Ideas in Action
Hands-on learning through summer internships
More than 200 students received funding from the College this past summer to take advantage of research and internship opportunities that allowed them to apply their classroom learning to real-world issues. In these pages, six of them talk about their experiences in areas as varied as conservation, urban farming, biomedical research, forensic investigation, arts administration, and public health.
Preserving Our Natural Heritage: Simona Clausnitzer ’14
My Internship: I interned at Glacier National Park as an interpretive park ranger through the Student Conservation Association. My work focused on communicating the importance of Glacier through visitor interactions—guided hikes, boat tours, and themed talks.
Leadership Moments: I led a three-mile morning hike that focused on growth and renewal. Along a section burned by wildfire, I would pose questions like, “When is something truly ‘dead’ if it is functioning within a larger system?” On another tour, a boat tour of St. Mary Lake, I talked about the different timescales of change—quick versus long-term, natural versus human-caused. With climate change, these two timescales are becoming skewed, and we could see a lot of evidence of this in Glacier National Park.
Making a Difference: Interpretation helps guide visitors in respectful and healthy use of park resources while educating them about why it is so crucial to respect those resources. I felt that I was doing something meaningful by educating visitors about Glacier’s importance, why we should protect it, and how we’re all connected to the natural world. Communication is crucial to conservation because unless people care, they won’t take steps to protect places such as Glacier.
What I Know Now: At first, I was nervous and not very confident about my knowledge—especially when I had to talk to large groups of people for 25 minutes. By the end, I could jot down some main concepts and then successfully improvise a talk.
The Bryn Mawr Edge: This experience felt like the perfect combination of my BMC studies in geology, my passion for conservation/preservation, and my interest in working with the public. Because of my background knowledge, especially in geology, the science of Glacier National Park was easier for me to master and to communicate.
Funded by: The Green Grants Summer Internship Fund
Teaching Sustainability: Madeline Johnson ’15
My Internship: I worked at an urban farm and farm education nonprofit in the West Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia—Weavers Way Community Programs.
Biggest Revelation: I wanted to be outdoors doing physical work because it’s a break from mental work—and we did a lot of fieldwork. Then a couple of times a week, education groups came in. I had never done anything education-related before this internship, so I was happy to get the opportunity. I’m not sure if teaching is what I want to do with the rest of my life, but this gave me a good taste of what it might be like.
My Support System: I am a Posse student, and for me that was a good fit. I was looking for a whole support system in college. Whether it’s because of going to college, or going to a women’s college, or going to Bryn Mawr itself, or Posse, I think I’ve become much more confident in what I am doing.
Why I Love Bryn Mawr: Sometimes I look around, and I realize how lucky I am. I’m never going to live in a castle again for the rest of my life, so I better enjoy it while it lasts.
Funded By: Summer of Service through the Career and Professional Development Office.
Finding a Cure for Cancer: Ivana Wang ’15
My Internship: I worked on a pancreatic cancer research project at Fox Chase Cancer Center, specifically on a project to clone a gene that plays an important role in DNA repair and transcription.
What I Know Now: Coming into the lab with no research experience, I felt that I had a lot to learn. When I found out that my cloning reactions worked, I felt like a real scientist. This was my first real contribution to the scientific world of cancer research. I got to experience firsthand what kinds of problems researchers run into and, more importanly, how to tackle challenges that inevitably arise.
The Bryn Mawr Connection: I have always been interested in medicine and biomedical research, and my academic advisor [Associate Professor of Biology Tamara Davis] suggested that I look at Fox Chase Cancer Center as an internship possibility. She suggested that I attend a talk given by Bryn Mawr alumna Dr. Erica Golemis ’83, who works at Fox Chase Cancer Center. I emailed her about the possibility of interning there over the summer, and she suggested a few people I could reach out to. Only after getting accepted did I learn that Dr. Golemis is my PI’s mentor.
The Bryn Mawr Edge: Bryn Mawr’s rigorous classes have taught me how to persevere when things do not go as planned, and how to succeed in whatever I do.
Funded By: Russell Family Internship Fund (through the Dean’s Office)
Cracking the Case: Jessica Ferreira ’14
My Internship: I was an intern for the Office of Chief Medical Examiner of New York City. Working alongside law enforcement officers, the OCME investigates deaths occurring in New York, whether from natural or unknown causes, self-inflicted or criminal violence.
A Typical Day: My main responsibility was to observe and assist as much as possible during autopsies by holding backdrops for photographs, weighing remains, and labeling body samples for toxicology and evidence. Throughout, the pathologists shared their findings and sometimes asked us questions or asked us to offer our own conclusions based on what we had observed. The day ended with a meeting at which the pathologists shared their conclusions based on the autopsy findings.
What I know now: I am now somewhat able to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy organs. I have a better grasp on the effects and external signs of certain diseases and injuries.
Looking forward: Forensic pathology has been a dream of mine since second grade, and having the opportunity to live the life of a forensic pathologist for two months assured me that the path I had set out on is not only possible but also one I will enjoy.
Funded By: Bryn Mawr College Internship (through the Dean’s Office)
Getting Creative: Jacqueline Handy ’14
Major: Theater and Psychology
My Internship: I interned at Ping Chong + Company, an experimental theater company that uses the oral histories and personal narratives of individuals who’ve identified as “other” in their societies. PCC then uses these stories to create art.
A Typical Day: I was charged with completely updating the company website and grant writing. Because PCC relies on grants as a main sources of funding, a number of grants were being developed during my time here. Before those grants went out the door, I edited them.
Leadership Moments: I got the chance to take on a huge project and work on it from start to finish with the freedom to ask questions and receive constructive feedback in the end. I was entrusted with real-world tasks that challenged me. It was that trust and those challenges that really helped me grow this summer.
What I know Now: I now know how to navigate an online web-design program—something I needed to know last year but did not. I also learned what it’s like to work in a small business, especially in understanding where and how funding is acquired. Lastly, I was exposed to the business side of theater, which is something that I had never been exposed to.
Gaining a network: Through PCC I have developed new networks, and I am really excited to call upon those resources once I graduate. I made connections in the theater world, so that when I get out and become an actress—which is what I’m hoping to do—I’ll know people I can lean on and who can point me in the right direction.
Funded By: Arts Summer Internship (through the Dean’s Office)
Empowering Healthy Communities: Angela Allard ’14
Major: Mathematics, on the pre-medicine track
My Internship: I volunteered as a Global Impact Fellow for Unite for Sight in Ghana. The mission of Unite for Sight is to eliminate patients’ barriers to eye care in impoverished areas by partnering with local eye clinics and providing both financial and human resources.
A Typical day: On outreach days, we traveled—sometimes up to six hours—to villages where we would make educational presentations about eye health. Following that, I measured each patient’s visual acuity, dispensed medications and glasses, and recorded patient information into a database. One day every week, I went to the clinic along with patients referred for Unite for Sight-sponsored surgery and observed and signed off on each of those surgeries.
What I know Now: I learned how to perform checks for visual acuity, how to dispel misconceptions about health care, and how to take ethical medical photographs. I’ve come to realize that good health is a great source of empowerment, especially for people living in underprivileged communities. This experience has inspired me to do more in the public health field than I previously thought I could.
The Bryn Mawr Edge: The medical field requires much more than a strict science background. Bryn Mawr teaches you to not see things as one-dimensional. You learn to analyze issues from all different viewpoints. The sociological and cultural aspects of medicine are just as important.
Funded By: The Ariadne Solter Fund (through the Dean’s Office)