From life-changing international adventures and career-defining internships to National Science Foundation-funded research, Tars share their top accomplishments from summer 2018.
Rescuing sea turtles off Florida’s Gulf Coast. Conducting professional orchestras in one of the cradles of classical music. Helping design the future of space launches at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Each summer, Tars take what they’ve learned in our small, discussion-based classes and head out into the world to test their ability to make it brighter. From helping found a recycling center in Uganda to conducting civic data research to make our cities smarter, their accomplishments serve as compelling proof of the power of a Rollins education—and they should be shared.
So, as students decamped from campus this spring, we asked them to keep us in the loop on all their summer adventures via social media. Dozens obliged our request, and we were consistently amazed by the stories flooding our Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook accounts. Here are a few of our favorites from summer 2018.
Lauren Neldner ’20 participated in the prestigious IRIS Internship Program, a paid seismology research program funded by the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) initiative. The physics major spent the first week of the 10-week program in New Mexico, learning about seismology and geology and conducting field work. Neldner spent the final nine weeks at Brown University, working on her own research project, which is focused on using ambient noise caused by ocean waves to learn more about the Earth’s crust under Alaska. Neldner, a veteran of Rollins’ Student-Faculty Collaborative Scholarship Program, will present her research at a national conference in Washington, D.C., this December. “I chose Rollins for the small class sizes, close interactions with professors, and undergraduate research opportunities,” says Neldner. “All of these qualities have helped prepare me for this internship and my future in grad school.”
Jaime Becker ’19 was a software engineering intern for NASA’s Command and Control System, which will operate, monitor, and coordinate the ground equipment for launch of the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft. The computer science major worked alongside NASA engineers at Kennedy Space Center on various functionality that will contribute to smooth launches in the future. “I loved the idea of being able to contribute to our country’s venture into deep space,” says Becker. “I wanted to make a real impact with the software I was writing, and although the intern projects are small, we are writing code that will be definitely be used and needed in the future.”
Carlye Goldman ’19 completed a four-week Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) program in Barva, Costa Rica, earning certification to teach English around the world. The social entrepreneurship major will teach English online during her senior year at Rollins and plans to live abroad after graduation and teach in an English as a Second Language (ESL) classroom setting. “I want to experience the journey of being an ESL teacher by passing along one of the most important tools for a person’s success—language,” says Goldman. “Teaching students of all levels and ages has taught me everything from patience and understanding to the importance of language education. If you build rapport with anyone right from the get-go, you are 10 times more likely to gain a positive experience out of whatever you may do.”
Ryo Hasegawa ’19 honed his conducting chops at the Vienna Summer Music Festival, a three-week program in which participants explore the musical culture and heritage of the Austrian capital. The music major from Japan conducted three public concerts during the festival and took masterclasses and private lessons from five Viennese conductors. “As I was talking with the other conductors at the festival, I realized that I had more podium time—the time I have conducting in front of musicians—than any other conductor, including students from Yale, Carnegie Mellon, and the New England Conservatory,” says Hasegawa. “Conducting is largely learned through experience, and because of the opportunities I’ve had at Rollins, I was more confident to rehearse and communicate with the amazing musicians I met in Vienna.”
Muniba Khan ’20 participated in Georgia Tech’s Civic Data Science Program, a paid research experience funded by the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) initiative. Over the course of the 10-week program, the math and computer science double major worked to find solutions to a range of civic challenges in Atlanta. She conducted sentiment analysis for electric vehicle charging, tracked the causes and effects of gentrification, collected data to counter rodent-born public health concerns, and deployed mobile environmental sensors. Khan’s biggest takeaway from the prestigious program: “a newfound goal to revolutionize the way people view the world around them by integrating civic data and lived experiences in dynamic, mind-opening visualizations.”
Renee Sang ’21 interned in Rabat at Morocco World News, an Arabic, French, and English language news site. Sang, a double major in critical media and cultural studies and studio art, covered several stories in the Moroccan capital as both a reporter and photographer. She was one of 11 students chosen as the inaugural cohort of Rollins Professional Fellows, a new funded internship program that enjoyed a successful pilot this past summer. “This experience has taught me to be wary of viewing other cultures through the lens of my own Western culture,” says Sang. “Ingrained in the mission statement of my internship site is a dedication to objectivity and cultural awareness, which I think emphasizes the importance of creating accurately representational stories.”
Marine biology major Elle Ueland ’19 was one of a dozen Tars who studied North Atlantic marine life alongside Rollins biology professors Fiona Harper and Paul Stephenson at the University of New England’s marine sciences laboratory in Maine. The two-week field study was dedicated to investigating the ecology, diversity, biogeography, and oceanography of coastal marine ecosystems, with particular emphasis on the study of rocky shores, mudflats, estuaries, and salt marshes. Along the way, the group enjoyed whale watching and kayaking trips as well as a guided tour of the Wells Reserve Estuary.
Four Tars completed international internships in Uganda through the Global Livingston Institute (GLI), implementing service and research projects that they developed in partnership with local communities. Kate Knight ’19 gathered data on access to nursery-level education around Lake Bunyonyi for a research project she’s conducting alongside psychology professor Sharon Carnahan through the Student-Faculty Collaborative Scholarship Program. The international relations and religious studies double major visited 10 primary schools in Uganda’s Kabale District, interviewing 60 teachers and mapping out the basic early childhood education methodologies in the area. Anna Baumm ’20 and Lindsay Van Beck ’19 helped found a new recycling center in Kabale in partnership with Coca-Cola and the local government. To promote the new center, the pair launched an awareness campaign that included newspaper articles, radio spots, and a citywide cleanup. Rachel Ware ’19 worked to increase access to GLI’s HIV tests, cancer screenings, and family planning services for communities around Lake Bunyonyi. Ware also helped introduce bio-fortified sweet potatoes in the area.
Gabbie Buendia ’19 interned at the Sierra Club through the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program, a two-year program aimed at increasing diversity in the environmental field. The environmental studies major worked on the Sierra Club’s Great Lakes Program, mapping green stormwater infrastructure in Detroit. “Rollins is helping me prepare for the future through leadership positions that allow students to make real change on the campus and in the community,” says Buendia. “I still have a lot to learn, but I have already learned so much about the importance of collaboration and community in creating change.”
Mary Vickers ’20 partnered with anthropology professor Nolan Kline through the Student-Faculty Collaborative Scholarship Program. They studied how the presence of police and border patrol in immigrant communities is affecting their daily lives, especially regarding levels of fear and access to essential services like health care. Kline and Vickers—a double major in international relations and Spanish—are working with the Farmworkers Association of Florida and the Hope CommUnity Center to provide the organizations with information that will help them apply for grants and plan their future programming. “I’m fascinated by the concept of activist anthropology, which I learned about in Dr. Kline’s Activism and Social Change class last spring,” says Vickers. “All of us have the utmost responsibility to listen to and amplify the stories of the most vulnerable members of our community.”
Ellie Rushing ’19—a double major in communications and environmental studies—interned at the Sun Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale, splitting her time between the features desk and the business desk. The self-professed news junkie had six bylines online within the first week, and her stories about invasive iguanas and people who eat them went viral, racking up over 1 million page views and landing on a local NPR sister station and local TV networks. The editor-in-chief of The Sandspur was one of 11 students chosen as the inaugural cohort of Rollins Professional Fellows, a new funded internship program that experienced a highly successful trial phase this past summer. “My internship with the Sun Sentinel has been nothing short of spectacular,” says Rushing, who sees a clear career path to journalism in her future. “I have written almost 30 stories now, with five making the front page, which is creating a really great portfolio of clips that I can use for future jobs and opportunities.”
Dayra Diaz-Marquez ’18, Kinsley Gerks ’20, Nikki Hall-Elser ’18, and Matias Meirelles Van Vliet ’19 spent eight weeks in an intensive accelerator program in a London castle, preparing to launch their social innovation startup BatterEASE. The four social entrepreneurship majors were among 50 teams worldwide who advanced to the final round of the 2018 Hult Prize, the world’s most prestigious competition for social innovation startups. In April, the quartet bested teams from nearly 50 international institutions, including teams from Yale, Cornell, Brown, and UC Berkeley, to win the Hult Prize’s San Francisco regional final. Through the accelerator program, Team BatterEase tapped into a global ecosystem of business leaders, mentors, investors, and corporate partners as it refined its winning idea, a portable upcycled battery that harnesses renewable energy for those who need it most. Along the way, they received hands-on coaching and mentorship from global social entrepreneurship experts and participated in MBA-level workshops.
Olivia Notman ’21 learned firsthand what it’s like to be an Australia Zoo ranger through a study abroad service experience at the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve in Queensland, Australia. She spent 11 days working alongside Australia Zoo rangers, scientists, and researchers at the 330,000-acre wetland conservation property named after the Crocodile Hunter. In addition to her service work, Notman went on several guided tours in search of crocodiles, kangaroos, and many other wildlife species. “Rollins is always encouraging us to explore things outside our major,” says Notman. “This trip was an incredible opportunity for me to gain new experiences and learn about animal conservation. All living things play a vital role in our ecosystem, and it is very important that we preserve that balance with animal conservation.”
Cameron Robinson ’19 got to be in her happy place all summer: surrounded by art at Snap! Space in downtown Orlando. The art history major worked alongside gallery owner Patrick Kahn as an intern for the second summer in a row. She helped curate an exhibition of local artists, organizing the entries, selecting the winners, working on the actual installation, and helping with the opening of the exhibition. “I hope to become a curator of a museum or gallery in the future, and the hands-on work I’ve done at Snap! has helped me learn the different aspects involved in curating an exhibition,” says Robinson. “Because I am local to Orlando, I also feel more connected to my community in a new way through art and those I have met in the art world.”
Physics major Josephine Spiegelberg ’20 conducted superfluid helium research at the University of California, Davis, through a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program sponsored by the National Science Foundation. “I chose to do research at UC Davis because I wanted to explore condensed-matter physics while also experiencing a new place and learning more about how grad school works,” says Spiegelberg, a veteran of Rollins’ Student-Faculty Collaborative Scholarship Program.
Kalli Joslin ’19 interned at the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) in Washington, D.C. The American studies and theatre arts major split her time between assisting the Affiliate Relations & Advocacy team in communicating with more than 50 state and local LGBT chambers of commerce and helping the National Legal Partnership team with legal research. Joslin’s internship expenses were covered by the Rollins Professional Fellows program, a new funded internship initiative piloted by the Center for Career & Life Planning this summer. “My time at the NGLCC has allowed me to develop even stronger research and communication skills and has broadened my knowledge of the D.C. advocacy and policy networks, allowing me to connect with some of the most influential people in the city,” says Joslin, who plans to attend law school in the capital beginning next fall.
Chemistry major Joey Schulz ’19 and chemistry professor James Patrone partnered on a drug discovery project through Rollins’ Student-Faculty Collaborative Scholarship Program. The pair aimed to create a synthetic scheme to synthesize a Tyrosinase inhibitor, which helps regulate the production of melanin in skin. “The experience taught me that when things don’t go right the first time, not to give up,” says Schulz. “It is through trial and error that some of life’s greatest discoveries came about.”
Morgan Snoap ’20 and Cristina Toppin ’21 teamed up with art professor MacKenzie Moon Ryan through the Student-Faculty Collaborative Scholarship Program to curate an exhibition of African textiles, clothing, and adornment for Rollins’ Cornell Fine Arts Museum. They spent their days combing through a private local collection, planning the conceptual framework of the exhibition, and writing the scholarly catalogue, which will be distributed in various libraries throughout the country and beyond. Both Snoap, an art history major, and Toppin, a double major in political science and religious studies, point to the unique value of this experience. Not only did they learn firsthand how to do scholarly research and the intricacies of curating a professional exhibition, but they got an up-close look at how art can so compellingly share people’s stories. They’re both proud that this work will help broaden people’s views of Africa, its diverse artistic traditions, and how the continent has changed throughout the 20th century.
History major Julie Sparks ’20 was one of a dozen students who immersed themselves in Greece’s past and present on history professor Hannah Ewing’s Panhellenic Greece field study. During the 12-day study abroad experience, the group explored classical Greek history and culture through the country’s archaeological sites, including the acropolis of Athens, the secluded sanctuaries of Delphi, and the ancient stadium at Olympia. For more on Sparks’ Greek adventure, explore her travelogue from the trip.
Yaya Mbengue ’19 spent the summer in Senegal, Africa, as a marketing intern at Kumba, an organization recognized by USAID that commercializes local African products such as millet, baobab, and moringa. The company also partners with many female empowerment groups to help women in Senegal’s agricultural field. By the end of the internship, the business management major had created Kumba’s first website. “This internship taught me so much about culture, especially work culture,” says Mbengue, whose goal is to work for the U.N. or UNICEF. “There are so many differences from Western culture, but just because they’re different doesn’t mean they’re wrong. I’m taking back so many great ideas from this experience, which has truly helped me see my full potential in the field of agro business.”
Makenzie Grider ’19 was a strandings investigation program intern at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Florida. The marine biology major’s primary responsibility was to rescue whales, dolphins, turtles, and manatees and to respond to calls on the 24-hour strandings hotline. “One of my biggest takeaways from this experience has been how much harm humans are really doing to the environment of marine mammals and turtles,” says Grider. “I will take this knowledge with me into the future as I hope to further contribute to research in the conservation of marine mammals.”
Courtney Mejias ’19 gained global business experience Down Under as an intern at Mumbrella, a marketing and media industry news website based in Sydney. From assisting with payroll and accounts receivable to helping onboard new staff, the international business major stayed busy in the office but also carved out time to explore some iconic Australian experiences like scuba diving and hanging out on Bondi Beach.
Jessica Zhang ’21 interned in the Overseas Business Department of Sinotrans Shanghai Qiantang Co. in Shanghai, China. In this role, the international business major and Asian studies minor provided customer service to overseas clients, helping them navigate the intricacies of shipping goods to foreign countries.
Ash Bermudez ’21 was one of nine students who spent four weeks in Münster studying German language and immersing themselves in German culture on professor Nancy Decker’s Sommer Deutschland field study. Daily German classes at the language school KAPITO Sprachshüle where complemented by an array of cultural activities, including bicycle tours, museum visits, sporting events, and a full-day excursion to Cologne.
Ryan O’Donnell ’20 was a strategic development intern in NASCAR’s New York City offices. The communication studies and social entrepreneurship double major returned to Florida in July for the Coke Zero 400 and took Rollins audiences on a behind-the-scenes tour of Daytona International Speedway on race day.
Carla Daza ’20, Brandon Manbahal ’19, and Noelle Wurst ’19 interned with a trio of Michigan nonprofits thanks to the support of the Rhoda Newberry Reed Foundation. Daza interned at Girls Group, a nonprofit youth development agency in Ann Arbor that empowers middle- and high-school girls to become first-generation college graduates. The mathematics and computer science double major collaborated with the nonprofit’s staff and other interns to organize and facilitate programming throughout the summer. Manbahal interned at Cass Community Social Services in Detroit, managing volunteer groups to complete projects around the nonprofit’s social service campus and leading group excursions to historical sites throughout the city. Wurst assisted in day-to-day operations, event planning, and long-term projects at Neutral Zone, a teen center in Ann Arbor dedicated to promoting personal growth through artistic expression and community leadership.
Keehle Amicon ’19 was a design intern at Deux Mains, an Orlando-based ethical fashion company founded by Julie Colombino ’18MBA. Amicon, a business management major and studio art minor, designed belts, jewelry, and accessories for the brand’s fall 2019 line. She was also responsible for brand management and sourcing as well as ensuring that a strong brand identity is translated through Deux Mains’ story, design, and quality.
Brian Mahanpour ’21 participated in a pair of professional development experiences at investment banking giant Goldman Sachs. In May, the economics major attended the Goldman Sachs Undergraduate Camp in Dallas, Texas, and spent three days networking with everyone from company associates and recruiters to vice presidents and managing directors. Later in the summer, Mahanpour also participated in Goldman Sachs’ Virtual Insight Series, a 10-week training program conducted by company executives and recruiters.
Aspiring research scientist Laura Tao ’19 got the chance to intern at Sanford-Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute in Lake Nona thanks to the Rollins Professional Fellows, a pilot program that’s providing students the financial freedom to pursue top internship opportunities. The biochemistry/molecular biology major spent the summer working alongside molecular biologist Dr. Timothy Osbourne, studying lipid metabolism, performing experiments, taking care of human cells, and making discoveries using Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) data analysis. “During my internship, I learned how important it is to have adequate experiences in the lab,” says Tao. “The terms I’ve learned in class weren’t just terms anymore; they became samples and data that were actually done by me.”
Nicole Schoenfeld ’20 volunteered at The Maranatha Academy, a preschool in Kigali, Rwanda. The mathematics major and Bonner Leader helped the school’s teachers develop lesson plans and course materials. Schoenfeld, who says she has always been interested in the country’s history, also met Rwandan President Paul Kagame.
Sydney Brown ’20 was a curatorial research intern at Rollins’ Cornell Fine Arts Museum. The political science major researched artist bios for upcoming fall and spring exhibitions and designed and led a tour focusing on the intersection of art and politics. “Critical thinking and effective writing are two skills that are integral to my success as a political science major,” says Brown, “and I’m interested in exploring and developing these skills in the context of museum studies.”
Anjelique Luca ’19 interned at Fighting Blindness, a patient-led charity based in Dublin, Ireland, that works to support and empower the nearly quarter-million people in Ireland living with blindness or vision impairment. The international business major contributed to the nonprofit’s marketing and database management.
Education major Morgan Richardson ’19 and education professor Jenn Manak investigated how reading specialists support literacy instruction through Rollins’ Student-Faculty Collaborative Scholarship Program. The pair explored how specialists can help teachers incorporate best practices into mandated reading curriculum. “In other undergrad research programs, students are seen primarily as errand runners,” says Richardson. “At Rollins I had the chance to make an academic contribution and really impact the future of education with my research.”
Communication studies major Erin McCusker ’19 attended Feminist Camp in New York City. Each day of the weeklong experience was dedicated to a different theme—from creativity and entrepreneurship to reproductive rights. Over the course of the week, McCusker and her fellow feminists met with dozens of women in a variety of professions to learn about their work and how they incorporate feminism into what they do. “My biggest takeaway was that there isn’t just one way to be a feminist and activist,” says McCusker. “I met women in a variety of careers, from publishing and journalism to advertising and law, and they all found a way to incorporate their activism, values, and desire to make a positive impact in the world into their work.”
Double major in political science and English Ellie Heller ’21 interned as a congressional nonprofit engagement coordinator at the Office of Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy in downtown Orlando. She was responsible for constituent paperwork, writing briefings for the congresswoman, and doing research on various new legislation. During the latter part of her internship, she took the lead on locating, organizing, and categorizing all the nonprofits in the area in order to engage the congresswoman’s office in the local community. “It was so important for me to gain this experience in a federal office,” says Heller. “One of the most meaningful moments was attending an open-forum event where Puerto Rican immigrants who had come to Florida after Hurricane Irma were sharing their stories and struggles. It was really touching and reminded me why I wanted to be a political science major in the first place.”
Ryan Colangelo ’19—a double major in economics and international relations—headed to Milan this summer to work as a marketing/management intern at Il Centro di Lingua e Cultura Italiana per Stranieri, an Italian language school open to the public. Colangelo was one of 11 standout students chosen as the inaugural cohort of Rollins Professional Fellows, a new funded internship program that enjoyed a successful pilot this past summer. Fluent in German, Colangelo revamped the English and German versions of the organization’s website and social media channels and focused on forging partnerships between Il Centro and other American universities and Italian businesses. “During my internship, several of my supervisors complimented my understanding of other cultures, customs, and legal/governmental procedures, all of which I have learned as a result of my Rollins education,” says Colangelo.
Political science professor Dan Chong led a dozen students on a field study through Tanzania and Kenya. The group tackled an array of community development projects in both countries, learning about everything from organic agriculture and beekeeping to microfinance in the process. But the field study wasn’t all work and study. They also hiked stunning waterfalls and went on a world-class safari through Serengeti National Park.
Cami Craig ’20, Meredith Klenkel ’21, Lauren Oxendine ’20, Meghan Oxford ’19, Manny Rodriguez ’21, and Isabel Urban ’21 attended Alternative Break Citizenship Schools (ABCS) in support of Rollins’ Immersion program. The weeklong experiential training sessions provide student leaders with the knowledge, skills, and connections they need to strengthen a quality alternative-break program. Klenkel, Oxendine, Oxford, and Rodriguez participated in a conference centered on affordable housing and homelessness in Salt Lake City. Craig’s program in Virginia’s Prince William Forest Park focused on national parks and access for marginalized communities, while Urban attended an ABCS on disaster relief and the immigrant workforce in Houston. Last year, 331 Tars contributed more than 3,800 hours at more than 45 community organizations through the Immersion program.
Shaina Cordas ’19 interned at Chimp Haven, the world’s largest chimpanzee sanctuary. The biology major served as an animal husbandry volunteer at the Shreveport, Louisiana, sanctuary and was also able to study areas of veterinary science and animal behavior during her internship.
Karina Barbesino ’19 participated in an intensive Chinese language program at Dalian University of Technology through the Critical Language Scholarship Program. The two-month program included intensive language instruction and cultural enrichment experiences designed to advance a student’s language ability equivalent to one year of university-level language classes. Since earning a Boren Scholarship her sophomore year at Rollins, the double major in international relations and Asian studies has lived in three Chinese cities for a total of nine months and completed four academic programs at three Chinese universities. “However mentally exhausting and academically challenging my experience in Dalian was this summer, it was undoubtedly worth it in order to make tangible progress in my language learning journey,” says Barbesino.
Casey Wright ’19 was a broadcast intern for the Winter Garden Squeeze of the Florida Collegiate Summer League. Wright, a communication studies major and pitcher on the JV baseball team, provided play-by-play commentary for the amateur baseball team’s 24 home games and color commentary for the team’s 25 away games.
International business major Matt Huber ’19 was a wealth management intern at financial services firm UBS in Rochester, New York. Huber prepared and presented reports, conducted research to determine best-of-class money managers, and helped streamline and modernize how the team catalogs confidential client information and documents.
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