My final week at Supportive Living Inc. felt like it wrapped up so quickly, and yet I cannot help but think it was just the right amount of time for me to move onto other things. There is no doubt that my time at Supportive Living Inc. was worthwhile and well spent. My learning goals were met because I got to delve into physical therapy, sociological research projects, and a multitude of activities with brain injured residents. Some residents may have impacted me more than others (there are a couple specific ones I wrote about in a newsletter for Supportive Living) and I know I will definitely visit them from time to time.
This internship has definitely helped me clarify my career interests. Though enjoyable, physical or occupational therapy is not a field I wish to pursue. I have found research to be incredibly intriguing and more suited towards my personality and interests. I have also learned more things about myself. Not to “toot my own horn,” but I believe I am very good at connecting with certain kinds of people who otherwise are very shy and reserved. I have experienced some incredibly touching and memorable moments with some residents who usually never talk or open up.
If any other student would like to pursue this internship, I would encourage them earnestly. Especially if one is interested in public health but does not know what aspect of it to work in (like me). There were many interns who I worked with who were interested in neuroscience as well as health sciences and psychology majors. Those who are interested in learning about the post traumatic effects of brain injury should definitely try this internship. However, if you are more interested in learning about the more scientific research of neuroscience, I would recommend a different kind of internship. SLI research is more about sociological research rather than lab work.
The aspect of this summer internship I am most proud of is how I was able to make connections with people at Brandeis. I think it is very important that I take away some things from this internship that could directly and positively affect my future. I was able to meet another Brandeis student who introduced me to Brandeis Global Brigades (a program I might join in the spring), and I was also able to meet Dr. Laura Lorenz, a visiting scholar at the Heller School. With Dr. Lorenz, I was able to discuss a possible independent study with her when I come back to Brandeis in the spring. I am proud at how I was able to make some immediate plans with Brandeis staff and students concerning my academic future.
The pictures below include my video project, a bike exercise with an intern and an immobile resident, and a bonsai activity.
World of Work has differed from my university academic life because I become a more independent person. Leaving my home everyday to travel by car or public transportation to work forces me to rely on my own self for transportation. I have become a much more self motivated person by discussing with colleagues about what kinds of work I hope to pursue in the future because of my experience here.
An official picture of me and the other interns for Summer 2016 internship.
Due to this internship, I have been able to participate in two research opportunities during my time at Supportive Living. My first research project involved evaluating the nutritional diets of residents at each of the houses. I have and will be conducting interviews with the staff and residents on what kinds of menus they have and the overall kitchen/dining experience by looking in the pantries and observing the meal times. My second research opportunity involves designing an ideal brain injury fitness center for a future house. I have to participate in more individualized research by looking into other successful wellness centers and looking into financial aspects. These opportunities for research have helped me develop my skills in communication. I have been able to go out of my comfort zone to actively network with other staff members to learn about their new positions at the organization and how they got to be there. In addition, I got to meet a fellow Brandeis alumni through my work. Her name is Laura Lorenz and she is a current visiting scholar at Brandeis working on research with some Brandeis graduate students at Heller. She came to talk to us about a photo voice project she worked on with some of the brain injury residents at the Douglas House. Her project involved giving cameras to the residents to take pictures of struggles in their lives that otherwise would not have been noticed by “normal” people. For example, there is one picture that is angled on the ground that shows a sharp ridge hill. From this perspective, the picture shows how difficult it is for wheelchair bound residents to navigate. I have also talked to Ms. Lorenz about possibly participating in some research with her, dedicated at understanding the financial opportunities for different programs and the effect finances have on the resident experience. Unfortunately, I would not be able to do anything until I came back from studying abroad this fall, but she said she was very interested in working with me in the future. She has allowed me the freedom to pursue any kind of independent study I am interested in, with hopes that I can find something I am personally passionate about and am motivated to work for everyday while I am with her.
A picture of fellow Brandeis alumni Dr. Laura Lorenz who has allowed me to work with her on an independent study this upcoming spring.
As an HSSP major working at Supportive Living, I have been able to utilize my skills from interviewing friends and family members for papers in class to interacting with people from all kinds of organizations at work for research. Therefore, my work at Supportive Living has helped me immensely improve upon my communication skills. As a previously reserved and quiet student, course interviews on the experience of illness with family members have prepared me for interviews with work colleagues and even complete strangers. Also the fact that I already have experience talking with people of a specific disability/illness background (my interview with my father who deals with diabetes) has definitely helped me in interacting with the brain injury population. As I talk to people from various organizations, my skills in communication have helped me inquire about their backgrounds and current projects/missions. Thanks to these skills, I was able to further discuss with Dr. Laura Lorenz about her upcoming research project which I can hopefully be a part of one day. These communication skills are necessary in being able to learn about different career paths I can possibly take in the future and also learn from other more experienced veterans in other fields.
A picture of me with one of my residents for physical fitness
Hello dear readers! My name is Amy Zhang and I am an intern at a Supportive Living Inc., a brain injury rehabilitation clinic located in Lexington, Massachusetts. Supportive Living is an organization that is dedicated to aiding brain injured members of the population through funding, housing, and rehabilitating programs at their multiple locations. I work at the Douglas House in Lexington that acts as sort of the hub center of all Supportive Living management. As one of ten new college interns, I participate in assisting with the physical therapy and other rehabilitating cognitive activities designed for each individual clinic’s residents. I, in layman’s terms, interact, help, and motivate the residents through different programs.
I just finished my first week of work and it certainly was an experience. You know that feeling of when you are in the cart of an ascending roller coaster? You know when the descent is going to happen and how it’s going to feel and yet that prior knowledge doesn’t really prepare you for the fall anyways? That’s kind of similar to how I felt during my first week. I had a pretty solid idea of what I would be doing for the internship and yet I still found myself being apprehensive throughout the whole week. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved the work. The best part about this internship was the opportunity getting to interact with residents and other interns on a personal basis. But I was still constantly getting surprised by the kinds of conversations I would have with the residents. Working with brain injured patients, I had a vague idea of how difficult interacting with them might be. And yet, as I was working on activities like horticultural therapy with some of the patients, I found myself constantly being surprised by how easy it was to partake in regular daily conversations.
The first picture depicts interns interacting with some of the brain injury residents during a music therapy class while the second picture is some of the horticultural plants we work with.
I get to also partake in a research project directed at creating the outlining foundation of a new wellness center. As I interview residents and employee staff, research online, and visit other wellness centers, I will summarize all my new information into a final research paper provided at the end of the summer. I also get to help with a video documentary directed at advertising the program to the community. On my fourth day, I got to attend video training at a local company called LexMedia. The documentary should and will showcase the daily activities of the residents and also the struggles of dealing with different brain injuries.
This picture is of the video lecturer at LexMedia.
From this internship, I am hoping to attain a personal experience with working within a strong developing public health institution. As I hope to work in some aspect of public health one day, I think it is important for me to understand how a quickly growing public health institution works. I also hope I get to create more personal relationships with not only the other employees and interns, but also the residents at Supportive Living. I really want a more intimate perspective on how the inner workings of the institution operate and how effective it truly is.