Summer, Shared 2020

From career-defining internships to original student-faculty research, Tars share their top accomplishments from summer 2020.

There’s no doubt this summer looked different from years past, as long-anticipated globetrotting adventures were thwarted and internships and volunteer opportunities the world over were reimagined for the virtual space. Despite the challenges, Tars faced the changing circumstances head-on as global citizens and responsible leaders, grasping in real time the importance of the critical-thinking and creative problem-solving skills they’re learning at Rollins.

As spring gave way to summer, we asked students to keep us in the loop on all their summertime experiences—whether masked up and socially distanced or from the confines of their computer screen. From creating on-the-fly marketing strategies for newly launched PPE companies to conducting research on food deserts in Central Florida to analyzing proposed legislation on Capitol Hill, Tars took what they’ve learned in our small, discussion-based classes and went out into the world—in one way or another—to test their ability to make it brighter. Here are a few of our favorite stories from summer 2020, a true testament to the resilience of the Rollins community.

Business major Riley Hoffer ’20 spent the summer interning as a customer experience and digital marketing intern at FaceMask America, a personal protective equipment company her family started in light of COVID-19. Hoffer credits skills she learned in business professor Raghabendra KC’s Entrepreneurial Marketing course for her ability to hit the ground running in her internship and take an idea from conception to execution. “Through this experience, I learned the importance of thinking creatively and discovered a love for understanding the behaviors of consumers and anticipating their needs.”

Photo by Scott Cook

At Rollins, international business and economics double major Harrison Loew ’21 has learned that financial advising and asset management are much more than simple equations and that success in these endeavors requires the pursuit of trusted relationships, patience, and a wide knowledge base beyond the markets. This fundamental understanding prepared him for success as a summer analyst in the Advisor Development Program at Merrill Lynch, where he analyzed client assets, created diverse portfolios, researched foreign markets, and even landed a personal meeting with Tom Montag, the chief operating officer of Bank of America. “This experience taught me about the importance of setting expectations, to continue to grow furiously as you work toward your goals, to go into every opportunity with an open mind, and maybe most importantly, to always be adaptable in the face of change.”

Communication studies major Julia Levin ’21 interned at The Ventilator Project, a startup that launched this past March to provide rapid, scalable solutions to the global ventilator shortage. Levin handled tasks in PR, digital marketing, and social media in an effort to build the nonprofit’s visibility, communicating with engineers and medical officials on a daily basis and developing relationships with like-minded nonprofits across the country.

Economics major Daniel Elizalde ’21 interned on-site this summer in the nation’s capital for U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock, where a typical day at the office included addressing concerns of constituents in California’s 4th congressional district, researching and analyzing proposed legislations, and assisting with administrative tasks. “Having the opportunity to translate what I’ve been learning in my classes about hot-button issues such as trade, taxes, and the federal government’s role in the economy to a professional setting was incredibly fulfilling.”

Photo by Scott Cook

English major Emily O’Malley ’22 teamed up with English professor Paul Reich through Rollins’ Student-Faculty Collaborative Scholarship Program to investigate the ways that popular TV shows, The Handmaid’s Tale and Westworld, misappropriate the form and thematic elements of 19th-century slave narratives to suggest the enslavement of white women without acknowledging the intersectionality of race and gender or the legacy of slavery in the U.S. The pair’s research will be published in the winter 2021 issue of the peer-reviewed journal, Popular Culture Review. “Participating in student-faculty research has helped me connect with other student researchers in meaningful ways while giving me the opportunity to develop my own original theories. I’m planning to get my PhD in English, so starting research now is a huge plus.”

As part of Rollins’ newly minted Gateway Fellows program—a funded internship program that recently received a $2 million pledge from Trustee Campbell Brown ’90—Haley Panessa ’21 served as a global business development intern at the Global Innovators Academy. This unique communications and career development training program exposes students to innovative, like-minded entrepreneurs who’ve been successful in their chosen fields. The international business major, who dreams of a career in the fashion industry, had the opportunity to work with one of her heroes, Kevin McLaughlin, co-founder of the popular American sportswear brand, J.McLaughlin.

Photo by Scott Cook

Biochemistry/molecular biology and art history double major Isaac Gorres ’21 worked alongside biology professor Brendaliz Santiago-Narvaez to examine the microbial flora of an old master painting in one of the Cornell Fine Arts Museum’s collections. As part of Rollins’ Student-Faculty Collaborative Scholarship Program, the pair collected swabs from the surface of the painting to see if they could isolate bacteria and test whether the pigments in the painting could support bacterial growth. Gorres recently earned a 2020 Goldwater Scholarship, the country’s preeminent undergraduate award in the fields of mathematics, engineering, and the natural sciences.

Despite great distances, anthropology major Kirsten Barry ’21 quickly bonded with the four other U.S. students who were chosen for the virtual internship program at International Study Abroad Global, which paired them with two Australia-based clients. The cohort collaborated to help an exhaust systems manufacturer understand its competitive strengths and weaknesses while also applying macroeconomic analysis to help a publishing company understand the U.S. political, environmental, social, and legal climate. “I learned how to develop and demonstrate key global skills such as cultural consciousness, initiative, service-orientedness, and teamwork. I also learned to apply research, consulting, and innovation techniques to real-world client briefs, which allowed me to provide valuable business solutions.”

Cristalle Choi ’22 is passionate about using innovative technology to improve the quality, accessibility, and efficiency of health care. The business management major, who is also triple-minoring in computer science, data analytics, and global health, had the opportunity to put this passion into practice this past summer as a technical product manager on the global supply chain team at GE Healthcare. During this immersive four-week experience, Choi expanded the team’s use of Salesforce by making recommendations on advanced capabilities, attended workshops on health-care economics, learned how to apply design thinking in the health-care space, and received guidance from GE executives on how to navigate her career. “Just like at Rollins, my internship at GE Healthcare taught me never to stop learning and asking questions. I really got to see firsthand the importance of building meaningful connections and collaborating with diverse people.”

Photo by Scott Cook

Chemistry major Alyssa Malto ’21 and chemistry professor Laurel Habgood joined forces through Rollins’ Student-Faculty Collaborative Scholarship Program to synthesize biologically active silver complexes using N-heterocyclic carbenes. Silver is well known to possess antibacterial properties, and medicinal silver was used prior to the advent of antibiotics. The silver compounds that they’re producing will be given to fellow student-faculty researchers to help them determine the effect of the compounds on bacterial growth to better understand effective targets of the microbe.

International business major Marcus Davis ’20 ’21MBA’s on-site internship at the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce through the Gateway Fellows program continued as planned but with increased safety measures. While wearing a mask and keeping a safe social distance, Davis engaged with community decision-makers, participated in key meetings, and created agendas and executed programs for Leadership Winter Park, a Chamber program that offers a behind-the-scenes look at critical issues confronting the community and identifies emerging leaders. “In this internship, I was able to use what I’ve learned through the interdisciplinary curriculum at Rollins, which has prepared me to approach complex issues from a multitude of perspectives and develop creative solutions. My experience at the Chamber provided me with the first step in my career and helped me clarify my talents, abilities, and goals toward working in business development.”

Computer science major Elliot Wurst ’21 worked as a graphics programmer focused on data-visualization tools for the fisheries branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), an opportunity he discovered through adjunct computer science professor Ronald Klasky. “I’m thankful for the small student-faculty ratio at Rollins because we can interact with our professors on a personal level. My relationship with Professor Klasky helped me get this internship, which has been such an important step on my path to pursue a career in computer graphics, data security, or artificial intelligence.”

For the second time, Erika Wesch ’23 worked as a summer site intern at the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse, which is run by the Loxahatchee Historical Society. The history and international relations double major helped educate guests about the history of the area and assisted the collections manager in cataloging new acquisitions. “I wanted to develop a better understanding of how museums and nonprofits work, and many of the skills that I gained through this experience are transferable to other professions.”

Gateway Fellow EJ Broker ’22 loves teaching others about chemistry and helping them overcome the complexities and stigmas that are so often associated with the subject. The chemistry and Spanish double major interned this summer at the Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities (APLU), a research, policy, and advocacy organization dedicated to strengthening and advancing the work of public universities in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. His charge was to conduct an extensive literature review of the work that has been done in general chemistry curriculum reform with the goal of formulating a funding proposal for the National Science Foundation. “I plan to pursue a PhD in chemistry and become a professor, so this internship really opened my eyes to the complex world of academia. We’re at a turning point in our entire culture because of the pandemic, which just might be the perfect catalyst for much-needed changes in higher education.”

Using human-centered design thinking, biochemistry/molecular biology major Zoe Pearson ’22 and anthropology professor Shan-Estelle Brown teamed up through Rollins’ Student-Faculty Collaborative Scholarship Program to create guidelines for the development of mobile health applications to address the needs of informal caregivers. The pair spent the summer engaging in this especially relevant work given the current climate of COVID-19 by recruiting and interviewing local participants and establishing focus groups to gain insight into their lives. Pearson and Brown hope to make the research available publicly so people can use it to produce diverse interpretations of the data, leading to a larger pool of resources for informal caregivers.

While interning remotely as a Gateway Fellow for Feiy, a Shanghai-based nonprofit focused on sustainability initiatives, Regan Iberal ’22 learned how doing good in the world can truly be good for business. The psychology major worked on writing a case study about Patagonia’s business model, a tenet of which is to support grassroots organizations and their efforts to combat the most pressing threats to the environment.

Mathematics and international business double major Jean Zhang ’20 felt prepared for her virtual internship at Australia-based Functional Health and Performance because of courses she’d taken at Rollins in international marketing, operations, and global strategy. The Gateway Fellow refined skills in time management and leadership while nurturing a newfound love for marketing strategy and operations. “This internship really opened up a new field to me and solidified my plans to pursue an MBA after graduation.”

Through Rollins’ Gateway Fellows program, mathematics and public policy and political economy major Tyler Nagy ’22 interned remotely as a project manager with the World Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Federation, located in Shenzhen, China. From the comfort of home, Nagy still gained invaluable international experience through his various responsibilities, which included proofreading documents, writing press releases, performing market research, and supporting the organization’s efforts to prepare for the Drone World Congress 2020.

Emily Curran ’22’s experience this summer alongside sociology professor Amy Armenia in Rollins’ Student-Faculty Collaborative Scholarship Program has affirmed her plans to pursue a graduate degree in sociology. Together they creatively pivoted to a virtual working environment in which they partnered with Second Harvest Food Bank to research food-assistance deserts in Central Florida, using spatial analysis to identify service gaps in the area’s six counties.

A current student in Rollins’ 3/2 Accelerated Management Program, Hannah Jackson ’21 ’22MBA was able to get right in on the action at dasFlow, an innovative local company that sells eco-friendly custom athletic apparel. Through the Gateway Fellows program, the social entrepreneurship major spent the summer revamping dasFlow’s website, performing market research, and developing new promotional strategies. “This internship helped me gain real-world experience in how sustainable businesses function and how they make decisions that keep their commitment to corporate social responsibility as a priority. I learned so much about why certain products are chosen and about how to choose a target audience.”

Sara Cohen ’23, a social entrepreneurship major minoring in business, launched her own website this summer to showcase and sell her artwork, establishing her brand @sjstudioshop while taking multiple Spanish courses. “I’ve always been in love with art and felt like it was finally time to create a website and go after something I’ve always wanted to do. I’m really excited to take Visual Poetry next semester, which will allow me to expand my creativity.”

Psychology major and Gateway Fellow Jazlynn Breton ’21’s summer internship at Fundación Génesis—an organization that provides comprehensive and personalized assistance to those living in extreme poverty in Costa Rica—helped crystallize her plans to become a marital and family therapist. Breton created and launched the first-ever international fundraiser for the nonprofit, the proceeds of which will help buy food for children with disabilities who are suffering even more now because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “As a Rollins student, I’ve learned how important it is to become a global citizen, and through this internship I really got to see that firsthand. My supervisor told me how impressed she was by my professionalism, decision-making, and listening and organizational skills, and this experience was the perfect preparation for grad school.”

As an intern at AlgaEnergy, international business and economics double major Carlota Vega ’21 spent the summer analyzing raw data, creating customized offers, and finding collaboration partners to support the company’s mission to combat food insecurity, sustainability issues, and energy inefficiency through the use of microalgae. “This internship really allowed me to put my knowledge into practice and test my skills in business development, communication, and time management.”

Music major Elizabeth Smith ’22 spent five weeks this summer as a virtual Global Scholar Fellow with the Global Livingston Institute. While learning the ins and outs of community development, she fused her interests in music, art, writing, and human rights and researched the intersection of music and public health. “The most impactful part of my internship was learning about survivors of the Rwandan genocide. With my goal to be an international child advocate and one day work for an organization such as the United Nations or UNICEF, these types of traumas are something I would like to continue to research so I can help provide justice to survivors.”

Thanks to the funding provided by the Gateway Fellows program, Isabel Adamus ’22 was able to participate in a five-week virtual internship and seminar program through the School for International Training (SIT). With a passion for public health, the double major in biochemistry/molecular biology and anthropology served as an intern at the Kenya Medical Research Institute, where nearly every discussion during the program involved COVID-19. “This internship experience has completely changed the way I view research, surveillance, data analysis, epidemiology, community engagement, and social justice. I worked with an international cohort to analyze journals and studies, present on public health topics, and confer with experts in the field about the social determinants of health like culture, religion, language, education level, and gender.”

Economics major and law school hopeful Christian Mahlstedt ’22 interned for Judge Feigenbaum at the Seventh Judicial Circuit Court of Florida, where he attended multiple hearings and analyzed the behaviors and styles of the judges and attorneys.

Truman Scholar and first-generation college student Wyatt Deihl ’21 polished his leadership skills and legal knowledge as an intern at Homoglobin, a nonprofit dedicated to overturning an FDA ban on blood donations from people who are sexually active with gay or bisexual men. Through the Gateway Fellows program, Deihl worked as a regional operations intern, overseeing programs in fundraising, lobbying, governmental relations, capacity building, and community outreach. “My long-term career goal is to be Florida’s first openly gay U.S. representative, and this internship really highlighted the continued discrimination that LGBTQ+ people face and helped inform my future work in correcting these injustices.”

As an intern for the Orange County government’s business development division, Lucca Goncalves ’21 learned how the public and private sectors work together to sponsor economic development in Central Florida by supporting businesses owned by minorities, women, and veterans. The economics major and Gateway Fellow organized financial documentation for CPA audits, maintained databases, and assisted county vendors through the vendor recertification process—all salient experience that will support his long-term career goal of becoming a compliance officer in the banking industry.

Biochemistry/molecular biology major and Gateway Fellow Andrew Stewart ’21 joined Wyatt Deihl ’21 this summer at Homoglobin, where he helped grow the advocacy group dedicated to LGBTQ+ rights from 10 to 43 volunteers and recruited state directors to expand the organization’s national footprint. “As the national digital director, I really got to develop my leadership skills. I hadn’t been in a place of authority before, where I’ve been able to veto something or guide or approve it. These skills will translate well to being a physician focused on public health.”

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