved forward with her application and the mindset that if she didn’t get into the program this time, she would keep trying.
“When she commits to something, she does it,” said Julie Begonia, Malleo’s SCC advisor and a one of her instructors in the SCC equine program. “She has a tremendous amount of perseverance.”
Begonia added, “She’s coming very well prepared for this internship. She’s had a lifetime of working with horses. One of nice things about Stephanie is it doesn’t matter what needs to be done, she’ll do it. For her, it’s all integral in the care of horses.”
Prior to leaving for her internship, she had been a pharmacy tech at a CVS and had been riding colts in Dewey, Ariz. Malleo became a certified Emergency Medical Tech at age 18 and worked in the field for several years.
“People with EMT training are very well qualified in dealing with the less glamorous side of emergencies,” Begonia said. “They are not off put by injury and illness. That is important in this internship.”
Malleo said she enjoyed her time as an EMT but decided horses were her passion.
She currently plans to enroll at Texas A&M University in the fall to earn her bachelor’s degree. Eventually, she’d like to go to the University of Tennessee in Knoxville for veterinarian school. She has ties to both states. Her mother currently lives in Texas and her family is originally from Nashville before they moved to Arizona when she was a toddler.
Malleo said attending SCC and being a part of the Equine Science program provided a supportive environment to pursue her professional goals.
“The professors showed a lot of interest in us as students and as horse professionals,” she said. “We met a lot of industry professionals. That opened doors for us.”
Jay Clements, director of SCC’s Equine Science program, said she hopes Malleo is the first of many SCC equine students to get accepted into the KEMI program.
“Through the internship, students integrate academic studies with practical experience, leadership and responsibility as a contributing participant on a central Kentucky horse farm.”