Post 1: Nonviolence International

Hi everyone! My name is Zosia Busé, and I am a rising junior at Brandeis. This summer, I am working for Nonviolence International (NI), a non-profit organization based in Washington D.C. The D.C. office is considered the headquarters of the organization, but they consider themselves “a decentralized network” so there are small satellite offices all over the world. There is also an office in New York City that works directly with the United Nations on disarmament, as NI is a non-governmental organization in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. At its core, Nonviolence International is an organization dedicated to the principles and practices of nonviolence and nonviolent action. What is nonviolence and nonviolent action, you may ask? Check out this link to learn more!

NI’s initiatives manifests in a variety of ways. The beauty of NI’s decentralized nature is that NI supports coexistence efforts in conflict-ridden areas all over the world. In the few weeks that I’ve been here, I’ve learned so much about the different aspects of the conflict resolution process, and how principles apply to real life scenarios. NI supports nonviolent action programs in countries such as North/South Korea, Ukraine, Thailand, and Palestine/Israel.  On a grand scale, Nonviolence International seeks to address the vast injustices of war and conflict. But as we all know, there are a variety of injustices that occur within the context of war and violence, such as poverty and human rights violations.

Protest
Protesting outside of Senator Mitch McConnell’s office!

This summer, I am serving as the lead intern for the Palestinian projects, which I could not be more excited about (especially in light of current events). In this capacity, I have started working on research about the application of nonviolent action and mediation, but I will also be working as a liaison and as programmatic support for nonprofit organizations such as the Holy Land Trust, Center for Jewish Nonviolence, #FreedomFlotilla, and many more. This link will give you an indication of some of the cool stuff I get to work on. (This page will lead you to more links to learn more about all the different groups!) Many of these projects have different tasks that come up daily, mostly related to research, updating social media, editing websites, and administrative assignments.

Additionally, NI tries to support any active organizing efforts in D.C. For the interns, that means heading out to protests, teach-ins, demonstrations, or anything that comes up! On my third day on the job, we went to the Russell State Building with Reverend Barber’s Poor People’s Campaign, protesting “The War Economy: Militarism and the Proliferation of Gun Violence.” We ended the rally at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office by dropping white carnations to represent lives lost to violence.

I hope that my work in supporting NI’s projects in Palestine will help to create more awareness for the entire situation on both sides, and hopefully work towards humanizing the victims of the violence. I know I won’t solve the conflict from D.C. in a few short months, but I hope my role will work towards the ultimate goal of coexistence between Palestine and Israel.

Looking forward to the rest of the summer!
-Zosia Busé

Post 1: First Week At The ACLU of Utah

I was extremely anxious before beginning my internship at the Utah affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Although I had been learning a lot about the court system and legislative argumentation in legal studies courses at Brandeis, my undergraduate level of education made me feel insecure in a work environment with graduate students and legal professionals. However, my nerves faded away the moment I met the welcoming staff and interns. Everyone greeted me with a warm smile and open arms to the conference room where I joined the rest of the interns to work on our respective projects. I soon sat down with my supervisor Leah Farrell to discuss her expectations for the rest of the summer. Unlike internships that force their interns to fetch coffee and stay in the background, the ACLU of Utah urges its interns to find a social justice project that sparks their passion and to pursue as far as they can. 

In general, the ACLU of Utah follows the three-part strategy of public education, litigation, and lobbying at the state and national level to protect the constitutional rights and freedoms of everyone living or visiting Utah. Racial justice, immigrant rights, the criminal justice system, protection of the First Amendment, reproductive freedoms, and equality is a short list of all of the topics this organization covers.   

Recently, the ACLU of Utah celebrated its 60th anniversary and I was lucky enough to be a part of the festivities. Throughout the evening, student activists received scholarships for their advocacy work. The photo above is of the delicious birthday cake!   

Already in my first week, I am researching attempts to both remove and protect gay-straight alliances (GSAs) in Utah public high schools. Historically, the ACLU of Utah fought to establish the acceptance of GSA in the state’s public schools. By partnering with motivated students, the ACLU strives to diminish the taboo behind sexuality discussions and enforce the Equal Access Act, a federal law that compels funded secondary schools to give equal access to all extracurricular student clubs. GSAs operate just like any other school-based club or activity, from mock trial to Future Business Leaders of America, except that GSAs pursue the unique mission to create a safe space for students to discuss their own sexuality. By learning more about the legal and political restrictions that make it difficult to establish these clubs, I only become more passionate about this issue. Throughout the process, I have been learning how Utah laws govern the creation of student clubs and how differing interpretations of district policies can either inhibit or encourage a space for a GSA. Moreover, I have improved upon my research and organizational skills while trying to understand this complex problem.

 As I look forward to the rest of my time at the ACLU of Utah, I hope to gain further insights into how this small and scrappy organization uses the tools of litigation and social action to hold powerful institutions accountable for their actions. I’m excited to forge connections with the professionals around me who have dedicated their careers to civil rights advocacy.    

Image of ACLU of Utah logo in celebration of its 60th anniversary.

Post 1: Exploring Consumer Interests at National Consumers League

My name is Caleigh Bartash. As the Brandeis fellow at the historic DC-based advocacy group National Consumers League, I help promote the interests of consumers in areas such as safety, health care and personal finances. My organization defends consumers with a broad approach that includes special emphasis on fraud, child labor, medical literacy and development of life skills for teenagers.

My colleague at the League’s fraud center, for example, talks to consumers every day and teaches them how to recognize and avoid scams. I was surprised to learn scam artists have technology so advanced they can disguise their numbers to look like a reputable organization. Innovation improves our lives for the most part, but it also makes scams much harder to detect. I would recommend anyone worried about scams to check out Fraud.org to learn how to stay safe.

NCL’s Child Labor Coalition branch alerts consumers about suspect working conditions and and lobbies for stronger protection. And a program known as Script Your Future teaches people how to navigate the health-care system, properly administer legal medicine and avoid illicit drugs.

The LifeSmarts scholarship program uses a trivia-style competition to teach young people about consumer issues and make it fun for them at the same time. Each week the other interns and I write at least 25 questions for the competition covering topics from personal finance to technology.  The middle and high school students eligible to take part get a chance to win thousands of dollars in scholarships, but anyone can take a shot at their daily quizzes.

My LifeSmarts questions have tackled food labeling, safety, nutrition, and dietary supplements. The MedlinePlus site is a great resource for understanding those topics. The information is fascinating, but I am more impressed with the kids who participate in the competition. I practiced answering some “easy” questions, but it was hard. It was quite the learning experience!

When I am not tabulating data or creating trivia questions, I engage in extensive research. I like to use government sources such as the EPA and USDA websites. I spent the last week drafting a policy memo about food labeling after learning more from the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service database. I was surprised that food date labels are not nationally standardized. It turns out dates on packaging are guesses and usually refer to freshness. People who judge safety based on so-called “expiration dates” often discard products early and contribute to  food waste. The canned goods you throw out after the printed date passed likely could last much longer.

Other highlights of my internship include writing a newsletter on how to reduce dairy waste and learning how to shape laws to protect consumers from the dangers of gambling. 

I can help NCL promote consumer rights by providing a fresh perspective on the issues that affect young people. My LifeSmarts questions will help inspire kids to be independent, while the information I gather from my research will contribute to NCL’s legacy of supporting people who need it most.

By the end of my internship I hope to have sharpened my writing skills so I can communicate more effectively. I want to have learned how to best influence the government to make laws fit basic standards of decency. Most of all, I hope to have helped consumers lead a better life. 

Above: I accompanied the executive director of NCL, the public policy manager, and two other interns to a panel discussion about the legalization of sports betting.

– Caleigh Bartash

Post 1: Suits, Bills, and Endless Phone Calls

Hi everyone! My name is Sage and I am spending my summer interning on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. with Waltham’s very own Congresswoman, Katherine Clark. If you don’t know anything about Congresswoman Clark (or KC as we call her around the office), here are a few notable points about her and her time in Congress so far:

  1. She was the member that led the sit in on the House floor back in 2016 in response to gun violence
  2. She led a boycott on President Trump’s inauguration
  3. She continues to be a champion for women, the LGBTQ+ community, veterans, and more

While working on the Hill and being able to commute past the Capitol on a daily has its perks, there is definitely a lot more to a Hill internship than the fancy suites and building access.

People keep telling me how it must be a great or horrible time to be working on the Hill because it is so eventful, and everyone, no matter who you are, has an opinion about it. Despite some of the things happening in our country, I can truly see the work that is being done to combat them in my office. Just in my first week, I was given the opportunity to write a bill memo on legislation that has the potential to increase compliance with colorectal cancer screenings and decrease costs. As someone studying health policy, I felt lucky to have been able to research and argue in support of this legislation, and I am looking forward to seeing what becomes of it. Let me tell you, C-SPAN has never been so interesting.

A very relevant topic has been immigration and family separation at the border. I have been speaking to constituents all week about both what they believe and are asking for, and what Congresswoman Clark has been doing to combat what is happening: https://bit.ly/2MdkguJ

I am proud to work for a woman who understands the cruelty happening at our border, and I am looking forward to seeing the work she plans to do in response.

Besides speaking with constituents and writing bill memos, some of my other work includes writing bill update letters, doing projects for the staffers, delivering things and collecting signatures to/from offices. There are four total interns in the office and we work together to manage our daily tasks logging every message from all mediums from MA district 5 constituents.

We also, as an office, went to the Congressional Softball Game on Wednesday 6/20/18 where we supported KC and other members competing against the media before the rain started!

Overall, I believe it is my work, along with the other interns, that keep the connection strong between KC’s office here in D.C. and her relationship to her constituents. We are the go-tos when people want to make a comment, reach out to a staffer, have a question, want a tour, etc. I am incredibly excited for my upcoming weeks, and while week one was exhausting I know there is more to learn.

I hope to build a relationship with the staffer that focuses on health and continue to pursue relevant projects. I also hope to continue to be more informed about the policy being developed for the nation, literally in my workplace. Most importantly, I hope I am never not in awe of the incredible Capitol building that I have the privilege to walk through every day.

-Sage Rosenthal ‘19

Post 1: CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute

This summer I am interning at the CUNY School of Public Health Urban Food Policy Institute. The Institute, located in upper Manhattan, works to ensure food equity throughout Manhattan’s and other borough’s most disadvantaged districts. Many of these districts we work with, for example Harlem and the Bronx, do not have access to healthy and fresh foods that can literally save their lives. Through the work done at the Institute, individuals all over New York City are gaining access to healthy and sustainable food instead of the fast and cheap food the predominates in this neighborhood.

One source of inequality comes from health. Certain demographics have access to healthy and whole foods while others rely on fast foods and processed foods to complete their diet. This stems from price, proximity to fresh food and time it takes to make healthy meals. The Urban Food Policy Institute aims to eradicate these food desserts and make healthy options not only preferable but easy. This ultimately leads to a decrease in the prevailing diseases plaguing these communities such as diabetes and heart disease. Creating equality in diet ultimately improves the health of everyone and saves lives and money.

My role as intern at this organization encompasses many projects. As the only undergraduate intern, I am among many public health graduate students. My first week, I used excel to analyze hundreds of surveys assessing the efficacy and results of urban farms in housing developments in upper Manhattan. After analyzing the data, I made graphs and charts to be used in a journal publication on this project. This data and the graphs I made are going to be used in an article for a public health journal. It is nice to see work of mine get sued in a meaningful way. In the weeks since then, I have assisted in research projects on the needs of food retailers in the Harlem area of Manhattan and how a training program by the Institute can best train teenagers to work in the health food industry. I am also working on a database outlining food policies throughout New York City in order to streamline the process of enacting change in the food industry.

The work I am doing this summer is helping to bring healthy and wholesome foods to areas that do not have access to the nutrition they need. Many communities only have unhealthy and packaged foods that harm their longevity. America spends more money on healthcare than other countries but it sees poorer results. This is because we do not feed our communities in a sustainable way. Additionally, by use processed foods, we harm the environment through shipping and processing energy expenditures. Often all that someone needs to begin eating a balanced diet is help knowing what that means. At the institute we engage citizens in a dialogue to ensure that their health does not decline as a result of their unhealthy habits. Ultimately, this relieves neighborhoods of epidemics of non-communicable diet-related diseases that cost money to treat and end lives too early.

The institute: http://www.cunyurbanfoodpolicy.org/

Post 1: First Week at Gardens For Health International

 

My internship this summer is in Kigali, Rwanda with the local NGO Gardens for Health International (GHI). The organization is known throughout the region for its work in health centers, teaching families about nutrition, sanitation, and best agricultural practices. I have been eagerly waiting to start this internship since I received the job offer in March.

Kigali skyline

The mission of the organization is to eliminate chronic malnutrition in Rwanda. Even though more than 80 percent of Rwandans are involved in subsistence agriculture, 38 percent are chronically malnourished. This speaks to the lack of education in rural communities surrounding balanced meals, untreated water, and exclusive breastfeeding. Gardens for Health International has multiple programs to aid in this fight against chronic malnutrition. Their health center program is in 19 different districts throughout Rwanda and centers around teaching families what a nutritious meal is and how to grow it at home. At the end of the program, each family that graduates is given a kitchen garden kit that includes seeds, livestock, and a variety of other tools to get them started. Additionally, GHI runs an Antenatal Care Program (ANC) in which they teach pregnant women in their first and second trimester about what to eat and how to care for a child in their first two years of life.

During my time here, I will be assisting in a number of projects. As a part of the monitoring and evaluations team, I will be gathering health statistics from past GHI surveys and compiling them into a data repository. Additionally, I have multiple projects with the communications team including weekly digest emails, case study interviews with families, and a presentation on how to increase social media traction. Lastly, I will be doing graphic design for a variety of projects and documents. By aiding in the creation of a data repository, I am helping GHI move towards their goal of having a data dashboard in which all their most important information can be accessed with ease. Through my work with communications, I am helping GHI remain active with their supporters and donors–a very important task for any NGO.

My hope for this summer is to gain valuable field experience in both public health and in what it is like to work in an office space with a variety of cultural barriers. GHI’s staff is 90 percent Rwandan, which bodes well for them as a localized and trustworthy NGO. However, it makes it hard for me to talk to a lot of the people I am interacting with on a daily basis as my Kinyarwanda is…minimal. I find that most of my interactions happen during our farm lunches, as the organization provides an hour each day to enjoy a delicious home-cooked lunch made by the “kitchen mamas.” I am also able to bond with other staff during the 45-minute drive to the office from Kigali in the back of a pickup truck.

Farm Lunch: Matoke (Green Banana), Beans, Salad, and Cassava leave sauce

Ultimately, the experience of being in Rwanda itself has been incredible so far and I can’t wait for the rest of my time here to be just as exciting and transformative.

– Eli Wasserman ’20

Post 1: WELCOME! خوش آمدی

IRC Logo www.rescue.org

Hello everyone! My name is Maya London and I’m a rising senior studying HSSP and Biology with interests in public health, healthcare access in vulnerable populations, shared family health behaviors, and the patient-provider relationship. To learn more about the needs of medically complex and vulnerable populations, I chose to intern with IRC Sacramento in the Intensive Case Management program.

IRC is an international humanitarian organization that responds to humanitarian crises worldwide and serves as a refugee resettlement organization within the United States. Their motto is “From harm to home.” The domestic branch provides holistic resettlement services to assist refugees in their transition to American life by picking them up from the airport and then helping them register for healthcare and English language classes, find a home and become oriented to American culture.

While the initial resettlement period required by the government is only 90 days, IRC has recognized that there are some clients with disabilities, complex medical issues, or other vulnerabilities who need more assistance navigating social systems to become self-sufficient. My program in the Sacramento office exists in addition to the initial resettlement program and enrolls clients for up to 12 additional months. Our services include coordinating medical and mental health appointments and social services, accompanying clients to appointments and, most importantly, assisting our clients in achieving their goals and becoming self-sufficient.

So far, I have learned to schedule client’s medical appointments, interpreters, and transportation services, as well as advocate for clients during medical encounters. Additionally, I have helped clients read through social services paperwork, as well as coaching them in their communications with doctors and other medical staff.

Some takeaways from my first few weeks have been the need for change in U.S. medical, insurance, and social services systems to make them more accessible for non-English speaking clients. Most of the refugees in Sacramento are SIV (Special Immigration Visa) holders from Afghanistan and speak limited if any English, in addition to some combination of Dari (the language in this blog post’s title), Pashto, Farsi or Urdu, so navigating mechanized phone menus with the only additional language option being Spanish is next to impossible. Yesterday, it took me three tries to get through to an operator using the automated menu, and when I told them my client was non-English speaking and that going through the menu system would be difficult for them, they told me to simply write down the series of numbers the client would need to click to enter into the system.

My clients are also clients of socials services, insurance companies, and schools in this area and their needs must be met in the same way as any other client. This summer, I am excited to learn more about the barriers faced by my clients and advocate for change in these systems. I hope to be able to bring the experiences and knowledge from the “patient” side to my career as a family physician and have a better understanding of the barriers faced by my patients, and how I can best support them in their health journey.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this post are my personal views and not those of IRC or the Sacramento office.

Post 1: Be the change, The Center Houston

Howdy! My name is Lesbia Espinal and my summer internship is at The Center Foundation (Houston, TX).

The Center is a not-for-profit United Way agency that promotes the pursuit of choice, growth, and personal independence for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). Since 1950, The Center has served its community through innovative programs such as day rehabilitation, residential services, and vocational training.

The state of Texas is one of the worst places for people with disabilities to live. Some adults that are disabled do not qualify for Medicaid. The Center provides these Texas residents with the help they are lacking. The Center’s hopes to teach and address the lack of funding the disable community in Houston and state of Texas are nor receiving. Also, when it comes to the work force The Center provides their clients with skills that can help them earn their own pay.

” Donzell is gentleman who has been a client at The Center for two decades! Since 1998, Donzell R. has participated in several of the Center’s programs. He currently participates in the Employment Service program, where he learns work skills while helping to complete orders like assembling kits and packing boxes. Outside of The Center, Donzell loves to spend quality time with family and help with chores around the house.”

Clients at The Center are given a choice and ability to learn a skill. The Center holds annual fundraisers and multiple volunteering events during the year to raise awareness. All funding go to programs they offer such as: spin cycle class for their clients, residential living, trips and much more.

As a marketing intern I am responsible for writing press releases that are been read by clients, employees and donors. I am also in charge of writing an internal news letters that allows employees from different departments to be aware of what events are going on. This helps to have information in one place thus making it easier to reach a larger audience (more employees).

I also conduct interviews of clients and employees which help populate the Center’s social media. Being a young college student in such a large organization is a plus, because it helps me think on my feet and contribute with new technological solutions on how to fundraise.

My work at the Center will help reach a younger audience to raise awareness amounts other communities not only Texas. The Center believes in freedom of choice for their clients and new ways of improvident and becoming a better person and as an intern I am able to communicate these ideas.

Through the summer, I hope to learn more about not-for-profit organizations and also work closely with the marketing team as the Center will experience a location change. The relocation will bring potential changes such as logo and new strategies to keep the same mission. I am more than excited to be part of this change and even after my internship is over see the Center blossom. Based on the work and experiences I had in a not-for-profit organization I can strongly say that I see myself working for an organization that advocates change such as the Center.

-Lesbia Espinal ’20

Post 1: Interning at Interlock Media

interlock mediaInterlock Media is an organization that creates documentaries about environmental and social justice issues. Currently, we have 4 projects that are works in progress. These projects include an animation for a doctor that works to eventually prescribe medicine via phone call or text. This was also described as being called tele-medicine. Another project known as Expass, is guided towards making documentaries of early environmental expeditions around Asia, Africa, and other places around the globe. The source material of these documentaries come from diaries and photos made by those whom took part in the expeditions. Another project is known as the Fuller film. This film views the lives of the children who undertook the Metco program. The Metco program was catered towards providing education to children of minorities. The last is about a pod cast made to address the possible corruption in certain nursing practices.

As a production Assistant, I am tasked with completing any tasks that are ask of me. More specifically, what I have done so far is this: move desks, chairs, AC units, audio speakers, locate wires for basic computer tech, clean coolers, computers, dishes, chairs, resupply a water fountain, decorate rooms for meetings, record voice overs, review scripts, search for images that relate to the documentary at hand, take photos of my colleges, edit photos, assist video editors, pick up donations from nearby businesses, call businesses to request donations, drive board members to meetings, and so on.

I will continue by trying my best to further complete any task that comes my way. I feel that these general tasks are actually helping a lot. By the end of this summer, as my interests are photography and film, I hope to gain more experience with photography and film.

Post 1: Building Paths with BridgeYear

BRIDGEYEAR

Hello everyone! Considering this is my first post, I should probably introduce myself. My name is Allan Zelaya Mata, and I am a rising senior at Brandeis University studying Chemistry and Environmental Studies. For this summer, I have been fortunate enough to be a part of the intern team at the non-profit organization by the name of BridgeYear. Now, I should mention that BridgeYear is a fairly new, yet tremendously impactful, organization located at the heart of Houston, Texas. Yes, Houston does have the Space Center and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, but it also has an overwhelming amount of opportunity youth.

This group of youth are usually people between 16 and 24 years old who are out of school and currently not working. BridgeYear’s mission is to engage this group with career exploration opportunities though hands-on experiences with high-paying, high-growth careers. BridgeYear sets itself apart from different career readiness programs in that it doesn’t promote the typical 4-year college/university route. BridgeYear provides high school students and recent high school graduates with clear pathways to local community colleges and vocational training programs. In order to start this organization, the founders had to reflect back on their years as college counselors; in doing so, they realized how the 2-year college education pathway was perceived as less prestigious than the 4-year college route. In response, BridgeYear truly seeks to encourage students to confidently pursue their goals, no matter what they might be.

By now you might be wondering, what does a Chemistry and Environmental Studies double major do at such an organization? Well first things first, BridgeYear consist of three main programs, Career Test Drives (CTDs), pathway mapping, and ongoing advising. My role at BridgeYear is closely related to the CTD’s, as well as, ongoing advising. However, my job as an intern is unlike anything I had expected it would be like.

Team building activity at Crazy Cat

Since BridgeYear is a start-up organization, there are a lot of moving parts, and I mean a lot. This translates to very different and unique work days. There’s been times during this past three weeks when I’ve spent most of the day outside of the office going to meetings with my bosses. It’s worth it to mention that getting to see how the founders of an organization present themselves and run their meetings is quite a unique experience.

Besides going to meetings and participating in team bonding activities, I am responsible for creating pre/post curriculum for the Career Test Drives. I have been tasked with finding ways of preparing students for the hands-on career-testing experience of the CTDs and ensure they learn something about themselves in the process. I am also responsible for creating user friendly college enrollment guides for the BridgeYear advisors to use when talking to their students.

In looking at what the rest of the summer will be like, I can’t say I know exactly what I will experience. A start-up is heavily reliant on adaptability and progress, so all I know is that I have to be ready for big things. After all, it’s not every day I get to hold a check for $26,000!

BridgeYear board members and interns receiving an extremely generous donation.

Allan Zelaya Mata ’19

Post 1: The American Jewish World Service

My name is Melissa Frank and I am a rising sophomore at Brandeis University. I am an Economics major and a Legal Studies minor and this summer I am lucky to work for the human rights non-profit,the AJWS.  AJWS is an organization that works in 19 different countries, helping grassroots organizations fight for the rights they need. Depending on the region, my organization works with a multitude of different social injustices.

Through my time as a finance intern, I have seen funding and action for sexual rights, children’s rights, environmental action, LGBT+ rights, and women rights movements around the world.  The majority of what I do is within accounts payable and grant management. I review money that people have spent on projects and ensure that all of it was spent on project-related activities and that everything is coded correctly. If the coding was incorrect the books as the organization would be imbalanced and money would be used from the wrong funds. Many of the funds at the organization are restricted, meaning that they can only be used for certain things and if the funds were not used for those specific things, and the donors knew, they would cease funding the projects. Therefore, it is imperative to the organization that the accounts are correct. Without the finance department, projects and action cannot happen. Organizations need money to function and that money must be correctly accounted for or else the organization gets into trouble and, therefore, cannot perform its duties as a human rights supporter.

By summer’s end I hope to gain a larger understanding of the ins and outs of an NGO and how it supports each of the department’s actions through the nonprofit and how those actions spread to the world. These first few weeks at AJWS have been great and I have already learned so much. I have met many of the different department heads and they have taught me a lot about their departments and all the interns had a lunch with the president of  AJWS where we were lucky enough to ask him questions and learn about his life and what led him to his position at the AJWS. Through these experiences I have been able to see how much each department feeds off of the others and how they are all interconnected. I have also been able to learn how many different people chose to enter the non-profit sector, which I find most interesting because some of the paths have been direct while other circuitous.

If anyone would like to learn more about the company’s growth over the last 30 years and the work we do around the world, visit the website!

– Melissa Frank

Post 1: My first week at Community Psychiatry PRIDE

PsychiatryPRIDE logo

Hi! My name is Bingyu Xu and I am a rising senior at Brandeis double majoring in Psychology and Economics. This summer, I am completing an internship at Community Psychiatry PRIDE as a research assistant. Based out of Massachusetts General Hospital under the Division of Public and Community Psychiatry, Community Psychiatry Program for Research in Implementation and Dissemination of Evidence-based Treatments (PRIDE) aims to reduce the disproportionate mental health burden in resource-constricted communities. Community Psychiatry PRIDE has built strong partnership with community-based providers across Massachusetts to close up the gap between science and practice in the field of clinical psychology. Research projects of Community Psychiatry PRIDE focus on effective delivery of evidence-based treatment for mental health disorder that are culturally relevant and responsive to the unique challenges of the community.

One of the projects that I mainly work on is Implementing evidence-based life skills programming for reducing recidivism among high-risk youth. My tasks include data collection, entry, and tracking, and formatting codebook. Together with a local community organization, Community Psychiatry PRIDE works to disrupt the cycle of incarceration and poverty in urban communities across commonwealth. Because of the reverberations of perpetual imprisonment, sustained violence, and family instability, tens of thousands of inmates each year have difficulties keeping themselves away from re-offending and returning to jail. The 17- to 24-year young men that this project targets on are disconnected, under-educated, and unable to success in traditional programming. Therefore, Community Psychiatry PRIDE aims to develop evidence-based treatment of cognitive behavioral therapy that are good cultural fit for participants. Community Psychiatry PRIDE holds the belief that these incarcerated young people, when re-engaged through positive and intensive relationships, can change their behaviors and develop life, education, and employment skills to disrupt the cycles of poverty and incarceration.

Community Psychiatry PRIDE’s determination to improve the mental health in resource-limited community is what attracted me to this position in the first place. People who in live neighborhood full of crime and violence are more vulnerable to mental disorders. Their incarceration and disadvantages in term of education and socio-economic status exist not due to what kind of people they are, but because of the way our society is structured and the way the resources are allocated in our society. I share the belief with Community Psychiatry PRIDE that when provided with appropriate resources, these high-risk youth can break the vicious circle and thrive. Community Psychiatry PRIDE has been dedicating to understanding the challenges of implementation and dissemination these recourses, and developing culturally suitable treatments for these communities.

My goal for this summer is to become familiar with all kinds of psychiatry research laboratory activities. Since I plan to enter a doctoral program in clinical psychology, I consider this internship as opportunity to train myself as a future researcher.       

-Bingyu Xu ’19

Post 1: Finding Dreams

Hello! My name is Liat Shapiro and I received a Summer 2018 Social Justice WOW Scholarship. A little about me: I am a rising junior at Brandeis University majoring in linguistics and minoring in journalism. This summer, I have the opportunity to serve as the summer intern for Korean Kids and Orphanage Outreach Mission.

In a way similar to how the Korean War is the Forgotten War, Korean orphans are also often forgotten. Generally speaking, the word “orphan” is associated with a mental image of a starving child from a third-world country. Although these children should also be given love and support, the voiceless children in industrialized countries whose families are absent, missing, or otherwise unable to care for them ought not be ignored.

Although the number of children staying in South Korean welfare institutions dropped 26.8% from 17,517 orphans in 2006 to 12,821 in 2017, the vast majority of Korean orphans will grow up without a traditional family.

Emotional and financial insecurity are just a few of the hurdles faced by children who grow up in and age out of Korea’s welfare system. Ill-equipped to compete in the hyper-competitive job market, orphanage boys often end up accepting low-paying “3D” jobs — dangerous, demeaning, and dirty– while girls may find themselves sucked into South Korea’s $13 billion sex trade industry. Yet, I’m also told that there are bright spots: examples of KKOOM students who have gone to college, have excellent jobs, and are raising families.

KKOOM’s acronym spells the English transliteration of the Korean word for “dream.” By providing scholarships and implementing events, KKOOM gives orphans a chance at survival in a society that systematically tears them down. We help bring balance to the unequal playing field Korean orphans find themselves fighting on.

This summer, I will help fight the inequality by planning and implementing KKOOM’s Dream Camp, creating a college ambassador program, and building fundraising strategies. The month of June I am finalizing administrative and logistical details for the two-week trip to Korea, while July and August will be focused on the college ambassador and fundraising programs.

Each week, I have a 1 to 2 hour phone call with the Chief Administrator, to whom I directly report. The past two weeks have been spent researching things from AirBNB options for 13 people to gently annoying friends currently in Korea about food and transportation prices.

My fundraiser for KKOOM’s 2018 Dream Camp.

I’m also grateful to report that my personal fundraiser for Dream Camp has reached $1,972. Thanks to the love and generosity of family and friends, within one short weekend, my $500 goal was reached, unlocking a personal donation of $500.

The last days of June will include connecting with the ten participating students, putting together activities such as scavenger hunts, museum visits, and tourist activities. I will also be in charge of reaching out to donors, thanking them for their generosity and analyzing the effectiveness of KKOOM’s fundraising efforts.

I also look forward to KKOOM’s annual Board of Directors retreat which will be held the last weekend of June in Los Angeles. While attending the retreat, I have the opportunity to learn more about the internal workings of the organization which, in turn, will help me more effectively contribute to fulfilling our mission.

The KKOOM Board of Directors and I during the 2017 Boston Annual Board of Directors Retreat.

In addition to running the Dream Camp, I will also go on a camping trip with the 52 children from Samsungwon Orphanage, attend a day of a soccer camp held at Yongsan Army Base with a KKOOM partner organization, and hopefully visit three other KKOOM partner orphanages and programs. 

At the end of August, I want to look back on my experience at KKOOM knowing I gleaned as much knowledge as I could from conversations and interactions with the Board of Directors. I anticipate fostering relationships with the Korean orphans and teaching them about my world while learning about theirs. I cannot wait to help these precious children find their dreams.

I’m grateful for this summer and cannot wait to share more with you! Thank you for reading.

– Liat Shapiro

Post 1: My First Weeks at JVS

Hello! I’m Rebecca Orbach and this summer I am interning at Jewish Vocational Services (JVS) in Refugee Services. JVS’s mission is “to empower individuals from diverse communities to find employment and build careers, while partnering with employers to hire, develop, and retain productive workforces.” In order to do so, they offer 35 different employment-focused programs. These include English classes, career coaching, vocational training programs, and support in completing high school and college degrees. JVS serves refugees, asylees, Haitian and Cuban entrants, and others.

My work has mainly been assisting the career coaches at JVS. I work in a floor full of cubicles along with a few other college interns. Mainly, I assist with job and childcare searches and applications. In addition, I get to work one-on-one with clients to create resumes and cover letters, work on job applications, and conduct mock interviews. I also assist with my department’s weekly intake process during which we enroll new clients, assess their English level, and introduce them to our services.

My work assists our clients step by step in sending out job applications, being invited to interviews, and eventually being offered a job. We help recent immigrants navigate the difficulties that come along with searching for a new job in a new country that speaks a different language from you in an attempt to make the transition into life in the United States as seamless as possible.

By the end of summer, I am hoping to have built real relationships with both the clients I work with and my coworkers. I hope to learn to build strong professional relationships that I am able to rely on for advice and guidance in the future. Similarly, I hope to learn how to build real relationships with the clients I work with. I hope to be able to work with the same clients over and over again in order to learn how to better assist them and to establish a higher level of understanding of one another.

Additionally, I came in to my internship at JVS hoping to gain a better sense of the inner workings of non-profit organizations. I hope to learn about how these important programs were created in the first place and how JVS has been able to grow and expand its services in order to best prepare those it aims to serve. I also aim to better understand the daily functions of non-profit organizations including the challenges they face in terms of funding, staffing, and ever-changing laws that affect who makes up their clientele.

Overall, I have had an incredible experience at JVS so far. Meeting with clients and hearing their experiences and goals have been amazing opportunities to learn from them even while they are supposed to be there to learn from us. I am excited to continue to help our clients in any way that I can in order to help them make new homes in Boston.

Post 1: First Week at The Quad Manhattan

Hi everyone! My name is Remony Perlman and this summer I am a Psycho-Social Intern at The Quad Manhattan, a summer camp and after school program for kids who are Twice Exceptional (2E). 2E kids are gifted intellectually or creatively, but also have some sort of learning differences such as lagging executive functioning skills, ADD/ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and many others. Due to their unique levels of ability, 2E kids often do not have the proper educational or social settings that focuses on elevating their giftedness while also giving necessary supports to the skills in which they are lagging. The Quad Manhattan fights this social injustice by offering the unique type of environment that lets 2E children grow to their full potential. 2E is only recently being recognized in the psychology community, and the field is just learning how to create proper environments to help these kids become the best they can be. The Quad Manhattan is at the forefront of this movement and has been providing the best possible care for these kids for nine summers.

As a Psycho-Social Intern, I am furthering The Quad’s mission because I am on the front lines, ensuring that each child is receiving the best care possible. All of the Psycho-Social Interns completed a pre-work reading list, and are currently going through a two-week intensive orientation that is teaching us the various techniques (such as collaborative problem solving) employed by The Quad Manhattan. Even just four days of this training has already proven invaluable. I have learned so much and I am so excited to be able to employ all the strategies they have given us.

Some of our assigned reading

By the end of the summer I hope to feel completely confident using all of the skills I am being taught while in the middle of an escalated situation in the field. We have done role playing sessions and talked through many scenarios, but I know that it will be completely different when using the technique with the kids, since each kid is unique and has different sets of abilities and challenges.

I also hope to learn from being a part of the theatre courses taken by the kids at The Quad Manhattan. I am a Psychology and Theatre major and a Creativity, the Arts and Social Transformation (CAST) minor, and am very interested in combining all of my studies by pursuing a career in Drama Therapy. This is my first opportunity to use theatre in a therapeutic setting and I am so excited to be able to learn and grow from the experience.

Post 1: The Struggle Against Past Tense

This summer I have embarked on my internship experience at the North American Indian Center of Boston. As the oldest urban Native American center in Massachusetts, NAICOB exists to empower the diverse indigenous community here through social services and community events. So far, I have been assigned three major responsibilities: receptionist, office assistant, and researcher. My station as office intern and receptionist has gifted me the greatest insight into the inner workings of a non-profit organization and just how much effort it takes to run. It also enabled me to add my own creative contribution to many of the initiatives NAICOB strives to accomplish. The first order of business is building up the local Native Americans Veterans community.  On September 11 we are inviting all Native American Veterans and first responders to the center to join in a “talking circle” in order to foster connections to community, services, and networking opportunities. This week, I finished designing a flyer for the event and will assist in reaching out to as many Native veterans we can find.

Many other projects come across my desk, namely an ongoing research project for the Boston Public Schools.  Every day I uncover videos, articles, books, movies, and other materials that can be utilized to build a well-rounded Native American history curriculum for the students of the Greater Boston Area.  This will allow future generations to learn about indigenous history as it truly is: a vibrant culture with a sorrowful past, yet resilient and very much alive.

Through only a few weeks working here, I have come to realize just how important the existence of a center such as this is to the local indigenous community. Invisibility and marginality within the United States is one of the defining obstacles NAICOB and the tribes it represents face.  This struggle is even more palpable in Boston, a city that prides itself as the birthplace of its nation. Yet, it rarely recognizes what it took away to become the thriving country it is today.

For the rest of my time here, I am determined to be a part of the efforts to educate the public about history through the indigenous lens, to reconcile my part in the marginalization of indigenous folk, and to earn the privilege of becoming an informed ally in the quest to remind the world that Native Americans do not exist in the past tense.

– Paige Hildebrand

Post 1: On the Second Day at the U.S. Department of State

This summer, I am interning at the U.S. Department of State in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). The Bureau’s mission is to “increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries by means of educational and cultural exchange that assist in the development of peaceful relations.” One way in which peaceful relations are created is through student exchanges: allowing students from around the world, regardless of background, the ability to come to the U.S. in hopes of furthering their academic pursuits.

In efforts to assist foreign students in learning about the breadth of programs available to them in the U.S., a network of advising centers has been established under the brand “EducationUSA.”

Headquartered in Washington, DC at the Department of State, this summer I will have the opportunity to work alongside a group of staff members who oversee the 400+ advising centers around the world. So far I have had the chance to join calls with advisers from a plethora of various countries and regions. I have also had the unique opportunity to experience one of the EducationUSA projects in action. Recently, the Bureau of International Information Programs’ video production team live-streamed a student visa chat using Facebook Live, part of a regular series of what are called “Interactives.”  The “interactive” part comes from students asking questions and receiving answers in real time.  Visa expert Laura Stein joined the EducationUSA branch chief Alfred Boll as a speaker on the Interactive and shared her expertise with students who wish to acquire student visas to study in the U.S. Watch the full Interactive on Facebook here.

The Interactives are a key example of social justice in action because their purpose is to make information about life in the U.S. available to those who might not otherwise have access to that information. The professionals who conduct the Interactives devote time and expertise to educating individuals through innovative use of the far-reaching capabilities of the Internet. The student visa Interactive was highly successful, and we are already planning future Interactives which will be on topics such as admissions to U.S. universities. Past topics have included a program in Spanish about the U.S. campus experience, and navigating college in the U.S. as a student with a disability.

When not busy with Interactive planning, I have also been helping the EducationUSA team gear up for their annual conference — the EducationUSA Forum — which will take place July 30-August 1 in Washington, DC.  Nearly six hundred professionals from accredited U.S. colleges and universities come together with approximately fifty EducationUSA advisers and 14 Regional Education Advising Coordinators who fly in from all over the world for several days of sharing best practice strategies and networking.  The goal of the event is to increase the effectiveness in recruiting, enrolling, and supporting international students who come to the U.S.

It is going to be a busy summer here in D.C. and I am incredibly excited to see the impact of our work as we prepare to welcome the incoming international students this fall!

-Hannah Cook, ‘20

Post 1: Learning the Ropes at 826 National

“I open doors
and live out my parents’ dreams
I am what education is supposed to be.”
–Marlin, age 11, 826 Valencia

Hi! I’m Katie Reinhold, and this summer I’m a Programs Intern at 826 National.

826 National is a nonprofit that supports and provides resources to a network of 8 (soon to be 10!) regional chapters. These chapters provide young students in under-resourced communities with opportunities to explore their creativity and improve their writing skills. Our mission is based on the understanding that great leaps in learning can happen with individualized attention, and that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success. As an Education Studies major, I was drawn to this internship because I admire 826 National’s commitment to closing the achievement gap.

While 826 is certainly not the only organization working to solve this social injustice, the aspect I love most about 826’s work is their unique approach to education equity. Among other programs, each chapter provides free After-School Tutoring for young students, and every tutoring center is disguised behind an imaginative store front. In San Francisco, students traverse the Pirate Supply Store. In Chicago, they visit the Secret Agent Supply Co. In Boston, the Bigfoot Research Institute. These are operating storefronts, and all proceeds help support the organization’s work. But the real benefit of these storefronts is that they help eliminate the stigma of tutoring. Instead, students enter a world of limitless creativity, where students and volunteers spend afternoons tackling homework and exploring creative writing projects.

So how does 826 National support these chapters? Well, my department in particular helps promote staff development across the network and supports developing chapters. This summer, many of my responsibilities revolve around the annual Staff Development Conference (SDC). In late June, more than 100 staff members from all over the country will come together to explore how they can continue to improve practices. Currently, I am helping prepare materials before the big event in a few weeks. Once the SDC is over, I will help compile a toolkit that reflects what the network has discussed, created, or asked for additional support on. This will be distributed to chapters as a valuable resource for the coming year.

Last year, 826 National also launched a 826 Digital, a pay-what-you-wish online platform that provides adaptable writing curriculums and resources for educators. The goal is that 826 Digital will have a broader student reach than current chapters can, so that we can captivate young writers everywhere, not just in places where a chapter currently exists. This summer, I will be working to expand the resources available on that platform so that educators of all ages have a dearth of high-quality, low-cost resources at their fingertips.

Throughout the summer, I look forward to gaining knowledge about how a national nonprofit supports its network. To date, my experience in the nonprofit world has always involved direct engagement with the target community, so I am excited to explore the more behind-the-scenes end of this work, and hopefully figure out if I can see myself working in this capacity in the future!

-Katie Reinhold, ‘19

Week One at ImprovBoston

I just started my internship at ImprovBoston and it has been a wonderful experience thus far. ImprovBoston is a nonprofit located in Cambridge, MA whose mission is to serve the community through laughter. With a regular performance selection of New England’s premiere improv, sketch, and standup and an acclaimed comedy training program, the theater dedicates itself to inspiring, developing and sharing comedy in all its forms. Through exploring the many important applications of the creative process, ImprovBoston seeks to improve the lives of diverse audiences both onstage and off. To accomplish this goal, ImprovBoston offers classes in sketch, standup, and improv as well as workshops addressing workplace success and anti-bullying. 

My title is “Comedy School Intern,” and, as the Comedy School intern, I will communicate with current and incoming students; assist with the registration of classes and Comedy Clinics; build and maintain logistical paperwork; schedule make-up classes; and manage the distribution of performance records of the student showcases. In addition, I will assist my supervisor in new Comedy School initiatives such as assistant teaching, taking classes in the curriculum, and a new project called “S.H.E” (Sisterhood.  Humor.  Empowerment.) to support women in comedy. In fulfilling these responsibilities, I will learn about the importance of arts education, and the connection between social justice work and comedy.  

 My academic goal for the summer is to connect my learning from WGS to comedy and arts education. My supervisor started S.H.E. at Second City in Chicago, and is now hoping to launch the program at ImprovBoston. I will be conducting outreach to introduce people to improv comedy as a way of promoting mindfulness and confidence building.  In this way, I will be achieving my goal of connecting feminist theory to real-world applications.

 My career goal is to figure out if I would like to teach comedy after graduating. I currently perform at ImprovBoston and love that, so I want to see if I also enjoy teaching people how to perform. By shadowing teachers at the Comedy School and doing administrative work for the Comedy School I will learn about comedic education, working with aspiring comedians, and the Comedy School’s initiatives to support all students especially women and persons of color. The Comedy School internship is a perfect fit for me because it focuses on teaching students to find their voices and gain confidence.

I want to make connections with comics in the Boston community. I am a current cast member at ImprovBoston and despite this I still do not always feel confident or like an important member of the community. Success in comedy is all about confidence and networking. By taking on a bigger role in the comedy community I will be connected to comics who are working on projects which I may have the opportunity to join.  Ideally, I will become much more confident and consequently a more respected member of the Boston comedy community.

– Mina Bond ’19

 

The Parsnip Ship and busy, busy New York!

Hey everyone! My name is Gilberto and I am a rising senior at Brandeis studying African and Afro-American Studies. Additionally, I am one of the recipients of the WOW Experiential Learning Grant. With the grant, I am completing an internship at the Parsnip Ship in Brooklyn, NY. The Parsnip Ship is a theater collective that brings diverse voices to their theater stage. Moreover, as the specific live show is happening it is also being recorded into their podcast.

I am just beginning my second week at the Parsnip Ship. As a New Yorker, I am accustomed to the busy nature of the city. However, being in the work force and actually being busy is a whole other thing. I feel like I’ve reached the highest form of New Yorker! Anyway, my internship is unique in that the organization was started by a Brandeis alum and most of the people on the staff team are from Brandeis. This level of familiarity has been the grounding part of my internship amidst all of the busy things that have been happening!

My day-to-day schedule looks like: meeting with the staff to discuss updates on our current projects, talking with playwrights and actors about logistical necessities for the shows and completing other basic administrative duties essential to the theater collective.

For the next season that will start up later on in the summer, all shows are exclusively written by playwrights of color. As a unique opportunity and a good way to bring in my passion and skills in reading performative texts, I get to be part of the committee that reads the submissions and chooses the plays that will make it to the final stage.

Here is an image of the first page of the program I worked on:

I have been incredibly blessed to find an internship that allows me not only to witness creative work but enables me to put on creative work. I am so excited to continue learning in this amazing environment. Stay tuned for more!

Gilberto Rosa ’19

First Week At The United States Mission to the UN: USUN

This summer, I have the incredible opportunity to intern at the United States Mission to the United Nations in New York, NY. The United States Mission to the UN (USUN), headed by Ambassador Nikki Haley, serves as the United States Delegation to the United Nations, under the U.S. Department of State. USUN works to advance U.S. foreign policy, especially in the realm of political, economic and social, legal, military, public diplomacy and management interests at the United Nations.

As an intern, I have the opportunity to work both in the Research Unit and the Host Country Affairs Office. The purpose of the Research Unit is to provide assistance to policy-making officials at USUN by the research and analysis of existing U.S. foreign policy decisions, UN resolutions, historical facts, and UN related subject matters in relation with the United States. The Research Unit also maintains the Mission’s records. As an intern for the Research Unit, I help with any research requests the office may receive, with special projects specific to the needs of the office, as well as attend training courses at the UN in order to better comprehend the United Nations system. Separately, the Host Country Affairs Office assures that the obligations of the United States to the United Nations and the UN Community are upheld, serving as a liaison between the UN diplomatic community and federal and local government agencies. As an intern for the office, I work on projects specific to the department’s need during the current time, as well as have the opportunity to attend meetings related to managing the UN diplomatic community.

Delegates Lounge, United Nations

USUN does an incredible job of making the internship a holistic experience, rather than just a 9-5 job. As an intern, I have the opportunity to attend meetings and events at the UN, and get to know government officials and other interns through lunches and networking events. Therefore, I have already met experienced government officials, undergraduate students who are interested in a similar career path as mine, as well as graduate students and law students. I am  gaining a better understanding of the diverse career paths I can choose.

Sitting in on a General Assembly meeting

This summer, I hope to take in as much information as I can,  and learn about the intricacies of one of the most powerful international institutions in the world. I hope to apply my studies within the International and Global Studies major and the Health: Science, Society, and Policy major to the work that I am doing at the USUN. I hope to gain understanding about how political reform occurs in such a large and diverse international body, and  to better understand the career path I would like to take and options that I have to pursue. I am excited to learn abou the inner workings of the international community that I am so grateful to be a part of for these ten weeks. This internship, already, does not feel as if I am simply an intern with no real place at the Mission, but rather that the Mission is almost as excited to have me, as I am excited to be at the Mission.

Maria Kulchyckyj  ’20’

My First Week Researching at Gervay-Hague Lab!

My internship this summer is at Gervay-Hague Lab at the University of California, Davis. It is led by Dr. Jacquelyn Gervay-Hague. Gervay-Hague Lab, also known as JGH Lab, is a Chemical Biology lab that strives to learn more about the tea plant, Camellia sinensis, the medical benefits it offers, and the underlying reasons for these benefits. The lab website gives a lot of interesting context and information regarding the research taking place.

For my project at JGH Lab, I am teaming up with a visiting Ph.D. student to continue to expand JGH Lab’s library of steryl glycosides. Steryl glycosides are compounds made up of two groups: sterols and glycosides. A sterol is a category of compounds that includes cholesterol among others; similarly, a glycoside is a category of compounds that includes common sugars like glucose and lactose. The process of expanding this library of steryl glycosides consists of fine-tuning the specifications of the reactions used to make the various steryl glycosides. Once this process is complete, we will run each reaction on a larger scale to create large amounts of product for future use. These products will later be used as probes to track the different processes that take place in the tea plant. Different types of tags will be used to further observe how the probes participate in the processes. Tracking these processes will help determine what factors contribute to the medical benefits of tea.

When compiling the library of steryl glycosides and performing these reactions, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) is crucial for identifying compounds. Pictured below is an apparatus used to clean the tubes used for NMR; this ensures that the NMR spectra contains information relating only to the desired compound.

After performing a reaction, we are left with a vial or flask containing the desired product (hopefully) as well as a collection of unwanted side-products. A machine called GRACE pictured below can be used to isolate the desired product from the unwanted side-products. GRACE is a Medium-Performance Liquid Chromatography (MPLC) apparatus that works by using different solvents to elute different compounds at different times in order to separate products from each other, ultimately leaving the desired product.

There are several goals that I made for myself before I began my research internship at JGH Lab. I am excited to see how far I can get in accomplishing these goals, and where this will lead me!

My academic goal is to use what I learn from performing research in Gervay-Hague Lab to become more adept in my Chemistry and Biology courses. Just in this first week at JGH Lab, I have learned so much about different techniques used in Synthetic Chemistry as well as important things to take note of during reactions. Additionally, the biological context of this component of Chemical Biology.

My career goal is to obtain a job and work there for 1-2 years after graduation. Then, I hope to enter a Ph.D. program in Chemical Biology or Chemistry. I am excited for this internship to better shape my career goals for the future as well as potentially relate in some way to a future job and/or Ph.D.

My personal goal is to learn how to communicate my research to others through posters, papers, as well as in person. Additionally, I hope to learn how to listen to others and learn about their research through these same methods. During my summer at JGH Lab, I will be able to communicate my research to the other members of the lab during group meetings, discuss it with them, and get their feedback on it.

I am very excited to see what happens in the next couple of weeks!

-Daniel Farb ‘19

Week One at the Domus Foundation

This summer, I will be working with the Domus Foundation, a nonprofit organization that works with adolescents in low income, at risk situations in Stamford, Connecticut.

The Domus Foundation works on behavior modification and attendance retention at their charter schools through multiple models, including the Family Advocate model. The Family Advocate model looks at the emotional well being of the children, in and outside of school. This requires at home visits, in school visits, student success plans, and more.

Over the next two and a half months, I will be shadowing these Family Advocates, as well as helping gather behavioral and attendance based data for the future success of the Domus Foundation. Since the students are in school for the first few weeks of my time here, I am helping the middle school, Trailblazers Academy, with preparation for data analysis of attendance and the eighth graders’ graduation.

Trailblazer Academy student volunteers with some of the Family Advocate staff

By the second day I already knew a handful of the seventh and eighth grade students and was helping them with their science fair projects due at the end of the week.

In order to get to know the students better, I joined the Director of Family Advocates, as well as a couple of the Family Advocates on a community service project.  A sense of community is important to the schools that partner with Domus . Many children lack this feeling at home and the goal for the schools is to make each and every student feel comfortable and safe with every staff member.

Cleaning up Trailblazers Academy with a student

During the two hour community service project, the students and Family Advocate staff cleaned up the outside of the school by picking up trash. We then debriefed with the students about their volunteering experience and what they would like to do in the future. This community service experience showed the students how important it is to help others and how good it can feel to do so. By the end of the activity, I had students coming up to me asking  which volunteer project they could participate in over the summer and if I could be their Family Advocate for the next school year!

At this moment, it made me realize how important this internship is to me and to the students. The majority of these students have been sent to Trailblazers Academy because they were deemed the “trouble kids”and have been expelled from their other schools. Most students have experienced trauma and struggle to be successful individuals while trying to figure out how to cope with their personal situations.

The fact that some of these students started to open up to me with their stories and want me be a continuing part of their lives shows how these children are craving attention and love that will help them succeed in life. As my first week of my internship is coming to an end, I cannot wait to continue my relationships with the staff and students at Domus and Trailblazers Academy!

First Week at APG

This week I started working at Artist Partner Group in Los Angeles. APG is a company that does many things. They are a music publishing company, recording studio complex and most importantly a record label. They define themselves as being a “modern label for forward thinking and entrepreneurial artists. The invisible army that help build the artist brand and relentlessly execute their vision.” The label is an imprint of Warner Music Group and was founded by Warner’s President of A&R (Artist and Repertoire), Mike Caren. I’ve always admired APG for being an under-the-radar, small firm that does big things. Big things such as pioneering the careers of Charlie Puth, Kehlani and Bazzi to name a few. I am more than thrilled to be joining the APG team for the summer and figuring out what the secret sauce is for their amazing success so far.

I spent most of my first week settling in and completing onboarding procedures but I’m already starting to get a feel for the place and the culture around here. First and foremost, the APG building is an modern architectural masterpiece, casting an overwhelming shadow on the streets of LA. When I first arrived, I was electrified by the space and was eager to go inside. I also quickly started to notice and still realize that APG has a very entrepreneurial, start-up ambience.

For my first week, I began helping out with the Instagram accounts; coming up with new initiatives and branding ideas to help improve the account. I also was given weekly tasks like making sure the label’s music releases have been distributed to different streaming services and have promotional placement on playlists. Another weekly task I was given was to accumulate the streaming sales for the week. Other than that I haven’t really been given any big projects or tasks to complete as I continue to get settled in. I acknowledge that a lot of the times, I’m going to have to take initiative and create opportunities and tasks for myself if my supervisors are busy or have nothing to give me.

Another exciting thing that happened on my first week was that I was introduced to a guy who works in A&R who needed an intern for the summer as well. After a great conversation we agreed that I would split time with him and my other supervisor. Now I have a great unprecedented chance to gain experience in two different fields of the business this summer. Another great chance to not only contribute and help out my superiors, but hopefully make a difference and impact whenever I can.

 

Rabbits and Owls and Ducks, Oh My!

Hello! My name is Zoe Tai, and I am an extremely grateful Summer 2018 WOW Fellowship recipient. Let me start off with a quick introduction of myself. I am currently a rising junior at Brandeis University and am majoring in Biology and Neuroscience with a minor in HSSP; this summer I decided to go ahead and connect my interests in biology and field science with my passion for animals and nature. Through this search, I am now a proud Wildlife Care Intern with Mass Audubon’s Drumlin Farms Wildlife Sanctuary located in Lincoln, MA.

Drumlin Farms is an environmental educational center, a working farm and a wildlife sanctuary for native non-releasable species. Their mission is to protect the nature of Massachusetts for people and wildlife alike. Drumlin Farm’s Wildlife Care Department (WLC), where I work, is a long-term care facility for injured or orphaned wildlife that cannot be released back into the wild.  All of the animals at the sanctuary are residents that are often showcased during education programs or on exhibit for visitors of the farm. While they are not out on programs or out on exhibit they live in the Wildlife Care Center.

A map of Drumlin Farms and the WLC building circled in red. Illustration courtesy of The Lincoln Squirrel.
Our resident fisher here at Drumlin Farms. She loves to sleep in her hammock!

I get the privilege of working with these animals through daily tasks such as cleaning, training and prepping diets. Every day, the staff, interns and other volunteers roll into the building at 8 AM and start off the day by cleaning each and every animal enclosure. They have a pretty strict handling clearance process that begins with shadowing a staff member handling and cleaning the enclosure, followed by independently transferring the animals to their carriers and cleaning with supervision, to finally being cleared on the particular animal. Some animals are of course off limits to me, mainly the mammals such as the porcupine, the fisher, and the fox as they are rabies vectors. Even with these precautions and rules in place I still have had so many interactions with different New England species. In my first full week alone, I have been allowed to work with the domesticated rabbits, the ducks, the northern bobwhite, both the turkey vultures and the black vulture, the barred owls, the red-tailed hawks, and the painted-turtles to name a few, and there are still so many more.

The diet counter where we prepare animal diets.

After we’ve cleaned every enclosure and have taken a lunch break, the other interns and I prepare the diets for all of our animals. We make sure that each animal gets the proper diet and try to mimic what they would naturally eat in the wild and follow a strict recipe tailored to each individual animal. With all the chopping and food prepping we do, the other interns and I are ready to become professional vegetable mincers.

 

When all of the husbandry is taken care of, all of us interns meet with our supervisor and discuss our individual intern projects. During this internship, I will need to complete a project relating to wildlife care. Being the newest intern to the team, I have yet to decide on a project but many of the other interns have amazing projects such as training a timid barn owl to become desensitized and become used to human handling and interacting, building a new animal enclosure, and even a wildlife observation research project using night-vision trail cameras.

Two of our Barred Owls in their enclosure.

This internship is providing me with a chance to directly interact with animals and learn about how to care and train them; something that I have never really experienced. With my interest in possibly pursuing veterinary school or field biology in the future, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to dive into the grit and the wildness that comes with working with animals from an amazing and educated staff. My goal for this summer is to become familiar with all the species here on the farm and to be able to engage in conversations with visitors about animal behavior and habits to promote a responsibility for conservation and sustainability for nature. I have learned so much from this one week at WLC and cannot wait to see what the summer has in store!

-Zoe Tai ’20

Post 1: “Welcome to the realities of the health care system in Africa”

On Thursday the 23rd of May, I walked into the military hospital of Abidjan. I was excited to be in a different environment and excited to start my internship. I was creating scenarios in my head of how my first day would go; the people I would meet and the relationships I would create. I was nervous but ready, or so I thought.

My first day in the emergency room in Abidjan.
My first day in the emergency room in Abidjan.

I first walked to the tailor whose place was in the hospital near the restrooms to get the uniforms I ordered the day before. After I changed into my all white outfits, I walked directly to the emergency room. I was at the hospital the day before to meet with the Chief of Service and speak about my goals for this internship. After our short conversation, because of his busy schedule, he showed me around the hospital and the different departments. Before he left me in the emergency room to meet with the head of the emergency department he said to me, “I hope you are ready because the things you will see here, you will never see anywhere else. Unfortunately, we have very little to no resources and we work around that. I think you should visit as many departments as you can. Work closely with the doctors and see how they are managing with their patients. Also lastly, I will advise that you start in the emergency room. That’s where our most serious cases happen and you will definitely learn a lot.”  He did not lie.

After I dropped off my bag, I headed to the doctor’s office. A patient was being rushed into the hospital. He was in a coma for a couple minutes, was barely breathing and his blood pressure was low. My first day had just started. I saw doctors and nurses run around to re-animate the patient. No machines were used on him, unfortunately.  The main room where patients were being consulted in the emergency room was one bed, a desk for the two doctors on duty, chairs for them to sit, a closet that contains some medical supplies, a sink to wash their hands, two garbage cans, and that was it. These doctors were clinicians and relied more on their hands than machines. The patient, after a couple injections and many other things, woke up and was breathing normally. When things quieted down, I finally had the chance to present myself to everyone. The doctors took me close to them and made sure I understood why and how they were doing the things they did to the patients. Throughout the day, they presented me to the rest of their patients as Doctor Soumahoro which made me carry some type of responsibility and made me feel included, or at least welcomed. The waiting room of the emergency room was also filled with patients with different conditions ready to be seen by the doctors. However because they were only two doctors and two nurses present, the wait time could vary between an hour or two or even more sometimes depending on the urgency. When a patient came in, the nurses took the vitals before the doctors saw them. I learned and found myself helping to do the same.

One thing’s for sure, My beautiful country is still developing and is struggling to give the proper resources to their hospitals.  However, I have never seen doctors as dedicated and hard-working as the ones I met here. We worked from 8am to 2pm without a break.  I finally took a moment to drink some water and eat. But these two doctors took no breaks because they felt like their patients were waiting. I left the hospital to go home around 5pm and these doctors were still working. I finally met people who were as dedicated as I am and ready to save the world, and I felt comfortable around them. Here was a place where there is love for medicine and love for humanity, and that love brought me here. “Awa welcome back home. It was a pleasure working with you today and welcome to the realities of the health care system in Africa,” one of the doctors told me before I left. “Thank you and I am ready for the challenge” I replied.

– Awa Soumahoro

 

My First Week At Legal Aid

 

This summer, I am interning at the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia. At the Legal Aid Society, the attorneys are committed to “Making Justice Real” for their clients. The organization is composed of 4 practice areas which are, Consumer Law, Domestic Violence/Family Law, Housing Law, and Public Benefits Law. This summer, I will be working in the housing unit. The housing unit is the biggest area of practice at Legal Aid. A majority of the housing cases that legal attorneys work on are centered on evictions.

In the District of Columbia, there is a two tier court system. There is the lower level court system, the Superior Court and the Court of Appeals (which is equivalent to a state’s supreme court). This two tier system is  unique to D.C. due to it operation as a city-state.  Fun Fact: Judges in D.C. are not elected but appointed  by the President and confirmed by Congress. Currently, there are vacant Judges seats on both the Superior Court level and the Court of Appeals level. This has resulted in Judges having to hear more cases than they normally would. Housing matters are heard in Landlord Tenant Court, which is apart of the Superior Court system. The Landlord Tenant Court has its own building due to the high volume of cases that occur daily. During my first week, I was able to take a tour of Landlord Tenant Court. On any given day, there are approximately 160 cases on the docket.

The District of Columbia has one of the highest income gaps in the country. This has led to wide gentrification throughout the city. Historically, D.C was a city that had a majority African American population. However, many of the families that have been here for a long time are being pushed out of the city in to areas of Maryland and Virginia. There is a book entitled, Dream City that goes into depth about the racial makeup of the city. It’s a good read for those interested in learning more about D.C.. The majority of clients that Legal Aid serve are apart minority groups.

I am very excited to be working at this amazing organization for the summer. As someone that is very much interested in law and social justice, the Legal Aid Society seems to be the perfect fit for me. I have academic, career, and personal goals for the summer. My academic goal is to be able to apply legal terms and concepts that I have learned in my legal studies courses to real world cases. My career goal is to learn more about Public Interest/Poverty Law. My personal goal is to develop and improve different skills that I have. Rather it be in foreign language, oral and written communication, or analytical skills.

I am apart of a robust internship program. There are many things I have to look forward to this Summer, including being able to go to the Supreme Court. There are a total of 11 interns in my cohort (8 law students and 3 undergraduate students). I’m excited to get to know and learn from them. Week One was a success, and I can’t wait to start “Making Justice Real” throughout my internship.


– La’Dericka Hall

First Few Days @CharityMiles

My first week has gone by and even though I had an idea of what to expect when arriving at the office space in downtown Manhattan in a WeWork building, I still wondered how things would go. To my surprise, there was also another intern who was starting on that same day. It made me feel a little better knowing that someone was at the same stage that I was and that we could figure things out together.

After settling in, I got started on my first task which was to work within Trello and create an account. Prior to my arrival, my supervisor had set up tasks for me on a Trello board made up of readings about sales and what makes a good salesperson. On that same day, I was also given my Charity Miles email which made me feel like an official member within the organization.

The days that followed consisted of me continuing the readings as there was a lot to cover. It was not until the final days of that first week that my supervisor told me to stop with the readings and move on to new tasks. One of those tasks included finding the POC (person of contact) at companies and compiling a detailed list to be used for outreach. I was excited to start doing some research and work with the other intern on this project.

By the end of this internship, I hope to have a greater understanding of how small startups work and the decision-making process of finding potential partners and investors.

Week One at Schepens Eye Research Institute

Outside of Schepens

This summer I am doing an internship in clinical research at Schepens Eye Research Institute in Boston. Schepens Eye Research Institute of Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary is an affiliate of Harvard Medical School, and one of the largest research organizations in the nation. Their mission is to eliminate blindness, and their labs perform research on all aspects of vision and vision loss. I am interning in a lab that researches the safety and considerations of driving with various visual impairments, particularly hemianopia (loss of vison in half of each eye). I am currently being trained to help with a project investigating the effects and interactions of three factors on driving: age, visual impairment, and auditory distraction. Experiments are conducted using a very realistic driving simulator. Before learning how to help run the study, I got to be a participant. Here is a picture of me cruising down the highway on the simulator:

Me driving the simulator

The simulator consists of five giant monitors giving it 220° of view surrounding a genuine car seat, steering wheel, pedals, and dashboard. It contains all of the components of a real car, including working digital rearview mirrors and speedometer. The seat moves to mimic the physical effects of turning or accelerating in a real car. The scene portrayed on the screens is from a virtual world where conditions can be manipulated, such as weather, time of day, and the presence and actions of pedestrians and other cars. These conditions are controlled in specific ways depending on the experiment being performed. The simulator is also equipped with cameras that can track head and eye movement data.

This week, I read articles to become familiar with this field of research, and began learning how to perform vision tests on subjects, how to run the driving simulator, and how to process data. Eventually I will be performing all of these tasks on real subjects in order to collect and process data. For this study, we perform two visual tests on all subjects: visual acuity and contrast sensitivity. Visual acuity is the overall accuracy or sharpness of one’s vision (a normal acuity is 20/20), and is measured by reading a chart of different sized letters. Contrast sensitivity is how well one can distinguish between light and dark, and is measured by reading a chart that has gradually fading letters.

Chart used to measure contrast sensitivity

 

Eye chart used to measure visual acuity

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From this project, we hope to gain valuable information about the interactions between visual impairment and auditory distractibility. This information could be useful in the consideration of the safety of visually impaired drivers, or those considering obtaining a license.
I have known since high school that I have a strong interest in pursuing a career in ophthalmology. I hope that this internship will give me the opportunity to learn more about ophthalmology in both a clinical and research perspective. My goal for this summer is to gain experience that will affirm my decision to pursue a career in ophthalmology, and provide insight to help me to refine and discover my interests.

– Eliana Ellenberger

 

 

Finishing up at Encyclopedia of Life

Through my internship at Encyclopedia of Life, I gained great insight into biodiversity documentation, project management, and real-life work experience. I learned a lot about citizen science through classes at Brandeis, but I had not had many opportunities to see the behind the scenes operations of a citizen science organization and learn how these organization use their platform to engage the public. Interning at EOL provided me with a great opportunity to see these things first hand and make an impact in the organization.

Some observations from our August Monthly iNaturalist challenge!

My favorite part about my internship was taking everything I learned in my environmental studies classes and working with a great group of people to increase environmental education and documenting the biodiversity living around us. Although just in the beginning stages, the Boston challenge that I am helping to plan will bring together people from all across the area and get people outside to observe the nature around them. Last year’s challenge was a success and I hope to continue that trend and see Boston as a front runner.

For students interested in interning at a citizen science organization like EOL, I would recommend really taking ownership of projects assigned to you and making the most out of the experience. One of the great things about working for a smaller office is that there is a large opportunity to work on projects that interest you, and it is easy to communicate with different members of the team. Whenever I had a question, other team members were really receptive and helpful. Also, even though I was intern, the work that I was doing had an impact on the organization and I know it will help their current efforts. Asking questions is one of the best ways to learn on a job and the people in the office where more than willing to provide advice.

I enjoy looking at images on EOL of species I like

I am most proud of working with a wonderful group of Boston area organizations invested in increasing biodiversity documentation and environmental education awareness. Working with these organizations allowed me to see all the different opportunities that are available in the citizen science field and what goes behind making these projects possible. It also helped increase my confidence when running meetings and learning how a small office setting works.

Even if I don’t go into the citizen science field, I will still take away an appreciation for the Earth’s biodiversity and EOL’s mission to capture as much of it as they can. I am appreciative to have had this opportunity and the real world experience it gave me.

Gerrianna Cohen ’18

Last Reflection on My Summer at Yale

As a psychology major, my academic goal this summer in my internship was to expand my knowledge of developmental psychobiology and psychopathology through understanding the current state and gaps of the clinical and developmental neuroscience literature. In the weekly lab meetings and clinical case conferences that I attended, there were presentations by lab members on articles on psychopathology and current projects. I reached my goal through exposure to current research in these meetings as well as through engaging in discussions with lab members and academics. I was assigned to present a research article in one of the lab meetings, which gave me more exposure to the literature, and helped me improve my presentation skills. I thought the experience helped me grow so much that I requested to present another article, and it really helped me with gaining confidence.

Clinical assessment is a very essential part of child clinical psychology and this internship gave me the opportunity of training in clinical assessment and administering tests which is very rare for undergraduate students. I administered and scored the Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence-Second 
Edition (WASI-II) to children, adolescents, and adults as well as administered questionnaires about anxiety. I definitely reached my goal through this exposure to clinical assessment questionnaires and through entering information collected from clinical interviews. I was exposed to patients with different levels of affective symptomatology, trauma exposure, resilience, emotion regulation, stress, family functioning, and executive control. Anxiety Disorders are the most common mental illnesses, and being exposed to diagnosis, learning about assessment tools, and contributing to the research for a very promising future treatment method for these disorders was very exciting and useful for my future career. Through participation in this internship I realized that I am specifically very interested in diagnosis and treatment of anxiety disorders and depression in children and adolescents.

Through administering intelligence tests, helping anxious and non-anxious children, adolescents, and adults feel comfortable, working directly with participants to ensure positive experiences throughout their participation, and through phone screens I reached my goal of improving my communication skills with people in general.

I would advise anyone who is looking for a Research Assistant internship in the field of psychology to email the Principal Investigators of labs.   You should choose the area that you are the most interested in and make sure you reflect your enthusiasm about the research and the lab in your email. When you are working in the lab environment, I learned that it is very important to look for more responsibility and to ask for the specific things that you want to be exposed to. I really liked working at Yale University as an institution because they really cared about the interns in terms of supervision and in terms of becoming a part of the culture of the university. They were also very careful about patient/participant confidentiality, which made me feel like a part of a serious health care facility. I would recommend this internship and I would love to do it all over again! Thank you Hiatt Career Center for giving me this opportunity!

Selen Amado  ’18

Reflections on My Time at Homeless Prenatal Program

This summer, thanks to the Judith Cossin Berkman ‘59 Endowed Internship Fund in Social Work and the Hiatt Career Center at Brandeis, I had the incredible opportunity to travel to San Francisco and intern with Homeless Prenatal Program.  I had dreamed of working with HPP for over a year, and the WOW program made that possible for me.  Now that I have been back in Waltham for a week and have started classes, I have had time to reflect on my experience at HPP, so I can share that with all of you.

Before I began my internship, I established three goals for the summer. Upon reflection, I realized I did not spend much time working toward my academic goal of developing a research question for a senior thesis, though I was able to explore concepts I learned about in school through direct experience.  Because my internship was focused on gaining professional experience, meeting my career exploration and skill development goals felt natural.  I worked closely with the staff at HPP to provide both direct and indirect social work services.  Working daily with the staff and clients at HPP strengthened my interpersonal skills and improved my professional abilities to support a diverse range of clients.  After three months at HPP, I feel confident in my plan to pursue a career in social work and prepared to apply to MSW programs this year.

The most fulfilling thing about my internship was working closely with the DV Advocate team and developing strong relationships with my coworkers and supervisor.  Joining a team that has been together for a long time and already has a particular dynamic can sometimes feel disruptive and awkward, but the DV team absorbed me quickly and began to feel like a (highly productive) family.  Unbeknownst to me when I applied for the internship, I came into the team during a crucial time of transition.  Emotions were high, as were workloads, so it was clear that my role on the team would be primarily supportive.  I enjoyed the level of responsibility the gave me when assigning me tasks., and I felt especially proud of my ability to effectively organize the files during the transition.  One of my favorite things about working with the DV team was our ability to have a good time even when stress levels were high by taking trips to the movies and playing games during lunch.  

As August ended, so did the DV CalWORKs program, into which I poured my energy this summer.  While two of the team members will remain at Homeless Prenatal after the DV CalWORKs program ends, the other two will be moving on to new opportunities, as am I, and as will the other intern.  Endings are always sad, and I will miss these people dearly.  I am incredibly thankful to have spent the summer working alongside them.

A group photo of our team from this summer, taken after our intern appreciation lunch.

Final Reflections from my time at the Benson-Henry Institute

I originally set out with the goal of learning the Relaxation Response and being able to understand it and integrate it into daily life. However, this is only one of so many things I learned during my time at BHI this summer. In addition to learning about the Relaxation Response, through participating in team conference calls, I learned about the science behind mind-body medicine in general, neural pathways that allow RR to be effective, and best practices for utilizing RR in daily life.

This experience definitely helped to clarify my career interests. I have never before considered research as a field of interest for my career, mainly because I never had much exposure to it. Through my internship, I learned that research is not simply lab work. My particular role in research at BHI was in recruitment for and maintenance of clinical trials, and I did the majority of my work with contacting and enrolling participants. I learned that research is so much more than strictly bench-work, and that has made me more likely to consider a field in a health-related field that is more research-intensive.

My advice to someone seeking an internship in the health field is to be open-minded about the type of internship you envision yourself pursuing. In my personal experience, I had never had experience with research and I did not know what about research would interest me. I jumped into the field with this internship and I have been completely surprised about what my work has entailed. Mostly, I just did not know that the recruiting work I was doing is involved under the umbrella category of research. To someone looking to pursue an internship at BHI, my advice would be to ask lots of questions. There were many topics that I learned about through our group conference calls, especially regarding trials that had gone on prior to my arrival at BHI, so I was unfamiliar with the material discussed and the terms used. By asking many questions I caught up and feel like I had a better grasp on the subject matter at hand. (For an idea of all their trials, consult their homepage under “Conditions & Treatments)

I am particularly proud of my ability to pick up many tasks quickly throughout the course of the summer. Between the different trials that were going on and the many components of each one, I  learned such a wide variety of skills. Not only that, but through careful notes and detailed SOPs which I created during my first month of working, I was able to teach other interns when they arrived. This really reaffirmed the amount I had learned, when I saw how much I was able to teach others.

That is all for my time with WOW. I am happy to report that I will be continuing as an intern at BHI through the Fall semester, so my learning is far from over! I am so glad I had the experience that WOW offered me this summer, and the skills I  developed will remain with me going forward!Gianna Petrillo ’19

 

Final Week at Public Citizen

My final week working at Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch was as action-packed as ever. For my last week only myself and one other intern remained, so we got a lot of one-on-one time with our supervisors, which was valuable for creating a stronger network. Our last few days happened to be the days right before (and during) the first round of NAFTA renegotiations, a critical point in our summer as much of our time was spent researching and campaigning to change/replace aspects of the agreement. The other intern and I had the amazing opportunity to attend a pre-negotiation discussion with some of the top trade representatives from Mexico at the Woodrow Wilson Center (part of the International Trade Center). Called “Mexico and the NAFTA Negotiations”, the panel included an economist from the Peterson Institute, several Mexican representatives, and several people from the Mexico Institute of the Wilson Center. The event was incredibly well-attended, and we got to hear some of the Mexican prospective on the negotiations before they happened (decidedly pro-NAFTA with a hope of some modernization of the agreement). It was a very valuable experience, and I was thrilled to be a representative from my organization at the meeting and able to report back to Global Trade Watch with event notes. More information on the Wilson Center here.

Mexico and the NAFTA Negotiations Panel

The director of Global Trade Watch also held a conference call with Congressman Ryan and Congresswoman Delauro to discuss the renegotiations, which the other intern and I transcribed to be sent out to our list serves. The rest of my week was spent packing and sending out “Action Packs” to those interested in organizing in response to the NAFTA negotiations. I also was able to have lunch with two of my supervisors, which helped me connect with them more and get to know them more as people.

At the end of my internship, I felt like I had met my learning goals for the summer. I learned a lot more about the inner workings of a non-profit (and the slight chaos that can go along with it), I learned about research techniques and some basic Excel skills (which are useful for the future), I got more comfortable making phone calls and phone banking, and I learned a lot about international trade, specifically focused around NAFTA and ISDS (Investor-State Dispute Settlement, which is a problematic provision of NAFTA). I felt like I grew a lot as a part of the team and that the work I was doing really did help benefit the organization.  I was also able to take charge on some of the Action Pack-ing and it was fun to be in a position of leadership. The internship helped solidify my interest in working at a non-profit, as I learned more about what it is really like to be there. It was very satisfying to feel like I was working for something that mattered, for the greater good. I realized that I like a challenge and being a leader when I can, and that it can be very good to step up and take charge. I would give a student looking to work at Public Citizen and just in the non-profit sector in general the advice to be flexible and expect a little chaos: you will end up doing a whole bunch of random things that you didn’t expect you would be doing, but it is a great opportunity to learn and grow. I am most proud of myself for keeping an open mind and learning a lot about NAFTA this summer, as well as of all of the projects I completed for the team. I felt like I was really able to help with their efforts, and I learned more about myself in the process.

Some not-very-politically-neutral puppets at a Trump/Koch Brothers Protest

I will miss working at Public Citizen (and living in D.C.!) but I am excited to go into senior year at Brandeis utilizing the tools that I learned over the summer and appreciating the clearer idea I have about what kind of work I may want to pursue. I am very grateful that WOW made this wonderful experience possible.

 

Reflecting on my JVS Summer

At the beginning of the summer I did not imagine that I would feel extremely sad to leave JVS on the last day of my internship, however, during the past week as my summer internship came to a close, I realized how attached I had become, how much I had learned, and how much I will miss working at my little office in East Boston.  I feel so grateful to have had the summer that I did.  When reflecting on my learning goals, I feel confident in saying that I not only met my goals but also learned and grew more than I could have imagined possible over the course of the ten weeks.  My internship at JVS pushed me in many ways over the course of the summer and enabled me to be a more confident, caring, and adept person.  (Below: My coworker and me during our last week.) 

My feeling towards conducting new-client-assessments is a clear example that comes to mind when thinking about how I have grown over the summer.  During my first week, I observed one of my coworkers while she conducted an initial assessment of a new client to see if the person was a good fit for our program.  When observing this interaction, I felt uncomfortable.  It seemed awkward to me to have to ask someone personal questions without knowing them.  Because there were language barriers, more typical courtesies and ways of creating comfortable distance were unable to take place.  The interaction was a much more blunt and boiled down version of what it could have been had both people been fluent in the same language.  There were some of the question like “What are your job goals?” or “Did you attend college?” that were comfortable.  As the interview went on however, the questions that needed to be asked about a person’s citizenship and work authorization status felt harsh, and asking them to choose one of the boxes in the ill-equipped lineup of “racial categories” made me cringe, but there was no way around doing this.

I did not imagine that I would ever be comfortable conducting these sorts of meetings.  A few weeks later, I began to be in charge of assessing new clients and had to handle these meetings on my own.  At first, it often felt strange, but as time went on I found my own rhythm, and soon it became one of my favorite tasks at work, because it enabled me to be the first person that the new clients got to know at JVS.  I loved hearing their stories for the first time, understanding what motivated them to come to JVS, and having them know that I was a person they could trust.  During my last day of my JVS summer, I did four new-client-assessments.  It felt amazing to end my summer bringing four new candidates to the program through the task that I had once been so nervous to take on.  

Working at JVS has enabled me to envision many different paths that would excite me in terms of my work and life post-graduation.  JVS’s East Boston location’s partnership with the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center has been an important part of my learning and exploring this summer.  While I can happily envision working for a nonprofit like JVS doing career counseling or teaching, being around medical professionals at EBNHC has given me a window into what a career in public health could look like as well.  Through my internship, I got the exciting opportunity to attend a small event where Elizabeth Warren spoke to professionals at the EBNHC clinic about the work that they do and this was very inspiring to me. 

Elizabeth Warren accepting a gift from EBNHC

My work over the summer solidified the knowledge that I want to always be working in a place that enables me to be making some sort of positive difference within my community.  It has been so valuable and heartening to watch some of my clients go through dramatic life changes over the summer in part because of the support that they got from JVS and from me.  It is crazy to think that clients I met at the beginning of the summer were able to get jobs during the past ten weeks because of work that I got to help with.  I would highly recommend interning with JVS.  Unlike many internship opportunities that students sometimes have, JVS cares about your learning and your experience working with them.  If you want to work with JVS I would recommend reaching out to their HR manager, or simply going to their downtown headquarters and asking for information in person.  

I am so thankful that WOW helped me have the summer that I did!

Signing off, EC

Final Week Reflections

As I finish my internship, I believe I have largely met my defined academic, career and personal goals I established before beginning my internship. My academic goal was to build upon the knowledge from the biology classes I have taken, as well as to expand that knowledge to better assist me in future classes. These goals were met as all my research either built on my basic biology knowledge, such as understanding how cellular respiration works and how DNA is replicated, or new lab techniques and concepts. These new techniques include ELISA and cell culture preparation, which will be useful when I take biology lab in the fall. More so, I was introduced to many neuroscience concepts, such as the role of PPAR agonist receptors and the importance of insulin in the brain, which I will be able to apply to my neuroscience courses.

Here is a link to an interesting article about the correlation between insulin resistance and AD, concepts on which my project focused, written by my PI.

My career goal was to gain research experience and decide whether research and neuroscience are areas I am interested in pursuing. This internship provided me with valuable research experience that will make me a far more competitive candidate when applying to future research labs. Additionally, the experience of working in in a lab made me realize that while I find research interesting and would like to continue it throughout my undergraduate education, I don’t think I would like to pursue a career solely involving wet lab research. However, this experience has also helped solidify my choice in majoring in neuroscience, as it has given me further understanding of how uncharted the brain remains and how vital an understanding of this organ is to the future of society and medicine.

My personal goal at the start of my internship was to challenge myself to fully understand all concepts of my research. I feel as though I have met this goal through asking questions and feeling comfortable in being wrong in my understanding, giving me a better grasp of my research through my mistakes.

Overall, as a result of this internship I feel capable of taking on and successfully completing challenging projects. Although my research project appeared daunting and confusing at the beginning of the summer, by working through the project slowly and asking questions when confused, I ended my project with a newfound confidence in my abilities and understanding.

Here is a picture of me at the lab:

I would advise a student interested in this internship to come with an open mind and be prepared to give his or her full efforts. Additionally, this lab prefers to reteach techniques regardless of a student’s previous knowledge, so it is important not to become frustrated or discouraged by this. It is also essential to stay very organized and have full command over your topic, and quality over quantity is key.

I would advise a student interested in an internship at the Brown University Liver Research Center to come into the internship with an open mind and be prepared to give their full efforts. By personally doing so, I learned far more than I expected to and produced results, such as the raw data from the experiment, my presentation for the lab, and a manuscript of the experiment, which I wouldn’t have expected coming into this experience. Here is the link to the lab’s website:

I would advise a student interested in this field to definitely try a hands-on experience, such as working in a lab, in order to interact with the field of study in a new light that differs from the textbook experience. This allows for a new perspective and better understanding of the topic, as well as more comprehensive look into whether you are truly interested in the field.

Looking back at my internship, I am most proud of my presentation at the lab and the manuscript I wrote about my experiment. I often do not present, and when I do, the presentations are often much shorter than the fifteen-minutes I was allotted. Additionally, this presentation was on a challenging and complex topic that required me to gain a comprehensive understanding of in order to make it a successful talk. Fortunately, applying the necessary time and effort allowed my presentation to run very smoothly and I felt I was successful in conveying all aspects of the experiment to my audience. I am also very proud of the manuscript I wrote on the experiment. This required a very extensive understanding of the topic background, results, and experimental significant, and required a style of scientific writing that I had never attempted before. However, I produced an end product that was something I didn’t think achievable before coming into this experience.

Dustine Reich ’20

 

Reaching the summit: climbing with the burden of pain

My fellow science geeks, sadly, this will be my last World of Work blog post.  However, rather than focusing on the fleeting nature of summers, I wish to walk you through my achievements, insights, and trials and tribulations of working in a biomedical research lab with a severe chronic pain condition.  Since the age of twelve, I have endured an excruciating nerve pain syndrome known as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)[i].  Here, I will briefly mention how CRPS affects me, with the hopes of encouraging students living with disabilities and adversity to pursue their career passions and dreams.

One of the most common questions I am asked regarding my pain is “how?”: “how do you attend college?”  “How do you participate in a research lab?”  “How do you live with the pain?”  My response remains steadfast; human beings (and life in general) possess a remarkable ability for adaptation, even in the bleakest of circumstances.  I believe in challenging the notion that extreme adversity cannot be triumphed in some form.  As you read this blog post, I hope you will view my experiences as evidence for why your hardships should never preclude you from actualizing your dreams.

Shapiro Science Center (SSC) of Brandeis University. The SSC is the annual location of SciFest, an undergraduate poster session [ii].

A few weeks ago, I presented a poster of my summer research findings at Brandeis University’s SciFest VII [iii].  SciFest is an annual poster session showcasing undergraduate student research hosted in my favorite building on campus, the Shapiro Science Center.  In this very building, I learned a cursory understanding of journal style science writing in Dr. Kosinski Collins’s (Dr. K-C) Biology Laboratory course (thank you Dr. K-C!).  I only had a taste of journal diction, yet I relished the opportunity to learn the art behind science writing.  Generating a poster presentation of original research presented my next learning opportunity.  Thankfully, the post-doctoral fellow (“post-doc”) I worked alongside and my principal investigator (PI) were ecstatic to hear about Brandeis SciFest, and strongly encouraged me to create a poster of my summer research.  Thus, I began crafting selected “mini” sections of a journal style paper, beginning with an abstract, followed by a curtailed introduction and figure descriptions of my experimental evidence.  I was fortunate to receive invaluable advice from my co-workers; I passed my writing along to my supervising post-doc, asking her to tear my writing apart.  I wanted her to know “I mean business” when it comes to learning.  I circulated my writing amongst lab members, also gathering my PI’s sage advice.  This gave me a small taste of the manuscript writing process, an essential component of every research laboratory.  This process culminated in a poster, which, upon entering this summer, I knew little about.  My poster explored the role of cysteine restriction in energy homeostasis, focusing on a key metabolic pathway known as the trans-sulfuration pathway.

Pictured above is the intersection of the methionine cycle (from methionine to homocysteine), the folate cycle (far left), and the trans-sulfuration pathway (bolded in red). I focused on the enzyme CGL, or cystathionine-gamma-lyase. This figure was created with assistance of Yang et al. 2016  [iv].
I am immensely proud of my poster and presentation, given that my success represents triumph both over internal and external doubts regarding my capacity for achievement in the face of debilitating pain.  Given that my physical disability effects my left hand and arm, I was concerned regarding my ability to efficiently learn new experimental techniques.  However, with patience, I successfully completed methodologies such as Western Blotting [v], including the pain-inducing sonication step [vi].  Sonication involves “shooting” high energy sound waves into a sample containing proteins and nucleic acids.  The sound waves shear DNA into small chunks, thus liberating nuclear (nucleus-bound) transcription factors (proteins) for proteomic investigation.  I may have taken a few extra minutes to complete this step, but I obtained pure proteins, which I was able to immunoblot for [Western Blotting] analysis.  Another technique I am proud of learning is mouse dissection.  Although simpler than the microscopic Drosophila (fruit fly) dissections I have attempted at Brandeis, mouse dissection still requires significant dexterity and focus.  I was concerned I would lose control over my left hand, or that the pain would inhibit my precision.  However, I excelled, even learning how to excise “speck-like” structures such as the pituitary glands in the brain and the thyroid gland in the neck.  I also improved upon techniques such as RNA tissue extraction, reverse transcriptase quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) [vii], study design, statistical analyses, and more.

Altogether, I am quite proud of my tireless work this summer, both experimentally and regarding my pain condition.  I see my work as another step towards achieving my career goals in medicine.  There is an expanding pile of evidence that my pain will not write my story; I will.  I wish to convey this simple fact to other students living with disabilities and adversity; you can achieve your greatest dreams and more.  Although I have yet to accomplish my goal of becoming a physician scientist, I know I will get there.  You will reach your goal too.

 

-Josh Lepson

 

References

[i] American RSDHope. 2017. CRPS OVERVIEW/DESCRIPTION. Accessed on August 17.

http://www.rsdhope.org/what-is-crps1.html

[ii]  Brandeis University. Integrated Media – CAMPUS BUILDINGS. Accessed on August 17.

https://www.brandeis.edu/communications/media/mediaresources/buildings.html

[iii] SciFest. 2017. SciFest VII Abstracts. Accessed on August 17.

https://kb.brandeis.edu/display/SCI/SciFest+VII+Abstracts

[iv] Yang, M., Vousden, K.H. 2016. Serine and one-carbon metabolism in cancer. Nat. Rev. Cancer. 16(10): 650-662.

[v] ThermoFisher Scientific. Overview of Western Blotting. Accessed on August 17.

https://www.thermofisher.com/us/en/home/life-science/protein-biology/protein-biology-learning-center/protein-biology-resource-library/pierce-protein-methods/overview-western-blotting.html

[vi] New England Biolabs. DNA Fragmentation – Application Overview. Accessed on August 16.

https://www.neb.com/applications/library-preparation-for-next-generation-sequencing/dna-fragmentation

[vii] ThermoFisher Scientific. Basic Principles of RT-qPCR: Introduction to RT-qPCR. Accessed on August 17.

https://www.thermofisher.com/us/en/home/brands/thermo-scientific/molecular-biology/molecular-biology-learning-center/molecular-biology-resource-library/basic-principles-rt-qpcr.html

Blog Post 3: New York Communities for Change

Prompt: What does change or progress look like at your organization?

Change for me starts small. It’s shifting one man’s stature and expression. He’s hunched over his phone, eyes narrowed, scrolling aimlessly; shoulders squared away from me.

I get a hard profile to talk to. All stubble, snapback and tired eyes.

“Hey, how are you doing?”

“Good.”  He mumbles still not looking up from his phone.

“My name is Gabriel. I work for New York Communities for Change, a local community organization that fights for affordable housing, good jobs and other issues like that.”

He looks up from his screen.

“We’re here in East New York to demand a real investment in good jobs with living wages. What do you think of the job situation in East New York?”

He shrugs. Eyes though, are scanning me and the petition I’m holding.

“Do you feel like there are a lot of job opportunities?”

“I mean…” And then it happens. He shifts his hips and shoulders so that they are squared to me.

This is the first small change.

These days I am doing field work in East New York and Brownsville to invite folks to our worker’s committee meetings. I visit Workforce 1 centers, SNAP offices, parks, housing projects, bus stops and other locations to meet local residents and talk to the them about the aims of the worker’s committee. The worker’s committee connects folks with job opportunities as well as fights for government investment in permanent job programs with living wages in East New York and Brownsville.

The first change might seem small – just a shift in posture – but hopefully that is the start of a real conversation. Maybe he will sign my petition. Maybe we will meet one on one. Maybe that will be the start of a real organizing relationship. Maybe he will come to our first meeting. Maybe he will invite his friends. Maybe he will become a leader in the worker’s committee.

Engaging one individual and bringing them into our community of activists is a profound change. Chris Chrass wrote, “Capitalism and other systems of oppression are designed to make almost everyone feel inadequate, isolated and powerless.” These systems of oppression thrive off of people feeling separated from their internal power and communal power in numbers. In this way, even bringing just one person into NYCC’s community can be a profound change.

A single worker voicing a complaint will not be able to change an institution or years of under-investment in East New York and Brownsville. However, once workers, unemployed and underemployed folks are able to come together and agree on specific demands, a number of strategies can take place to promote change. Common NYCC tactics include publishing reports, creating press conferences, rallies, marches, strikes and protests. A working relationship with the press is crucial to building public support and antagonizing bad employers or corrupt politicians.

For instance, when the #fightfor15 started in 2012, people laughed at the prospect of more than doubling the minimum wage from $7.25 to the demanded for $15. Today, over 22 million people across the country have won raises thanks to the collective power and tireless fighting of the workers and organizers behind the campaign.

That’s a Wrap! Final Thoughts on my Internship with the Rhode Island International Film Festival

Working with the Rhode Island International Film Festival has been a truly eye-opening and rewarding experience. I am going to miss reviewing independent films everyday, seeing my coworkers each morning, and interacting with filmmakers around the world! With that said, I am excited to share that I am going to be serving on the RIIFF advisory board in future, so I will still maintain a role in the film festival.

My summer with RIIFF certainly went out with a bang, as my last full week working there just happened to be during festival week! The week of the festival was jam-packed with preparing for events, hosting screenings and running the behind-the-scenes of it all. I am most proud of our Opening Night, as it was extremely successful in regards to sponsorship, attendance, and the films screened. I was elated to be present for the awards ceremony and to hear the announcement of the 2017 award winners, including the three films that were chosen as RIIFF’s Academy Award Nominee. These films are under the category of Animation Short, Live Action Short and Documentary Short.

Opening Night

I initially set out with three particular goals for the summer in mind: to explore Providence and greater Rhode Island, make connections in the film industry, and learn more about the marketing and creating of independent films. Throughout the summer I feel as though I made steady progress in regard to these goals, through interacting with filmmakers, meeting with potential sponsors in Rhode Island and learning about the ways in which filmmakers market their pieces. However, during the film festival itself I experienced accelerated progress and learning in all of these goals. I was able to interact with the filmmakers everyday, by attending networking events at night, ticketing their screenings and interviewing them after their films. These opportunities for building connections and fostering new understandings of independent filmmaking were invaluable. In addition, the week of the festival featured events, workshops and screenings throughout Providence, so I was able to see even more of the city in a variety of contexts.

One of our screening venues: the Moses Brown School Auditorium

 

This internship has helped me to pinpoint my interest in the film and entertainment field more specifically. After talking to so many filmmakers during the film festival, I have a better idea of how I would like to pursue my own career in filmmaking. It was also helpful to hear the many different ways in which the filmmakers got involved in the field and eventually reached their current career point.

Some of the 2017 interns

 

My advice to students interested in film internships would be to search early, as more is available the earlier you inquire about potential positions. In addition, I would advise students to pursue their internship search thoroughly and creatively; often internships in the film field can be found in companies that are not typically associated with film. Lastly, I would suggest working to get to know and learn from all of those you come into contact with. For me, there has been nothing more valuable than making the most of the people and work experiences I have been fortunate enough to have!

-Anna Craven

Seeing Inequality Firsthand

After working at PRONTO for about a month, what became apparent to me was the level of inequality that the clients have been facing. Many clients have been part of the system for years now. One person was a client of PRONTO for almost 10 years, and is dependent on this being the food source for them and their family. What really started to illuminate this to me was a summer program that I am working on along with the Brentwood School District, where we are teaching kids about farming and nutrition. When the program started, I noticed this lack of equality from the view of nutritional education and what the kids eat. This connects well to one of the books I read in Race and Social Policy with Professor Ryan LaRochelle, Stuck in Place by Patrick Sharkey.

In Stuck in Place, the author talks about how people in urban neighborhoods overtime lose the ability for economic mobility and the ability to actually leave their neighborhoods. Oftentimes, they are stuck in these neighborhoods due to political choices and social policies that have done, sometimes with the intention to segregate people. So if someone’s parents are both born and raised in an urban neighborhood, their child has little ability to really leave where they were raised, due to factors ranging from living conditions, education, and even the people they are raised around. This idea is the reality that faced by people that live in Brentwood.

Brentwood is not an urban neighborhood. Challenges such as poverty, drugs, and violence make it a difficult to live at times. Wealthier home owners are uninterested in investing in Brentwood. People get trapped in an endless cycle of paying for rent and taxes, while not even being sure they have enough to pay for food.

With gangs on the streets, it becomes dangerous to live in the area especially for kids. Through our farm to table programs, we are targeting kids ages 12 to 14 which we know are most vulnerable. I believe teaching kids about farming and nutrition can help give them a better understanding of the world and how to take care of themselves better. From here, I hope that the kids are able to springboard into new experiences.

Care Dimensions – midpoint

The idea of securing an internship was always an intimidating career step to me. Everyone has a different idea of what an intern should do, whether they should be paid, and how valuable their experience really is. I was afraid that interns were overburdened, insufficiently supported workers whose sole contribution was to carry out their supervisor’s agenda without having strong ties to the rest of the office or team. Luckily, this has not been my experience this summer at Care Dimensions.

My biggest surprise as I began working regularly in the office was that my supervisor rarely had a strict agenda for me to complete. Though this was part of my expectation of internships, my background as a full-time student also contributed to this assumption. By the first day of classes at Brandeis, each professor has spent at least half an hour explaining a three to seven page syllabus that often contains a detailed schedule for the full semester. While, as a student, I generally knew how to best organize and prepare for my academic responsibilities ahead of time, I’ve had to become very flexible in my position within Care Dimensions. In the past two weeks, I have driven to patients’ homes while shadowing a nurse practitioner; I have worked in the Waltham office and the Kaplan Family

There are 20 rooms in Kaplan, and all beds can be moved onto the outdoor patio overlooking gardens. This offers many bed-bound patients an opportunity to safely see the sun.

Hospice House (KFHH) in Danvers; and I have helped on projects for four different volunteer coordinators and two different bereavement counselors in the two separate offices. Most recently, I have been working on small projects for a bereavement counselor in the Kaplan House, and that has required fast familiarity with several areas of the program used to store patient data. The tasks themselves are simple enough, but it involves a lot of data entry and modification. Though the counselor showed me how to do this, I quickly discovered that if I spent some time exploring the program, I would find a new approach that was easier for me and allowed me to finish much faster. As I fell into a rhythm and knew what information to expect on a patient profile, I occasionally found errors that the counselor could later correct. I was also happy to share a few shortcuts she hadn’t previously used, but was excited to learn and try.

 

 

 

Care Dimensions locations: (Danvers, MA) Kaplan Family Hospice House and Danvers office, serving the Northshore Area (Waltham, MA) Waltham office, serving the Greater Boston area *the Lincoln House will be opening in Waltham this fall!!!

Since my exposure to Care Dimensions staff and volunteers has grown to encompass two offices in the past month, I can more confidently say that people choose to work and volunteer for the organization because they have a real desire to contribute to hospice. Whenever I describe my internship to friends and family, the most common reaction is that the environment must be incredibly depressing. While it’s true that patients and families on hospice can experience a great deal of emotional distress, the nurses, social workers, volunteers, bereavement counselors, and other staff at Care Dimensions are genuine, supportive, and caring resources. During my shifts at the front desk of KFHH, I met and spoke at length with a number of volunteers. They shared the reasons they got into hospice as well as the reasons why they’ve stayed—in some cases, for up to seven years. Many volunteers got involved with Care Dimensions following a personal, positive experience with the hospice and wanted to join the team to give back to other families in a similar way. So I can’t say that my internship with Care Dimensions has been in any way negative, depressing, or intimidating; rather, the people and the cause have inspired and challenged me since day one.

Angela Balcom ’18

Midway at the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office

Working at the Malden District Court has been a truly immersive experience. I’ve made it my personal goal to attend as many jury and bench trials as possible, and at each one, I’ve made detailed notes of the prosecution and defense attorneys techniques in opening, closing, and cross examination. Through these notes, I’ve been able to witness a plethora of styles of oral advocacy.  Surprisingly, it helped me better understand how attorneys face audiences, whether juries or judges, when presented with trials.

Outside of the workplace, I’ve gotten to know the attorneys and court personnel of our office and court and talked about their experiences in law, law school, court, and lives as legal professionals. It’s been a great way to get an insight into what it’s actually like to work in the public sector as a criminal prosecutor, and I’ve felt more than welcomed by all of my peers to ask and inquire as much as I’d like.

The staff at my office are phenomenal at teaching me anything I’d like to know.  So within the past two weeks, I have learned how to create redacted copies of case files, file discovery notices, and create CTU folders (I’ve included a blank picture of one here). This takes hours of time off the attorneys hands, and in the process, I get to learn about what the different components of a case file (like the elements of discovery) consist of and how they are relevant to investigation.

While I was watching a jury trial, I asked an attorney about the significance of side-bar conversations with the judge during trial. After she explained it to me, she noted, “This is the stuff they don’t teach you in law school!” At first, that statement was shocking to me, because it seemed as though court proceedings and techniques would be necessary to teach in law school, but the more trials I attended, the more I saw her point. Academic life is a wonderful way to learn about the law, master it, study case law, and become an expert in the components and contents of the law and case matters. The most representative of the difference between on-site and off-site learning can be exhibited here with this Annual Report.  It contains a wealth of information, and it all becomes much clearer once you are actually in the court watching it happen. Practice and observation is where I have learned the intricate details in oral advocacy and court etiquette that make all the difference when bringing a case to trial. These hands-on experiences are what show me what makes a successful defense attorney or ADA, because the requirements extend beyond what case law can teach you. (For instance, here’s some information regarding the types of jurors that exist in the MA court system: http://www.mass.gov/courts/jury-info/trial-and-grand-jurors/ http://www.mass.gov/courts/jury-info/mass-jury-system/ )

Not only has this experience taught me to properly analyze, observe, and interpret case files and trial proceedings, but it has also taught me to become a better oral advocator myself in enhancing my organizational and communication skills. I know how to present myself in court and to the public, and I’m learning how to closely read cases and spot relevant information that might be important or worth noting for future arguments. These are vital skills that will carry with me through my academic career at Brandeis and law school, but they will also assist me in all other areas of my life in my professional career as a lawyer, my personal interests in reading and writing, and my on campus involvement with student groups that aim to reach and affect wide audiences. It’s been a wonderful first four weeks, and I’m more than excited.

Nadisha Wickramaratne

Last Day at HunnyBon

It has been an emotional day here at HunnyBon HQ in NYC. I am going to be saying goodbye to my mentors, Kim and Yoav, who have taught me so much about both business and life during my seemingly short time here. Excitingly, I am going to be studying abroad in Russia this coming semester, which is definitely something to look forward to.

 

I am excited to say that I have exceeded my learning goals for this summer, which have changed significantly since the beginning. Initially, I was excited to just start working with financial reports, but I have actually done so much more than that. I have worked on content creation and management (using photography, photoshop, and email marketing software), social media research and outreach, managing daily orders and special order projects, vendor outreach, website testing and improvements, growth strategy and data analysis, and TONS of bookkeeping. In addition to all of this, the most exciting parts of the summer were the days that Kim took me to meetings all over the city. We visited accountants, designers, and lots of companies interested in selling the product in their shops. Although I am still not sure exactly what I will be doing five years from today, working in HunnyBon’s small office allowed me to be comfortable and creative, and I understand that this is the ideal work environment for me. I also know that my work was really appreciated here, and I always felt accomplished after working hard on a project.

         I believe my biggest achievements this summer included becoming more organized and being less afraid to communicate my thoughts. My advice for students who are interested in an internship at this organization or ones similar would be to breach your comfort zone and never say no, even if you are asked to do something you have no experience with. Also, ask a lot of questions, even if you think they are obvious, because it’s better to ask a “dumb” question than to make a huge mistake. Overall I have definitely matured this summer and believe I am a much stronger applicant for the job market because I am more confident in myself and my skills.


Wish me luck in Russia!

Chantal Tepper

Midway Update from The Benson-Henry Institute!

Hello WOW Blog readers!

Gianna here, with a report of my second month’s adventures at the Benson-Henry Institute. This month has been a busy one, with an increase in responsibilities and a greater variety of tasks that I have been exploring.

As an update from my last blog post, I mentioned the RR sessions we hold here at MGH. I led my very own RR session earlier this month! To think I only began working here at the beginning of the summer and that I have already been trained  to lead RR has been a real, tangible indicator of all the information I have gathered so far. I’ve even included a picture of me from my first RR session I led.

Two current highlights I will be reporting on in this post are my creation of hair collection packages, another aspect of our clinical trial upkeep, and my work on an abstract—my first piece of research writing here at BHI! For the hair packages, when we perform clinical trials an important part is hair collection. The hair is very carefully and securely packaged when it is sent to us, and we record the hair samples we receive before sending them to the lab for data analysis. I have learned the entire process of hair collection, including package preparation and sending, package receiving and data entry, and transport to the lab. The data that hair samples can provide us with is one’s cortisol level: a biological marker of stress in an individual. Because our clinical trials aim to reduce stress, the hair samples combined with our questionnaires that rely on self-reporting measures give us an indicator of the changing stress levels over the duration of a relaxation intervention. When I discovered all of this data is contained in your hair I was amazed! And one more interesting fact: every centimeter of hair from your scalp down accurately represents one month. So in collecting 3cm of hair, we are able to collect stress data for the past 3 months! Click here to learn more about the cortisol levels your hair contains.

Below I’ve included a picture of the hair sample kit I created—I discovered the most uniform and methodical way to create hair packages for collection was to create several in the same fashion. It begins with a large envelope which holds everything, and inside we included a blank envelope for easy return and a plastic bag with foil in which participants put their hair sample.

My other project that I am currently working on is an abstract. This is giving me a chance to utilize my understanding of BHI’s methods and objectives—to elicit the relaxation response and monitor how it works in practice—in order to contextualize and analyze data from one of our clinical trials. For a reminder about mind body therapies, which are the focus of our institute, see this site which outlines some facts about Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). This abstract will be submitted for MGH Clinical Research Day and as a future task for this internship I will create a poster analyzing and explaining the data our center has gathered. In reflecting on my initial thoughts when beginning my internship, I would say I underestimated the degree to which I would do hands-on work and create tangible products.

As I reflect on my time at my internship so far and look forward to the time I have left here, I have appreciated the atmosphere that the BHI research team has created and welcomed me into. There have been numerous times I gave updates over conference calls or offered my opinion during group meetings and I have always felt like my contributions were valued. This has given me a positive outlook on the healthcare field which I plan to enter one day as a profession, and this experience has given me a great jumping-off point. Another feature my internship has given me that differs from other work I have done is that, particularly in the context of clinical trials, there are always many tasks that go into organizing and managing the day-to-day operation, so it has been challenging to prioritize which work is most pertinent at the moment. In academic life there are more regular deadlines and there is more direct supervision over individual tasks, such as assignments and assessments. Here, though, all members of the team have so many things they are simultaneously managing that it becomes very important for each individual to learn how to juggle many small tasks in any given day. Thus, some of the skills I have improved upon most are time-management and organization, which I thought I was an expert at before. If anything, until I had to handle upwards of ten tasks in a given day for a variety of up to three or four different projects I did not realize how much more I had to learn. But the learning curve was steep and quick, and now I feel that my efficiency and organizational skills have improved exponentially. These are absolutely skills I will use in the coming academic year, both for schoolwork and in the leadership roles I hold outside of the classroom.

Tune in a few weeks from now when I will be posting my final blog post! It’s hard to believe that my time at BHI this summer is almost over!

GP ’19

 

 

Reflecting on Research at CANDLab

So far, my internship at the Clinical Affective Neuroscience and Development lab has been an amazing experience. I have always loved the lab environment, a place where everyone is continually learning and helping each other grow, but this lab has a particularly great environment. Everyone is supportive of each other, the graduate students are a source of positivity and advice for the interns and the lab manager is always looking out for the interns to get more out of the internship.

It is very different to work as a summer intern research assistant compared to being a research assistant during the year. As a summer intern, I can see what a full time research assistant job would be like in terms of the hours and work that is done. I am a part of a team, and I see how, in the world of work, interactions with your co-workers are extremely important and valuable. It is different from the academic life in that you are not working for your own goals and achievements, you are working with people for a common goal. As a person who likes working in a team, I am really enjoying this aspect of the work.

A career in child clinical psychology requires a very long process starting from an undergraduate psychology degree to the postgraduate internship after your PhD. First of all, the experiences you have as an undergraduate majoring in psychology are very important. In order to be a good candidate for getting accepted to a PhD program in clinical psychology, which is what I want to do in the future, you need to have a lot of experience in the research field. This internship is giving me exposure to clinical research in the field of anxiety disorders and also giving me exposure to anxiety disorders in children. It is the most challenging lab I worked at, and I had the ability to get trained on things that will be extremely important in my future career as well as in future jobs right after college. I  administer intelligence tests, trauma questionnaires and anxiety inventories. These skills will help me in my future career. Another experience that is important to have in undergrad is clinical experience with children. This internship is giving me the opportunity to interact with healthy children and children with anxiety disorders. It is an amazing chance to improve my communication skills with children and their parents. This has been one of the best aspects of this internship and I think it will give me an advantage in the future when applying to jobs.

Selen Amado ’18

 

 

Reflections: New York Communities for Change

What have I learned about social justice work?

Professor Wallace concluded ED170A, “Critical Perspectives in Urban Education” by distinguishing between social service and social justice. Social service, he said, is relief from systems of oppression. Social Justice means changing the structures that make that service necessary. However, changing systems takes time.

One thing I’ve learned from my time at NYCC, is that an effective community organization needs a balance of social service and social justice initiatives. Because social justice fights are long and drawn out, it’s important to offer social services to keep community members engaged and motivated.

Let me give an example. East New York and Brownsville are sections of Brooklyn that have been hit hardest by gentrification and years of under-investment. These neighborhoods have high unemployment and homelessness rates. NYCC has a worker’s committee in East New York and Brownsville with the long terms goal of ensuring that De Blasio’s $1.35 billion job plan results in permanent jobs with living wages and a provision focused on youth training. However, that fight will take years of political pressure and protest. In the meantime, we are partnering with job training programs like Pathways 2 Apprenticeship to help residents find jobs within a broken system. P2A does not change the system, but it provides a measure of relief.

Another lesson I learned about social justice work is the importance of messaging and controlling the narrative. Let me give an example. New York City subways are in a state of emergency. NYCC could fight this problem from any number of angles. For instance, they could focus on safety issues, delays, derailments, fare hikes, or the criminalization of turnstile jumping. However, NYCC has made a concerted effort to link the crisis to the fact that rich people and wall street are not paying their fair share of taxes. To that aim, last Friday we held a rally outside of Blackstone executive Steven Schwarzman’s house.

 

We linked the action with Trumps Tax Plan with the hashtag #TrumpsTaxPlan and signs like “No More Giveaways to Billionaires.” In response, de Blasio announced a plan to fund MTA repairs by taxing the rich. Wild! I couldn’t believe it. NYCC leveraged this issue to achieve a specific policy aim. That is the power of messaging. You have to know not just what your fighting against, but also what your fighting for.

 

What advice would I give to someone  who wants to pursue an internship  in my organization or field?

I would advise people to focus on building relationships. This is the most important part of community organizing. Build relationships with members. Build relationships with colleagues. Build relationships with people in the community. Community organizing blurs the line between work and leisure. It’s okay to enjoy your time with folks or take time out of your leisure to build relationships with people. For instance, one of the most meaningful parts of my summer was attending a church of one the members of NYCC. I got to see him in a different environment.

I would advise folks to ask all your colleagues how you can help. For me, I am given high autonomy in my internship role and sometimes I don’t have a lot to do in the office. The best way to find tasks was by asking my colleagues if I could help them. I learned a lot by befriending the communication team and assisting them with social media outreach. Ask organizers if you can shadow them. This is the best way to learn about on-the-ground organizing.

-Gabriel Fontes

Giampietro Gallery Post #2

I can’t believe how the time is flying this summer at the gallery! My impression of the gallery remains complete awe and admiration. Fred, the owner, and Katie and Adam, run an incredibly personable gallery that is truly there for the artists. Yes, it is a commercial art gallery and they make a profit, but the artists come in daily just to chat and catch up, or ask for advice of help of any kind, and they are always welcomed with open arms. It is a truly wonderful place, and the kind of gallery that I hope to own one day.

Install Shot of Gallery from one angle

I have to say, the most surprising thing about this internship, was really just how much one needs an internship to truly learn. I absolutely love my time at Brandeis more than anything and I wish I could stay there forever! But, I have learned so much in this internship that I could never have learned in school. It is, in some ways, a very physical, hands on job. Since my last post, I finished pulling and labeling all the pieces from the back, which is no easy task because paintings can be really huge and you are on a ladder and identifying paintings based on brush stroke and common themes, much like an art history test actually, so I thoroughly enjoyed that. We had new shipments of paintings come in and documented them, there was an install and a de-install where I bonded with a few of the artists that I deeply respect such as Elena Herzog who is so incredibly talented. I learned how to wrap and ship paintings, the proper ways to handle different kinds of art, and completely mastered the system in which we inventory our work, and update the website, which is the same software used by most galleries and museums nationwide!

Me installing an Elena Herzog piece for the Opening

While this might seam like a rather banal skill-set when it’s phrased like “how to wrap and ship a painting”, let me just tell you how many layers and how important it is to get them right. Little things like, if the bubbles of the bubble-wrap (which is the third layer) face inwards on the first layer of bubble wrap, they could indent the surface and you could end up with faint circular indents all over the surface of the painting. So, you must wrap bubble out, then bubble in. There are also very specific instructions for hanging, and the various power tools involved, and heights, and aesthetic choices made in hanging shows that I will carry with me for the rest of my career. All of these skills are SO incredibly important when entering the gallery or museum world post-graduation, which is closer for me than I would like to admit, and I can now put all of these on a resume, skills that I did not even know I needed to possess!

I’ve also realized that my courses at Brandeis prepared me for this internship. Had I not taken and thrived in all of the art history courses I have taken at Brandeis, identifying the artist who made the unlabeled paintings in storage would have been nearly impossible. I truly have so much to be thankful to Brandeis for.

Olivia Joy ’18

Slow Season for Broadway? DKC/O&M Keeps Busy!

One of the other interns and me at the Tony Awards after party at the Carlyle Hotel!

Experiencing the Tony Awards, from the red carpet to the hottest after party at the Carlyle Hotel, was nothing less than absolutely fantastic! It always seemed like a distant dream to me and there I was, attending the same party as so many of my idols. Even though it was about a month ago, it’s still crazy to think that I was in the same room as celebrities such as Bette Midler, Olivia Wilde, Ben Platt, Sally Field, Anna Kendrick, Kevin Spacey, Darren Criss, Corey Cott, and about four hundred others. By the time I went to bed, I had been awake for over 20 hours but I didn’t even feel tired. I was very grateful for all of the adrenaline I was running on! That following week, the interns were kept very busy as we archived every mention of our shows from the Tony Awards on every news and media outlet, along with preparing for the opening night of “1984,” a new Broadway play based on George Orwell’s book adapted by Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan. “1984” recently premiered on June 22nd, so there was very little time after the Tony Awards to get everything together. Much of our time was spent on picking up and preparing tickets and press lists for the following week.

At the beginning of July, I moved into an apartment only four blocks from my office, which has cut my 2 hour commute into 10 minutes! I love being so close to work because I’m not exhausted while there and can really focus on what I’m doing. I’m also able to see many shows on Broadway since I live so close which is how I love to spend my evenings.

Soon we will be preparing for the opening of Michael Moore’s new play, “The Terms of My Surrender.” I feel more prepared having already done work for the opening of “1984” and hope that I will be able to help even more than before. The summer is typically a very slow time for the Broadway world but we are lucky enough to be part of two shows that begin during the summer.

Working with DKC/O&M has solidified my desire to go into Arts Administration after college. Since we don’t offer courses around Arts Administration at Brandeis, I really didn’t know what it was or that it was even an option for me. I am very grateful for my internship because it is very difficult to truly learn what it is a press agent does in an academic setting. So much of the work is hands on and it’s great to be able to get that experience with DKC/O&M. Getting to see how different situations are handled first hand is invaluable. I love the environment I’m in, the people I’m working with, the work I’m doing, and the experiences I am lucky enough to have. If you find yourself interested in working in Arts Administration, my suggestion is that you apply for every internship you can get your hands on. The theater community, especially in New York, is so small and close knit that no matter where you end up, you’ll be connecting and working with people from all different areas of Arts Administration. You’ll make extremely valuable connections and it can’t hurt to try something different than what we’re always studying in school!

What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

Me: “Kisa ou ta renmen ye le ou gran?” Translated to English, “What would you like to be when you grow up?”

In Haiti, when you ask students what they would like to be when they grow up, they always answer, “a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher.” This proved to be true when I asked 60 students this question in the first week of Empowering Through Education (ETE) Camp.  After reflecting on why this might be, I came to realize that most of them say these careers because they are pretty much the norm in Haiti. These are the careers students are aware of. At ETE Camp, we believe that it is important to teach these students about other career paths.

Observing my students work.

Now, when I ask the students what they would like to be they don’t all say, “doctor, teacher and lawyer”.  Students chime in with jobs like, “engineer, business woman, agronomist, professional soccer player, and neurologist”.  In addition, they’ve started to see themselves as leaders. They understand that they have a sense of responsibility to serve their community by contributing to its development. ETE Camp over the past 9 consecutive years has been forming youth to become leaders in Hinche, Haiti. Although that doesn’t erase the fact that certain students still don’t have access to a quality education; it empowers these young people to fight for a better education for themselves and their peers.

“Let’s take a picture, guys”

ETE Camp creates the momentum of producing leaders in the Hinche community because of the support of many individuals. Each year many people from the US  volunteer at ETE Camp. Now, we have over 40 counselors who teach during the program. Teaching at the program not only benefits the young leaders in Hinche, but also it benefits individuals like me who volunteer. Many counselors who volunteer are English teachers in the United States, often they teach English as a second language.  At ETE Camp, Creole is the dominant spoken language but our counselors teach English, Engineering, Leadership, and Mathematics.  They gain perspective on how challenging it can be to learn a second or third language and can apply this to the struggles that immigrants might face when starting school in the United States of America while learning a new language. The experiences staff have at ETE Camp usually shape the way they teach students when returning to the US.

“SUCCEED”

To sum it up, ETE Camp creates an opportunity for youth to learn how to be leaders. It gives students the confidence to think outside of the norms when choosing a career. It opens a door for people like me to make an impact on individuals I would not meet if it were not for the camp. The smalls steps ETE Camp supporters take, help us to accomplish something great and help students SUCCEED!

End of my Internship

I ended my internship working with the Program Services and Survey department at FCD. For the survey department, I finished the lit review I was working on for background information about parental supervision and permission to drink and supply at home. Hopefully they can use what I have researched to help with the publication of some of their research that they have already done using the surveys they give to school and the data they have collected from it. I also helped my supervisor in the survey department scan some of the last surveys they got from the 2016-2017 school year using their scantron.

For program services, I completed a few assignments and I was able to work with the high school interns that arrived in July. They are working on these videos that FCD will send to individuals that have signed up for the weekly newsletter. Each video talks about a certain topic, for example, one of them they talk about normative beliefs and they are also hoping to be able to interview a prevention specialist. I met with them to talk about some of their ideas and sat in on one of their practices to give them a different perspective. It was  interesting to get their perspective of what they thought of FCD as high school students, which is part of the grade level that FCD works with. In addition, I looked over a research update one of the other college students worked on earlier this summer and contributed a bit of data that I found from my research on parental supervision of alcohol. I provided some of my ideas and opinions on it and our supervisor will attempt to use what she created and some of the edits I did to make a finalized version of this. I also worked on a PowerPoint that prevention specialists will be able to use as one of their resource. This was actually a request from one of them after one of their students asked them what the inside of a human brain looks like after using substances. FCD wanted to give accurate data but also did not want to use scare tactics and say things like “these are holes in your brain” when really it is just less blood flow to certain areas. I found some images like this one under the alcohol section. I used these images to create a PowerPoint and wrote some summaries and discussion questions for the prevention specialists to use.

Student Comments: So many are positive!

Coming into this internship, I did not have the most specific goals and I think that was good because I came in with an open mind and did not think that only certain things were worthwhile to do. I had wanted to learn more about prevention in general because that is what FCD specialize in. I definitely think I met that goal after interning there this summer. They were open to questions and were so willing to explain things to me about FCD. I also wanted to get a better sense of how a health-related organization is run. I was able to work in all four of the departments over the summer and that gave me a good idea of how each department is critical and necessary to a health organization. I liked having this background internship where the prevention specialists are the ones who talk to the schools while people at the administrative building at FCD provide them with the support they need to make everything work and run smoothly. I wanted to see how a public health organization can affect the community it works with. Seeing how many schools have worked with FCD and reading student comments about FCD showed how much they have impacted the lives of these students.

 

FCD works across the globe to teach students about prevention.

I still am not quite sure of what I want to do after graduation. I don’t know if it made me want to work specifically in a substance abuse prevention organization even though I enjoyed my time at FCD immensely. At the same time, FCD is so unique, I don’t think I will find something that is quite like it. I did enjoy working at this small non-profit and I felt welcomed into their community. I have always known I do like working individually for the most part on assignments. But after interning at FCD, I realized I do like being able to bounce ideas of my supervisors and fellow interns have the space and ability to ask questions and get suggestions. One thing I noticed is that sometimes I just have a hard time getting started with a new assignment or project. I have this feeling of not wanting to mess it up already and just not being very confident in myself to produce exactly what my supervisor is expecting. After FCD, I realized that sometimes I just have to make the plunge and start it after I have asked all the clarifying questions, and it will usually turn out fine.

I think that a student who wants to intern at FCD should know that the people who work there welcome all questions that you have. They encourage interns to ask questions and to question things they do in order to learn. They value an intern’s input and will ask for their opinions and ideas. At FCD, an intern has to realize this is a smaller organization and people are very passionate and motivated about the work they do. Prevention, to them, is not just a class but an environment they hope to create in communities. There will be independent work but supervisors are always willing to help and ask questions. I think in these health non-profits in general, people have to realize, for the most part, the people who work there are extremely passionate about the mission of their organization. At these smaller non-profits, everyone has to help with everything. Although my supervisors and other all helped when the need arose. I think that is something people have to realize when going to work at a smaller organization; although you may be going in to do something specific, you also have to help with the general running of the organization.

I think the thing that I am most proud about after this internship is the fact that I was able to produce things that was not just for an academic grade but could actually be used in the real world. I’m just really glad I was able to help the organization with their mission. I think it really helped that my supervisors were always willing to explain to me why I was doing something so it never felt like I was just given a random task to do as busy work. Knowing why I did something gave it value. I am proud that, for example, the intern evaluation I made for FCD will be used in the future and the PowerPoint I made could be something a prevention specialist might use in the classroom in some distant school. FCD was a lovely organization and I am so glad I found them and that I was accepted into their organization with so much welcome and support.

Looking Back On My Time At WINGS

During training we were advised that these children came from traumatic backgrounds and that these backgrounds gravely affected them. While I’ve always known and been advised that these campers are not necessarily like others, I wish I had known more about how they might be different before I began this summer.

Many times during craft or a quiet activity, one of the campers would start talking about their home life. One child referred to her father as a monster of whom she was still afraid, another child spoke of his father’s shooting, and yet another spoke of the yelling and hitting that occurred in their home. Today, an inconsolable child spent thirty minutes trying to open a locked door as I stood by with Child Advocates. He had been removed from the classroom because he had begun hitting and kicking his brother, and with the locked door between them he was unable to force the brother into doing what he wanted. Similarly, a couple of weeks ago, two of our older campers stopped showing up regularly, and we were eventually informed that the older sister had been caught trying to strangle the younger brother. Situations like this never really occurred during any of my past jobs working with children, and I had to learn how to adapt to engaging with traumatized children.

However, I’ve also learned just how resilient these children are. Some of these kids have been in abusive homes their whole lives and are just now starting to get a sense of what safety truly is. Despite all that they have been through in their short lives, they still show up to camp with smiles on their faces. When selecting their feeling at the beginning of the camp, they oftentimes talk about how excited they are to see what activities are planned and what the “theme” is.

It may not look like much but we spent over an hour designing, testing, and perfecting our very own mini-golf course.

Most of the time, these kids are no different than any others—they laugh, they sing songs, they try to trick you into spelling I.c.u.p.—so it is oftentimes difficult to remember the trauma they have been through. It is oftentimes difficult to remember that at the end of the day they have fled for their lives.

The activity helped highlight how difficult it is for many to get help.

During training, one of the exercises that really stood out to me was a group activity in which we were placed into the roles of fictional domestic violence victims. My character was a wealthy lawyer who married the good-looking attorney that visited her workplace. It started with controlling behaviors, emotional abuse, and financial abuse. Then, the physical abuse began. As we worked through the game we were forced to make choices: would we speak to our local minister or try explaining the situation to our best girlfriend, would we call the domestic violence hotline, or simply wait, hoping that our mother would ask about the bruises dotting our neck? Even during the game the choices seemed nearly impossible, and even though we tried making the best decisions we still ended up back at the “Abuse Happens” station, where we had to each take a Band-Aid and place it on our physical body. The visceral image of being covered by Band-Aids is one that I will never forget.

I really enjoyed my time interning at WINGS. It was such a unique experience that led to an invaluable summer. Being given the opportunity to step into such a leadership position was something that I truly think I needed to experience. Through the position I was able to develop my planning skills, social skills, leadership skills, interpersonal skills, intrapersonal skills, and a plethora of other things. I learned so much about a crisis that affects so many across the country and across the globe. Domestic violence knows no race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, class, etc. Domestic violence is a real problem that affects millions.  My experience with WINGS is one that will stay with me, and I am immensely grateful that I had the opportunity to interact with children, their parents, and the organization as a whole.

Mid-Point at Global Trade Watch

It is hard to believe that time is passing so quickly and that I am more than halfway done with my internship at Global Trade Watch! It has been an action-packed couple of weeks, full of research projects, phone banking, and attending protests. Washington D.C. really is the place to be in the midst of all this political turnover. I have settled into the day-to-day life and working environment of a political advocacy non-profit. Every day I work from 9am to 6pm in an open cubicle next to another intern, working on whatever projects we have in store for the day. We get our projects mainly from the senior researchers, but also from the field director or from anybody else who needs help with a project. We usually have a few days to complete the task, but almost all of our work does end up being circulated or used in some larger component within the organization, so all of our work is high priority and often on a deadline. It is very exciting to be able to contribute to the actual workload of the organization. It feels like we are truly able to participate and that our jobs mean something. Our projects can range from anything like sending off information packets and making phone calls to researching export and import data and the corporate contributions that have been made to a congressman’s campaign. A few weeks ago we spent days calling congressional offices to update our contact lists with the names and emails of current staffers, a tedious but very necessary task. Luckily, our supervisor also gave us cookies to keep us happy! I also got the chance to attending a NAFTA 101 Briefing at the House of Representatives! It was in a small conference room and the panel was mostly talking to a room of interns sent by various higher-ups, but it was still very exciting to be a part of! I took notes and later sent out a write-up to my team.

Working in an office is definitely a different experience than attending classes in a university setting. Because it is a longer stretch of working hours, 9 hours with a one hour lunch break, it requires a more long-term form of concentration than focusing on a 50 minute lecture. It is sometimes a challenge to stay focused on a single, perhaps tedious task for hours on end. Conversely, sometimes there are gaps in projects where there is nothing to work on and we have to be able to use our time productively on our own while waiting for an assignment. Both of these skills take focus and practice, and I am glad I am getting a taste of what that can be like before I head out into the workforce permanently. On the other hand, I really appreciate the lack of homework and being able to truly be done with work for the day once I return home. I don’t have to worry about completing an assignment late at night, and I never have to sacrifice sleep for work.

I truly feel like I am getting a lot out of my internship this summer. I am

Senator Elizabeth Warren speaking at a Planned Parenthood rally!

learning a lot of valuable skills, such as streamlining research, becoming more comfortable talking on the telephone, and learning more about how to use excel spreadsheets. I am also learning a lot about politics and legislation, even though I am not working directly with the government. I look forward to being able to bring these skills back to Brandeis with me when I return in the fall. I plan to use my more advanced research skills, honed over this summer, to my advantage in my classes when I have to do research projects. I plan on using my acquired skills in excel and data processing particularly in my Econ classes in addition to being a marketable skill for my resume. Since I will be applying to jobs before I know it, I think getting more comfortable on the telephone will really help me in the interview process. Most importantly, I believe I will take away a better sense of my interests and what I might like to do as a career. I am especially enjoying the research aspect of my internship, and I think that is a good thing to know about myself. On the other side, I know I will not want to pursue a career in field organizing, it is just not for me! This already has been such a rich summer and I look forward to what else is in store.

Our website

Watch this video of Lori Wallach, director of Global Trade Watch, talking about our work!

CHIBPS – Final Reflections

I have spent a lot of this summer realizing how impactful research can be for social change, and how many vastly different ways there are to serve socially just causes. There are so many channels: conducting research, participating in community activism, working on political a campaign, working at a non-profit, becoming a social worker (to name a few). Considering the multitude of ways that people fight for progressive change and justice, particularly through their careers, is mostly exciting, from a social perspective, and somewhat daunting career perspective. When I started this internship, there seemed to be two clear career routes within the realm of public health: being an epidemiologist or other type of researcher, or working in policy and advocacy. While this internship has taught me so much about how research contributes to social justice and serves as a tool for improving public health policy, it has also made me question whether I would like to conduct research for the entirety of my working life.

As the CHIBPS summer internship program has started to wind down, the staff has organized several career-related talks for the interns. Yesterday, I attended the masters in public health seminar. One of the directors of CHIBPS discussed her trajectory through public health, her schooling and various jobs. It made me feel even more indecisive about my career path. But at the end, she left us with one last piece of sage advice. She said, “everything is public health.” This means that every industry and field of work has an impact on public health. In addition, all social justice work relates back to health, even if it is not explicitly discussing the physical or mental health of the people it is fighting for.

Public health is a prominent topic in the mainstream political discourse at the moment. For instance, the senate’s turbulent plans to replace and repeal the Affordable Care Act that potentially threatens 22 million Americans’ health insurance coverage. Or the recent tumultuous debates surrounding women’s reproductive health and Planned Parenthood funding.

These issues are obviously explicitly public healthcare related, and thus the social justice activism surrounding them is focused on the goal of improving (or preserving) the health of at-risk populations. However, social justice activism aimed at issues related to LGBTQIA rights, police brutality, sexual violence, immigration, the environment, etc., are all tied to health. This is because identity greatly influences people’s access to healthcare, and how the healthcare system and healthcare providers interpret individuals. As for the environment example, it should be obvious that without a healthy environment, there are no healthy people (not to mention environmental racism’s impact on negative health outcomes, i.e. Flint, Michigan). Outside of activism, industries have a massive impact on the public health both economically and culturally.

From this standpoint, the biggest piece of advice I would give someone looking to pursue a social justice-related job or internship is to keep this in mind and consider how your career passions might work to serve causes you are passionate about. Consider the ethics of organizations before you apply to them. Decide how closely you would like to work with the community you are working with. I am lucky to have found an organization that improved my research skills and allowed me to interact with community members. However, the downside of research is that the results of our labor are not immediate and that is something that I sometimes struggle with. Despite that, I am happy to have interned at CHIBPS and so thankful that the WOW allowed me this formative summer in New York.

-Alex Shapiro

ETE Camp 2017 Open House

Greeting from the ETE Camp students and staff.

We’ve always referred to Brandeis University as a school that is strongly based on social justice due to its dynamic history and population. We have a culture at Brandeis where we serve the underprivileged and give them opportunities that otherwise, they would not have access to. Many students at Brandeis are involved in social justice work in one way or another. My passion to be involved in work that fights for equal rights is what attracted me to Brandeis.

At Brandeis, I am not only seeing other people do social justice work, I am also able to do my own work. “Empowering Through Education” Camp offers children a quality curriculum that they do not find in the schools in their community.  Many schools in Haiti require a fee for attendance.  Families that cannot afford this payment are not able to send their students to school and these children miss out on the opportunity to attend school. Also, the more elite schools have higher fees so families who do have some funds might elect to send their children to less elite schools because of the cost.  ETE camp is making sure that all students, no matter what school they attend, are given the same education and materials as their peers so all are able to equally enjoy the camp experience.

Me (with the yellow shirt) at the ETE Camp Open House giving parents information.

On Sunday, July 2 ETE Camp had an open house as the program started on July 3Parents and students were extremely excited to have the opportunity to be at the camp during the vacation because otherwise these students would not do anything during their summer break. During the open house, unfortunately, many students had to be turned away because camp is limited to sixty children.  It was really hard to see some children cry and many parents go home very disappointed.   Even though we are aware that all students deserve a quality education, our capacity is extremely limited due to resources and funding.

Brandeis University and ETE Camp in Hinche Haiti are both working to achieve a social justice mission by providing a quality education to unprivileged children. As ETE Camp is in its 9th consecutive year, we have alumni that are starting to give back to the camp and it is amazing to see how the work of social justice and equality is really working within the Hinche community. It is a powerful to have the opportunity to do work like this and I am very passionate about carrying the Brandeis University legacy through this work. I thank all of you who share my vision and have helped make this work possible for me.

 

CHIBPS – Blog 3

The Center for Health, Identity, Behavior and Prevention Studies primary social justice goal is to “improve the lives of those affected with or by HIV, substance abuse and mental health burdens through the rigorous application of social science and public health research paradigms.” CHIBPS is identified as “a leading HIV, substance abuse, and mental health, behavior research center that is focused on the well-being of all people including sexual, racial, ethnic and cultural minorities and other marginalized populations.”  While this goal sounds broad, its vastness allows CHIBPS to create research projects that are focused on wide ranging issues relevant to the communities we aim to serve. Currently, that includes studies of men who have sex with men, and a study of older HIV positive men who identify as gay.

As I hinted in my previous blog, CHIBPS recognizes the important role researchers play in furthering knowledge on issues of public health to better our cultural understanding of HIV, and to destigmatize the mainstream narratives which thus influences policy. However, one of the things that I find most challenging when attacking issues of social injustice from a research angle, is that researchers do not witness the immediate change and cannot influence or bias the results. In the context of our research projects, this means that we are not able to tell people that they should be changing their behavior to lower their risk of contracting or transmitting HIV. We can offer resources if they ask, but we cannot influence their behavior in any way. In addition, the American healthcare system is extremely complicated and bureaucratic. Therefore, policy or innovation moves rather slowly. Research, particularly on human subjects, is a lengthy and messy process. And it looks different depending on which study we are working on.

This summer, my role in the study of older HIV positive, gay identified men is centered primarily on study recruitment either online, in community centers or at Pride events around the city. The goal of this study is to understand how psychosocial factors such as homophobia, ageism, etc., impact the process of aging with HIV. Thus progress in this context looks like identifying those factors and understanding what it is like for the first generation of people who have aged with HIV as their life expectancy now matches the rest of the population. Progress in this context looks like deepening our knowledge of an older HIV positive gay man’s experience, in the hopes of both humanizing them and improving their quality of life.

 

In the longitudinal study that has been following young men who have sex with men in the New York metropolitan area, the goal is to understand the development of both maladaptive and adaptive behaviors and to further develop a theory of syndemic production of HIV. This would, again, further our knowledge of HIV to help improve HIV related policy and hopefully decrease the rate of transmission among men who have sex with men. My involvement in this study entails interviews of subjects surrounding their sexual behavior and substance use. The fact that this study is longitudinal implies that it is a long, evolving process. To summarize, the broad goal of our behavioral research is to find results that deepen our understanding of HIV, and lead to tangible progress for the communities we serve.

-Alex Shapiro

Exploring Providence and Learning at RIIFF: Blog Post #2

Walking through Providence everyday on my way to work feels refreshing. The combination of a once unfamiliar place beginning to feel like home, and of a transition into a truly vibrant city with new people, has made my summer exciting. I’ve grown to appreciate Providence and all that it has to offer, as well as accept that there is so much more to see that I have yet to explore. As a Sponsorship and Development Associate at RIIFF, I have become acutely aware of just how many more dining hot-spots and local tourist attractions I should check out in my quest to feel more of the Rhode Island experience. I have been able to see the buildings that host many of the major events of Rhode Island through my sponsorship work. One such building is the Providence Performing Arts Center (PPAC), a gorgeous building that will be used for our Opening Night.

My time during this summer at RIIFF is much more focused than when I am full-time at Brandeis, by nature of being able to truly  focus on my internship itself. At school, I juggle a multitude of commitments, ranging from academic pursuits to social activities, including work, community service, athletic teams and classes. During this summer at RIIFF, I have not had to balance so many of those obligations, so my time at work is truly the main receiver of all my energy. I am able to come to work each day with a fresh mind without many distractions. This is something I have truly come to appreciate in the day-to-day lifestyle I am able to live this summer.

Standing in front of the location of WaterFire, a Providence attraction!

One of my favorite aspects of this internship is engaging in interviews with our favorite filmmakers. It is so rewarding to be able to talk to and learn from some of the best in the industry. I have the opportunity to interview one of my favorite interviewers on his documentaries regarding the impacts of prison and necessary reforms surrounding the system. I am grateful for the opportunity to do so, particularly given my long-standing appreciation for this filmmaker and my passion for the topics that he covers. In addition, the ability to view so many different films from all over the world is invaluable, and I feel as though I have learned so much from watching them.

I have loved immersing myself in the world of sponsorship work. The skills I have learned here at RIIFF are those I could certainly apply in other aspects of my life. I feel confident in pursuing sponsors, should I need to, for clubs I am involved in on campus now. While many of the interactions I have with potential sponsors take place over the phone, I have come to realize that in-person meeting is a much easier way to specify exactly what is wanted so that I can persuade potential sponsors to provide that. Communicating over the phone is very important in my role here, which is a skill that I will be able to apply in almost all of my future endeavors. It is rewarding to focus on being charming while communicating over a medium which is often seen as impersonal because of its lack of face-to-face contact.  

View of Downtown Providence

I am looking forward to seeing all of the work completed by RIIFF staff come to fruition during the festival. We already are anticipating the business of that week with much excitement! If you are interested in attending, please feel free to click here to purchase tickets!

-Anna Craven

My reflection on MPHA

Front door of the Congregational House, which is where MPHA is located along with many other nonprofit organizations.

Now that I only have a few weeks left of my internship at the Massachusetts Public Health Association (MPHA), I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on my experience. A significant thing that I’ve learned is that everyone’s duties align with each other in that each person’s job is significant for another person to be successful in their own job. I spoke about this in my third blog post, which spoke on the process of my organization and how they achieve their goals. Also, since MPHA is a nonprofit organization, many of the staff members will help another staff member in need since the staff size is so small. For instance, when the Events Manager needed some help with the Spring Awards Breakfast, other staff members were able to help. The community is strong and everyone is okay with helping other staff members because they know how important the work is.

Throughout my internship, I’ve interviewed different MPHA partners to then create a story about how MPHA has positively impacted their organizations and communities where these organizations are located. Before I worked on this project, I helped MPHA with their spring awards breakfast during the month of May. I created posters, contacted potential guests, updated the salesforce database, made trips to Staples, and more. This was a big payoff for me because by the day of the breakfast, I was so proud to have played a role in its execution. It was a beautiful breakfast and I was able to listen to the speeches of the different public health honorees at the breakfast. One of the honorees Dr. Megan Sandel, who wrote a study that I analyzed in my Epidemiology & Biostatistics class that I took this past spring semester.

Something that I wish I knew when my internship started is that I should expect to have responsibilities in many different areas rather than just the one area that I was expecting to. Like I said earlier, since the staff/organization is so small, staff members will offer their hand in help for activities that other staff members are doing. This is why my responsibilities varied from interviewing public health professionals to entering data on the salesforce database. I wish I knew this when I first started so that I wouldn’t be surprised when I would spend the day doing something other than what I was originally told I would be doing prior to when my internship started.

I would tell people to keep this in mind if they will be interning for MPHA or another nonprofit organization. I also recommend to take advantage of all the connections that you will make throughout the internship. It is so important to have connections to land you a job after graduating college. Make sure to build a relationship not only with the staff members of the organization, but also with the professionals that you will meet outside your organization during your internship. Finally, I would recommend taking advantage of bigger assignments that are offered to you so that you can gain more experience and build your resume. But most of all, enjoy your time as an intern because it is your opportunity to immerse yourself in the workplace while still having the experience of being a student in college.

Take-aways from an Incredible Internship at PDS

Are you interested in an investigative internship at PDS? Do it. If you’re thinking of going into law and want an experience that requires you to think on your feet, this internship is for you.
Is there anything I wish I knew at the beginning? Not really – this experience was a process that had to happen to me in due time. I’ve seen things, I’ve heard things, and I’ve felt things that I would have never expected. This summer I was born like a giraffe – dropped straight to the ground and quickly taught how to stand. That isn’t to say there isn’t training – we’re taught from the very beginning how to take statements, serve subpoenas, etc. But the advice I would give to someone pursuing an opportunity at PDS is related: expect the unexpected. Sure, it’s also good to read up on the criminal justice system, the lifetime of a case, etc., but ultimately there’s no real way to prepare for intensive experience that is the criminal law internship at PDS.
The lobby at PDS, where we take walk-ins.
In terms of social justice, my eyes have been pried so far open I’ve been blinded by the sunlight, so to speak. I’ve seen poverty–real, awful poverty–right here in DC. Like the kind of poverty where children don’t have mattresses to sleep on, where flakes of paint containing lead regularly chip off the walls, and where corn flakes are for dinner without debate. I’ve seen segregation, both by race and class – segregation so stark it makes you cringe, segregation so stark that you question whether the era of Jim Crow already ended. Within DC in particular the disparity could not be more obvious. In certain neighborhoods in the Northwest quadrant, you see enormous mansions, and white people predominate. It’s rare that you seen a black person. Cross the Anacostia River south and that world flips on its head: everyone is black, the poverty rate and crime rates skyrocket, and life-expectancy nearly cuts in half. It’s a sad, sad reality.
I’ve also learned about the horrors that constitute our jails and prisons. I’ve spoken to inmates, listened to jail calls, and heard less-than-flattering stories – stories you can only laugh at or else you’ll cry. I’ve seen autopsy reports. Crime scene photos. Gruesome, sickening wounds no one should ever have.
Most of all, I’ve learned firsthand about the systemic cycle of injustice that the invisible people of our communities continue to endure, even now, into the 21st century.
A housing complex my partner and I drove by in the field.
Whatever I end up doing, my career must involve helping these neglected people. That I know for certain. Often in their darkest hour, just charged with a crime, I want to be there to affirm to clients of a public defender office: You are not alone. Someone cares about you.
 
That brings me to the Free Minds Book Club. If nothing else, look them up and see the incredible work they do. Free Minds is an organization that facilitates the reading of books and writing of poetry by juveniles who are charged as adults (usually for a severe crime) and incarcerated in jail or prison. It turns out writing is a powerful, powerful medium for people to express themselves. Free Minds came to our office this week, and we got the opportunity to offer compliments and feedback on inmates’ poems. It was moving to read the poems of incarcerated children – to see them reach such depth and become so vulnerable for the strangers who they knew would read their poems.
In closing, I thank you for reading. This summer has been a whirlwind. If you’re thinking about law, intern at PDS. ​

Skills I’ve gained at MPHA

Now that I have been interning at the Massachusetts Public Health Association (MPHA) for nearly three months, I’ve developed various skills that I did not have before. My main responsibility at MPHA is to interview different MPHA partners about the positive impact that MPHA and its programs has had on their organization and the community around their location. I then writes stories about their experiences, which are then uploaded to their website and included in print materials. This responsibility has helped me gain skills in creating interview questions, conducting a formal interview, and writing stories that will appeal to everyone, whether they are in the public health field or not.

Interviews that I have conducted and have yet to conduct have been/will be with staff members at Groundwork Lawrence in Lawrence, MA, Healthy Community Initiatives in Revere MA, Fitchburg Community Connections Coalition in Fitchburg, MA,

Revere City Hall, which is where Healthy Community Initiatives is located.

Edward M Kennedy Community Health Center in Worcester, MA, The South Shore YMCA in Quincy, MA, and Berkshire Interfaith Organizing in Pittsfield, MA. I research the organization and the person that I’m interviewing prior to the interview so that I will know how to create the questions.

This has been very beneficial to me because I have the opportunity to meet with different professionals. Since I am a rising senior, post-graduate life has been on my mind a lot, and I am always thinking about my future job. My career will be very different from my life now. Right now, most of the adults that I speak to are my teachers. However, I need to gain experience with professionals in the workplace since that is where I will be after I graduate. Therefore, talking with professionals in my field at this internship gives me a head start in feeling comfortable with talking to these people when I’m in the workplace. This experience has also provided me with important connections with people that can potentially help me in obtaining a job post-graduation.

Throughout this internship I have been imagining my future career and what I would like in my ideal workplace. I feel that sitting in an office 9-5 is pretty unavoidable. Luckily, I don’t seem to mind it. I think that what will be most important for me in my future career is that I am working with individuals that I get along with well and add some excitement to the office. I believe that anything can be much more enjoyable when you are with people that you like. I also appreciate working in a city rather than the suburbs because it is convenient, and I also appreciate my mid-afternoon strolls when I start to become restless sitting at my desk all day.

 

Me helping with MPHA’s rally for the Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund at the State House.

Finally, I learned that I really enjoy meeting new people and gaining connections throughout the city. I’ve met people at my workplace, in the State House, and in many different cities across Massachusetts. Meeting these different people has given me inspiration and always makes me excited to go back to MPHA to fulfill my own duties after hearing about the impact these professionals are making in their own community.

A Taste of Research

I am halfway through my internship, and yet I feel like I have so much still left to explore and accomplish. This is my first time in a research environment that is not directly relevant to my main focus of computer science, however computer science plays an integral role in the research I’m currently a part of. Our center studies the neurological consequences of neuropathic pain through quantitative analysis of the sciatic nerve, and the technical side makes it possible to conduct our research. This reinforces the idea of how my areas of interest computer engineering can be applied to enhancing and that sometimes it’s just a matter of creativity.

One of the ways that this experience has impacted me is the way I approach computer science related problems. In contrast to the methodical approach to solving a problem taught in classes, I am learning that not every factor can be put into a simple sequence of steps. Rather, research is complex and it is difficult to consider all the factors that can affect our approach – unlike controlled scenarios in school when multiple factors are ignored for simplicity. There is no set algorithm to solve something, especially in the biomedical field. While research can be fun and serve as an outlet for creativity, it can also be quite frustrating when you have to work on the same thing for long periods of time often just trying to correct a mistake.

Most of the work I’m doing so far pertains to diffusion tensor imaging. One of the things that I have had the opportunity to learn about is the different algorithms out there in implementing diffusion tensor imaging. Often with MRI scans in the lower extremities, many artifacts can produce lower image quality can make MRI scans more difficult to analyze. For example moving blood vessels might create a strip of noise and blur out the image in certain areas, which is especially true for axial weighted T2 images. One way I have learned to get around this issue is to use diffusion weighted imaging.

Diffusion weighted image of the brain (Fiber tractography)
The ADC is one of the maps produced from diffusion tensor imaging. The b1000 is the b-value that indicates how much the image is weighted by the diffusion. The T1 and T2 images are MRI scans and it can be difficult to locate a nerve with such image quality especially when it is small. DTI is used to highlight the mass on the leg scan.

Water molecules in the body go through random motion, and by applying a special diffusion from encoding gradients, the MRI can now be sensitive towards this motion. This is known as a diffusion weighted image. When we apply the diffusion gradients, it is necessary to calculate a diffusion tensor to each pixel in the image. After extensive calculations, you get color coded maps that describe the diffusion anisotropy which provides a better idea of the different nerves in the body. This technique is used to grasp a better understanding of the white matter tracts in the brain, and in the study that I’m a part of this method is being applied to see if it is an efficient neuroimaging technique for the lower extremities.

The coolest part of my internship is that nobody has really attempted to improve neuroimaging techniques to capture the nerves below the spinal chord. While this is exciting, there are unique challenges I face since very little research exists for me to draw on where someone has attempted a similar approach. Overall, this experience has introduced me what research in academia actually entails – both the advantages and disadvantages that research poses – and has introduced me to new ways to think about how to use technology to develop novel approaches to solve problems.

To learn more about the research:

http://www.childrenshospital.org/research-and-innovation/research/centers/center-for-pain-and-the-brain-pain-research-group

www.painandthebrain.org

 

 

The Sweetest Internship Ever!

I’m not trying to sugar coat it…my internship at hunnybon is more intense than ever! We are doing big things here in our New York City office..

Kimberly, hunnybon’s CEO values communication among staff and is always eager to teach me about the business. I spent the first month learning both the e-commerce and retail side of the business, how inventory management works, order fulfillment, and about daily operations. I even got to visit some of the candy retailers and I have sampled more organic sweets than you can imagine.
 On a typical day, you can find me checking in on our locations to make sure they have enough candy supply, checking on the setup of the products, making sure that they look nice and are visible, and talking to the workers about the shop, making sure they know all the benefits and qualities of HunnyBon’s sweets. I suggested a training manual, or information that could be given to the employees whenever they get a new store, so that the workers can become more educated about how awesome this candy is. Kimberly and the team loved the idea, and I’m going to work on this for them.
 
It’s been interesting to see things from the inside of the company, when usually I’m on the other end, ordering from a website as a consumer (Amazon is my usual go-to.) I noticed that Inventory organization is one of the most crucial aspects necessary for a small office like HB to function. I have also been working hard on the social media aspect of the company, and have been studying how to appeal to HB’s target customer. I put together a plan with social media influencers to reach out to, different types of campaign ideas, and spend slow periods in the office taking pictures of the product. Sometimes, I am encouraged to leave the office with a bag of sweets to take photos around the city.
 
The second part of the internship is focusing more on the financial aspects. I met with Kimberly and a financial consultant to learn about Quickbooks and it is my job to  organize and clean up their QB for 2017, and then generate financial statements. Although I learned a bit about these things in my accounting class, there is no true way to prepare for the challenge that is organizing a new company’s financial statements. The most difficult part is knowing how to categorize certain expenses because there is no fine line that determines expense categories. Sometimes it is up to my judgment and other times I need to bombard a senior staff member with questions. 
 
Overall, the experience has been great so far, both at HunnyBon, and living the New York City life. Everything is pretty fast paced here, so it’s interesting to understand how businesses can be successful and the hard work it takes to make it here. Kimberly and the team of HunnyBon have been so great at both making me feel welcome at the office and in the city, and guiding me to make sure I really get the most out of the experience. Some pretty major companies have taken an interest in potentially selling some HB products in their stores, so we are all very excited to see what will happen in the near future! I will let you know what happens in my next post. Over and out.

 

Summing Up My Internship Experience

The Americares building is located next to railroad tracks, so you can always hear the occasional train passing by!

It is funny to think about my internship experience at Americares as if it is in the past, but I know that I will be at the organization for another four or five weeks before it is truly time to say goodbye. As far as impact I’ve had on the organization, well, only time will tell. As of now, my finished projects or assignments have come in the form of presentations and the creation and implementation of intern activities. Although these activities have been useful and enjoyable, some of the larger impacts my work will have on the organization are still in the project stages. For example, one of my more major assignments is to work on an updated employee handbook. It is still in the works, but is definitely in progress. I am excited to see what the end result will look like, and hopefully I will have a chance to do so by the end of my internship.

When I started my internship, I wish I had known the level of independence I would be offered in this role as well as all the amazing people I would be meeting. I wouldn’t want either of these things to change, but I feel like knowing what I know now, I would have appreciated these offerings even more. What was most surprising to me is how open and available the CEO is to anything the interns may need. For example, several of us were working on a group project at an open work table where the CEO needed to be. Rather than make us move and find a new workspace, he generously offered up his office! Not only did he offer up his office, but he also said to feel free to poke around in there as he has a lot of interesting artifacts. He is incredibly responsive and open regarding his personal experiences and how they relate to the mission of Americares. Although the CEO is at the forefront of the organization, there were tons of other unique people that I have had the pleasure of meeting through this internship experience.

The other interns reaped the benefits of my interest in baking one night. I brought in these cupcakes for a Professional Development Series.

The advice I can offer for someone interested in pursuing human resources is to be diligent in looking for an internship or a job. Although human resources is a normal business function, it is harder to find open positions than marketing or finance, likely because you are handling confidential information. For someone pursuing an internship or career in nonprofits or health in general, I would say to be open to any experience and take advantage of any opportunity that comes your way! With regards to an organization like Americares, many of the departments offered do not align with a typical college major, such as marketing or economics. This means that in order to discover these departments and see if they might interest you, you have to express an interest or apply directly for a job or internship in that department. Even if you do have a position within the organization, always explore and be open to change because you never know what you might find.

Wrapping up my Research

As I near the end of my internship I have been reflecting on the goals I intended to achieve at the beginning and where I am right now with only two weeks to go. I had hoped to learn more about research and how it can affect underserved communities in attaining better access to care, and I wanted to gain the skills necessary to conduct research more independently. With over two months of my internship complete I can say I have attained those goals. The research I have done and hope to get submitted for publication in the next month will hopefully inform policy makers and the dental community alike about the discrepancies in access to fluoride that exist in different communities. I have also learned how to be nit-picky of my own writing in order to achieve a publish-worthy manuscript as well as how to collect and analyze data. In the future, given the opportunity to conduct research I will be able to be much more independent throughout the process.

Having worked on research one-on-one with a faculty member at the University of Washington Dental School, I was given a lot of responsibility. Whether it be small organizational tasks or writing an entire manuscript, I have greatly assisted my mentor in completing many of the tasks on his list. I have been able to be helpful with a variety of activities and tasks making a very positive impact on the department as a whole.

Prior to starting the internship, I wish I had researched the work environment I would be in more. Although the work itself was exciting, the office was often relatively empty with only two administrators in the office. I would recommend to any student considering doing a research internship to talk to someone else working in the lab in order to learn more about the social interaction and dynamic of the lab.

Being able to balance work with other activities is important as well. While the work is often very fun, it can also be tiring, so making time to spend time with friends and doing things you enjoy is important as well.  For anyone considering doing research I would recommend talking to your supervisor before hand to see if there are any things you can familiarize yourself with prior to starting the internship in order to make it a smooth transition. Having a clear understanding of what your responsibilities will be as well as the time commitment for the internship is important as well. I would suggest considering finding an internship that would combine research with more hands on activities and events as well in order to have a diversity of experiences throughout the summer and maximize your learning opportunities.

Overall, I have had a tremendous summer of learning, gaining new skills, and achieving my goals. It has been a wonderful experience that I hope to build on again next summer.

What first-time interns for social justice work should know

The time I spent at National Consumers League has taught me valuable lesson about social justice work. It was a bittersweet journey, so now I am going to share it with the intention to better prepare those who want to pursue an internship or career in this field.

First of all, remember that there are many, many people and organizations working on the same issue as you, and you need them. Social justice work relies heavily on the the power of the crowd. We need people and groups to help reach a larger demographic, which will band together to be the pressure needed for changes. At NCL, we have coalitions for every thing: child labor, forced arbitration, health care … and we were able to utilize local group connections to bring in victims or influence politicians from other states across the country. As a lot of individual organizations are small with limited resources, it would have been impossible for them alone to achieve such success.

Social Justice work is powered by the number of people involved

However, you must also remember, when there are many people involved, the logistic and planing process sometimes could be incredibly slow. Every organization must go through with the plan, and there are conflicts of interest. It is very different from a start-up environment where it is mostly project-based small groups working together in a time-pressed manner. So if you want to work in social work, it is really important to be patient and be able to have a wide network that helps you connect and coordinate with other organizations. Also, from time to time you will feel like your contribution is but a grain of salt adding to the ocean. That is not to say your effort is futile, but that it is marginally small compared to the many people working on the same thing as you are. When those moments arise, keep in mind that your cause relies on the number of people involved. So your contribution, albeit small, is crucial to social justice work.

The second advice I have has to do with dealing with work conflict, which applies to every field, not just social justice work. After my experience with NCL, I believe the best way to deal with conflict is to be direct and talk to the person you work with or with the person who might have an issue with you. If you don’t talk to them, there is a high chance that they might complain about you to others and bad rumors will circulate around the office with your knowledge. Be direct but soft! Ask them if there is anything they would like you to improve on, or what time they expect you to hand things in. Constantly communicating with your supervisor not only gives you the feeling of how they evaluate you but also gives you the chance to fix any issue before it gets too large. It also creates a bond between your supervisor and you and elevates trust. Also, for those who crave being challenged and constantly learning new things, being a summer intern, whether in social justice work or other types of company, means you are a guest to them. Don’t expect them to welcome you with a lot of responsibilities like you expected. A good piece of advice is for you to take the initiative and offer your assistance to them. Even if they don’t have some tasks available right then, they will remember you when they do.

Always try to have a positive relation with your supervisor

Setting up a challenge

For the past couple of weeks, I have been diving deep into planning for the City Nature Challenge for 2018. The CNC is a week long competition between cities across the nation to document the most biodiversity in their area. It is an exciting way to get the public outside and observing the local life around them. This year, the competition is expanding all over the world with participants in six continents in over 60 cities. I am confident the Boston area will be a top contender.

Ending a successful day at EOL

For the Encyclopedia of Life, we are focusing on creating educational materials to support high school educators and students during the challenge. The Learning and Education group at EOL has developed many resources throughout the years focused on getting students involved in citizen science and open science. My personal favorite is the species cards that can be used out in the field or in EOL created lesson plans. The hope of getting students involved is to spark interest in the environment and become inspired to change some of the issues facing us today. If students can feel a connection with nature then they will feel more likely to protect it.

Our goal for the CNC is to create a comprehensive source of materials including lessons plans, species cards, and tutorials that formal and informal educators can use to get their students outside making observations that contribute to science. With these materials, students will feel empowered to make meaningful observations and contribute to a larger database of species data. Scientists then can use this data in research and published papers, which I think is pretty cool.

Logo from the 2017 CNC

One of my favorite moments so far from my internship was leading a group meeting with three other Boston area organizations. I have been communicating with this group throughout the summer and it was exciting to talk with them again. Our role as a committee in the CNC is to generate interest in the Boston area and get people excited to participate. We have to think about things like communication, fundraising, and outreach to other local organizations to make this year a success. It is fun working with them and learning about how a committee works.

Overall, I have been enjoying my time here at EOL and am looking forward to my last few weeks of the summer. National plans for the 2018 CNC are on their way and I am making sure the Boston area is prepared and ready to go. As for the education plans, I am excited to see how many students and educators we can reach to use our materials!

Gerrianna Cohen ‘18

 

Last Days with United for a Fair Economy

Technically, next week is my last with UFE, but I am so humbled to know I’m still wanted here.

Every day spent in the office, I could count on my co-workers to travel from room to room offering fruit, humor, and genuine concern. They’ve all showered me with nothing short of compassion and laughter — as if I was a permanent addition to the team.

And actually, my supervisor offered to extend my term with payments coming directly from the organization. Initially, I was shocked. Being offered a job alongside such hardworking individuals is not an everyday occurrence.

Of course, I am thrilled to have this as an option. It is so affirming to know that my co-workers appreciate me as much as I appreciate them, but because of my positive experience here, I’m bound to expect too much in the future.

Most of my peers express frustration over their internships; so going forward, I will have to reframe my eagerness and temper whatever hopes I may have.

The support system I have at UFE is not promised, but thankfully, I have learned so much that I can take with me.

In just three months, I realized what was most important to me in the workplace. I thrive best in an environment that is constantly changing and keeps me on my toes. Typical desk jobs simply cannot satisfy me, since I get too tired of routine and need to have my mental capacity put to the test.

For anyone considering this internship or a similar one, I have three pieces of advice:

  1. You cannot specialize. Non-profits such as this one have limited resources and require each person to take on a variety of tasks. If you aren’t a team player, non-profit work either isn’t for you OR it could be good practice.
  2. Be prepared to get creative and execute your own projects. Sure, there’s plenty of work to be done already, but in the summer months, there tend to be lulls in activity.
  3. And LASTLY, non-profit work exposes you to an unrealistic amount of wonderful people. If the real world is as harsh and unforgiving as adults make it out to be, then you and I both are due for a VERY rude awakening.

Ashley Loc

MPHA’s small, collaborative steps to big accomplishments

The Massachusetts Public Health Association is a social justice- focused organization with the goal of creating greater health access to those most vulnerable in the state of Massachusetts. The organization has a small staff and a board of directors. There are 8 staff members: Jodie Silverman is the Interim Executive Director, Akosua Siever is the Director of Development, Andrea Freeman is the Field Director, Melanie O’Malley is the Communications and Policy Manager, Alexa Piacenza is the Events and Administrative Manager, Maddie Ribble is the Director of Public Policy and Campaign Strategy, Kristina Cyr is the Coalition and Advocacy Manager, and Nopalzin Torres is the Finance and Operations Manager.
Each staff member has their own job with its own set of responsibilities. However, everyone‘s duties align with each other’s in order to complete a common goal. In the case of MPHA the common goal is to “create health equity for all” while also promoting their organization in order to create a greater following and consequently raise their chances of receiving government funding for their programs. I will give an example of how everyone’s duties aligned in order to put on a great Spring Awards Breakfast, a fundraising event that helps them receive funding for their impactful programs.
Andrea goes out into the community and observes the problems that need fixing. She forms strong relationships with Massachusetts residents and works closely with various organizations in order to fully understand the problems that the communities are facing. She then relays this information on to the staff members and MPHA’s partnering organizations who then create a potential policy/ program that may be able to fix the problem.
The Edward M Kennedy Community Health Center is a partner with MPHA for the Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund (PWTF). They have a strong relationship with MPHA and one of their staff members spoke at one of MPHA’s rallies at the State House for funding for the PWTF.
Edward M Kennedy CHC staff member speaking at MPHA rally
Policy and advocacy managers, Maddie and Kristina with this new information make trips to the state house to speak to policymakers/go to hearings in hopes of getting granted funding for their program. When MPHA has successes, Melanie, the Communications manager, communicates this on social media and the website and creates a following for the organization. An example is when MPHA secured $6 million for the Mass Food Trust, a program that they routinely fight for funding for. This program benefits Massachusetts residents that live in places where there is little to no access to healthy and affordable food. With the organization’s following, Akosua makes major decisions regarding MPHA events (in this case, the spring awards breakfast, which is a fundraiser), and Alexa, the events manager, carries out the decisions and puts on the event. She emails guests, updates databases, chooses a venue, etc. Jodie, the ED overlooks all of this while building relationships with various other organizations and Massachusetts residents in order to keep MPHA a popular and trustworthy organization. Nopalzin makes sure that everyone is getting paid and that the organization is in good economic standing. He budgets the events and has access to the company credit card that is used to buy materials that the organization needs.
On June 2, MPHA put on a beautiful breakfast that honored health equity champions. There were public health organizations from all over Massachusetts in attendance, and Governor Charlie Baker even spoke. MPHA raised nearly $10,000 at the event alone, and over $50,000 leading up to the event. All of this wouldn’t have been able to happen without the teamwork of everyone. Each small step of each team member creates a great accomplishment when they all work together. 
Governor Baker speaking at MPHA 15th Annual Spring Awards Breakfast.

Blog post # 4: New York Communities for Change

Hello everybody!

This is Gabriel. Back for my fourth blog post in as many weeks. Today I am answering the prompt:

What skills are you gaining and how will you employ those skills in the future (at Brandeis or beyond)?

One concrete skill I am learning at NYCC is the ability to use Powerbase. Powerbase is an open source database tool for organizing. With Powerbase I can input contact information, communication preferences and more for all the people I meet. I can also log when our contacts attend meetings or 1-on-1s or make commitments. José Gonzalez, the Director of Data Initiatives and Research for NYCC, wrote about how data collection has expanded NYCC’s political and financial capacity: “PowerBase has allowed us to create a realistic landscape of our membership and its characteristics. Because we are able to quantify the amount of members we have and document where they live, we are able to put forth an actual number that illustrates the support the organization has and therefore our political power. We are also able to qualify for funding through grants because of the same numbers.”

While Powerbase is valuable at organization-wide level it also helpful to the individual organizer. It helps me keep track of who I have contacted, when I first met them and how our phones calls or other communications have gone.  In conjunction with Hustle, Powerbase allows me to send out mass text messages reminding folks about meetings or upcoming actions.

Images from our #TenantMarch in DC

I did not foresee gaining technological skills at NYCC. However, I did anticipate learning about how to build relationships with folks and motivate them to join our cause. Throughout my time speaking to people at workforce centers, community centers, parks, bus stops, apartment complexes, barbershops and other local business, I am learning how to best present myself and frame issues in ways that are most likely to resonate and inspire people to join. Every person is different and I have to find that mutual ground. Especially coming as a white dude from Western Mass, I can’t front and pretend like we are all in the same boat. I can’t organize the same as my colleagues who grew up in Brownsville. However, if I come grounded, with an understanding of why I am doing the work and where I stand in the fight I find that I am super comfortable speaking with folks and making a connection. While I am comfortable starting the conversation, I’ve had a harder time getting folks to commit and come to meetings. I don’t like to demand things of people in my daily life. I am working on becoming more firm and insistent. My confidence grows as I understand and build faith in the mission of NYCC.

All these skills are transferable to my future career as an educator. Comfort with data collection and organization is helpful to almost any organization that works with a large contact list. I could foresee a school wanting to send out automated messages to parents from different grade levels or classes. However, the most transferable skill is building relationships and motivating people. Building a strong relationship with my future students and making a connection between their lived experiences and the content material will be incredibly helpful. Motivating them to follow and do their homework will be my biggest challenge.

 

Personal Growth

During Week 1 of my internship with BridgeYear my bosses made something clear – while our professional work was important to them, so was our personal development. To demonstrate their investment in us as individuals, they set up weekly coaching sessions. For 30 minutes each week, each intern gets to meet with our assigned coach to talk about areas of growth that we have chosen with their help. These sessions have become essential to my BridgeYear experience and development as a leader.

As a way to learn more about our working styles, the Co-Founders had all interns take the DISC assessment. This was part of chats during our coaching sessions. Go to this link to learn more about your personality strengths: https://discpersonalitytesting.com/free-disc-test/

My role this summer involves leading a team of people I’ve come to call friends and reporting to bosses I’ve called mentors for years. In other words, I’m caught in the middle of relationships with multiple dynamics. Although this situation creates an ideal working atmosphere on most days due to our strong bonds, it can also be hard to juggle when we have to get down to business. I worried about this from the start – how can I voice my opinions when we’re not on the same page, confront serious topics and deliver big asks, all while maintaining mentorships and friendships? I expressed this worry to my coach during our very first 1:1. It’s been about 7 weeks since then, and in that time, the situations I first worried about became a reality.

The team dynamic is fantastic inside and outside of the office!

While the moments leading up to difficult conversations with my team were nerve-wracking, they weren’t as bad as I had imagined. This is because I worked on establishing a culture of trust and openness with the advisors I was leading from the start. I was readily available when they needed me, I listened to their concerns inside and outside of BridgeYear, and constantly reinforced that my priority was doing what was best for our students. Going back to the talk I had with my coach, I remembered that if my team trusted me and understood that I had the right intentions, then they would be willing to listen when it was time to get serious. I think this is exactly what happened. My team listened and acted when I expressed concerns about us not meeting goals or tracking student progress, etc. They were receptive to my feedback and none of it damaged our friendships because mutual respect had been established.

Just as things had to get real with advisors, the same happened with my bosses. In another one of my coaching sessions I was told that in my position I had to be an “advocate.” My coach explained that I had to communicate my team’s needs to them (the co-founders) in order for all of the team to be on the same page. It was another responsibility that took some owning up to because I had to manage up and communicate the not so pleasant things.

I got my chance when I realized that as BridgeYear was expanding, the focus on advising was getting lost in transition. With potential partners being attracted to our Career Test Drives (CTDs) the most, our time was mostly spent on CTD-related tasks and, in comparison, little time was being invested in advising. This was worrisome. I wanted us all to be 100% for students, but we felt that our CTD projects were more pressing. When I decided that this couldn’t go on for longer I sat down with one of the co-founders and told her that this had to change. Together, we brainstormed ways to get everyone to restructure priorities by tag-teaming during an all-team meeting in which advising took the spotlight. This was a wake-up call for advisors and since then, the team has done well at prioritizing.

I bring these situations up because in the process I’ve gotten to develop new skills and learn about myself in the workplace. I’ve learned that, though not always easy, it is possible to find a balance between friendship and professionalism. I’ve become better at listening and adapting to other’s needs. I’ve practiced managing up to my bosses, though I’d say not enough, but even that’s part of my growth. The lessons I’ve learned during my time with BridgeYear will surely resurface at Brandeis and beyond.

Dariana Resendez ‘19

Social Justice, what I learnt in Brandeis v. real life

Other than the education I receive from my classes at Brandeis, I have learned a great deal from talking with Prof. Charles Chester from International Environmental Policy courses. We mostly talked about how environmental advocacy and NGO groups function around the world. But coming to work at National Consumers League, I realized the experience is very much the same for similar organizations in different fields. It does not matter what industry you work in, as long as the organization is trying to mobilize politicians, the way of work is very similar.

One thing we discussed was how these organizations are inefficient. He explained that for many organizations, the staff have to spend a lot of resources finding funding for the activities and for the organization itself to survive. So the time and money that are supposed to go to doing activities to support the cause actually go to paying people to apply for other grants that hopefully will pay for those activities. The problem is worsened if there are many third parties organization in between the original donor and the organization which actually does the practical work, as along the way there will just be more “leaking buckets,” as my professor said it. So by the time the money reaches the actual work, it will be a fraction of what the original amount of money. And that is certainly a waste.

A member of our 2-person sponsor relation team

Now, fortunately, National Consumers League is not the type of origination that does grassroots work. And other than traditional donations, where our sponsors just donate a certain amount to the organization, we have a project-based system for donors who want to give for a specific project that we run. We also have a department of two people specializing in opening networks and working with sponsors to get more grants. This funding system and the size of the sponsor relation department, in my opinion, give donors the confidence that their money, to the maximum degree possible, is not being used for the wrong purpose.

At Brandeis, I also had the pleasure of talking to my business-savvy upperclassman. We argue about how organizations are inefficient in a different way: how they are swayed by the power of the money from their donors. He argues that most organizations receive their money from for-profit business and thus are incredibly restricted in what and how they can support their agenda. Given that I am in a consumer-rights industry right now, this is particularly relevant. Business and consumers are not always the best harmony when it comes to benefits. I have experienced this struggle when I first worked on my project to identify and promote brands of products are child-labour free. Of course, I was discouraged with the concern that advertising (while I merely consider it educating and informing customers) certain brands would have the organization be at odds with other potential sponsors. It was incredibly dampening as I don’t see how we can be informing people while being influenced by those who give us the money we need to survive as an organization. Luckily, my doubt was slightly mitigated after I learned that our director once wrote a blog advocating for the limitation on soda drink sales in restaurants due to its being linked with diabetes–and some of those brands are actually our sponsors. The NCL, while taking precautions when giving out criticisms of certain brands, is still an independent entity that informs and advocates for what it believes in.

Of course, I cannot say it is or can be the same for every organization out there to operate with some kind of independency or with the maximum efficiency possible, nor can I say the NCL is the ideal model that every organization should follow. But I do believe for now we have the balance needed to carry out our work.

Reid and I talking to the survivors of child labour in a Child Labour coalition meeting