3 – End of Baby Brain Research Internship

This summer, I saw how the theories I’d learned about attachment and developmental psychology at Brandeis apply to actual patients and research in the field. I learned several new skills, such as applying caps/optodes for fNIRS scans, preparing participants for and running fMRI scans, processing saliva for oxytocin assays, screening patient medical charts, and approaching hospital patients for study recruitment. 

I was able to explore a potential career as a clinical researcher and learned about various career trajectories in psychology and medicine (e.g., child psychiatrist, developmental-behavioral pediatrician, clinical psychologist, etc.). I received invaluable wisdom and guidance from Dr. Kim and her team. Also, I had the opportunity to observe a psychiatrist perform diagnostic tests and MRS scans, and learn from a school psychologist about diagnostic testing used in school systems. These experiences helped me envision potential future careers in psychology and/or medicine. Although my career interests are not completely solidified, this internship has given me a clearer understanding of what potential paths could look like. I was able to ask several professionals about their experiences and suggestions when it comes to choosing between various careers in the field.

I gained experience working in a professional setting. I was eager to gain confidence in my verbal and written communication skills to feel more sure of myself in professional spaces. This internship provided me with incredible opportunities to communicate confidently with professionals in the field.  

My advice to a student interested in a psychology research internship is that it’s crucial to find a project that genuinely excites you and aligns with your academic/personal interests. From there, it’ll be easy to immerse yourself in the work and perform to your highest potential. To a student interested in an internship at UMass Chan Medical School, my biggest piece of advice would be to take advantage of and seek out opportunities to learn from mentors there. The team is full of incredibly intelligent and insightful people eager to help you reach your goals. 

I’m proud that I can confidently say that I gave this internship my all and made a real impact with my work this summer. I am proud of my commitment and effort over the last three months and that I’ve been asked to return to the team as a Clinical Research Assistant once I graduate in December. I am excited to continue working with and learning from Dr. Kim and the larger CANDI (Child and Adolescent NeuroDevelopment Initiative) team at UMass Chan Medical School.

I am incredibly grateful that I was selected for a WOW Fellowship this summer. I’ve had so many wonderful experiences over the past three months that would have been impossible without it. Thank you!

Concluding my Internship with The Caterpillar Lab

Through this internship, I have met my goals to better understand New England’s caterpillars and plants. By caring for the animals, I began to familiarize myself with each species’ characteristics as well as gaining an understanding for identifying the native plants they eat. I especially furthered my learning of these species by listening to my peers at the lab and during programs. Once I grasped these facts and concepts I was then able to share it with visitors at programs. Programs were an important aspect of diving deeper into each caterpillars’ unique evolutionary traits as well as teaching broader concepts of ecology and the importance of species interactions. 

While I always loved insects, I was mainly drawn to the larger vertebrate species growing up. These used to be the animals I wanted to conserve the most, but through this opportunity, I gained a new appreciation for invertebrates and their critical roles in the ecosystem. The world of conservation is extremely devoted to protecting the large animals and this leads to people forgetting to protect and fund invertebrates. By learning the important yet overlooked facts about the roles of insects, it became apparent that these larger iconic animals and ecosystems cannot be well protected without conserving the staple organisms such as plants and insects. 

In New England, caterpillars consume more plant material than all other herbivores combined and are crucial in breaking down plants and becoming a new energy source for other organisms. On top of this, we can then see that wasps are the most prevalent consumers of caterpillars and without them, the caterpillar would be overpopulated and far too destructive to the ecosystem. This example interaction demonstrates the need for both caterpillars and wasps in an ecosystem to sustain a healthy ecosystem.

Insect decline is a serious threat to most ecosystems, yet it is often left behind in conservation planning. I’ve learned about the declines and local extinctions of these amazing caterpillars that provide significant ecosystem services and become far more aware of the need to protect and restore their populations. 

This experience has inspired me to explore new topics and ideas that I would like to pursue in the near future. It has completely changed the way I view wildlife, and I believe that it is a great internship for any students that are interested in conservation. I would recommend applying for this internship even if you may not love or be familiar with entomology. It can definitely make you fall in love with these beautiful animals and provide you with a learning experience from extremely knowledgeable people.  

(3) Learning to Appreciate the Importance of Interns

A central concept that I have taken away from my internship is that the mechanics of social justice work are just like they are in any other position. An organization may have an inspiring mission, but achieving these goals may involve a lot of grunt work. My internship at the Volunteer Lawyers Project (VLP) helps low-income people facing eviction get access to legal aid. Through this experience, I have had the opportunity to meet amazing people and hear their stories. However, on a day-to-day basis, I was working with spreadsheets, PowerPoints, and online filing systems. Social justice work can be life changing and extremely powerful, but it can also be quite boring. However, what makes it boring is also extremely important and this is a lesson I have learned quite recently.

Over the past few months, I was trained to complete what VLP calls “outreaches.” This is a task on VLP’s online filing system called Legal Server where I record what clients VLP has served. This entails documenting the client’s personal information (name, address, citizenship status, etc.), what services VLP provided to the client, which attorneys worked with them and how much total time was spent with said client. Initially, I enjoyed completing outreaches because it was fascinating to read all the different stories of who VLP has helped. However, after a while it got quite dull, especially because I was just copying information from an Excel spreadsheet into Legal Server. This puzzled me. Why did the information VLP had in Excel also need to be in Legal Server? What purpose was I actually serving? 

I posed this question to my supervisor, who had a very satisfactory answer. VLP is funded largely by a Legal Services Corporation (LSC) grant, which comes from the federal government. Along with this grant comes strict requirements about what type of clients VLP can serve and what aid we can provide. For example, all of VLP’s clients must be legal U.S. citizens or have proof of lawful residency. Even though VLP may wish to serve undocumented people, we are unable to due to LSC requirements. It turns out that making sure that VLP is compliant with LSC requirements is the entire purpose of the outreaches that I was completing. This detailed documentation in a legal filing system ensures that VLP has a legitimate record of the work they have completed, and that it was done so in a manner appropriate to the funding they receive. If this process is done incorrectly, VLP could be at risk of losing their funding.

58,800 Happy Office Illustrations & Clip Art - iStockIn this instance, I learned a lesson that I wished I knew at the beginning of my internship. When doing social justice work, every little task matters. Even if an assignment seems mundane or pointless, it is likely part of a bigger wheel that keeps your organization rolling. This is advice I would give someone pursuing an internship in legal aid or at any kind of non-profit. Grunt work is often given to interns, but this in no way means you are not doing meaningful work. You are still contributing to the valuable mission that your organization is striving to achieve.

End of summer


This week I concluded my internship at Start Strong and I can say with confidence that I made the right decision. I have worked various jobs and by now I know what a healthy work environment looks like. I have never been in a space where my coworkers and supervisor have supported me with  such grace. There wasn’t a day that I did not look forward to showing up and teaching the adolescents. With much reflection I am astonished at how grounded they were and how much emotional maturity they display, I saw my younger self in them. They have demonstrated full acceptance of others and the willingness to learn. That serves to show how impactful Start Strong is on their youths. I am happy to play a role in that. 


One of my biggest takeaways from this summer is how I need to approach young people in my field of work. I learned that teenagers are at stages in their lives where they are learning lessons that mold their adulthood. It’s essential to give them grace for their mistakes and to emphasize that they are still learning what makes them happy and whole. This is important to me because I often am hard on myself for the mistakes I made in my teenage years. I have now accepted at those ages I did the best I could knowing what I knew at that time. 


Additionally, my favorite conversation we had this summer with the youths was how to navigate a healthy break up. It meant a lot to me that I was in a position where I could teach them this valuable information because something as simple as conversation on what a healthy break up looks like can save a life. I did not grow up in an environment with healthy representations of break ups and relationships overall. Due to this void I didn’t know how I should be treated in a relationship and I ended up in an abusive relationship. Surviving this relationship motivated me to begin the path to being a social worker and compelled me to want to be in a space like this Start Strong. 


Being a social worker means that I get to be in a position where I can connect underprivileged  people with resources. These resources will ultimately help them make their quality of life better and take them out of harmful situations. Sometimes people need someone there to guide them because they don’t know where to start to make their life better.


(3) Do what you love

It has been quite a fulfilling experience interning with The Right to Immigration Institute (TRII) this summer. I’ve not only been immersed in immigration law, but I’ve had an opportunity to witness the law in action and learn more about the world of work. In addition to feeling much more prepared to take on the challenge of law school and hit the ground running, I have continued to build on soft skills like communication, self-accountability, and work-life balance in preparation for life beyond college.

One of the most important things that I have learned this summer is the importance of developing and nurturing soft skills, such as those mentioned above. A person’s ability to complete a job isn’t necessarily defined by their experience or qualifications, but rather by their ability to adapt, effectively communicate, and hold themselves accountable in terms of asking for help and managing deadlines. In the world of social justice, this is especially important, as clients put their lives in the hands of their attorneys, accredited representatives, and/or advocates.

In terms of the impact that I have had on TRII, I believe that just by participating in the first cohort of trainees to become accredited representatives helped to pave the way for advancing the program for future trainees. Having the opportunity to participate in a six-month program tailored to undergraduate students who want experience in the legal field is incredibly rare; what is even more rare, at least on the undergraduate level, is the opportunity to work alongside professional attorneys who are passionate about devoting their extra time and energy to bettering the skills of those who intern alongside them. While working on cases, I have been encouraged numerous times to take the lead on client meetings, file paperwork, or write client affidavits, on top of legal research. I have deeply appreciated and enjoyed the learning experience working at TRII and the support from our executive director and attorneys, and I plan to continue to intern with the organization until I graduate from Brandeis.

If I were to do it all over again, I’m not sure that there is a lot I would change. I got lucky in the sense that I found the program when I was able to find the time to do the training and to take on an internship doing consistent client work. In terms of advice to those interested in working with TRII or in immigration law in general, I would encourage you to not be afraid to ask all the questions you have. In my opinion, education is the greatest gift in the world, and you won’t learn unless you take an active role.

I am grateful to the World of Work fellowship program for supporting me in my internship with The Right to Immigration Institute this summer. This experience is an important step on my path to becoming a lawyer and the skills I have developed over the course of this internship will no doubt propel me further. Law school, here I come!

(3) Takeaways from the NCL Experience

My time at NCL will be my framework for shaping my expectations for future jobs and how I approach social justice. Through this experience, I learned the value of communication and collective action. Without them, nothing I worked on would have been possible.

In order to create positive change on the national level, collective action is critical. The likelihood of achieving desired goals increases immensely when organizations and individuals work together and form a unified front before lobbying Congress, governmental institutions, and more. Together, distinct groups can place pressure in different ways and offer diverse perspectives, incentivizing targeted parties to support or even vote in the best interest of the collective. However, this collaboration cannot succeed without effective communication.

This is imperative at all levels, from planned strategic meetings between organizations to my boss laying out clear instructions on what she needs from me as her intern. Some of the ways I have applied this at NCL are: replying to emails in a timely manner; asking questions when I do not understand an assignment or issue; and being direct with what I need and how I can help my bosses. I will take these lessons about the world of work with me throughout my career and incorporate them into future social justice advocacy.

At NCL, I wrote policy statements covering a range of health issues including copay accumulator programs, the monopolistic practices of PBMs, the unfair treatment of pregnant workers, the FDA’s ban on Juul, and the ongoing gun epidemic. In addition, I assisted in breaking down specific issues during lobbying meetings and took notes for my supervisors in meetings they were not able to attend. I also had the privilege of assisting the Director of Health Policy in her testimony to the Senate Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights. This included helping craft her formal statement, opposition research, and strategy recommendations for the Q&A portion of the hearing. Currently, I am working on expanding NCL’s “Where We Stand” health policy platform by drafting a section on health equity.

One of my most significant takeaways from my experience at NCL was how to approach lobbying. Before starting at NCL, the lobbying tactics I employed were almost exclusively rooted in applying pressure in order to achieve a desired result. However, watching and learning from NCL staff highlighted the importance of maintaining a more balanced approach. While pushing hard and using pressure-based incentives are direct and effective, it is also critical that this does not come at the cost of losing contacts and connections. Before going into a meeting, both parties have researched each other and have likely made their mind up about the issue. In this respect, lobbying can be a formality with a predetermined outcome, and therefore is not something worth burning bridges over. This is something I wish I had known before starting my internship and I will inevitably keep this lesson in mind throughout my career.  

John Breyault, Vice President of Public Policy, holds up an NCL poster.

For future interns that have the privilege of working at NCL, my advice would be to be proactive about asking for work and to prove early on your ability to produce high-quality material. Oftentimes with internships, bosses do not know what you are capable of and correspondingly will delegate tasks that are not up to personal standards. Illustrating prowess with smaller assignments and then asking to be a part of larger ones not only leads to a more targeted and robust learning experience, but will ensure all parties feel fulfilled throughout this unique and amazing opportunity that WOW and NCL facilitate. 

Blog Post 3: Thank you WOW!

Of the past 15 posts on @womensfundwmass, I have made nine of them!

I have finished my 10 weeks at the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts (WFWM)! It has flown by, and I feel so lucky to have secured this internship and the amazing funding through WOW. 

In my first blog post, I detailed my three goals: to learn more about non-profits, to become more confident in my creative decision-making and get more experience being involved in research. I can confidently say that I have fulfilled these goals and so much more. I am leaving with concrete work experience in the field I hope to pursue after graduation, hard skills involving research and community engagement and practical skills regarding teamwork and social issues. I don’t think my priorities changed over my internship, but I do think my goals were fluid and expanded, which allowed me to gain all of the above from my time at WFWM. 

Leaving this internship, I feel more intrigued about the possibilities of the non-profit world. I have loved working in the gender equity field but that has fueled my interest in what non-profits in other sectors look like, specifically in LGBTQIA+ rights and disability justice. I think that is what I have learned about myself most this summer – that I want to discover more and get out of my comfort zone. I want to see more of what I can accomplish, whether that’s in another dynamic job in the same field or something completely different. 

The advice I would give to another student at the WFWM or in the same field is the same – meet people! By far, the most fulfilling part of my 10 weeks at the Women’s Fund was working with such a strong and inspiring group of women. I had only met my supervisor, Kelley, before starting my internship and had no idea that I would be joining a group of individuals with just as much passion and drive as she has. Meeting individually with each member of the staff has been extremely rewarding, and I would recommend pursuing these 1:1 connections with anyone and everyone. 

Overall, I am really proud of myself for getting this internship and this grant. I had to work hard to even get this placement and continue to work hard in my position. I am leaving these 10 weeks feeling more confident in myself and my future. Being a rising senior, the “real job” chapter is on the horizon and I was really nervous about being ready. I am definitely feeling less scared now and more excited about the future.

(3) What I am walking away with

I learned two things about myself throughout my internship at United for a Fair Economy (UFE). One is that I would prefer to work at a nonprofit as a part-time job, and the other is that community organizing involves a lot of new client introductions and unpaid work. Overall, I learned the importance of organizing and networking in your community, especially maintaining and growing networks. These lessons are vital for understanding how grassroots organizations collaborate and help each other.

I am now brainstorming what skills and prior knowledge I wish to have to create a significant, powerful impact on my community and bring that talent back home. I learned much about project management, team building, fundraising, and healthy relationships during my internship. I was able to help the office accountant with receiving, cataloging, and cashing in donations. More importantly, I was involved in the correspondence process, thanking individuals, creating letterheads, and mailing them. One memorable quote from a colleague about this process was, “the best way to obtain new donors is to re-engage with old ones.” I also helped my manager by fine-tuning and editing prompts for the Conversation Deck project and arranging a focus group with a diverse group of outside partners. Last but not least, I helped promote and market UFE fundraising and informational events.

I will say that although popular education was a new concept to me, it was amazing to see it in practice. I learned a lot about this type of work. I also realized that the more I did focus groups, the more I learned about the last one and better ways of facilitation.

Someone I wish I had met when I started is a staff member called Eroc. His work is concentrated around Healing Justice and community resource pooling. I wished I had met him earlier and worked with him more often, mainly since he was remote. He was the type of person you would speak to and feel like you got something out of the discussion.

One piece of advice I would give to someone pursuing an internship or career in this field is to take advantage of the learning opportunity and be careful of burnout. Burnout is the reason why I would pursue nonprofit work as a part-time job. I would also recommend that people do their research into organizations, ex-employees, and the work and impact an organization has done because we must be careful of the nonprofit industrial complex. A high concentration of nonprofits in an area signals a structural problem in how society operates. Moreover, being a 501(c)(3) means that the organization does its taxes in a particular way. This means you could end up in a nonprofit organization that mimics and operates the way a corporation would. Therefore, good things to look for in a nonprofit are whether they acknowledge mental health struggles and burnout, and if they work on projects collectively and cooperate with tasks and roles.

Overall, I am leaving this internship very fulfilled and appreciative. 

Me and another intern Felix having lunch for the first time with Eroc and his kids.
Food is the best way to bond.

My Final Month at the Spelke Lab

As I’m wrapping up my internship at the Spelke Lab, I’ve been reflecting on my time here and trying to visualize myself as a psychology graduate student. Originally, I was hoping to use this experience to see if graduate school would be a good fit upon graduation. After being able to interact with the current students at the Spelke Lab and hearing about their journeys, I’ve been able to gain a very insightful view of what it’s like to do research. I’ve decided that after taking some time off school, I’d want to pursue graduate studies in the developmental neuropsychology realm to continue to do research that supports children in their homes and education.

As mentioned, in my first blog, I was looking forward to data analysis to have a better understanding of our results. Unfortunately, the specific project I’ve been working on has not yet completed data collection. However, I was able to get a rough idea of the results by making graphs along with my mentor of the preliminary data for my poster! My poster describes the project I’ve been working on and so far we have been getting surprising results that are different from previous literature. I was excited to put my work into writing and describe the purpose behind our project during our poster session. I also saw my colleagues present on their very different yet interesting projects related to children’s perception and language.

I was also looking forward to presenting a psychology article for our weekly book club meetings. A peer and I focused on articles that had to do with how emotions may affect our memory of prominent events. We chose this topic to step away from developmental psychology for a bit and read about a different aspect of psychology. These book clubs have definitely helped me become more comfortable by learning how to read valuable results from academic literature which was one of my goals coming into this internship.

While working in academic research, I’ve discovered just how flexible you have to be as an experimenter. Especially, when it comes to scheduling participants and seeing how to fill in the gaps in your data. I’ve also been surprised to see how much collaboration there was in the lab. My specific project was collaborating with a neighboring lab as another principle investigator had already done extensive research on the topic previously. My advice to future research assistants at the Spelke Lab is simply to have fun! You get to work with brilliant students who have a deep passion for developmental psychology and you get to learn so much from them. The entire lab consisted of some of the kindest people as they are willing to share their experiences in research and teach you some valuable skills. I’ll definitely be remembering my time as a research assistant in the Spelke Lab while doing research of my own.


(3) Plans for the Future

The summer has gone by faster than I could have imagined back in May when I began working at the Capital Jewish Museum. And the internship itself has evolved over time from the plans at my first meeting with my supervisor, to the description I wrote when I applied for the WOW fellowship, to what I actually ended up working on over the summer. 

When my supervisor and I first spoke, we found that we shared an interest in cemeteries – he regularly walks through D.C. cemeteries, searching for familiar names. As we discussed potential projects for the summer, two cemetery-related projects came up: photographing and creating complete indexes of graves in D.C.’s historic Jewish cemeteries and creating online walking tours of these cemeteries similar to the tours available at the Congressional Cemetery in D.C. As of now, I have fully photographed two of the four historic cemeteries located in southeast D.C. and am working on completing the indexes. Once those indexes are complete, my supervisor, whose knowledge of D.C. Jewish history is much more advanced, will go through and flag individuals or families to be included in the walking tours. The plan is to create multiple tours – for example, the Congressional Cemetery’s various tours include “Brewers,” “Cenotaphs,” “Civil Rights Heroes,” and “Men of Adventure.” Some possible examples for the Jewish cemeteries might be “Clergy,” or “Business Owners.” This project is more long-term than we may have expected, which means my internship will be extended through the fall semester. 

It can sometimes feel like the work I am doing is insufficient – a minuscule change that does little in the larger scheme of things. I have often been asked, regarding my cemetery project, how long would it take to do this sort of project in every Jewish cemetery in the United States? More time than I have. But the work I am doing still makes a difference. It will help the synagogues when people reach out asking for photos or information; it will help the museum with future cemetery-related projects; and it will help many unknown researchers searching for information online about their families whose roots can be found in a plot in southeast D.C. 

When I applied to the WOW fellowship, I mentioned that I hoped to use this incredible opportunity to explore my grandfather’s D.C. family history. As part of the cemetery project, I was able to index the entire cemetery where my great-great grandparents and three of their children are buried. Doing so was a way for me to honor them and their community, making sure their memories are preserved. It similarly helps me serve as a resource to others hoping to honor their families’ histories. 

In this way, my work this summer has helped me become more certain about what I would like to do in the future. No matter what field I end up with, whether I am working in genealogy, a museum, or something else altogether, I hope my work will be of help to others – I enjoy the feeling of being of service, knowing that what I do is affecting others’ lives in a positive way. It has been inspiring to meet so many people this summer who are similarly inspired and who devote their time to historical preservation. 

Concluding My Summer at the ITA

As my time interning at the ITA draws to a close and I reflect on my summer, I feel that I have learned a lot and accomplished the goals that I set for myself at the start of the summer. I have learned about how the U.S. government supports international trade through assisting with that work in my day-to-day tasks. Similarly, through attending intern events and talking with ITA employees, I have learned about the opportunities available at the Department of Commerce, and in the broader field of international trade. In fact, one of the things that I am most proud of this summer is how proactive and outgoing I was about conducting informational interviews. Through them, I have learned that there are many more career paths in this field than I initially realized. Finally, I have improved my communication skills, adapting them to the worlds of business and government. The style of communication there is much more direct and concise than the academic writing that I am used to, but I hope to apply what I have learned to my assignments this upcoming year.

Additionally, I learned a lot about myself throughout the summer. I found that I did well in the environment of my internship. Being remote, it was a very independent environment, but I appreciated that the regional managers were available to answer any questions that arose. I also found that I really enjoyed learning more about the companies that I researched, and the challenge of conveying my conclusions as efficiently as possible. Furthermore, I found that it is important to me to know that the work I am doing matters, and I have gotten this satisfaction through my internship.  I plan to use this insight to identify which companies I think will be a good fit for me when I apply for jobs this upcoming year.

There are several pieces of advice that I would give to students interested in a summer internship at the ITA, or more broadly in government work. One of the most salient is to not be afraid to speak up, be it a question or a desire to work on a particular topic. In all likelihood, the employees will be happy to talk with you and keep you in mind when something relevant to your interests comes up. This is especially important with remote internships since you need to be more deliberate about communication. Also, I would recommend that you take advantage of any networking opportunities that arise, since they are only available for a limited amount of time. Whether you are attending events specifically for interns or are reaching out to a particular person to learn more about their job and career path, every conversation is a chance to learn more about the company (and broader field) in which you are interning. This aspect of internships is very much what you make of it, and I recommend taking advantage of the opportunity provided.

(3) Impact Is Ongoing

As student activists, leaders, and change-makers, we know that change is a slow and ever-evolving process. This also applies to the work we do at Fulphil as we try to impact as many high school students as possible. We update our curriculum each year to include the most up-to-date content, examples, and scenarios, which involves consistently supporting and aligning ourselves with the mission and values of the organization. I think of Fulphil’s work as slow but impactful steps towards building the next generation of highly motivated and like-minded students. 

At Fulphil, I have been able to support my own team of students working on the Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion curriculum while assisting the development of other curriculums in Social Entrepreneurship and Financial Literacy. In addition to crafting curriculums, I created slides that teachers across the country can use in their classrooms as supplementary materials to the curriculum. The work that we do sits at the intersection of being independent and collaborative. Being able to work on multiple projects that I was in charge of, on my own schedule, while coming together with the larger team to discuss challenges and brainstorm ideas and solutions has been a great balance in work style.

Sample teacher slides for the Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion and Financial Literacy curriculum

If there is anything I’ve learned this summer, it is to never be afraid to be creative, bring your ideas into the space, and take chances to make it happen. We are at a time in our lives where we can make mistakes, own up to them, and stand up again with a new road map in our grasp. What’s special about working at Fulphil is being able to bring your creativity to your tasks and projects—and that is how you make something personable and unique to you and enjoy your experience to the fullest. I learned to be adaptive, flexible, and curious, which allowed me to take on many opportunities throughout this experience. I was given the opportunity to facilitate team and department meetings, create curriculum and content surrounding topics and issues that I was passionate about, and provide suggestions and ideas for future iterations of the internship program. 

I’m incredibly grateful to have been able to work and grow with the staff at Fulphil, and I know that the impact we are creating together is huge, despite not being able to see it immediately. For others interested in pursuing a path in social impact, know that what you do on a day-to-day basis is always valuable and will contribute to the larger organization in ways you may not expect. This learning experience has taught me that the work and effort one puts into anything is always impactful, beyond what is visible to the eye. With that in mind, I know that with everything that I put my energy and efforts into, I am making a difference and contributing to the gradual process of building and creating impact.

(3) My last few weeks with Science Clubs International

The opportunity to spend this summer working with Science Clubs International  (SCI) allowed me to grow and learn in many ways. Having the chance to be involved in such an impactful organization certainly shaped my goals for my professional career. I understand the importance of making science education accessible to spark social transformation, especially in Latin America where there aren’t as many opportunities in the field. Teaching high school and college students about the impact scientific research can have on the world and introducing them to the field is the way to create change-makers. Through engaging assignments, I have grown into a better educator, collaborator, student, researcher, coordinator, and team member. My confidence and understanding of non-profit STEM education has grown, and I know I want to continue collaborating and working with a project like this in the future.

During my time with SCI, my confidence working in a professional environment increased. As an intern, I have been involved in the growth, development, and organization of an SCI international event that will happen next month for over 300+ students from different countries. Every year, the organization hosts young scientists, graduate students, and postdocs to share their knowledge and stories about pursuing careers in science with high school and college students, and to organize workshops to offer a hands-on scientific experience for them. As I worked in the organization of the event, I demonstrated initiative by increasing the number of Brazilian students applying to the event. I improved my communication skills by translating the website, documents, and tutorials across three languages: Portuguese, Spanish and English. While I’m working at the event next month, I’ll be able to see all of our work actually coming to life.

I’m proud of all of the work I’ve been involved in this summer and grateful I had the opportunity to pursue this internship. For those interested in interning with SCI or a similar organization, I believe I can offer advice on how you can make the most of your internship experience.

The main advice I would give is to learn from the experience each professional brings to the team. I understand that as an intern, it may seem scary to approach them in the work environment, but most individuals are open to talking about their careers in and contributions to the STEM nonprofit sector. When I felt comfortable doing that, I received extreme support from those I work with, developed a professional relationship with them, and learned to better advocate for what I believe.

Working with SCI was an incredible experience. This is something that I have always wanted to do since I participated in one of their programs in high school, and being able to be on the inside and learn how everything is put together was a rewarding experience. I also loved reflecting on my experiences by writing these blog posts throughout the summer. I hope  these posts inspire other students to pursue similar internships and apply to be a part of the wonderful WOW cohort in the coming years.

Post 3 — Local News Fills the Void

Tragedy strikes Evansville whilst my internship is coming to a close: a house explosion, killing 3 people and destroying numerous houses, shakes the community. Although a sad way to leave Evansville, this rather abrupt close has prompted a lot of reflection on my part. Namely, in times like these, the importance of local journalism is abundantly clear. Although I have not been involved with this reporting, the experience of hearing and seeing how a newsroom mobilizes in times of crisis has been incredibly valuable. 

Photo courtesy Daniel Sarch / Courier & Press A house, located on 1010 N. Weinbach Ave. in Evansville, IN, exploded Wednesday evening. The explosion caused three deaths and damaged 39 houses.

This internship gave me so much perspective, both in being able to observe different communities’ and peoples’ ways of life, as well as providing me with insight on what careers/opportunities I wish to pursue in the future. I fell in love with this small but mighty newspaper, filled with bright and quiet (yet at the same time also tenacious) journalists.

This summer, I have identified what kind of workplace I value. I now know that I require a loud and busy environment in order to effectively work. I have also learned that I do not want a desk job. I want to work with people and do so in person (pending public health safety, of course). Due to office and family COVID-19 cases, I spent a lot of the summer working from home, something I would like to minimize going forward if possible. 

I am most proud of the connections I made in the community and my increased confidence in interviewing and writing. Little things like introducing myself on the phone to sources brought such a rush – “This is Jen Crystal with the Courier & Press. It was so exciting to claim belonging to an organization in that kind of way, and it was so rewarding to afterward have learned new things from interesting community members. My favorite thing about journalism has been and continues to be the level of trust sources put into their writers to honestly and respectfully portray themselves and their experiences. I think I have grown a lot as a writer and as an interviewer this summer, and I am immensely proud of that growth.  

Here is my advice to people hoping to enter or intern in this field: 

  • Be persistent – In finding sources, interviewing, and even in finding your internship, do not hesitate to go through unusual channels if your initial outreach doesn’t pan through.


  • If there isn’t an internship program in place, don’t let that hold you back – Although the Courier & Press does have an official internship program, I reached out to the newspaper’s editors and acquired my internship that way. Especially with programs like WoW, you can work with your employers to create a position if a formal/paid position does not exist or is not available.




(3) Wrapping Up

The more that I learn, the more I realize how little I know. I’ve felt this to be the case in life, and certainly in my work this summer. Working with Consensus, I very quickly found out the depth of knowledge involved in expertise in the field, and my own excitement to delve deeper.

Unsurprisingly, conflict resolution and peacekeeping is a vast field. I knew this going in. What I failed in some ways to grasp was the degree to which it is tied in with academia. There is a massive body of work dedicated to these topics, and leading experts whose studies are focused on these disciplines.

This is all to say that a person could devote a lifetime to the field. From the delicate intricacies of mastering one on one negotiation to the unbelievable complexities of resolving conflicts between millions of people, it’s a field that requires real expertise. For any good work, including social justice work, success is dependent on deep research and experience, and learning from others more knowledgable.

My own expertise is more limited, but I do have skills to bring to the table. I hope that what I have been working on will have some sort of impact at Consensus. I’ve worked hard to help develop their online presence, and I hope that they will continue to succeed in connecting and communicating with clients in some small part thanks to my work.

But I realize that I am working with a team of talented experts, people who happen to have studied communications extensively. These are people who I am lucky enough through this work to have had access to. Considering my desire to improve my own skills, I have tried my best to take the fullest advantage of this opportunity.

I think if I were to start over again, however, I would have worked harder to connect with and learn from the experts at Consensus Group. Working virtually makes forming professional connections more difficult, but that’s the reality of the world we are in today.

If I were to talk to someone just entering into the field like I did, I would give the same advice I wish I had: Do not shy away from talking with the people you work with, as it is all an opportunity to learn. The experience you have in work such as this is very much “what you make of it.” This is an opportunity to meet interesting people and learn more about a certain field, so use that chance to the fullest. While I was able to do this with some success, I wish I had done so more.

I have learned a lot from my work this summer, but I can see now how I have only scratched the surface. I hope to dig far deeper in the future, and to use this as a jumping off point for further work in the field of conflict resolution.

(3) Overall Experience at the Greenfield Court Service Center

Throughout this summer internship, I have learned so much, and learning feels like the number one thing I do every day. What stands out to me the most out of my entire experience is that you are not going to be able to help everyone. Sometimes you have to recognize when you are not the one to help, and either the person may have to figure it out on their own or there may be other resources for people to turn to. What is upsetting is people who we help in this work who we turn away do not have the resources to get the proper help. It can be hard to put your own personal feelings aside and not try to do everything in your power and do something small. An important and difficult skill to develop is learning how to turn people away. Along with putting feelings aside, it can be difficult to help someone who has done something terrible. Learning to respond in an appropriate and professional way to anyone who comes in is also essential. 

The stacks of resources to go through

One of the biggest impacts I had was updating all of the in-person resources/pamphlets and helping to create templates of information that future interns will use to guide litigants. Some of these resources have not been updated since 2016 or before the pandemic. A lot has changed, and many people turn to these physical handouts to further educate themselves. One of the big projects I undertook when days were slow was to go through stacks of papers, see if what is there is the most up to date information, and update the information if necessary. The templates will make it easier for the next interns to understand the basics of what litigants will need in basic scenarios. This will benefit the interns and will serve as a better helping hand to the managers and supervisors from the start.

Something I wish I knew before I started this internship was that this internship requires you to constantly learn as you go, and that nearly every case that comes in will not be super cut and dry. I expected to know every kind of situation in a general sense going in so I could be prepared for anyone. This simply is not possible. You must be prepared to adapt and try to do everything to the best of your abilities. At the end of the day it’s okay to make mistakes because white out will always be there!

The view in person at the Greenfield Court Service Center

If I could share pieces of advice for the next person who wants to pursue an internship or career in the Court Service Centers, there are two big things I would want to share. First, sometimes you are the person who takes the heat for not being able to assist someone and know that this is not your fault. And second, advocate for yourself and do not be afraid to help someone with an issue you have not seen before. Again, the biggest thing you will be doing is learning, so do not be afraid to dive right in. Overall, I am very appreciative of the experiences that have come out of this internship. I have been able to grow as a more confident person, and most importantly, I have been able to get a better understanding of the characteristics that I want in my future career.

(3) A Hard Farewell

At the beginning of my internship at Our Sisters’ School (OSS), I was naïve about the world of nonprofits. As a Title I, independent, tuition-free school, the dedication of its community members is vital for its success. I started in May knowing that my contributions would significantly aid the school, but I did not realize the impact the students and educators would have on me. As an alumna, I was nostalgic each moment I stepped foot on their campus, yet I was invigorated by the changes I witnessed daily. As a staff member, I experienced new additions to the school in a way that fueled my inner child like eating lunch and completing tasks in the outdoor classroom, creating pottery, and attending surfing camp (as a chaperone and camper). As a low-income student myself, I felt grateful for the opportunities OSS afforded me years ago. I now feel even more committed to their mission as I witness other kids with similar backgrounds experiencing even more than what I could. 

Students and Director Tobey Eugenio partaking in the Whipped Cream Challenge

One unique aspect of nonprofits is the unwavering commitment of the staff to the organization’s cause. To describe OSS’ team as dedicated is an understatement. My supervisor this summer, Tobey Eugenio, started at OSS during my 8th-grade year in 2016. As the Creative Director, she has encouraged students to view themselves as creators, engineers, and critical thinkers. She is who I think of when I encounter the term “social justice” within an education framework. As I worked to incorporate social justice in an educational context this summer, I realized that we need to help students redefine themselves. When working with kids from economically disadvantaged areas, there are more obstacles than what appears on the surface. OSS successfully educates students because they provide a space for authenticity and recreation. When a student can view themself as capable and intelligent, we see the barriers begin to dissipate.

Students receiving signed copies of “Strong is the New Pretty” by author and photographer, Kate Parker

A facet of OSS that should be applied to other institutions of education is the dissociation of grades and success. Students are encouraged to try their best and are supported when they find material challenging. In addition to providing support, OSS strays from traditional academia. While they still offer the necessary classes, they expand these constraints through their Creative Suite, offering courses such as Art and STEAM. The interdisciplinary nature allows students to discover their niche and releases the pressure to just be “smart” in a society where the term does not have to be defined one way. OSS’s students are intelligent, courageous, persistent, and always ready to try something new. When approaching an internship or career within education, especially if you plan to serve a disadvantaged population, it is paramount to get to know your students. Without understanding your students’ backgrounds, strengths and weaknesses, you will never be able to justly serve them. 

I am honored to have spent my summer back at my home base, where the foundation was set for me. I genuinely associate my personal and academic successes to the characteristics that were instilled in me during my time at OSS. I am eager to see what the future will hold for them. Thank you to the Social Justice World of Work Fund for enabling me to complete this work. Most importantly, a huge appreciation to the OSS team for being the most supportive and committed team—you are the reason change endures. 

Wrapping Up My Internship at USUN

Manny with U.S. Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield

My learning goals have definitely changed a bit since first establishing them before my internship. For example, I came to understand and value the importance of doing a wide range of jobs in my internship – whether it be picking up food for a meeting, note taking, or attending a conference. I realized that rather than choosing one specific type of job or focus area, I preferred and would find more value in taking on anything that came my way. I would say I definitely ended up reaching this goal; one co-worker noted that they appreciated my offering to help out with “whatever, whenever.” I have definitely run into information and experiences that have challenged my beliefs, and come to a better understanding of some of the ideological sacrifices one may choose to make (or choose not to make) in working under the guise of a larger organization, or in my case, the government of the United States.

My career interests have certainly shifted. For example, after hearing about the life that Foreign Service Officers in the State Department commit to (moving to a different post every 3 years, sometimes with little choice), I decided that may not be the best option for me. Other opportunities, such as working for other government agencies or in a Civil Service posting in the Department of State seem more like opportunities I’d like to pursue. I still remain uncertain about my career interests, though; the choice still remains between a domestic-focused career and more of an international-focused career, and I hope to clarify these interests in the future.

Over the course of the internship, I’ve come to enjoy the day-to-day interactions with those around me. Whether it be chatting over coffee, a quick work question, or just catching up, these interactions were so important for building valuable connections.

If I could give one piece of advice to someone looking to intern for the Department of State (or more specifically, the U.S. Mission to the UN), it would be that it’s helpful to know what you want. While I certainly got by with my “whatever, whenever” preference, I think it could be really helpful to have a specific area (whether it be a specific type of policy, geographic region, or otherwise) that you “specialize” in. The State Department is structured in a way that those who have a specific focus can really excel in what they do.

One piece of information that I think is important to those going into international diplomacy-focused fields is that small wins and compromises can go a long way. When you show a partner (or enemy) that you’re willing to work with them, they can and will value and trust you. This may lead to specific policy outcomes that are more beneficial to your positions.

This summer, I’m most proud that I got to experience global events on the micro-level. Whether it was note taking for a Security Council meeting on Ukraine or drafting a recommendation for a meeting, I had the opportunity to see and interact with these events, and U.S. policy related to them, up close. I may be mistaken, but I think it’s generally rare to have an internship that gives such up-close access to matters of high importance. I’m proud that I was able to witness these events on a near-daily basis, and that I could always do work that carried meaning and importance.

(3) A Lesson in Collaboration at NNABI

I had an incredible time at my summer internship with NNABl, a women’s health startup that is creating a natural supplement for women experiencing perimenopause, the lesser-known stage prior to menopause. The experience has given me valuable insight into the world of work due to its focus on entrepreneurship. The brand has yet to launch, and plans to do so in March, meaning that my internship was crucial in laying the groundwork for their branding and consumer interaction.

Because the company is still in its infancy, I was given a unique perspective working directly with NNABI’s founders. I learned of the many factors someone needs to consider when starting a company, ranging from the look of the website to social media outreach to analyzing the results of a clinical trial. I can confidently say that if I had worked for a larger, already-established company, my work would not have been as varied nor as important to the company’s growth as it was with NNABI. An important lesson I learned was that working for a small company means you experience incredible highs, such as hearing good reviews from the trials, as well as incredible lows, such as seeing other, larger companies, making similar product claims as you are.

In terms of social justice, I have learned a valuable lesson about empowerment. While knowledge and research on perimenopause is growing among experts, there is still much work to be done to educate the general public about the symptoms that women go through and how they can impact a woman’s life. It was uplifting to see my bosses recognize a growing field and ask themselves how they could contribute to solving a problem that they themselves were experiencing. There is a lot of social injustice aligned with women’s health, particularly in issues like the gender data gap, the lack of comprehensive sexual education, and the misdiagnoses of women experiencing perimenopause. However, NNABI has made it clear that they do not plan to shy away from any of these, and their efforts have been reflected in my work for this summer, like the conversational “cheat sheet” between patients and doctors and a survey asking younger women about their views on menopause.

There are many things that I wish I knew before I started my internship. The first is that time management is a crucial part of any job, but especially in a virtual internship. The fact that there was no office for me to commute to meant I was the one holding myself accountable for getting the work done. It is important to know yourself and how you work, so planning my work time has been crucial for my success. Another important lesson is to adapt to your supervisor’s leadership style. I had gone into the internship assuming I would be given orders and tasks only, but due to the small nature of the company, my relationship with my bosses was much more collaborative. It meant I had to be much more creative with my work and come up with ideas outside of my tasks.

Finally, I would say a good piece of advice for anyone wanting to pursue an internship in women’s health is that you must learn how to collaborate with everyone.  My internship in women’s health was marked by the constant collaboration that my bosses and I had with other women, some of whom weren’t even involved with NNABI. One of my supervisors is involved with a company called Chief, a networking community for women, and through that service, we were able to meet with lifestyle influencers, naturopaths, doctors, and graphic designers, each with unique advice to give. The lesson is that nothing can be gained from not reaching out to others, and it is always beneficial to ask for advice if you need it—a message that will continue to be helpful for me during my time as Brandeis.

Post 3 — Mapping Out an Internship

Overall, I have mixed feelings about my internship due to the mixed experience. Since I was split between two different areas and skillsets within the same building, I made less progress exploring either than I originally hoped.

While my archival work proved fruitful, I am just finishing the mass inventory and categorization. If I had been in that space 3 or 4 times a week instead, I would have been able to plumb my interest in archival work further. Conversely, if I had spent more time in the New Orleans Jazz Museum, I would have grown more accustomed to planning and management, marketing strategies, and the development of the Museum.

Nonetheless, I was interested in both parts of the Museum, so I feel that the depth vs. width tradeoff was necessary, if not regrettable. Working in the archives has still forced me to think about historical categorization in significant ways, and I hope I get to keep working or volunteering in the field.

I believe this internship has helped cement that my writing and synthesis skills need to be a part of my job. Even if it is not the kind of writing I am familiar with, it was a bit of a fun puzzle writing newsletters and memos to potential donors. I had to excerpt all the vital pieces of information, order them properly, and ensure that all my descriptions were concise. In the past, I have struggled to keep my writing brief, so it was refreshing to have the professional and creative boundary that short-form writing provides.

At the same time, I have also learned that I enjoy having some kind of long-term goal to work towards. Many of my projects in the Museum were self-contained, so I spent one to two days working on them and finished. However, some of the work I found most engaging was exploring how the Museum will conduct its Gala auction later in the year. I worked with the Museum’s Squarespace website to best design forms and spreadsheets collecting information about donations, and I assessed auction websites for best results. I did not anticipate these tasks pulling me in, but I think the feeling of the different functions building on each other was a satisfying progression for me. In my future internships, work, and academic life, I will have to experiment with more ways to monitor my own goals and progression to best enhance my work.

If another student were interested in an internship at the Jazz Museum, I would recommend committing to a single field in most cases. And above all else, ask for work whenever you can! The Jazz Museum has a relaxed work environment, but most of the staff have so many different jobs that even taking one to two extra small 15-minute tasks a day helps everybody. Plus, it opens communications and makes sure that if your supervisor hears about a job, you are on their radar as a potential candidate.

For students interested in the field, I would highly recommend attaching goals to all tasks you receive. While it seems simple, it is easy to fall into the trap of compiling information for no exact purpose. Suddenly, you have thirty quotes when you needed four and the editing time has shot up from 30 minutes to 3 hours.

This review sounds more negative than my genuine opinions on the internship due to the way I criticize myself and my work, so I will end by discussing the work for which I feel most proud. My work in the Museum has been the most eye-opening for me since I have found new fields to which my skills apply. My time in the museum has also helped me analyze my work patterns; however, in terms of accomplishment, my work in the archives is my best.

As of the writing of this blog post, I have categorized over 1,500 items in the Louisiana Historical Center, and I am satisfied with that. The quantity is relevant of course but feeling out the process and finding both the fun and rhythm within the work has been a key takeaway from this internship.

Gaze upon my works- the 1500 maps I ended up categorizing lay within all these cabinets.

(3) Becoming more familiar with an office job

Working for BAGLY Inc. this summer has been very informative for me in regards to social justice and nonprofit work, as well as learning how an office job works. This has been an especially amazing way for me to learn about work after college because it is explicitly safe for members of the LGBTQ+ community. The organization is staffed by many people within the queer community and its purpose is to help the members of the LGBTQ+ community. My coworkers and bosses have all helped make this an informative work environment while feeling socially comfortable within my own identity. Although this internship has been mostly online, I have gone into the office once to do some written work and it was interesting seeing such a safe queer working environment. The office also functions as a community center for Boston, so it has a very safe and open feel to it.

While I was at BAGLY Inc. as an intern, I mostly did work behind the scenes that most people would not see. My impact mainly took work off the plates of the paid employees and made it easier for them to do less monotonous and more person-to-person work. I essentially helped BAGLY function better by doing administrative work such as sending emails to donors or thank you letters to people for donating. Although this is not very direct work for social justice, it does help to get more donations for BAGLY that can then enable the company to grow and help more people. It has also been nice seeing my coworkers help the company grow along by doing similar work because we know what we are doing is meaningful and a good cause. Getting to know my coworkers who are within the LGBTQ+ community also helps expand my connections as well as expands the LGBTQ+ community. My coworkers and I have come a long way since we first met.

Starting at BAGLY, I wish I had not been so afraid to meet and get to know my coworkers. Sometimes I can be hesitant in social situations and this time I was very hesitant. Through working at BAGLY, I have learned how amazing and supportive my coworkers are. This will help me greatly in a post-college career because I know not to be afraid to reach out and make connections. I have especially grown to know my coworker Mary, who is the one always in the office.

Someone who is going into the social justice or nonprofit field cannot be afraid to make connections. Connections are extremely important not only to secure a job, but also for doing anything within the field. If one needs people to donate, someone to write a blog post, or speak at an event, then one must be able to make connections. Social justice is not an easy field for a career, but it can be an extremely satisfying one if one truly believes in what they are doing.

Wrapping up an Incredible Experience

I’m so thankful I’ve had the opportunity to be an intern at Southwick’s Zoo this summer! I’ve been able to accomplish my original learning goals while gaining valuable insights along the way. I’ve had the opportunity to work with almost all of the intern birds and in depth with a specific few. This has allowed me to gain real-world experience in training and conditioning behaviors, and I’ve been able to do more than I expected.

The beautiful female eclectus parrot Amber Rose

I’m still implementing a training project I drafted for one of the birds, Kiki, in order to stethoscope-train her so that she’s comfortable with having a stethoscope on her chest during veterinary exams. The process of designing her training plan was useful in and of itself, because it taught me how to break down behavioral training into achievable steps. Inevitably, unanticipated deviations happened almost immediately that I then had to problem-solve. For example, Kiki has a habit of bobbing up and down between cued behaviors, which causes her to become distracted and makes training more difficult. I found I had to start training a different cue to help keep her calm and still between cues so that training could progress. The progress I’ve made with her will be continued by staff members after my internship ends, but it is rewarding to have started her down this path.

A very silly Emu

Another goal I fulfilled was contributing to education about wildlife conservation. In addition to outreach during the shows, I also participated in EARTH Awareness Day on August 6th, where groups of interns made projects centered around any pressing conservation issue. My group chose to talk about how dangerous the illegal pet trade is for the captured animals themselves, the humans who attempt to keep them as pets, and the environment on a larger scale. For this project, I spent a great deal of time researching this issue and how it intersects with other environmental issues. We centered our discussion around a specific species, the cotton-top tamarin, which is critically endangered (there are only about 2,000 mature individuals left). They not only have been taken for the pet trade (and used as test subjects in colon cancer studies), but also have been severely impacted by deforestation and urban sprawl. My group put together a poster presentation as well as creating three interactive activities. We presented this to the public all day, and I enjoyed talking to people about this issue. We were able to talk about ways to help, and for those interested in concretely helping cotton-top tamarins, we encouraged them to look into Proyecto Tití, an organization that specifically focuses on aiding this species. It was nice to see how receptive zoo visitors were and to see them enjoying our activities.

Pongo, a red-legged seriema

In addition to gaining skills and experience in both the animal care and conservation outreach areas, I’ve also gained insight about my learning style in the workplace. Figuring out how I take in and process information has been helpful, and pushing myself out of my comfort zone has helped me feel more confident and capable. For example, now I’m able to comfortably stand on a stage in front of a large crowd and give informal presentations. Overcoming my fear like this has taught me that as long as I do something I initially find intimidating a few times, I become desensitized to the feeling and can move past it more quickly than I realized. This lesson will stay with me as I move forward.

For anyone interested in pursuing an internship at Southwick’s Zoo, I highly recommend it. One practical piece of advice I’d give for those doing a summer internship is to stay hydrated! Half the day at work is spent outside where it’s insanely hot, and the other half is inside (where it’s actually even hotter). So drink a lot and be prepared to sweat a lot! Also, be prepared for longer hours than expected in the beginning of the internship. It takes a fair amount of time to learn the specific terminology used and to learn how to perform a plethora of niche tasks both efficiently and quickly. There are also different protocols for indoor vs. outdoor husbandry, and even different rules for each specific bird, so the days often ran long for the first few weeks. You don’t clock out until you ensure all tasks are complete and the animals are cared for (as it should be, because their well-being depends on it), so having a flexible schedule is necessary. It’s also good to be aware that despite being fun and rewarding, working in the animal care field isn’t always glamorous. Most of the day is manual work, and while it may not be lifting heavy weights all the time (which depends on the department and what animals you’re working with), it is still constant movement and a lot of crouching in awkward spaces. A large part of husbandry is cleaning poop, so if you have a sensitive nose or get easily grossed out, be prepared!

Glamorous or not, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this internship. It has been impactful and has helped clarify my career direction. My interest in animals started before the internship, but I didn’t anticipate just how much I’d enjoy working with them! I really loved bonding with the animals and being part of a team that helps make sure they have the best care possible. Educating the public and contributing to conservation efforts was also a meaningful pursuit for me. I am enormously grateful to the W.O.W fellowship for helping to support me during this incredible experience! 

All the bird interns together — we received paper plate awards with a feather from the bird our supervisors thought matched our personalities the best. I received the honor of a Pongo feather!

(3) The Value of Experience

There is no better teacher than experience. Being an intern allows you to gain work experience and helps you to understand the inner workings of a field. Even when the internship doesn’t live up to your expectations, it still provides a valuable learning opportunity. While interning at Someone Cares Atlanta, I learned many important lessons, although they were not necessarily the lessons that I wanted to learn when I started my internship this summer. 

When I applied to intern, I was interested in doing outreach work with people who have been exposed to or have contracted HIV. Unfortunately, I was not able to do this during my time at Someone Cares. Instead, I worked primarily with clients participating in the Intensive Outpatient Substance Abuse program (IOP). This provided me the opportunity to learn about how intensive outpatient programs were run and operated. I was able to look into the lives of people recovering from substances and understand them better. I also learned about the link between substance abuse and mental health and how mental illness can be a co-morbidity for addiction. Many people turn to substance abuse due to untreated mental illness. This emphasized to me the importance of making sure everyone has access to mental health services.

During my time at Someone Cares, I also learned the importance of clear communication. Unfortunately, my internship was sometimes hampered by the failure to communicate important information and general disorganization. For example, I arranged for the first day of my internship to be June 6; however, when I arrived they were unsure of who I was or what to do with me for almost an hour. Problems like this persisted throughout my internship experience, many of which could have been avoided through communication from management. I believe one solution would have been allowing me to have access to general communication channels for my department so I could stay in the loop.

Despite some of the setbacks, I believe I was able to have a positive impact during my internship. I assisted with the intensive outpatient program group and provided consistency for clients since I was the only person who was in the office every day. I also helped to lessen the load placed on case managers by doing administrative tasks and data entry. Overall, I was able to improve the quality of life for both employees and clients.

One thing I wish I understood back when I started my internship is the importance of knowing what you want to get out of an internship and being able to advocate for it. This is especially important when you’re not participating in an established internship program. If there is a particular experience that you are looking forward to getting during your internship, you should let your supervisor know. Being an intern is about gaining experience and opportunities for growth. It is important to take an active role in your internship experience.

For someone looking to find an internship, I would recommend interning with an organization with an established program or an organization that is willing to work with and support you as an intern. If you’re not participating in a program, I would meet beforehand to establish an itinerary for the internship. Overall, I believe it’s beneficial for someone interested in social justice to do an internship. The work is not easy and the world of nonprofits can be a little disorganized, but the opportunity to have an impact on even one person’s life is why I came to Brandeis.

(3) Post-Internship Reflections

Bye, Longwood Medical Area!

I greatly enjoyed my internship at Beth Israel Deaconess’ social work department. Although I was working mostly with the department’s Center for Violence Prevention and Recovery (CVPR), I had the opportunity to learn about several other types of hospital social work, including in obstetrics/gynecology and the emergency department. I learned a lot about what I may want to pursue in the future, and I think I would enjoy both working at a hospital and doing inpatient social work. I’d like to continue my education with a master’s in social work. 

The importance of this type of work was clear to me after working with CVPR and the social work department. Social work was there to provide not only advocacy and resources for patients, but also psychological support and mental health care that nurses and doctors didn’t have the time or training to provide. Specifically for CVPR, it was evident how crucial a contact point health care can be for people who are in need of resources such as shelter, addiction treatment, trauma-informed mental health care, and domestic violence safety planning. I saw how easy it is for our society and institutions to let people slip through the cracks of social support (especially people of color and/or other marginalized identities). It was clear how much of a need exists for support networks—such as the Center for Violence Prevention and Recovery—that attempt to seal these cracks. 

Working with CVPR, I assisted with several projects and collaborated with many of the CVPR’s staff. Along with the Center’s director, I updated the CVPR website to include current information and resources, and to increase accessibility of these resources and information. The new and improved website is now up on the Beth Israel Deaconess site!

The project I most enjoyed was conducting research for and writing a draft of a chapter on the trauma and neurobiology of sexual assault for a book by the Victim Rights Law Center, which provides free civil legal services to survivors of sexual assault. 

If I were to give advice to a younger me who is interested in social work but not sure where to start, I would encourage myself to research and experience the many ways that there are to be a social worker. Many stereotypes exist in how social work (and mental health care in general) is perceived by the general public, and I would encourage myself to do the research to discover how vast and diverse of a field it really is. This summer, I learned that there are so many different careers under the label of “social worker,” and I started thinking about what kind of career I might like to have. My internship at Beth Israel gave me not only experience and connections, but a clearer image of what my professional path may look like. I am so grateful for this opportunity to learn and explore, and I am excited to continue doing so in the future.

Reflecting On My Summer Internship

As the summer comes to an end, I would like to reflect on the wonderful journey I have had as an Undergraduate Researcher at the Neurochemistry and Cognition Lab. My summer internship has definitely aligned with my learning goals. My goals of the summer surrounded the theme of learning about neuroscience and psychology in a research setting. My professional goal at the beginning of the summer was to gain more exposure to lab experience to see if this would be a path I would like to take in my future. While I still do not know what I want to definitively do in my future, I love doing clinical research and could see myself working in this field. I am happy to say I will get the opportunity to continue with the lab this fall! Similarly, at the beginning of the summer, my academic goal was to learn more about cognition and through research articles, lab meetings, participant sessions, and analyzing data I have learned so much about cognition across the lifespan. In terms of personal growth, my hope was to gain more confidence in my work and I have achieved this as I have trained in administering neuropsychological exams and been given a project to present at the end of the summer.

A large portion of my work this summer has been dedicated to analyzing data for the Brandeis Aging Brain Study, described in my first blog post. While I have had some experience in analyzing data, up until this summer, it had all been completing assignments guided by an instructor. Initially, I had a lot of anxiety about independently working to understand some preliminary results of the study.  While this project challenged me, I learned how capable I am of anything I set my mind to and how guidance can always help you when you are stuck. From this experience, I have learned that when I start to work on a project, I can doubt my ability to perform successfully. However, the more I dive into my work, the more assured I am in the value of my work. In addition to gaining confidence in my work, I have recognized that I am not afraid to ask for help when I do not know how to continue my work. I am really proud of this ability because initiative in work is important but so is collaboration and knowing when to ask for help. This lab thrives because of its cooperative environment because everyone is more than happy to help each other. 

The building where I work!

For anyone looking to join the Neurochemistry and Cognition Lab at Brandeis or get involved in neuroscience/psychology research, I highly recommend it! The best piece of advice I could give anyway is to do research online into labs you would be interested in. Familiarize yourself with the current studies the lab is working on (You can read about the lab’s upcoming study here or more of our research here!) and then reach out if you want to connect with the lab! I think anyone should get involved in research if they are interested in making advancements in the scientific community to help make a difference in the world. While my project this summer may only be a small contribution to psychology research, I am so proud of it and grateful for the lab to have given me this opportunity. I’m very excited to see how my research will continue in the fall!

(3) Nearing the end of my internship

My internship experience has shown me the importance of humility, cooperation, and self-care. The Riverside Behavioral Health Community Partners (BH CP) team is comprised of care coordinators who provide resources and support for members.  This may mean finding resources (food, mental/physical health, housing, etc.), assisting a member with support programs (disability, SNAP, housing, etc.), or something else entirely. The job can at times require extensive research to finding specific bits of information, like searching for free and low-cost moving resources or obtaining government benefits. I’ve realized that with the wide variety of responsibilities that a social service worker my take on, it’s vital to give oneself patience and understanding, remembering that no person knows everything. Asking for help, taking an opportunity to learn further, or even learning for the first time, are all needed moments for such a job.

Along with a willingness to put in work for what you don’t know is the importance of asking for help. Care coordinators within the BH CP team use one another as resources. Maybe someone is looking for a service in which another coordinator has already found valuable information. This saves the person both a lot of time and work, and builds trust between colleagues.

Source: goodtherapy.org

Although my internship was primarily remote, the team utilized creative strategies to help them remain engaged with one another and build team cohesion. Technology and the new normal of working from home makes it much easier to connect in different ways. Group check-ins allowed for a short pause to see how colleagues were doing, with light activities things like yoga or taking a walk. These short group meetings were a fraction of the weekly schedule, yet vital for maintaining the wellbeing of direct care workers. To best serve the member, a provider needs to take care of their own mental, emotional, and physical health.

As a part of the team, I created moving guides to help support members and care coordinators during a change of address, I updated patient records, I formed care plans, and more. Overall, I wanted to make the jobs of the care coordinators easier, even in a small way. People in these positions work incredibly hard, so getting a little off their plate matters.

As I near the end of my internship, I’ve proud to say I’ve grown more confident in my advocacy skills and ability to try new things. For someone else wanting to pursue an internship or career in the field of social services, I would suggest taking some time to think about what you want out of the experience/position. Would you like to work in direct-care services, on the administrative or policy side, or somewhere in between? Developing this sense can allow you to come into the interview prepared. Just as the interviewer will ask you questions, so too should you ask them about how they plan to utilize you at their company. With open communication, this hopefully increases the chances that the organization and the individual both feel they benefited from the experience.

Blog #3: Wrapping up a Successful and Enjoyable summer

I definitely believe that my learning goals were met this summer. Going into the internship, I didn’t know entirely what to expect, but my main goal was to gain true, realistic experience in a field of interest to me. This covered many fields of interest – among them were social media, graphic design, professional sports, law, public and player relations, and data collection. The realistic aspect to this is what truly made it a unique learning experience. As I explained in my previous blog posts, I have previous social media experience, but never in managing a page that has a real impact on the lives of many people. The content I put out had to be mindful of how it’s perceived so there was a lot of responsibility there.

While I am not completely sure what I want to do in the future, I feel like this internship has started to clarify a general path for me. My growth in graphic design is something I definitely have an interest in pursuing, and my social media experience is something I will continue to utilize. As I approach my senior year, I imagine myself working in a creative environment – whether that is in social media and graphic design or another field like marketing, I am not exactly sure. But I do believe that I want to tie my Psychology and Politics education – which has taught me so much about human behavior – into what I have learned this summer.

This summer I have learned that I am capable of doing more than I once believed. For example, I agreed to get in front of the camera and do an Instagram takeover for the official Brandeis Instagram page, documenting a day in the life of my internship. I never considered myself the most charismatic individual, and never really had the confidence to get in front of a camera. But this internship has taught me to be much more responsible and I have matured throughout it, so I have much more confidence in things like that.

The end goal of my internship is for the organization to become self-sufficient with its social media campaign, and thus may not be available for future applicants. That said, the USL Players Association is a young organization that is growing in prominence, so if an internship does become available it could be very beneficial for both the student and the union. I am really excited to see the USLPA grow and would always be glad to see future interns helping steer that growth. More broadly, unions are on the rise and incredibly important in all fields of business. Getting experience working in unions and particularly with modern day marketing (i.e, Social Media) is supportive of any career path a student goes down.

There are a few things in particular that I am proud of this summer. As I mentioned previously, the Instagram takeover is something that I never saw myself having courage to try. I had fun with that, but my proudest aspect wasn’t one moment in particular. This summer I am most proud of the overall work I did, because of the purpose it that work. Working in a labor union is very personally rewarding. Throughout the summer, I was working to improve the lives of hundreds if not thousands of players, while pursuing to improve the conditions of people that are often overworked, underpaid, and underrepresented. So my proudest moment wasn’t one moment at all; it was the work I did and the cause it went to.


The full video of my takeover can be found at the following link (swipe through many stories before getting to my takeover at the end) stories: https://www.instagram.com/stories/highlights/17947397956270098/


A statement regarding the suspension of a manager for alleged misconduct on players.

A congratulatory post regarding USL Championship club Sacramento Republic FC upsetting an MLS club for the third consecutive to reach the US Open Cup Final.

An announcement regarding the vacancy of the executive director’s role in the USLPA.

(3) Closing the Book at the Harrison Public Library

Working at the Harrison Public Library has been a fantastic experience, and I am very glad I had the opportunity to pursue it. I not only enjoyed my summer at the library, but also learned quite a bit about both working at a public social justice institution and simply working in general. I truly feel that the time I have spent here has been helpful both for my own personal growth and the organization as a whole.

I have been surprised by how my workload fluctuates from day to day. There are days when I find myself busy from the moment I begin working to the minute I leave, but there are other days when the phrase “hurry up and wait” comes to mind. I do wonder how much of that is because I am, at the end of the day, an intern, and as a result what I can actually provide help with is somewhat limited. It is also true that the nature of my position as a summer intern has made some things surprisingly difficult due to scheduling. For example, I will be finishing my internship a week before the finals of the Battle of the Books trivia competition.

Despite some minor difficulties, I do feel like I have proved helpful for the library. The area I have put the most work and time into this summer has been the aforementioned Battle of the Books trivia competition. It is hard to say how much my presence as a coach has helped the Harrison teams, but I have done what I can to make the experience fun and rewarding, and to set them up for success as much as possible. The younger team has so far gone undefeated, and I am hopeful they can win the whole thing.

Beyond that, a lot of what I have done is time-consuming work that nonetheless needs to get done. It can feel somewhat unglamorous alphabetizing shelves or ensuring that books are labeled correctly, but someone has to do it. I am happy to free up the time of the full librarians to focus on other important work.

I wish I had possessed more confidence at the start of my internship. It took me a few weeks to grow comfortable working with kids, and also in asking for help or more work when it seems like there is nothing for me to do.  It can be anxiety-inducing to take that initiative, especially when you have just started working and do not know your boss or colleagues well. Even so, once I began taking the initiative, I found a much wider variety of projects to sink my teeth into, and I developed a closer relationship with my coworkers.

For anyone looking to intern at or work at a library, I think it is important to consider what you want out of the experience. If you just want an excuse to spend time surrounded by books, I would recommend first volunteering to see how you enjoy it. While the main part of the job involves books, of course, I have found that a lot of the job is focused on community outreach. A library is a community center, after all. Still, if you enjoy books and want to really engage with a community, interning at a library can be an incredibly rewarding experience.

(3) Flexibility is Perfection

One key lesson I learned from my work in social justice, specifically with a law firm, is that boundaries are essential. When coming into the social justice field, I mistakenly felt that every task in my workday would line up perfectly from logging in at 8:00 AM to logging out at 5:00 PM. I quickly learned that this is not the case. There are points during the day where there is a lull, and then out of nowhere, three new clients call the office wanting to schedule consultations, then the insurance claims adjustor finally emails you back, and then you realize that you are missing one more document from your client a month and a half before their filing deadline. Working at a law firm is messy and it can start to feel like tasks are melting into each other and over into the next day. One piece of advice that I would give to prospective interns is to make sure to set boundaries with your coworkers and supervisors early.

This is not to say that the people you work with will be disrespectful of your space, but rather to ensure that you are mentally checking in with yourself and ensuring that you are not overworking yourself. Sure, you could take on that new project that is due before your existing projects, but you need to ensure that it is the right move for you. Again, this is not to say to avoid contributing to new projects, but rather to make sure that you are prioritizing your mental health instead of worrying about being a superhero. That phone call can wait until tomorrow. That project can wait to be started next week. If a task at your internship severely inhibits your mental well-being, you need to have an honest conversation with your supervisor. Work with your supervisor to be flexible, and come to a compromise with them to ensure the maximum efficiency of the organization, while prioritizing your well-being.

Learning how to set boundaries is necessary at any job, but even more so in the social justice field. Working with different people of different backgrounds can affect your mental well-being greatly and can make you feel attached to your clients easily. While it is important to feel some attachment to your clients, over-attachment can overwhelm the boundaries you set for yourself and can be draining. This is something I wish I had been able to conceptualize before I started my work at the firm.

I have made an impact at the firm due to my ability to speak Spanish. Because of this skill, we have been able to take on a more diverse range of clientele. As such, we are servicing people looking into a more diverse set of legal matters. In particular, my work has helped the firm widen the variety of immigration matters we take on, such as temporary protected status, consular processing, and permanent labor certification application via program electronic review management (PERM). I believe that my ability to bring in a wider range of clientele has benefitted the firm since the firm now has a wider range of knowledge of immigration processes for future clients.

Post 3 — End of Summer Internship at the Legal Aid Society

I think I have learned a lot during this internship. I was able to talk with other attorneys and law students about their experiences which provided me a better understanding of what I want to do in the future. The attorney I am primarily working with provided me with a lot of mentorship and advice about law school; I have decided that I want to take a year off between undergrad and law school. 

My experience this summer also helped solidify my desire to work in public interest law which I was debating prior to this internship. It was really inspiring to hear and just be around the passion within the law firm in trying to create a more equitable world. I never felt as though the work I was doing did not matter and I was able to see direct results from what I was working on. It was reassuring to see that my mentor was able explore other interests while practicing such as going to pastry school and was open to taking breaks from practicing law to contribute more time to other interests. I found that really inspiring because going to law school and practicing law felt like such a looming decision but hearing his story made me realize that I have more flexibility than I initially thought. 

I am so thankful for how much work I was able to do with client interaction by myself. I completed approximately three DACA renewal applications every week and worked on side projects along the way, meeting different clients throughout. I felt more eager to work at the Legal Aid Society because I knew the impact we were making on people’s lives – it kept me motivated and focused to try and get the best possible outcome.  I think I have a much better grasp of what it means to be an immigration attorney working in a non-profit law firm, and it is definitely something I see myself doing in the future. I would love to be able to work at the Legal Aid Society in the future and I have decided to continue my internship into the fall semester.  

The advice I would give to students who are interested in an internship at the Legal Aid Society or another non-profit law firm is to take advantage of being in that space.  Ask the attorneys about their journey to the Legal Aid Society. You can learn so much from hearing other people’s stories and make new discoveries about what you want to do based on that. More likely than not people at the organization would be happy to give advice. It is also important to show initiative and interest in the work you are doing. For example, if you are really interested in working on a certain type of case, let your supervisor know. If your internship allows you to, I would also encourage you to have more meetings with clients. Meetings with different clients is such an invaluable experience. Your interpersonal skills grow and it teaches you how to be more empathetic and how to create a safe environment that allows others to speak freely.

I strongly encourage anyone interested in the Legal Aid Society or working in public interest law to seek an internship. The network and experience you build from internships can bring so much more clarity.  

(3) A Reflection on the “Real World”: My Internship with Legal Outreach

Two months ago, when I was packing up my belongings to move to New York City for the summer, I faced a fear that most college students face: the so-called “real world.” The real world that I would face this summer, as my dad explained, would hit me like a ton of bricks. I was scared that I wasn’t prepared or experienced enough to take on a full-time job as a teacher at a non-profit organization, and didn’t have as much faith in myself as I should have. So, this is what I wish I knew when I started: when you enter the world of work, or the real world, you might not feel ready, but you will learn along the way. If you dedicate yourself to your work and are passionate about what you are doing, the evidence of your efforts will be clear.

The first three weeks of my internship served as a preparation period, where I was joined by five other interns and twelve teaching fellows. We created lesson plans for the upcoming Summer Law Institute (SLI), organized student files, learned how to be effective teachers, and coordinated with our individual law schools that would be hosting our institute.

Funders - Legal Outreach
The 6 law schools that host students for a 5 week Summer Law Institute. I spent my summer at Cardozo School of Law. Source: Legal Outreach

Training was incredibly overwhelming. Learning how to be a teacher in three weeks when most people have an entire degree in education seems like an impossible task. Looking back, it only seems impossible until you’re doing it. After wrapping up our final week of SLI at Cardozo School of Law, I can confidently say that my eighteen students have left a lifelong impact on me. Our daily lessons went far beyond their criminal law curriculum; they taught me about the educational barriers they faced as young women of color entering the public high school system in New York City, and I imparted the knowledge I have acquired on how they can overcome these barriers. I helped them research scholarships that they could apply for as first generation college students, internship programs targeted toward underserved students, and even clubs at their high schools that would give them a sense of community. I’ve spent countless hours outside of the classroom reading applications, essays, and study materials. I’ve developed close relationships with every single one of the young women in my institute, and I know that we will stay in contact far beyond the end of SLI.

When I think of my overall impact on Legal Outreach as an organization, I can’t think of much. However, thinking about my impact on my eighteen students makes me feel an immense sense of pride. Throughout the summer, I was learning alongside them and figuring out what worked and what didn’t. I didn’t know which teaching methods worked for me or which activities would be engaging, and I certainly didn’t know how to be a mock trial coach. However, after watching my students compete in a mock trial competition in front of a real judge at Thurgood Marshall Courthouse in Manhattan and being praised for their confidence, I am reminded of the classroom full of silent students that I walked into on the first day of SLI who could not speak loud enough for me to hear their names. 

On Being a PM Intern at a SaaS Startup

Welcome back to the second installment of my journey as TeamLift’s inaugural Product Management Intern!

Over the last month, I’ve learned a lot about what it means to work in a corporate start-up setting, and it hasn’t always been what I expected. In addition to doing my usual Product Management work- i.e. triangulating with design, business, technical development teams, and potential clients, and engaging in user testing and product timeline development- I’ve had to learn how to advocate for myself. As a Product Management Intern, I realized that there were times when I felt out of the loop because there were  meetings reserved for higher-level teams, who were unaware of my skills or interests. This created a disadvantage for me, negatively impacting my performance because Product Management requires up-to-date intel on product development. When I brought this issue to my supervisor’s attention, she was more than happy to bring me in for product meetings with the company’s leadership team. This has helped me perform my duties to the best of my ability. 

The World of Work is pretty different from my academic life. In academics, you tend to have very similar assignments across the board: coding, essays, exams, etc. At TeamLift, my performance is measured by my impact on the team. For instance, when I gained verbal confirmation that a high-powered financial corporation would use TeamLift’s SaaS product, I knew my networking, marketing, and product-thinking skills directly paid off.

There is also less support and structure in the world of work, however I am learning what questions to ask and which tasks to delegate. Overall, I am finding the experience to be educational.

A Sprint Board That I Designed: This is How we Set Goals for Each Team, One Week at a Time! (The Data on the Green Stickies are Redacted for Confidentiality)

Through my work in this internship, I’ve developed a plethora of skills that will be applicable to my future employment. Through my meetings with the company teams, I’ve gained a technical understanding of the operation of SaaS startups. I’ve developed my cross-functional communication skills, learned industry best practices, as well as Agile project and product management. These skills are the cornerstone of a successful product manager, and will serve me well when securing future employment in my field. These skills may also be applicable to my computer science, business, and entrepreneurship courses that I will be taking this coming year.

The best part of this experience, however, is the people skills that I’ve built. Interpersonal skills are considered to be the defining trait of a leader, regardless of field or profession, and are transferable across every sectors. These competencies may be unteachable in a classroom environment, as they require consistent, functional, real-world interactions, either virtually or in-person. Since part of me hopes to be an entrepreneur in the long run, knowing how to assemble a team, effectively communicate, and deliver results by working collaboratively, is key.  The brainstorming, idea generation, agreements and even discord, I experienced throughout my internship will allow me to thrive in the days to come as life takes me to new places and new experiences.

(3) Reflecting on my internship at REACH

This is the waiting room where survivors wait for their appointments.

I feel really fortunate to have had the internship experience I did this summer. I have never been a part of a team that is so supportive and appreciative of my work experience. This internship taught me many things, but it most importantly taught me the importance of a positive and healthy work environment. Especially in an organization focused on a social justice issue, having a stressful work environment can be detrimental to employees’ mental health, and therefore harmful to the mission of the organization as a whole. REACH emphasizes self-care and supporting one another, which is key since working with victims of domestic violence can impact people in different ways. This emphasis on self-care has made coming to work so much more enjoyable, and furthermore, it has made dealing with very difficult cases much more manageable. I feel comfortable advocating for myself and prioritizing my mental health because the organization I am a part of prioritizes these things. 

During my time at my internship here at REACH, I have been contributed to many logistical day-to-day tasks such as answering phone calls and supporting people via online chat. Everyone at REACH has many important duties, so I am happy I was able to offer this logistical support to their already very demanding jobs. I also offered some ideas on how to reach out to the community in order to recruit potential volunteers, and also to inform people who may need our services. 

Throughout this summer, I have grown a lot in my role at REACH. I wish I could have told myself that sometimes there will be hard days. I knew that this work would be impactful emotionally, but I do not think I fully understood the meaning and implications of that. I wish I had known that some cases will really hit close to home, and will impact me more than I would think and that this is okay. Even on the hard days, my supervisors made me feel supported, and I was able to do what I needed to do to take care of myself. Additionally, I wish I could tell myself how important it is to seriously reflect on what self-care is to me. Self-care is different for everyone, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to taking care of oneself. 

For the next set of interns coming to REACH, I would tell them exactly what I wish I would have told myself. I would tell them that sometimes, this work is hard, and it’s very important to reflect on how you can support yourself. It is easier to do this reflection before you have those hard days, but regardless, it is very important to have that conversation with yourself. I would also tell them that they should advocate for themselves and that this advocacy is very much supported and encouraged by the supervisors at REACH.

(2) Seemingly Small Efforts can Change Another Person’s World

Among many lessons at Brandeis, one of the most essential was learning that a person’s passion toward a cause can make an immense difference. Before going to Brandeis, I used to think that an individual’s effort is not that crucial in a world where there are so many influential people with lots of power, wealth and privileges. However, I have met lots of people at Brandeis from different walks of life and witnessed their motivation and consequential success, and I can see that highly motivated individuals are able to make a future for themselves and also to help others. 

This has made me believe that I can achieve my goals of helping others as long as I believe in myself and put in the effort. I had already volunteered and served my community in my high school years, but with this motivation, I was able to pursue managing roles  where I could organize projects. I became a Lead Rescuer in the organization Rescuing Leftover Cuisine and was able to serve the homeless community in New York City. I realized how my volunteer work can put a smile on people’s faces. I also realized that small acts of service can make a huge impact. 

This is 13-year-old Vuk, who has cerebral palsy.  People’s donations through Pokreni Zivot were able to provide him with a neurological wheelchair!

I decided that working for a humanitarian organization like Pokreni Zivot—which fights healthcare injustices and poverty—would be a perfect way to make an impact.  My approach to my internship was with confidence and passion toward expanding humanitarian aid and reaching out to more possible partnerships in the hopes of them sponsoring humanitarian projects. One of the ways I utilized this skill was by directly reaching out to major chain store CEOs through LinkedIn. I did this in order to create partnerships with their company, which would result in donation boxes placements, sponsored humanitarian project activities, and many other beneficial humanitarian causes that could raise more funds for the poverty ridden communities.

Fortunately, most of the people that I reached out to responded positively and were interested in collaborating with our foundation. It turns out that some companies did not have humanitarian organizations directly reach out to them and weren’t aware of the ways that they could contribute. They indicated interest in collaborating with our causes and finding ways to organize fundraising.

If I didn’t have this confidence and strive, I would have never reached out to company executives, as I would have believed that they would never respond to me. The companies would also not have collaborated with a humanitarian organization, as they would not be aware of ways that they can help. Through this, I learned that one person’s effort can go a long way and create connections, partnerships and new ideas. 

I believe that seeing Brandeis students utilize their resources such as LinkedIn and alumni connections has motivated me to do the same. My thoughts have been shaped to believe that I can use my available resources to establish partnerships and lead to greater impact on impoverished families.

(2) Continuing my work at UFE

As an international student from Honduras, I was not really exposed to different cultures or backgrounds growing up. Coming to Brandies was one of the first times I realized I am a minority, and I got to befriend many people from different places and cultures. I grew up only seeing people with my skin color and similar complexion for the most part. When I arrived in the United States for college, the culture shock was pretty big for me. Transitioning to this environment and switching to English all the time was challenging. 

Over time, I built my own little community within Brandies that made me feel a bit closer to home. I have learned so much from different cultures, languages, backgrounds, and communities during my time here. At Brandeis, in class (mostly my politics classes) and through conversations with other students, I have learned how race impacts so many layers of our lives, which I have used as the foundation for the knowledge I have built at United for a Fair Economy. 

Minority groups are disproportionately disadvantaged when it comes to the economy, the healthcare system, and the education system. My identity in terms of ethnicity is not something I paid much attention to while I was in Honduras. Everyone I interacted with was Latino; I was not a minority. I have been in the United States for two years. Over that time, I have gotten more informed about what it means to be a first-generation Latino immigrant in the United States and what it means – the good and the bad – to be part of a minority group. 

Lunch with a new staff member!

I feel like I have really grown during my time at United for a Fair Economy. At first, I was nervous about engaging in conversation with United for a Fair Economy staff and offering my help to people. Now, I can confidently say that I have bonded with some UFE staff members and can network with them and offer my support.

Since my last blog post, I finished the Conversation about the Economy series and the Avila Retreat Center interviews. I am working on the Storytelling Project, a series of interviews with workers in North Carolina. My supervisor, UFE’s National Communications Director Richard Lindayen, and I meet at all steps of the video editing process to brainstorm and discuss ways in which we can improve the video. Editing and working on the Storytelling Project is a joint effort between him and me, and what makes the process and my work experience so great is the amazing communication we have. The workers are mostly Latinos, which lets me learn more about the struggles Latinos and Latin-Americans face in the economy. 

I plan on going to the Boston office a lot more to strengthen my relationships with my colleagues and to seek more opportunities in projects I could help with and get involved in. I have really enjoyed my time at UFE and am glad I still have a few weeks left!

Blog Post 1 : “Empowering Seniors To Live Their Best Lives”

Hi everyone! I am so fortunate to have the incredible opportunity to intern with the Academic Programs Department of Hebrew Senior Life .

My internship is quite unique as I get to experience various sectors that Hebrew SeniorLife has to offer and I have met many amazing individuals so far . This week marks my fourth week with my internship and I have learned a lot already!

To start off, Hebrew SeniorLife is a senior care organization that is rooted in Jewish heritage. HSL promotes the independence of all seniors and strives to transform every aspect of the aging experience for the better. Hebrew SeniorLife is redefining the aging experience through curiosity, creativity, and belief in a better way through their innovative programs and initiatives. Hebrew SeniorLife is an integrated, eight-site system of health care, housing, research and teaching that serves thousands of seniors in the Greater Boston area and beyond. This unique and comprehensive system is aimed at expanding choices for adults as they age and improving their quality of life. From the Hinda and Arthur Marcus Institute for Aging Research to innovative housing options, each component of this system is designed to help keep seniors independent in the community for as long as possible and, when necessary, to provide the best quality long-term care. I currently work on a hybrid basis, sometimes going to the Roslindale campus and other times going to the Brookline location.

In my internship, I have assisted in preparing training and marketing materials for the CNA program, ensuring that the program is running smoothly from an administrative academic lens. In addition, I am in the process of creating participation surveys for the participants to fill before and after their training to provide positives and constructive recommendations on what to improve to the CNA administrative group which will further aid in allowing for better and equitable practices as an organization. I have also been helping out with their  digital literacy and assessment program where we teach HSL staff basic digital literacy skills so they can use these skills at their job and life overall. This is such a meaningful and important part of my internship so far because it really is the gift that keeps giving; these staff members will now be able to teach others the skills that they have acquire through this program  and I have learned how to be an effective teacher and really help problem solve in a variety of situations. My specific tasks for my internship vary each week but what I have listed above are some of the things I have and currently am working on.

One of my favorite parts of my work so far is spending time with seniors in Brookline. I help plan and assist with activities for senior to enjoy from helping them bead jewelry to painting our feelings on canvas. I enjoy talking to them and getting to know more about their lives.  We all enjoy each other’s company so much and it makes me feel really great everytime I come in to see them. It has also taught me a lot about setting boundaries and learning how to be patient with others and myself, skills that I can always keep working on. Starting next week, I will also be helping with art therapy projects with patients at the Hebrew Rehabilitation Center in Roslindale, working on reducing feelings of isolation and building communication and concentration skills.


By the end of my internship, I want to be able to learn more about grant processes and grant coordination. Through creating marketing and promotional material for the CNA grant-based training program to coordinating interviews and meetings with potential participants, I will gain a deeper understanding of the administrative work that goes into a training program like this. In addition to that, I will participate in grant prep meetings that will give me the insider perspective on the grant process and how the coordination happens behind the scenes. I want to be able to have strong understanding of the moving parts in a healthcare setting, so working in a hands on environment will provide me the knowledge of how different administrators and healthcare professionals interact and how administrative tasks are handled holistically. As someone who will be applying to medical school soon, I know that administrative skills are important to keep operations running smoothly and a successful doctor should have that as well as a patient centered care approach so being able to balance both in this internship will allow me to better prep me for my future career. Through interacting with different administrators and professionals, I want to not only be able to practice my interpersonal skills but to also learn improve on cultural awareness. Interacting with a variety of individuals of all ages and backgrounds has allowed me to gain a better appreciation for others but also learn a lot as a person. More specifically, I hope to continue to learn valuable life lessons and skills from the seniors I work with in addition to teaching them some of my favorite hobbies and skills. The exchange of information and experiences has been really rewarding so far so I hope to continue this valuable experience.

It has only been four weeks and I already feel that I have learned a lot of transferrable skills and life tools that I will use in the future and I am looking forward to the next couple of weeks.

(2) Intersectionality in Grassroots Organizing

Kimberlé Crenshaw (photo credit: Columbia Law School

A social theory that I have found to be relevant to my work with Act-Up is the theory of intersectionality. Intersectionality was coined by the Black feminist scholar and lawyer Kimberlé Crenshaw when discussing the nuanced experience with discrimination that Black women face in the United States along the lines of race and gender. By definition, intersectionality is “the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.” The theory of intersectionality allows those who observe the social order to understand that all social constructions affect one another and, often times, rely on one another to function. With grassroots organizing, specifically, intersectionality is a concept that is ever present in the work.

If intersectionality is not applied to your activism, you will not be able to work towards equity for all marginalized groups of people. Personally, as a Jewish queer person, intersectionality has allowed me to examine and better understand the nuances of my identity and how systems of oppression both harm and benefit my existence. I believe this self introspection is needed when involved in social justice work. You must understand your own positionality to adequately and ethically help others.

HIV/AIDS activism is an intersectional sector of health care activism and health care prevention. Many different aspects of identity determine who is at a greater risk of contracting the disease. For example, low income folks of color are at a greater risk of contracting HIV/AIDS than their middle to upper class white counterparts, since resources like comprehensive sexual education and contraceptives are not as accessible. If you do not consider the relationship between financial and racial discrimination, you will not be able to acknowledge the nuanced struggles this community faces.

In regards to the theory of intersectionality and its importance within the Boston chapter of Act-Up, I believe that the lack of racial diversity informs my thinking about our work and the image Act-Up Boston is creating for itself. Act-Up has a history of not being an inclusive space for HIV positive people of color. Many documentaries showcasing HIV/AIDS activism in New York City in the eighties and nineties highlight this in the demographics of folks involved in their work and interviews with certain Black members of Act-Up.

I still see remnants of this exclusivity present in how our chapter functions. For example, an organizer who is much older and more experienced than me suggested collaborating on projects and events with organizations of color across the northeast. This would be a step towards gaining more racial diversity for our chapter and creating a space where decolonizing racism is an integral part to bettering HIV/AIDS prevention. I suggested partnering with specific student organizing groups in the Boston area as a way to work towards this goal and giving student organizers the chance to work with a very well-known international organization. Unfortunately, after sharing this idea, the fellow organizer did not respond enthusiastically or even follow up with me to discuss further steps. I found this very interesting, as this person spoke at great lengths about why this supposedly bothered her, but when I took time to think of solutions and be proactive, they did not take part.

I have tried reaching out to student organizations like the Brandeis Leftist Union to collaborate on events for this summer. My close friend who runs our leftist union is very excited for the collaboration of our safer sex ed workshop for college age students that will center HIV/AIDS prevention in its curriculum. However, when it comes to being proactive, I find that I am one of few who follow through with the logistics that are necessary to making these creations and connections with folks possible.

(2) Beyond the Theoretical

Studying sociology at Brandeis has provided me with the theoretical and methodological tools for understanding human social life and institutions. It is important especially in today’s society to understand the social structures at play and how individuals’ experiences are related to that structure. In my coursework, I have studied how large-scale social phenomena such as class, race, and gender inequality affect the everyday experiences of individuals and how individuals affect society as a whole. 

By studying social groups and seeking explanations for social stability and social change, I am able to apply my learning conceptually into real-world projects and initiatives. Having taken courses that cover religion and ethnicity, health and community, political and social change, migration and globalization, and social movements and organizations, I have advanced my understanding of issues that span topics such as social inequality, racial and ethnic conflict, law and justice, social and political movements, immigration, education, health, the family, and the role of gender and sexuality. It is important that I understand important trends that exists within modern society.

Working with Fulphil, I’ve been able to turn the theoretical approach to solving issues into real actionable steps—and applying critical and analytical skills to solve challenging problems. Our curricula are evolving each year, with case studies that apply real-world examples and social issues that are happening in the world as we speak. Our curriculum aims to instill a sense of purpose within our students by structuring the curriculum around relevant social problems for students to connect with. In developing and crafting our diversity, equity, and inclusion curriculum, I put into practice and investigate the structure of groups, organizations, and societies, and how people interact within these contexts.

A sample curriculum section from the diversity, equity, and inclusion course. 

I develop curricula covering many interconnected subjects, such as understanding how race, gender, sexuality, and class inform and shape social life, the divisions of race and social class within a common culture, and resistance to radical change in communities and societies. This curricula aims to help high school students develop a multi-faceted perspective and critical approach to understanding issues around identity, culture, and social power. In my role, I aim to develop curricula in which DEI helps inform students’ understanding of how human action and consciousness both shape and are shaped by surrounding cultural and social structures. 

After this experience, I am grateful to have the opportunity to put my problem-solving skills to work. By getting to connect my interests to real world experiences, I have now developed the skills needed to navigate and thrive in a rapidly evolving world. By bringing classroom readings and discussions to life within project-based initiatives and collaborative working environments, I’ve been able to satisfy my own curiosities and apply knowledge beyond the classroom. Overall, I’ve grown immeasurably as a team member and as an individual after working with the generous, passionate, and driven people at Fulphil.

(2) Investigative Thinking

Something that I have learned at Brandeis is to be an investigative thinker and to keep looking for alternatives, counterarguments, and to pose new questions even if you think you have reached a conclusion. This principle is at the crux of effective research and is a sentiment that has pushed me to think creatively in my academic pursuits.


Cambridge Juvenile Court (https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/p/AF1QipNtT0WYO469fyiOc9_aUP6RU_1fakGiFSpEtNrZ=s1600-w400)

A couple of weeks ago, I was able to shadow an ADA at the Cambridge Juvenile Court. There, I was able to see firsthand how juvenile court operates and was also able to chat with Judge Gloria Tan. That day, Judge Tan had either diverted or dismissed all the cases that came in during her session. I learned that ADAs ultimately decide whether or not to request diversion for a defendant, and are sometimes responsible for searching for alternatives to punishment on the spot if they wish to divert. At the very last second before court was in session for a case regarding online sexual harassment, the ADA frantically emailed a colleague at the office to ask whether we had a program that the defendant could enroll in so that he would not need to be committed to DYS. Fortunately, there is a Cyber Protection program offered at our office, and the ADA agreed with the defense counsel to refer the defendant to the program instead of sentencing him as planned. Although thinking creatively about alternatives is helpful, ADAs are unable to divert unless they have access to and knowledge of alternatives.

Investigative thinking = creative thinking = creating alternatives

Investigative thinking has proven to be especially helpful in my internship as it encourages me to be critical and sensitive to logical patterns and details. One way I have applied this is in the way I have approached my open-ended research project to analyze juvenile court data by charge and disposition. For example, while looking at the juvenile cases database, I noticed that there were a large number of motor vehicle cases. What makes motor vehicle cases different is the fact that these cases are not diversion eligible, creating a category of cases that, if not dismissed or continued, result in probation or commitment to DYS rather than providing an alternative.


There are cases in which a number plate violation or failing to wear a seatbelt can result in DYS sentencing, probation, or the creation of a criminal record. A large number of these motor vehicle cases were non-traffic-related and included offenses such as larceny, unauthorized use, and driving without a license or with a suspended license, among others. Although these offenses are overall unfavorable outcomes, besides larceny, the offenses do not necessarily create a traffic-safety issue and perhaps point towards a more deep-rooted issue that should be addressed by other means that do not require law enforcement.

Further research is necessary to examine the socioeconomic or cultural issues that may play a role in this data point as well as the possible racial disparities that lie in the data. The Vera and Harvard’s Criminal Justice Policy program reports on non-traffic stops in Suffolk County have helped me orient myself in my analysis of Middlesex County and juvenile data. You can read more about it from this presentation I made that summarizes key points from both reports.

(2) Continuing my ITA internship

This summer, I am interning at the International Trade Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Commerce. So far, it has been consistent with what I expected in some respects, but very different in others. I knew going into this internship that most of my time would be spent conducting due diligence, that is to say searching databases, completing checklists on the U.S. companies seeking help from the Advocacy Center, and reporting any negative findings. However, I was not expecting the sheer breadth of topics and issues that I would learn about/be exposed to. On any given day, I could be researching companies that sell, or hope to sell, anything from heavy equipment to software to governments anywhere in Europe, Central Asia, or the Western Hemisphere. Overall, it has been a great experience so far. I feel that I have learned a lot, both about international trade as a field of work and about the International Trade Administration.

One of the things that surprised me is how different my WOW internship has been from my typical life as a Brandeis student, especially regarding how my day is structured. As a student, I am in class for, on average, 3-4 hours a day, and, aside from my work schedule and the campus activities I am involved in, the rest of my time is unstructured. As long as I have my readings and assignments completed by the time they are due, it does not matter when I complete them. Meanwhile, the schedule for my internship is much more set (9-5). During those hours, I am working on tasks at my internship, and when it is outside of those hours, I can go for a walk, hang out with friends, etc. Neither schedule is inherently better or worse – for example, it is nice to have a firm sense of when I am done with work for the day – but they are very different mindsets.

Furthermore, I feel like I am building and improving many skills through my internship work. The most significant of these are my abilities to conduct research and think critically, which I continue to hone through conducting due diligence and constantly asking myself if something is a red flag. I anticipate that these skills will be very transferable to my life on-campus and my future career plans. The ability to find and process information efficiently and critically is invaluable in any job or classroom, but, since I hope to get a job that involves researching and presenting my findings, it is experience that should prove valuable.

Source: https://www.salesforce.com/news/asset-collections/company-logos-and-video/

Lastly, I am gaining some useful, tangible skills through my internship, such as how to use Salesforce and a few new databases. While they are not difficult to learn, they are sources that I anticipate using again in the future since they are very commonplace in the work world.


Why We Must Speak Our Minds

(The views expressed in this blog post are solely the views and opinions of the individual, and in no way shape or form represent the United States, Department of State, or any other government body or agency)

    My internship has turned out to be so much more than I expected. Before the internship began, I did not fully grasp the impact my work would have. Sure, the internship sounded cool, but I did not realize that my work was integral to the organization I would be a part of. In nearly two months of work, I’ve come to value the feeling of importance and purpose that I’ve found in my day-to-day work. 

The UN has generated much skepticism about its effectiveness in recent years. I’ve seen that firsthand in its inability to take concrete actions to stop Russia’s full-scale and brutal, illegal invasion of Ukraine and Russia’s recent Security Council veto to block the implementation of sanctions on North Korea (DPRK). These examples are frustrating; it’s natural to feel that something may be wrong with the institution as a whole. I’ve certainly noticed those thoughts popping into my head over the past few weeks. Yet, I would argue that, despite the validity of those perspectives, they are deceptive. There exist a multitude of conflicts, crises, missions, and problems around the world. The UN allows the possibility of those problems to be addressed in ways that would be impossible if its existence were to falter.

In a similar vein, some in U.S. politics question the United States’ participation in such bodies that at times appear to be ineffective. Yet I have learnt over the course of my internship that there are so many fronts that the United States has the opportunity to influence in multilateral diplomacy. To simply refuse to participate in crucial relationship-building forums and discussions, we forfeit those forums to the very countries who we may view as destructive or misaligned with our views.

Interestingly, my experience in international diplomacy has led me back to one of the bedrocks of American democracy: the first amendment. I’ve found that this important institution, which enshrines our right to speak our minds, is connected to our engagements in the global arena. To remain quiet, to disengage, to sit back, would do us more harm than good. As always, when we engage in dialogue, we are given the opportunity to leave our mark on the issues we may hold dear to our hearts. The same goes for multilateral engagement and international diplomacy, especially at the UN. I’ve sat in on meetings where this value has clearly been demonstrated, whether it be in private negotiations or a public statement broadcast for the world to see. We must stand up for our values, whether it be at school, at the UN, or elsewhere.

In my time at USUN, I’ve come to appreciate the value of working on a team. This important skill set is transferable; in nearly no professional job will one be alone and independent. Whether I continue in the field of public service or shift to the private sector, this ability will be an asset. Another skill I’ve developed is being able to condense large amounts of information into digestible chunks that can be passed on to others, and I anticipate this too to be important for my career. I even anticipate this to assist myself in class at Brandeis in taking notes and processing information.

(2) Lessons from Brandeis at United For a Fair Economy

During my time at United for a Fair Economy (UFE), I have thought a lot about how the work I do for them relates to my studies at Brandeis. I have reflected on my skills, ambitions, and future career goals. One of my major takeaways is that leadership and facilitation skills are universal and applicable in any space that requires initiative. I further developed this skill while a part of the Community Engagement Ambassador Program (CEAP) for the Department of Community Service at Brandeis. While at UFE, I facilitated a team-building activity that helped our staff reflect on the projects and initiatives we would like to promote and market on social media and our website.

Erick participates in a group activity for United for a Fair Economy
Photo courtesy of Erick Comas ’24.

I have also been more confident and relaxed in taking advantage of opportunities, and I have moved away from my comfort zone. Thus far, one project I worked on was phone banking for a webinar on a Billionaire’s Income Tax proposal that UFE is working on. I was incredibly nervous at first, but I found out the answer was to print and surround myself with images of calves, puppies, and memes. I increased my productivity, reduced my anxiety, and accomplished my task. I was very proud of myself.

One particular skill that I practiced at Brandeis as a CEAP ambassador and as an intern for the Office of Health and Wellness was developing a learning plan and a long-term expectation plan with my manager. This was useful because while at UFE, I have been clear and straightforward with my manager. I have been comfortable approaching them to have this conversation and requesting that we develop these expectations together. It has helped me get where I am today. I look forward to doing research, and UFE has guided me about possible research topics, how to draft a grant or organize the numbers, and communicate among staff effectively.

My overall experience at UFE builds on my experience at Brandeis. This has been significant to me because I have been able to use my previous experiences to guide and prepare me to produce favorable outcomes for my manager and for me. Indeed, it has allowed me to see how working for a nonprofit would look and feel. Moreover, this opportunity has allowed me to reflect on topics of research that I might be interested in pursuing later in my undergraduate career. In particular, it has further exposed disparities in people’s lived experiences with the economy. I have been particularly grateful to have participated in popular education workshops because that is where we, as a movement-building organization, got to interact with people’s stories and help partner organizations strategize on ideas during those conversations.

Those conversations have gotten me thinking about a lot of things. It has been peculiar because our work clashes with what I’ve learned about economic theory (trickle-down economics). My strategy has been to pursue the work that I do with a set of morals and ideas on what the highest impact areas are for individuals. One example is housing affordability in communities of color and job/opportunity access. Above all, one goal of mine has been to present accurate, factual, and well-written information. I have also emphasized the need to present information more conversationally so that individuals can have easier access to the material we offer. I have found what works best for me is being communicative and setting goals. This has allowed me to organize myself better, manage my time, and improve the quality of my work. This quality of work will help me obtain the experience and knowledge required for employment in other nonprofits or fields of work in the future.

(2) Learning About Black Reproductive and Maternal Health

I recently learned about the troubling statistics that pregnant Black women are three to four times more likely to die than their counterparts, while 60% of those deaths were preventable, according to the CDC. In spite of the disproportion of healthcare and health rights, not enough has been done to truly revolutionize the safety and wellness of Black mothers and babies within the healthcare system. In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Black maternal health crisis has only worsened due to limited resources and education provided for Black mothers in need of security. 

Brandeis Black Maternal Health Logo 2021 – Property of BBMH

There are many stories about difficult pregnancies with no or minor prior health issues, unresponsive medical staff who ignore mothers’ concerns, and a lack of knowledge about the resources available to make the birthing and pregnancy process more safe and comfortable. There were many misconceptions that this issue mostly impacted poor, uneducated women, but some of today’s most well-known Black women such as Beyonce and Serena Williams have shared similar experiences. Learning all this motivated me to explore reproductive and maternal education opportunities in the Boston area.

The Resilient Sisterhood Project was one of the few reproductive-focused nonprofits in Boston that I came across, which is why their work is so valuable! As I studied in my HSSP courses, health factors, racial and environmental barriers all contribute to health inequalities and the challenge of obtaining and accessing quality healthcare for many Black women and families around the country even within our local community. But like many health disparities faced by people of color, Black maternal disparities can be avoided and improved through education and awareness. Even though this internship is completely remote, it’s interesting to see the many strategies RSP has implemented to create their online presence and ensure that their work is attainable and accessible to the public.

 There are numerous approaches to reducing healthcare disparities, such as providing remote access to reproductive health information. COVID-19 has changed the experience of in-person internships, but this summer challenged me to venture beyond my comfort zone and develop new skills such as graphic design, content writing, blog posting, and more. As I mentioned in my first blog, I am developing a research project based on the lack of preconception health education among Black women, which can contribute to the high death rate. RSP has allowed me to come up with innovative ways to grab the attention and awareness of young Black women through podcasts and circle gatherings. I hope to continue and expand on this way of communicating in order to create various projects that serve Black women, Black babies, Black families, and coming generations.

As my internship comes to an end, I am considering how I can bring what I learned from RSP back to Brandeis and expand the goals of educating prospective STEM professionals on Black maternal and reproductive health. Altogether, I am grateful for this opportunity, the networks, the experience, and the mentorship from the team of women who have had an influence in public health.

(2) Trailblazers

Brandeis’ African and African American Studies Program has taught me that small contributions can contribute to big change. The media highlights particular stories and icons, but the reality is that many people are fighting for change every day behind the scenes. Rosa Parks was not the first person to resist segregation on the bus, but her story was the one that spread like wildfire. The Stonewall uprising is credited with being the start of activism for the gay rights movement, but Black trans legacies had been doing the work before this historic moment. The main lesson my courses have taught me is that we must consider who is laboring behind the scenes to produce a better environment for all. We must appreciate anyone contributing to the cause and search beneath the surface to ensure we acknowledge all the working hands. 

The author and an OSS Camper during the SPARK Summer Program. SPARK is a STEAM and art fusion designed for students to engineer and problem solve.

With my prior knowledge from Brandeis courses and my experience as an Our Sisters’ School (OSS) student, I entered my fellowship with an unexplored perspective. As an alumna, I can recall the many components that allowed the school to function. As someone who now contributes their time to further OSS’ mission, I have gained a new sense of gratitude for the students, teachers, administration, volunteers, and donors. Change starts with the desire to improve the spaces around you; therefore, there is no contribution too small. Any action that you take is bound to produce transformation. 

My lessons from Brandeis have remained true during my WOW internship. OSS relies solely on grants and donations. Many contributions beyond monetary gifts allow the school to thrive. It is vital to recognize a donor who invests money the same way we recognize volunteers who offer their time. OSS works to assuage the academic and social gaps for inner-city kids. They provide rigorous teaching along with access to social experiences like full scholarships to sleep away camps, introductions to diverse art forms, and participation in community events.

While these significant opportunities make for notable change to the outside community, many resources are overlooked. OSS provides organic, sustainable food to their students’ families from their own gardens. While this gift makes a huge difference for OSS families, the numerous contributors are not always recognized. Community members collaborate to garden and harvest food for anyone who can benefit from it, and it takes a team to enable this process. 

I am appreciative of the whole OSS community. Their commitment provides a meaningful, educational environment to students who deserve to experience more than what their socio-economic status can provide. Teachers and administrators alike commit their lives to supporting their students and cultivating a safe, enriching environment. Instead of solely highlighting the changes, we can celebrate those who allow operation. As Howard Zinn reminds us, “There is no act too small, no act too bold. The history of social change is the history of millions of actions, small and large, coming together at critical points…” This lesson is one we can all take in and remember in order to cultivate worthwhile change.

(2) Self Advocacy in Women’s Health and the Ecological Model

One of the most impactful things that I have learned at Brandeis came from the class Public Health: U.S. History and Policy with Professor Sarah Curi. The class quickly became a favorite of mine for its rich discussion, relevant material, and its holistic view of public health in American both then and now. It was there that I learned a theory that has become a mainstay in my approach to my internship: the ecological model of public health. This model claims that public health measures may be implemented at many different levels of society, starting with the federal government, and specifying all the way down to the self. In the same way that the U.S. government can create legislation to strengthen the wellbeing of all citizens, individual communities can work to care for its members, and vice versa. Learning about the ecological model of public health can be empowering for many people. In the same way the outside world impacts our everyday lives, we can be just as impactful through self-advocacy and education. 

One great example of individuals applying the ecological model of public health is the health non-profit GirlTrek. Started by T. Morgan Dixon and Vanessa Garrison, GirlTrek was founded with the mission of addressing the growing rates of preventable obesity-related diseases among black women in America by arranging daily walks in neighborhoods across the country. This is a prime example of the ecological model because it is just two people noticing a health disparity in their community and starting a movement that radiated outward to their state, and then the whole country. Learning about this model and this example are incredibly meaningful to me. If these two women can create meaningful change, there is nothing me or anyone else doing the same.

This lesson has been crucial to my internship with NNABI, a women’s health company currently developing a natural holistic treatment for women in perimenopause.  Perimenopause is the hormonal stage that women starting at age forty experience and can last several years. However, because it is not as well-known or researched as its successor stage, menopause, many women seeking medical guidance for their symptoms are often misdiagnosed by physicians. The psychological symptoms like brain fog and irritability are often misdiagnosed as depression or anxiety. The hormonal symptoms are often confused with other conditions like a thyroid disorder. Using the ecological model of public health has helped me consider how NNABI can make an impact among women going through this stage.

One project that I am working on is a conversational “cheat sheet” that details to women how to initiate a discussion about perimenopause with their healthcare provider, giving them the tools to advocate for themselves to ensure they are not misdiagnosed. One example of these tools is to advocate for hormonal testing in the long term. Since perimenopause is categorized by undulating hormone levels, one blood test may be just a snapshot, and if levels were normal that day, perimenopause may be disregarded as a possibility. Information and advice like that is essential to the ecological model, because once one woman is informed about their symptoms and how to address them, that knowledge spreads to other women as well. The goal of NNABI is to empower women to be responsible for their own wellbeing, and to radiate that empowerment outwards to larger communities and even towards legislative change. My internship and my class have both taught me that social justice, in public health or otherwise, often starts with the self.

(2) Environmental Diplomacy Led Me to Think Bigger

In my junior year at Brandeis University, I took a class called Atmospheric Civics and Diplomacy with Professor Chester. In part, the class taught practical information about environmental pollutants and the players involved in solving international environmental disasters. We learned about different types of pollutants, and we became familiar with the relevant NGOs, international bodies, and governmental organizations that were and are involved in climate advocacy.

But we also learned about the difficulties and intricacies of international diplomacy and advocacy relating to environmental problems. This was the part of the class I was most fascinated by, and that felt most unique compared to other classes I have taken.

I specifically remember one important lesson that was taught in relation to climate advocacy and cooperation. It’s one of those issues that transcend borders entirely. That is to say, if one country is having a negative effect on the climate, it is rarely self-contained within that country. It will spill over into the rest of the world.

This creates a tricky diplomatic situation. While there is a principle of sovereignty within a country’s borders (that is to say, a country is mostly allowed to do what they want within their own country) there is also an idea that countries have an obligation to their neighbors and the international community to not cause a problem for them, either.

What this ends up meaning, however, is that any agreement about fixing the climate necessarily needs everyone to agree, since everyone on the planet is involved. Practically speaking, diplomacy will only succeed if there is a universally agreed-to set of environmental regulations. Because it is so hard to get every country in the world to agree to anything, oftentimes negotiations fall through and instead nothing is done. It’s sort of a reverse tragedy of the commons.

This informs my work and my thinking about Consensus because it demonstrates the importance of negotiation skills in the next twenty or so years, and into the future. Climate change is an existential threat, and we need to find a way to reach some global commitments. Isolating from the rest of the world simply is not an option.

I am learning more through my work in Consensus about conflict resolution and negotiation strategies. This is the bedrock that my knowledge base is building on. But also, with my role specifically, I am finding ways to communicate these sometimes complicated topics in a way that educates people while keeping them engaged. I think that this is a focus that can have great benefit on a smaller scale for individuals facing problems in their lives or businesses needing to resolve issues. Before the class with Professor Chester, I would have thought of these smaller-scale issues as being the area in which conflict resolution is most important and effective. I now am also looking and thinking bigger to the massive global implications of having leaders and experts in this field.

The Complexity and Interconnectedness of Nature

The opportunity to work at The Caterpillar Lab has given me new perspectives in the subject of conservation and ecology. While I understood the basic important roles of arthropods in an ecosystem as consumers and resources for other animals, the complexity of these species interactions are incomprehensible. 

My favorite example to demonstrate this complexity is in the subject of parasitoids. Parasitoids are insects that live and feed in/on another insect as a larva and once they further their development, they eventually eclose as adults killing and leaving the host insect. The majority of the parasitoids are wasps, which are extremely diverse and arguably the most diverse order of animals. These interactions range from generalists that lay in many host species to parasitoids that are specialized and only have a single species they can target. While this interaction is complicated enough, we can further observe hyperparasitoids. Hyperparasitoids are parasitoids for parasitoids and these are often specific to a species, genus or a group of genera.

Parasitoid wasp cocoons on a spiny oak-slug caterpillar.

When I finally thought this could not get any more complicated, I was informed that this has been observed to the sixth level. Therefore, it is possible that a single insect can have a parasitoid with a hyperparasitoid that has another hyperparasitoid that has another hyperparasitoid that has another hyperparasitoid. This is only one of many amazing examples of how evolution has crafted the natural world. Best of all, we do not need to go far to uncover parasitoid and hyperparasitoid interactions, as they can be found right in our backyards. 

By listening to my peers talk about these fascinating animals, I find that this internship has taught me far more specific details in ecology than any course at Brandeis. Our education at Brandeis is much more limited in time and tends to focus from a broader perspective, but in this position, I am constantly able to learn from others that are outstandingly knowledgeable in their narrow studies of entomology. With all the new information, I can begin to connect these overlooked interactions to Brandeis’ broader studies of ecology and comprehend the value of the forgettable species. All these animals, even the smallest hyperparasitoid wasps that we can barely see, play key roles in their environment and are vulnerable to our destructive actions towards wildlife and are in dire need of conservation. 

Parasitoid wasps that eclosed from a smartweed dagger caterpillar.

After this internship concludes, I would like to continue sharing what I have learned with the greater Brandeis community. I am hopeful to introduce mothing and other programs that highlight local biodiversity with the support from Brandeis Sustainability and the Environmental Studies Department. As part of Brandeis Sustainability Ambassadors, I would like to lead and organize these programs that bring the untaught animals to the forefront and highlight their value to their ecosystems as well as to us. Professor Colleen Hitchcock and Mary Fischer have provided me with tremendous amounts of support in finding the love for arthropods, and I hope to continue working with them to bring native entomology to our campus and classrooms.

Beyond Brandeis, This internship has taught me to learn the importance of the overlooked species and continue expanding my horizon. From a conservation standpoint, only focusing on protecting the flagship species can lead to conservation failures. Ecosystems are deeply intertwined, and to care for one species means caring for all the other species in the environment. 

(2) Taking Action and Honing Passion Through MCAD

One of my favorite parts about my education at Brandeis has been the opportunity to take so many amazing interdisciplinary classes.  As a Sociology major with Legal Studies and Social Justice and Social Policy minors, all my classes connect with strong foundational themes of advocacy, social justice, and working to identify and combat inequities in society.  While these classes have been terrifically informative and engaging, they have often left me wondering what action steps there are to take.  These classes may prepare me to analyze and understand structural issues, but genuinely participating in the change has always felt lacking from an academic standpoint.  I am involved in several student groups that partly fulfill my need for tangible involvement, but my time at the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination has allowed me to be further involved.

One specific example of an experience where I have learned something at Brandeis that has impacted my approach to my work at the MCAD was the opportunity to create programs as an undergraduate representative (UDR) for the Social Justice and Social Policy program.  Through this opportunity and experience, I was able to take all the important lessons and themes that I had learned through my classes at Brandeis and apply those teachings to the development of programs, such as a panel discussion with Brandeis professors and the student body in regards to the ongoing ban on abortion in states throughout the United States.  This experience allowed me to take the content and topics that I was passionate about from courses at Brandeis and create a space for others to learn and engage with that content. This same approach is how I have looked to work in my position at the MCAD, taking the foundations of Social Justice from my academic interest, and applying them to my efforts to engage and assist community members who are experiencing alleged discrimination.

One of the ways I am able to do this is through my job as an intake specialist.  For the Commission to be effective, it needs to be made available to all people alleging discrimination, whether they have the means to afford attorney representation.  As such, pro se litigants—people representing themselves without attorneys—call the Commission to share their story of alleged discrimination in hopes of their experiences falling under the jurisdiction of the Commission to merit an investigation. As an intake specialist, I am trained to receive those phone calls, hear the stories of the people alleging discrimination, and draft an official complaint of their narrative as a starting point to be inspected for jurisdiction and potentially start an investigation.  

As my internship has progressed, I have been trusted with more opportunities to be on intake and draft complaints, which has allowed me to hear the stories of many more people.  On intake, I hear allegations ranging from disability discrimination, to racism, to the denial of proper accommodation, to harassment, and countless other situations.  At times, these calls can be long or difficult to hear, but the opportunity to be the starting point in many of these people’s journeys to justice and compensation for the discrimination they have endured is powerful, and has provided me with that sense of involvement and action that I have sometimes felt is missing in the academic setting of Brandeis classes.

(2) My Experience at Science Clubs International

I have been working with Science Clubs International (SCI) for over a month and my position has been more exciting than I expected. I have been able to do regular team meetings and truly feel a part of the organization itself. When I first decided to pursue this internship, my goal was to learn more about outreach STEM opportunities. Now, I’m helping organize a six weekend-long international event with ten workshops for +300 high school and college students.

Since my last blog post, the open call for students interested in participating in the event opened. I was assigned as one of the people responsible for reviewing the students’ applications according to the program’s rubric. It’s interesting to be on the other side of the application process, helping in the selection of students. A few years back I was the one applying to one of SCI’s programs. Right now, I’m mainly responsible for assessing Portuguese and English-speaking applicants, since I’m fluent in both of those languages. Included below is the information about the open call for students, which is a large part of my work right now. Check out SCI’s Instagram page to learn more about the program and deadlines!

Compared to my academic work at Brandeis, my working dynamics require me to be self-motivated. For one, the work is completed remotely, and as an incoming sophomore, I didn’t experience the Brandeis COVID era. Although I enjoy being in the comfort of my home, I try to change my clothes, close random web pages, and truly experience the workspace from my computer screen. Also, besides some regular team meetings at assigned times, I’m given tasks to mainly work on alone at my own pace. Not having restricted deadlines lead me to look for ways to organize my time productively. Every day I make a list of what I have to do and assign a time for each task. Doing my tasks as soon as I’m given them also helps me feel better about my work. Additionally, I believe the absence of grades combined with the possibility of improving my work after feedback allows me to explore new ideas, embrace challenges, and go beyond my comfort zone.

Lastly, the internship has been a challenging yet amazing opportunity to improve my Spanish skills. At Brandeis, I took Spanish 105, focused on writing/reading, and the knowledge from this class has been helpful in my internship. Some of my main tasks in the internship are translating documents/forms to Portuguese/Spanish/English, and having acquired this knowledge in the previous semester at Brandeis has been helpful. Most of the SCI’s team also comes from Spanish-speaking countries and Spanish sometimes is the main language during a Zoom meeting. I believe that by knowing the three languages used by SCI’s team, I can take more advantage of this internship opportunity and reach more students.

I enjoy reading all of the WOW recipients’ blog posts and I’m grateful to be a part of such an incredible cohort.

(1) For Every Child to Have the Childhood That They Deserve

My mission in life is to help as many people as possible and have a positive impact on my community. I have been working with the humanitarian organization Pokreni Zivot, which organizes humanitarian projects for Serbian families that are in extreme need of proper housing and resources. The organization also works to provide financial assistance to young kids in Serbia with serious health issues to go abroad and receive medical attention. I chose this field for my internship because my own family was in unfair situations due to poverty, wars, and occupations. These situations cause great suffering among the most disadvantaged communities, which is why I believe it is important for organizations such as Pokreni Zivot to exist.

Before and after images of the sixth successfully renovated home by the humanitarian foundation Pokreni Zivot.

This humanitarian foundation is run by youth who put an emphasis on helping the most vulnerable people within our society, including impoverished families, single parent homes, sick children and the disabled. The mission statement is “for every child to have the childhood that they deserve,” and the accumulated donations are utilized to help renovate homes by installing basic necessities such as beds, electricity, and proper infrastructure. The foundation believes that these home improvements allow for disadvantaged families to reach their full potential by being able to focus on their educations and careers.

This organization directly confronts the social injustice of unfair worldwide healthcare inequity and poverty.  It works to help people that are affected by limited healthcare resources and people that are in urgent need of basic necessities. Throughout this summer, I am responsible for organizing fundraising events, managing marketing, implementing donation boxes in various locations to raise money, talking with families, and in-person volunteering, among other tasks.

My future career goals are to be involved in charities that aim to improve world health and equity. This internship experience will further inform me of inequities in our societies and how we can work to dismantle them. Therefore, I aim to come out of this internship with more knowledge on how to help marginalized communities effectively. I hope to become an effective advocate for housing and food resource reform in impoverished communities.

One particular achievement that I am proud of is reaching out to shopping center executives and getting a positive response for creating a donation bank, which will allow for more donations to be raised in a highly visited location. A general achievement of the organization was opening a humanitarian store (where all profit goes to helping people) and renovating a sixth home for an impoverished family.

Humanitarian store in Leskovac, Serbia, where profit directly goes to medical treatment of children.

Progress would be to encourage more privileged people to help give back to their own disadvantaged communities. Another form of progress would be for governments to take more action into helping these marginalized people around the world and to be involved in redistributing resources. I am proud to witness how a youth-run organization such as Pokreni Zivot can improve the lives of  many through the donations and help of regular citizens.

(2) Working in Cemeteries in D.C. and Poland

The recently partially-restored Jewish cemetery in Tarnow, Poland

Cemeteries can be very introspective places. They are often very quiet; separated from the outside world, with birds chirping and only the occasional sound of cars driving by or muted conversations. Cemeteries are also full of symbolism and emotion; family histories that cover decades and multiple generations. With every grave photographed and documented, I, along with others doing similar work, am able to preserve a bit of that history. 

The eight fellows along with our group leaders from JewishGen, Friends of Jewish Heritage in Poland, and The Matzevah Foundation, standing inside the cleared section of the Przysucha Jewish Cemetery beside the oldest standing matzevah in the cemetery, which is from 1771.

In a brief pause from my internship, two weeks ago I flew to Warsaw, Poland, as part of a fellowship of 8 participants at various points in our academic and professional careers. The fellowship, a collaboration between JewishGen, Friends of Jewish Heritage in Poland, and The Matzevah Foundation, was an opportunity to learn about the long history of Jewish communities in Poland and to explore current efforts to preserve said communities’ stories. A central focus of the fellowship was the role of Jewish cemeteries in Poland as essential proof of the existence of Jewish life in areas now lacking any Jewish presence. As a climax of the trip, our group was joined by additional volunteers from The Matzevah Foundation to clean up a 250-year-old cemetery in Przysucha, Poland.

The gate to the Jewish cemetery in Przysucha, Poland. Most of the fence was not visible from a distance, with a similar level of plant life having grown on the outside perimeter as within the gate.

When we first arrived at the cemetery, it seemed like an impossible job. The area was so overgrown that it looked like a fenced-in forest, and we had little-to-no expectations of finding any matzevot (gravestones). Yet, the more we chopped and dragged, the more we uncovered. Inside the entrance to the cemetery was the first surprise, a pile of matzevah fragments; broken pieces of gravestones. Some had writing on them or showed imagery such as candlesticks or lions (often used on the graves of people whose names translate to “lion” in English, including Arye or Leyb).  As we continued into the cemetery, we found several fully-preserved stones, a small insight into what the cemetery may have looked like in its prime before the war. 

Before this trip, I had an idea in my head of what a cemetery was. Even cemeteries in the US that are less cared-for have a certain look to them: rows and rows of stones, sometimes shoved together with little space in between; sometimes so worn by weather for so many years that they are unreadable, but still there as proof of what has been. The Przysucha cemetery once looked like that, but now there is little left, and what remains is a selection of puzzles with the pieces missing, most likely never to be recovered. Having experienced what can become of such a cemetery, once full of beautifully carved matzevot, the work I am doing to document graves in historic cemeteries in Washington D.C. feels all the more inspiring. As I return to my internship at the Capital Jewish Museum, I am renewed in my enthusiasm to preserve not only Jewish history abroad but also here at home. 

The fact that I was able to attend this fellowship says everything to me about the work environment at my internship this summer. During my very first interview for the position, I mentioned to my now-supervisor that I had applied for this fellowship (at the time I had not yet been accepted). His response: That sounds like a wonderful opportunity! He explained to me that not only did he think it was an excellent program, but that the museum values additional learning opportunities, and he encouraged me to take time away not only for the fellowship, but also for speakers, walking tours, or anything else that came up. This intention for learning, which I value greatly, makes a lot of sense in a museum workspace, where so much of the work is around creating a learning environment for others. In many ways, this internship is helping me figure out what kind of work environment I am looking for and what kind of work I would like to be doing. 

Blog Post #2

During my time at the Spelke Lab, I’ve seen the concepts learned from my Brandeis classes in a research setting. As an intern in a psychology lab, it’s been eye-opening to see the inner workings and realities of conducting research. As mentioned in my first blog, I’m working closely with a graduate student who works with children who have different levels of recognizing number words. We mostly work with preschoolers, and although we’ve had a variety of participants who have different levels of subset and cardinal principle knowers, we have had some difficulties recruiting children from a narrow and specific age range. Therefore, my mentor and I have been working to problem solve this gap in the data results. We are looking to recruit more children and follow up with families as there is no exact age for when children transition from being subset knowers to cardinal principle knowers. Additionally, a large majority of the families signed up for study recruitments come from a high socioeconomic background, which could explain why these children seem to be cardinal principle knowers at an early age. This summer internship has definitely given me a different perspective on how to work through these difficulties by consulting with others and exploring other methods of recruiting participants for studies. 

In my psychology classes at Brandeis, we often discussed research papers, however, it often seemed like we skimmed through the methods section and focused more on the results and conclusions. However, now that I’m working more on the early development of research, I’ve seen firsthand the process that goes behind recruiting participants, consent forms and actually running the studies. It’s definitely been eye-opening as I get to see a different view of research and the work and time that goes into it. 

Through my experience in the Harvard Developmental Psychology Labs, I have been able to build skills that will useful for me in the near future. Through book clubs, I have gotten used to reading published articles and am able to have meaningful conversations about the results and data that was found from previous studies. These weekly meetings have helped me to get comfortable with dissecting and understanding these articles that I will most likely encounter during my upper-level courses at Brandeis and graduate school. In addition, by learning more about the early development of these projects I feel much more prepared and equipped to begin thinking about how I will conduct my own projects when I pursue graduate studies. 

A screenshot from one of the slides we use in the studies!

More from Southwick’s Zoo!

Ben (hyacinth macaw) on a t-perch, ready for the walk home!

I’m enjoying and appreciating this experience far more than I could have imagined. I love going into work and getting to train and handle so many birds, each with their own personality and quirks. They all have different preferences for people. Some are friendly to the point where they’ll shun older trainers in favor of spending time with the new interns (aka Ben, an absolute sweetheart of a hyacinth macaw). Others are more selective in picking favorites, and some seem to randomly pick the people they dislike. Most fall somewhere in between that spectrum, but one thing remains true: forming and maintaining a positive relationship takes a lot of training and time. The work is definitely worth it, because the feeling of officially gaining one of the bird’s trust is incredible.

I feel like my academic learning set me up for success by giving me the ability to understand the language of training animals (like classical and operant conditioning), but in this internship those concepts are applied and expanded. For example, in textbooks, conditioning behaviors are laid out in fairly simplistic and linear terms, whereas the actual real life process is much more nuanced. Getting to the target behavior can be involved, and the classroom setting can’t encapsulate how you are working with the animal you’re training.

Sydney (harlequin macaw)

One of the most important lessons in reinforcement learning is that oftentimes the animal will say no and you have to respect that and either end a training session or give them time to refocus. In fact, even just to begin training, you must be attuned to the individual’s body language to recognize whether they’re distracted or actually motivated to work. This starts becoming intuitive over time, but there is certainly far more adaptability and modifications needed than what comes across in textbooks. It’s rewarding work though, because each successful demonstration of the behavior physically shows the culmination of both your efforts as a trainer and the effort the animal has put into learning and practicing it. 

Here’s a video of my training in action. In this clip, I cue for Zeus to bob his head by saying “can you get excited?” while bobbing my head. Then, once he’s responded, I ask “how excited?” while making a flashing hand motion, which signals for him to flap his wings.

In addition to gaining experience in behavioral training, I’m continuing to build other concrete skills that will be helpful in many ways as I go forward. Proper handling of the animals, husbandry tasks, and enrichment will serve me well in any animal-care related career. I’ve also gained broadly applicable skills that are helpful in any work environment, like better time management, greater adaptability, and self-sufficiency (being aware of what tasks best help the flow of the day and self-directing those tasks).

Ernie (male eclectus parrot)

This internship is also the first opportunity I’ve had to interact with larger groups of people. While it initially was very intimidating to stand onstage in front of a crowd, now I can stand up there with ease and am able to comfortably communicate with visitors and answer any questions they may ask. Just last week, a school group was upset to have barely missed the final show of the day. I was offstage in the arena training one of the birds and began answering some general questions they had about some of our birds who were on the stage. Seeing their disappointment at not getting to hear any of the birds talk, I grabbed the mic, went on stage, and cued one of our birds to say hi. While I was walking back, I overheard one of the young kids in the group exclaim “that’s so cool!!” and start talking ecstatically to his friends, which absolutely made my day. That kid’s excitement matches my own – it’s so cool to work with the birds, and I’m incredibly grateful that I have this opportunity to expand my knowledge and capabilities at the same time!

(2) The Real World Application of Social Movement Theory

One of the most significant takeaways from my Brandeis experience has been learning the optimal structure for creating and sustaining social movements. Heavily influenced by political theorists such as Charlotte Ryan, William Gamson, and Alicia Garza, I learned that effective social movements require a multifaceted framework for framing, coalition building, and resource mobilization. Framing is valuable for focusing dialogue with target constituencies. Coalition building is critical because social movements are grounded within existing power relations. As a result, garnering supporters and allies is critical in placing a movement in the most advantageous position. Lastly, resource mobilization is fundamental, as effective social movements must be prolonged and sustained efforts. This is only possible through the creation of a reliable and robust supply chain for resource acquisition. 

I keep this framework in mind in all the work I do. For me, it is imperative to fully understand my role within any collective movement to advance a specific cause or issue. In the past, I have worked as the field director for candidates running for local office; as member of the senior staff of Congressman Jamie Raskin’s Democracy Summer, a nationwide program dedicated to teaching youth the nuts and bolts of political organizing; and now as a public policy intern for the Health Policy Team at the National Consumers League. All three of these positions placed me in different parts of a broader movement, each with distinct objectives and opposition.

Recognizing my role in the framework I outlined above enables me to increase my effectiveness in furthering specific agendas. For example, during my time at Democracy Summer, we employed roughly 400 fellows across the United States. In the context of the resource supply chain, we had the unique ability to influence key elections by phone banking, canvassing, and more due to the massive amount of people we had at our disposal. In contrast, as a field director, it was my responsibility to build a coalition and incorporate organizations like Democracy Summer into the campaign. These two roles are distinct and understanding my place within the context of organizational structure was critical for success.

The Health Policy Team at NCL works in all three of these areas, but there is a large emphasis on the framing aspect required for an effective social movement. As a consumer advocacy organization, our job is to understand consumers’ needs and then fight to ensure these needs are met. This is accomplished by honing in on specific policy objectives such as eliminating copay accumulator adjustment programs or making PBMs more transparent. In order to ensure these are enacted by Congress, we not only need to target specific representatives based on their constituencies and values, but also to enlist support from the people most adversely affected to make our argument more compelling. 

As a public policy intern, the majority of my work revolves around writing policy statements and blogs about a diverse set of public health issues. Within the context of movement structure, NCL must make itself available to other groups as a potential ally in areas ranging from expanding healthcare to protecting reproductive rights. This is why publishing policy statements is critical. By making the organization’s position known, other groups are able enlist our support and vice versa.

Jeanette Contreres testifying at the Senate Subcommittee on Competition Rights, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights’ hearing on the baby formula crisis.

An excellent example of this is when Senator Amy Klobuchar asked my former boss Jet Contreres to testify on the baby formula crisis after seeing NCL’s blogs and policy statements about the issue.

Using what I learned from Brandeis, when crafting statements, I try to make NCL’s position as clear and specific as possible. This places the organization in a more advantageous position to not only build coalitions of support, but to also unite like-minded groups. From there, we are able engage in weekly/biweekly meetings to strategize on how to best achieve key objectives aligned with NCL’s mission.

Post 2 — Settling In & Passion Projects

I find myself on a stronger footing as my time at the Courier & Press has elapsed. It has both flown by like sand through an hourglass and seeped slowly like molasses. From how I pitch stories to the greater sense of confidence I now feel when entering interviews, I can feel how my demeanor has calmed as I have settled into my role. 

One of the most exciting developments has been the kinds of stories I have been working on, all of which I am extremely passionate about. I have been doing a lot of research on reproductive freedom and survivorship. Specifically, I have researched reproductive coercion and both the implications of survivors not having reproductive agency and the danger pregnancy can put people in who are experiencing intimate partner violence. I have also researched abortion resources (and the lack thereof) in the Evansville community, as well as trends in reproductive healthcare and changes in access to care in the years following Roe’s introduction.

I am finishing up a story about public art and spatial justice. This article is in response to a census conducted in Marion County (Indianapolis) that examined both the representation of artists and stories in public art, as well as the distribution of public art as it relates to regional demographics.

An installation called the Gateway (by Scott Ross) located in Haynie’s Corner art district. It’s an example of “public art” on private land. Photo taken by Jennifer Crystal.

Another fun project I’m working on is a feature on a women-run tattoo parlor and sexism within the tattoo industry, as well as activism in the workplace. You can find my in-depth look at fireworks, which I discussed in my last blog post, here.  

The world of work stands in contrast to university life. Oddly, I have found college classrooms to be more collaborative than the workplace. People go into work intent on completing their jobs, jobs that in my line of work are often independent of other journalists. However, both the workplace and university are excellent breeding grounds for new thoughts and ideas and both cater well to learning.

While at my internship, I have developed new skills and built upon old skills. I have gotten better at finding information quickly and have improved on condensing my writing in order to fit tight word limits. I have also learned about what research is important for the reader and what research is just important to me (ie: what is fluff that I should leave out). 

As I reach the midpoint of my internship, I have begun to reflect on what I hope to take away from my time at the Courier & Press. I certainly want to bring back what I have learned to the Justice newspaper where I serve as Editor-In-Chief.

Since finishing my term as news editor, I have really wanted to broaden our resources for investigative reporting. This has been a priority that I for one reason or another never really got around to, but after working at a newspaper for over a month, I am reminded of the importance of investigative reporting. I truly believe that our hard-hitting reporting, local context, and dedicated reporters are what draw our readers and subscribers to the Courier & Press. The turnover in this industry is intense, and every day, more and more local news organizations fade into oblivion. However, I believe that our investment in strong, local news is the reason for our continual relevancy. 

(2) The Importance of Empathy and Respect in Legal Aid

Two major concepts I have come to appreciate during my time at Brandeis are empathy and respect. I have learned the importance of these concepts both in my classes and through interpersonal experiences. The ability to keep an open mind and put myself into the shoes of others has informed the way I interact with clients at the Volunteer Lawyers Project (VLP). Oftentimes, when clients come to VLP, they are facing extremely stressful situations such as evictions. They are understandably frustrated and anxious. Meeting these individuals with patience, kindness, and compassion is crucial for me both to respect my clients and their situation, and for me to do my job effectively.

During the fall 2021 semester, I took Professor Kabrhel’s course Law and Society Internship and Seminar. As the course name indicates, students partake in an internship and the class with Professor Kabrhel guides us through this experience and allows us to reflect on it. In this course, we learned how to appropriately conduct legal intakes and other types of  interviews (see here for literature provided to us by Professor Kabrhel about legal interviewing). She emphasized the importance of addressing clients with kindness, respect, and empathy. Ensuring that clients feel reassured and comfortable around you is key. This will make it easier for them to share their whole story with you. If someone is involved in a lawsuit, this likely means they are entangled in some kind of conflict. This can be extremely stressful, and lawyers need to create an environment where they can reassure clients and make them feel comfortable. This allows the lawyer (or legal intern) to truly understand a person’s situation and therefore discern how best to help them. 

Edward Brooke Courthouse

The interpersonal skills I learned in Professor Kabrhel’s class have been extraordinarily helpful in my internship at VLP. This was especially true last week when I had the opportunity to attend VLP’s Lawyer for the Day Clinic in-person, which is run out of the Edward Brooke Courthouse in downtown Boston. This program connects people representing themselves in housing court with pro-bono attorneys. As an intern, my job is to speak with clients referred to VLP by the clerk at the courthouse before they meet with an attorney. This involves screening the clients to make sure they are eligible for VLP’s services and conducting intake interviews, often with very emotional and upset clients. These individuals are navigating a complex legal system without much help and are in danger of losing their housing. I found myself thinking back to Professor Kabrhel’s advice as to how to handle these situations. I did my best to make clients comfortable by treating them with as much empathy and respect as possible. This helped us have a productive conversation where clients could feel reassured and I could get the necessary facts I needed to understand their case. 

In the past, I have conducted these types of conversations over the phone and over Zoom, but doing it in person was vastly different and impacted me greatly. It made it clear to me just how much pressure and stress VLP’s clients are under. It reminded me of the stakes of the work VLP does. When working in an almost exclusively virtual environment, I lost sight of the more human aspects of my internship. This is a mistake I will not make again.

(2) World of Work

Last fall, I took a class at Brandeis called Sexual Violence in Film and Media. In this class, we learned about the stereotypes and discrimination people face after experiencing sexual violence, especially when encountering social systems such as hospitals, law enforcement, and the courts. We explored how society’s responses to sexual violence—not just the sexual violence itself—deny survivors choice, control, and autonomy. This summer, I’m interning with the Center for Violence Prevention and Recovery (CVPR) at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. Much of what CVPR does is respond to and support survivors of sexual violence. The social workers who work in CVPR are often there in the Emergency Department as trauma-informed guides through the immediate aftermath of an assault, which is exactly what we learned in the class is usually missing for survivors. 

I am helping to write a book chapter that will teach lawyers how to support their clients who are survivors of sexual assault. The chapter attempts to help lawyers who work with sexual assault survivors (most often in civil rather than criminal matters) understand the facts and science behind the aftermath of sexual assault, including how the brain reacts to trauma. Hopefully, this information could help reduce re-traumatization of sexual assault survivors as they navigate the court system.

In doing some of the research and writing for this project, I have drawn on what I learned in my class at Brandeis, specifically what we discussed about how people of minority and marginalized identities are often both more vulnerable to sexual violence and less able to access services in its aftermath. Much of the research I have done for this project centers on how social marginalization affects survivors’ access to accessible, adequate, and culturally competent care and support in the criminal justice system. The project hopes to increase this access by educating lawyers about the specific challenges their clients may face when navigating the courts. 

In researching all the ways in which formal systems fall short and fail survivors, I am reminded of a particularly impactful class period in which we learned about an organization in Israel whose goal is to avoid the re-traumatization of sexual assault survivors by creating a trauma-informed space for healing. I am reminded that we do not know which practices lead to re-traumatization, but we know which practices lead to healing. This reminder, and the reminder that the work I am doing is to help improve the experiences of survivors after an assault, helps to mitigate some of the inevitable negativity that comes from doing this research. 

Coffee from Caffe Nero before my internship!

At Brandeis, I’ve also learned how to do effective research. The skills I’ve acquired from doing research projects for classes—such as searching the database, reviewing literature for relevant content, and compiling references—have allowed me to be able to work on this project. Despite the heavy topic, I’ve greatly enjoyed working with CVPR in this endeavor. I’ve come to better understand some of the psychology and neurobiology that underscore our experiences—something that I haven’t (yet) had the chance to study at Brandeis. I’m excited to return to campus and to take courses which will enhance my knowledge and understanding of these topics.

(2) Turning the Page at the Harrison Library

In my sophomore year at Brandeis (something very much recent in my memory, as I am currently a rising junior), I took part in a program called Splash. Splash is a one-day event in which students are Brandeis teach a course on something that interests them to a group of students from a local middle school or high school. I have always loved stories, so on a whim I decided to teach about what went in to building a setting for a novel. I did a lot of research and created what I hoped to be an engaging and fun lesson plan. When the day of the event arrived, however, I found that only one person had signed up for my class.

This was somewhat discouraging, of course, but I tried to take it in stride. Despite the low turnout, I found that the teaching itself was, at least for me, something I quite enjoyed. That realization helped drive me towards this internship. After all, a major role of a public library, especially during the summer, is to provide engaging and educational experiences for children.

The low turnout to my class stuck with me as well. I certainly could not take the low turnout in one class taught by a college pre-grad in the middle of the COVID epidemic as emblematic of anything larger. However, I am very well aware that most people do not love to read and write as much as I do. It can be hard to find time as an adult, and for children and teens one can’t exactly call sitting down with a good novel particularly “cool.” Even so, I know I find incredible joy in just that, and I believe others would as well. Encouraging the development of a love of reading, and helping someone sustain that love, is to me one of the most important things a library can do.

Harrison Children’s Library

I have a somewhat varied role within the Harrison Library. I primarily work to support the children’s librarian, but what that actually means can vary from day to day. I’ve done everything from writing trivia questions to designing flyers to ensuring the shelves remain alphabetized (which can be somewhat tedious, but remains a necessity). The thing I enjoy the most, however, is working with children. I have worked quite a bit with the Harrison Library Battle of the Books teams especially (I discussed BoB in my last blog post) where I have found myself in the role of essentially an assistant coach.

When I was in middle school, I actually participated in the first few Westchester Battle of the Books competitions. That participation, I believe, went a long way towards driving and encouraging my own love of reading. My hope is that by working with these teams, I can provide the kids with a fun summer experience and help keep reading fun and engaging for them. Of course, I do not think anyone would be on the team if they did not already enjoy reading, but that does not mean the joy can’t be nurtured into something that, hopefully, lasts a lifetime.

(2) Using Brandeis Skills at BAGLY Inc.

These past few weeks at BAGLY Inc. has been a great learning experience. Settling in after the first month has helped me learn more about my coworkers and how the organization works. I have gotten more into a routine with my work, and my manager now assigns me more long-term projects. At first, I was working on shorter-term things such as cleaning up my coworkers’ backlogs and sending out emails to donors to BAGLY. Now, I am working on bigger projects.

The main project I have been working on is creating a spreadsheet with the contact information to as many school GSAs and school administrations as possible, which makes planning things such as pride events and awareness campaigns as easy as possible. This will allow BAGLY to spread its messages and help those in the LGBTQ+ community all over Massachusetts, especially LGBTQ+ youth.

I have actually been using some skills I have learned at Brandeis to create this list. For example, to get a list of all of the high schools in Massachusetts, I created a short and simple Python program to extract and clean the information I copied from the Wikipedia page of all the high schools in Massachusetts. I learned how to do this in my programming courses that I took at Brandeis. This means a lot to me because this is also one aspect of computational linguistics I will need to learn in order to get my degree in computational linguistics. That skill is the extraction and cleaning of language data.

Helping BAGLY create this contact list helps me to actually see the first steps that BAGLY makes towards helping the LGBTQ+ community, especially in places outside of Boston, because people mostly think of BAGLY as an exclusively Boston-based organization. This experience has also taught me how to look for data online and quickly find it, which is very helpful for any sort of online project or work project. Knowing how to find data is a super important skill in any internet based work environment.

Meeting my coworkers has also been great because I would really like to meet other members of the LGBTQ+ community and to network with them so as to build my own network of support, but also to strengthen the LGBTQ+ community itself. If we are all separate then can we even call it a community? Knowing that all the people I meet really care about the LGBTQ+ community like me also helps to start conversations and get along with my coworkers. Just being in contact with so many people who are part of and care about the LGBTQ+ community is amazing for my mood and outlook on life. It gives me hope for the future, even at a time when our rights are being taken away. A community is what brings a group of people together and allows them to fight for their rights, and organizations like BAGLY provide the resources to make these communities possible.

Blog Post 2- Learning Empathy for our Senior Community

After working at Hebrew Senior Life for almost two months, I can definitely say that I have learned a variety of skills and have had the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people. I really enjoy working with my supervisor and meeting patients and residents and having the chance to not only have time to interact and learn from them, but to also be able to work on projects behind the scenes and have cool opportunities to participate in important work.

This past week, I was able to try on a suit that once worn, would make you feel similar to an older adult. There were ankle and wrist weights that would weigh me down in addition to various glasses that would simulate different  diseases such as glaucoma. I was walked through a variety of tasks like picking up a walker to allow me to see the challenges they endure. This suit allows healthcare professionals to build empathy for those they care for and this helps mimic certain characteristics as closely as possible.  I felt like I had an extra 200 lbs on me, and had a new appreciation for the challenges that many older adults experienced.


One of my favorite and meaningful opportunities thus far is being able to form connections with the older adults at CCB. Every Friday, I help coordinate and plan programs for the independent living facility in Brookline and I get the lovely opportunity to meet a variety of residents. Last week, I planned a frame decorating event after I realized how many residents had photos in their rooms but no frames. Everyone came down to the event and made a frame. For residents who were unable to make one themselves or come to the event, I decided to make them some. Pictured below are a few examples.

The World of Work has differed from university/academic life in many ways. I think one of the biggest differences is the unfamiliarity of the environment and people that definitely takes getting used to. As a rising senior at Brandeis, I am pretty familiar with campus and that familiarity eases certain stresses.  In a new environment, it takes time to learn about the company’s values and get to know co workers, which can be difficult if you do not put yourself out there. I really enjoy getting to learn more and meet new people so although it was a little difficult to get adjusted in a new work environment in the beginning,  I feel super comfortable now!

As a result of this internship, I am building a variety of transferrable skills such as the following: collaborating with others, building strong personal relationships, data entry, time management, creative thinking, etc. As someone who is very involved on campus, I will be able to bring these skills while working with others and on personal projects. In the future, I hope to be a physician and be able to use my resourcefulness and creativity to my role and help others through skills that I have been able to hone through my time at Hebrew Senior Life.

(2) Discrimination in Medical Care and Social Services

Through classes at Brandeis University, I have gained a greater understanding of the discrimination faced by people with disabilities and/or people of color in obtaining medical care and social services. Often times, accessing a doctor free of charge, getting needed medical equipment, or receiving government benefits are extremely difficult for people to access. Supplemental Security Income, which benefits people with disabilities who have limited income or resources, unemployment benefits, and care work—defined as care processes in the services of others done by family, kin or a professional—are just some of the many examples of the services that people need but must fight to obtain.


Care work, for example, is a difficult job that takes many forms and is often devalued and goes unpaid. This could be an adult caring for their parent, a parent caring for their adult child with developmental disabilities, looking over someone else’s children, and so much more. People do the work because they love and care for the person, and what they are doing is labor. The two are not mutually exclusive. Yet many people who perform care work do so without financial compensation, which is further complicated because this work tends to fall on the shoulders of women and particularly women of color. There are ways for people to get paid for care work; however, the policies include stipulations making it difficult for folks to actually obtain the benefits.

In exciting news, a member at Riverside Community Care was actually able to receive monetary compensation for their care work. This is a great accomplishment and one that is not easy. This truly shows the persistence of the member and care coordinator because, in order to plead their case, they must have been extremely prepared.


Hearing goods news such as this reminds me of the importance of the work I do as a member of the team. My internship is involved with the Behavioral Health Community Partners program, which provides care management and coordination to adults with significant behavioral health needs. I have worked on tasks like updating patient records to make sure new care team members are added and phone numbers are up to date. While this can be a tedious task, the member mentioned above serves as a great example for why this work is needed. It is essential to have the correct information to best support the member. Care coordinators need the correct information to know who is on this member’s care team (i.e., their nurse, PCP, psychiatrist, etc.). Then, not only do they need the care team names, but care coordinators also need accurate phone numbers to contact the care team in support of the member. Updated records help members and care coordinators to apply for government benefits and services—a long, detailed process that requires accurate information. The little things really do matter.

(2) The Importance of Understanding

One of the most important things I’ve learned at Brandeis is understanding. Understanding is the ability to walk a mile in another person’s shoes. It’s the ability to put aside superficial differences and see another point of view. At Brandeis, I interact with many people from different walks of life. To succeed, you have to be able to communicate with diverse groups of people and be able to see the world from their perspective to gain a better understanding of where they are coming from. When someone disagrees with you or shuts down, it can be easy to respond with anger or become frustrated, but sometimes it’s best to step back and reorient yourself by looking at the situation from the other person’s perspective. By doing that, it is possible to find common ground and move towards agreement.

In order to move toward a caring and harmonious society, we have to be able to understand one another and practice kindness and compassion. This is why understanding is something that I always have in mind when approaching my work with Someone Cares. As a case management intern, I interact with clients from many different walks of life. Most clients I work with come from backgrounds that are very different than mine. Often they come from extreme poverty, have debilitating mental health issues, or were introduced to street drugs at a very young age. I have to be able to understand them to help them reach the goals they set for themselves regarding their recovery. 

Someone Cares Atlanta is built on empathy and understanding. It was created to serve populations who have trouble accessing essential resources, including clients who are queer, trans, HIV positive, homeless, sex workers, and/or struggle with substance abuse issues. Many of these population groups have stigmas attached, which can make it hard for them to receive the services and help they need in a compassionate and understanding environment. Someone Cares staff members take time to understand how their client’s background affects them, while also recognizing their individuality. Working and learning in this environment has enabled me to use the patience and understanding that I developed as a Brandeis student. 

Many clients I interact with are in substance abuse therapy and sometimes need assistance with tasks that seem simple to me. For example, many clients struggle with technology literacy and need help with signing into their Gmail or figuring out how to make video calls. This requires me to be patient and understand that not everyone has the same level of familiarity as I do with technology. This also applies to important things like helping them access food or housing. Some clients just need to be assisted in looking for resources and are self-sufficient once pointed in the right direction, while others need you to sit with them and walk through the whole process. My experience at Someone Cares has made me better equipped to recognize and respect the differences in people.

WOW Post 2

I have been enjoying my internship so far, my involvement and the tasks I am given were beyond what I expected. I thought I would be doing more administrative tasks during the internship, which I have but I have been given a lot of opportunities to work with clients one on one, which I have been enjoying. I remember one day I helped a couple prepare for their marriage green card interview. The whole process took around five hours; I interviewed each person individually and then went over any inconsistencies afterward, which meant I spent most of my work day talking with the clients.  

The environment at the Legal Aid Society is a bit more relaxed too which I enjoy. Initially, I was very nervous that the work environment would feel pretty stiff especially since we are located in this big building right in the financial district of NYC but all the attorneys and staff have been so nice and welcoming. We had an Immigration Unit summer outing recently at Clinton

Clinton Hall

Hall which was a lot of fun! I was able to meet a lot of new people including some of the other interns who I have not met in person before. A lot of the other interns are in law school and so I was able to hear a lot of stories about the professors they’ve had and their experiences. 

Work feels a lot more different from university life; because of the work I am doing now I can see how it makes a direct impact on our clients. In university the work I do solely impacts myself but at work, my work can impact a lot of other people which can be both exciting and terrifying. I think this excitement and fear keep me motivated and enure that I pay

The Legal Aid Society - 199 Water St, New York, New York, US - Zaubee
The Building the Legal Aid Society is in

extra attention to avoid making as many mistakes as possible. At university, I work to receive good grades and at the Legal Aid Society, I work to get people’s legal status so it feels very different. Immigration law also changes pretty quickly so there is a lot of collaboration and emails sent in the Immigration Unit about new court decisions that can potentially impact cases. Now DACA is being heard again soon in court so there is more urgency to renew our clients’ DACA applications as soon as possible. I have also been reaching out to clients to see if they are open to sharing their stories to help the Legal Aid Society add more pressure and advocate for DACA.  


Over the course of this internship, I have been building my interpersonal skills lot. I work with a lot of different clients every week, just this week I have had meetings with five different clients where I try to create a comfortable environment as I went over and finalized their DACA renewal applications and answered any questions they had. This internship has also made me more comfortable with having language barriers where I try to form a comfortable relationship with clients and communicate as effectively as possible. The skills I foster here will definitely help me in my future pursuits in becoming an immigration attorney. 

Blog Post #2: My Experience

My position was mostly what I expected it to be, but not exactly. I did expect to work on the USLPA’s social outreach, which is the jist of it. However, there is a lot more to my work– both logistically and objectively. When I approached this internship, I had different ideas of the goal of this. As with my previous experience, I expected to be attempting to grow the page at all costs. This meant focusing on expanding demographics, creating entertaining designs, and using typical social outreach strategies.

That was until I learned what the goal of the organization actually was. I had to understand the ins and outs of the USLPA, what the purpose of a labor union was, and the legal side of collective bargaining agreements. Once I understood that, I had a more precise grasp on how to run this kind of page. It was not merely about gaining as many followers as possible. It had to be dealt with in a professional manner and used to adhere to the interests of the union itself. This meant using the same format as previously and posting things that are important for getting the message across– not for adjusting to the wider audience that may not be as interested in what the USLPA stands for. Again, this is not about gaining as many followers, likes and comments as possible. It is about how it can help inform and unite those who it is directed towards (mainly players), and how it can be perceived by the public.

The World of Work is more realistic, and comes with more responsibility than university life. In academics, I feel as though everything comes in a natural flow, with work piling up as a professor decides and a more rigid schedule. Though this is necessary in education, it is a disingenuous way to live, as it is not how the real world runs. In my internship, some days are slower and some days are busier. I am faced with some regular and some unexpected tasks. I have a real life responsibility, one that is more than just about getting good grades. The work I am doing can impact the lives of many people, while giving me real life pressures that are an important experience for the future. It gives me a feeling of doing something truly meaningful.

This internship is teaching me some valuable skills, both practical and informational. As I explained above, it is teaching me to adapt to a real world work environment. This is in terms of logistics and time management, as well as dealing with the pressures of things that have a real impact on people’s livelihoods. I am also building out a wider range of skills in graphic design and in my social media expertise. I have extensive experience with social media personally, so adding a professional level to that will make a big difference to me. I also have a unique interest in becoming proficient in graphic design and this is giving me that opportunity. In a world that is becoming more technologically dependent and revolving around social media, all organizations that want to be successful, in any industry, need to have a competitive online platform to promote, brand, and market themselves. Having the skills to do that is not only transferable, but a necessity in the world we live in today.

Again, the social media handles I am running are linked below:


Some examples of the posts from Instagram and Twitter are shown below:

Neurochemistry, Cognition, and Collaboration

I have really been enjoying my time as an undergraduate research assistant at the Neurochemistry and Cognition Lab. It has exceeded my expectations in every way possible. As an undergraduate, I assumed all I would be doing was the grunt work for the lab, However, that is so far from the truth. I feel valued as a member of the lab and know that my work is necessary to achieve the lab’s goal of understanding aging and cognitive decline more thoroughly. Likewise, the people in this lab are invaluable to work with, making this position that much better. The members of the lab cultivate such a warm and supportive environment for academic growth. Initially, coming into this internship, I was nervous of what to expect since the last time I worked in research was during high school. After working in the lab for some time, I now know that I had nothing to fear. The researchers in this lab are such great mentors who are happily willing to help me out when I have questions about my work. They are so knowledgeable about a variety of different topics related to psychology, research, graduate school and life and they always share their advice. Through this job, I am learning so much about the research process, but also so much more than I expected. 

Our lobby provides a great, collaborative space to work and share ideas with one another!

My experience at this lab has taught me a great deal about how the World of Work differs from university/academic life. In academia, there are defined roles for students and professors. The student’s main role is to learn as much as they can from the professors who are supposed to teach them all they know. It is a logical method as the professors have much more experience in their fields compared to students, but it can be flawed in its rigidity because it does not allow the professor’s much opportunity to learn from their students. In my lab, there are clearly defined roles of each individual based on experience in research, but there is still much more of a sense of collaboration than in class. Every lab member’s opinion is valued during lab meetings and input from anyone, no matter how much expertise they have in a topic, is taken seriously. The world of work in this lab in particular is very supportive because, even though every individual has their own work they are responsible for, each time a lab member succeeds, it advances the lab as a whole in achieving its goal of learning more about neurochemistry and cognition. 

This cooperative spirit is a skill that I will try to apply to my academics, extracurricular activities,  and hopefully through my medical career. Working with others in an environment where we all win when someone succeeds is so valuable to creating a productive space. Likewise, as I have spent more time in the lab, I’ve learned much more about the neuropsychological exams that we administer in the Brandeis Aging Brain Study. I better understand how to administer and score them as well as analyze their results. These more specific skills in neuropsychology and data analytics help me comprehend how neuroscience research is applied in a clinical setting which is very beneficial to me as I would like to become a doctor. I’m so glad I’m working at the lab and for all the knowledge it has given me so far!

Post 2: Another great month at The Women’s Fund :)

Now, it’s been about a month and a half of working at the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts. It is strange to think about how I only have a few weeks left. I’ve been doing research of my own and looking at others’ research over the past weeks, and it’s been very fulfilling. Some of this research has been going into infographics on our Instagram. Attached below is the first slide of an important graphic I made on reproductive justice, which has become a large chunk of what I’ve been thinking about and working on.  Check out the full post on @womensfundwmass!

The main difference I’ve found has been how self-motivated my internship has been. Besides a few meetings a week, I am primarily working alone, sitting at my computer for approximately 5 hours a day. This has been surprisingly different from Brandeis academics. Even though there is a lot of self-starting in my classes, the lack of due dates in my internship has forced me to find out what works for me in terms of being productive. I’ve always been a fan of lists, but keeping myself accountable to write lists every morning (especially through the Trello that my supervisor and I share), has helped me immensely. I hope to bring these newly polished organizational skills back to my academic life. 

Additionally, I have appreciated the way that the World of Work opportunity has made my brain work in a different way. Instead of producing work that is entirely based on my own effort and can be often seen as a representation of my intellect, I have been able to be less anxious about the work I submit to my supervisor. Therefore, I have been able to put my full effort into actually creating work I enjoy, instead of becoming fixated on a future grade. 

It’s hard to entirely list out all the skills that I’ve learned during this time. Since I’m in it right now, I can imagine that most of the skills I’ve gained will be realized after I’m done and working somewhere else. That being said, I have noticed that I am more confident in my creative choices, which was one of my initial goals going into this internship. Being able to trust myself is extremely important and it’s definitely been something that is missing in my professional life. Additionally, running professional social media accounts under a supervisor that is knowledgeable about marketing and content creation has given me skills that I am so thankful for. Plus, those skills will help me immensely in my senior year job working at Hiatt (woohoo!!). 

It’s been so lovely to see all the work done by all the other WOW recipients and this summer will be one I will not forget.

(1) Inspiring Resilience & Sistership in a Time of Reproductive Injustice

The past few weeks have been devastating and overwhelming for millions of women, transgender, and nonbinary individuals nationwide. Recently, the Supreme Court made the life-changing decision to overturn the Roe v. Wade case, removing the right to choose at the federal level. Now more than ever is the time to advocate for the right to reproductive justice for all women and anyone included. But until we can also recognize and combat the unspoken issue of Black reproductive and maternal injustice, no one is truly protected. 

Sisterly Resistance, 2019, by Jules Arthur – Property of Resilient Sisterhood Project

Resilience is a powerful word for durability or having strength through difficult times. For years, Black women (and those affected) have been exercising their resilience and strength in the face of reproductive inequality, maternal health disparities, and other challenges. And through sisterhood, Black women continue to support each other and challenge systems that have historically hindered their pursuit of health and autonomy. This summer, I have seen the importance of resilience and sisterhood through my internship at Resilient Sisterhood Project (RSP). The organization’s name speaks for itself! RSP is a non-profit organization based in Boston, MA. It was founded by Lily Marcelin, a Haitian woman who started her journey in this field back in 2012 by listening to stories of Black women and their struggles with fibrosis. Today, RSP keeps true to its origins by continuing the education and empowerment of women of the African diaspora regarding the reproductive system that disproportionately affects them. 

The organization approaches these inequities among Black women through conversation, educational programming like webinars, and the distribution of educational resources on their social media platforms. The website provides extensive information about obstetric complications, incarceration injustices, environmental concerns, and community outreach projects meant to support and empower Black women of all ages. 

As a summer intern, my research project will focus on the impact of endometriosis on the reproductive health of Black women ages 25-40. According to the National Institute of Health, endometriosis is among the leading causes of infertility in Black women. This is a huge concern as endometriosis is commonly misdiagnosed in Black women as Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). In all women, misdiagnoses can typically delay endometriosis detection by 7-10 years, which is a huge problem. Over the course of the next few weeks, I will work with the RSP team on contacting individuals with endometriosis and hearing about their experiences. At the end of this internship, I will have educational content on endometriosis available for the public. 

I’m looking forward to watching this project grow and eventually make an impact where it is most needed. Right now, in the early stages, I am learning how a small nonprofit operates, how to do research, and how to cultivate innovative ways to address this deeply-rooted problem in our country’s healthcare system. It’s been so gratifying to work with a great team that values the importance of resilience and sisterhood—especially as the future of reproductive health and security in this country remains uncertain.

Post 2 — How I’ve Learned at the Jazz Museum

So far, I have found enjoyment in unexpected avenues working in both the New Orleans Jazz Museum and the Louisiana Historical Center (LHC). I have been rewarded for many of the skills and behaviors I have built during my academic life, but these rewards are typically for skills I have discounted.

For instance, in my work in the LHC, I primarily work on data entry related to map collection. Surprisingly, I believe my time working with historical documents and writing papers has made me significantly better at finding and correcting discrepancies between finding aids, labels, and the maps these tools are meant to help researchers navigate. Although history is not the field most associated with spreadsheets, the ability to efficiently scan and prioritize the right portions of maps and their associated text has been invaluable.

Within the Museum, I have been primarily writing marketing material and collating important copy related to the Museum. Although I typically use these skills to decide what portion of an 18th-century French diary is useful for my paper, the same ability is valuable when treating Jazz Museum reports as source texts. It is gratifying to see these skills transferring, even if it’s not the same kind of academic writing as my student life.

An example of a map that I’m currently marking for deaccession. This map is part of a large collection of maps related to the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1878. This raises an interesting question when deaccessioning: Do I keep this collection of maps together due to their subject matter or do I separate them due to the LHC’s geographic focus?- Image credit to the LHC

Overall, I am very pleased with my work at the Museum even if it was not precisely what I expected. I came into this job with a hazy idea of what the backroom work of a museum looked like, and through my own work as well as attending meetings on development, exhibits, and marketing, I’ve widened my understanding.

Although my work in the archives has been enjoyable, I complete the same tasks over my days. Because of this, I am interested in exploring diverse kinds of archival work in addition to the kind of work I have already completed. How might I directly engage with researchers? How do archives go about searching for and acquiring new items? This internship serves as a great foot in the door to begin finding avenues to some answers to these questions.

Above all else, communicating clearly and concisely has been integral to this internship. Even though I may only spend 10 minutes a day checking in with my superiors or writing emails, this internship has lifted the importance of logistics in my eyes. To begin any project, you do not need a long meeting, but you need that meeting to be well planned. If I were to sum this skill up as a lesson, I would say that even if you only send a two-sentence long email, the 20 seconds it takes to write that email can advance your projects more than hours of work if you send it to the right person at the right time.

In the archives, I have had to devise systems to ensure I log information about maps efficiently, and I’ve found the process of grappling with organizational systems surprisingly interesting. I have improved a lot at using different sort functions on Excel to best cross-reference my new inventory with past finding aids.

Since I also primarily work by myself within the archives, I have had a lot of time to feel out my own workflow and regulate my time. I have kept a lot better track of my productivity in terms of maps logged vs. time spent, and I think improving time management and awareness is useful in all professional capacities. The first step in addressing problems in my academic workflow, my focus while reading, or administrative work for my e-board is setting a standard by which I can evaluate my performance.

(2) Seeing People as People

“See people as people, and nothing else.”

One concept I have learned during my time at Brandeis is the idea of trauma-informed care. I first remember hearing this term used at Volunteerfest in interactions with volunteers. I had never heard this type of language used before, which intrigued me. I remember feeling that the phrase felt sanitary and performative at first. Another area in which I began to hear this phrase used frequently was in immigration advocacy settings. For example, I heard this word used in volunteer training with The Right to Immigration Institute. The discussions that followed were about centering the client and how to treat them with empathy, while understanding that their own experiences are unique and different. It is when I heard this concept applied in real-life situations like these that I began to grasp the functionality of this idea.

The idea that you are not someone’s savior is one key component of trauma-informed care that I seek to implement when applicable. My original aversion to applications of trauma-informed care occurred because the trope seemed all too similar to relationships such as the white savior complex. I felt that, while trauma-informed care was helpful at its core, it would be misused and damaging in the process. Therefore, I remind myself to mentally check-in and ensure that I am not attempting to save a client that I am working with, but rather, work WITH them to achieve THEIR goals.

Trauma-informed care has become more significant to me due to my internship. Working with clients at the Law Office of Saikon Gbehan, LLC has been unlike any other experience. One reason why I believe this experience is unique is that it has been entirely virtual—just me, my desk, my computer, and my phone sitting alone in my office working in the cool air while the Georgia heat melts away at the outside world. While this may seem repetitive and mundane, in reality, each nine-hour shift feels like I am powering up a new tool to use. And the tool that I have been powering up recently is trauma-informed care.

Now that I am nearing the end of my work on a client’s family-based petition for legal permanent residency status, otherwise known as a green card, I have begun to reflect on my relationship with that client. I am proud of the work that we have accomplished together, but at times I felt frustrated. Why didn’t they do X? How could they forget Y? I thought they needed Z? As I pondered these questions during my time working with this client, I realized that I was acting selfishly and assuming that my thoughts were my client’s needs, and not focusing enough on their perspective. I realized that my perspective needs to take a back seat in this environment and should instead focus on the client’s needs and wants. I believe my crucial tenant of trauma-informed care can be summed up in one sentence: see people as people, and nothing else.

(2) A Positive Mindset

Something I have learned at Brandeis both in and out of the classroom is that when you go into a new job, you are not going to know how to do everything, and that is okay. In one of my classes, we had a guest speaker who is now a very successful businessman. At the end of his presentation, the one thing he said he wished someone had told him before he started on his career path was, “you are not going to know everything when you start somewhere new, and nobody is going to expect you to know everything at first.” This really stuck with me because he was someone who has made millions of dollars and made a great future for himself. It reassured me that even people who are the most successful do not know everything, and no matter if the people around me have amazing past experiences, we were both hired in the same place for a reason.

Coffee to start every morning on the right foot!

Hearing this from a successful businessman and other people in the Brandeis community was really significant for me for many reasons. First, entering a new job for the summer in an area that I am somewhat unfamiliar with, but want to learn more about, was very daunting for me. Having this advice before starting my internship was extremely helpful in calming my nerves and put me in a good mindset. When I am working, there are many things that come up every day that I do not know the answer to. Coming in with this mindset has allowed me to not be afraid to ask questions, which is something challenging for me. Also, I have realized that the more questions I ask, the more I show that I truly want to learn, grow, and know what to do the next time a similar situation arises. This has allowed me to approach the internship and tasks with more confidence because I know they hired me for a reason, and when I am asked to do something, they believe that I am capable of doing it, so I should be too!

Many tabs = working hard

This mindset that I have come in with has also allowed me to reflect on the work that goes on within the Court Service Center. I realized that the women who supervise me are also real lawyers, and they know a lot about many different areas of law. However, it has obviously taken them years to get to this point, and they do not expect us to know everything they do. They have said if we did know even fifty percent of what they did, we would be lawyers already. That being said, for the most part, there are only two women who work directly above me and anywhere from two to six interns working with them. This means these women really do so much work even before/after hours or during lunch breaks because they do not have enough time during the day. On top of normal workload, they have to keep up to date with all the new court rules and understand many different types of law and the processes within them. They are able to do so much for so many people, but sometimes they could use one more person who knows as much as them. It really takes so much knowledge, time, and energy to be doing what these women do.

Additionally, the Greenfield Court Service Center and the other Court Service Centers around Massachusetts are incredible resources and are extremely important for those who cannot afford lawyers. Yes, they have amazing interns like me, but again, they do not expect us to know everything. What I have realized is if the Court Service Centers had more full-time staff, they could help so many more people in the same amount of time, or have extra time to update pamphlets, documents, and other resources. 

Glimpse of online work

This has allowed me to reflect overall on the different roles in an organization and their expectations. This brings back what the guest speaker said, that as an intern I am not expected to know everything. I am expected to learn, try hard, and assist in any way possible. Though I can still question what I should/should not know, knowing the expectations they have for me is always a good way to ground myself in any new role, and further reassure that I am meant to be there and putting in my best efforts.