Making a Difference
Tapping into Inspiration in the School
The first 2 weeks of my internship I offered support to the operations team. I was responsible for various projects including preparing the building for SAT testing, graduation logistics, and other tasks as assigned. For the remaining 8 weeks I served as a Summer School teacher; I taught 11th grade English. As I teacher I attended professional development sessions, wrote lesson plans and assessments, graded papers, created curriculum, etc. I was most satisfied by seeing that my students were learning and engaged in class. My work as a teacher was very challenging because I had to synthesize information and relay it in a way that made sense in order for each of my students to be successful.
My work environment was very positive. My fellow teachers were all united behind the common goal: helping each of our students succeed. Everyone pitched in to lend a helping hand when necessary. We supported each other, laughed with each other, complained to each other, and motivated each other. Our supervisors encouraged a culture of respect and team building with various professional development sessions. Every day I woke up excited to see my students and learn from them. Even on the tough days, they still managed to inspire me.
Most of the summer was dedicated to improving students’ writing skills. After seeing his grade on his last essay one of my students smiled and pumped his arms in excitement, his momentum carrying him in a celebratory half-jump, half-spin. He had finally reached our class goal (80% on essays). The pride he showed in his work inspired me so much. I smiled along with him and simply told him “Congratulations.”
— Cameron Bell, Class of 2016
Gaining New Perspectives in Trenton
Isles tackles the very tricky task of attempting to revitalize Trenton, and they really have affected many individuals and their mindsets. For me, it was an incredibly educational experience because I learned much more in great detail about the obstacles that permeate the city (lead poisoning, poor living conditions, high crime, isolation) as well as about how nonprofits are run.
My primary task was to produce short videos highlighting 6 focus areas of Isles’ work. These include: Weatherization and healthy homes; Green job training; Housing counseling (first-time homebuyer and foreclosure assistance); Isles Youth Institute (alternative high school for GED and high school diplomas); Community planning & development; and Urban agriculture. In addition, I was tasked with gathering information for a mini-documentary on a neighborhood revitalization that occurred in the mid-90s at Dunham St. The work was appropriately challenging because I was able to learn a lot along the way.Just driving around Trenton and interviewing so many people was an amazing experience. I got to know the city a lot better, and I also became a lot more comfortable with and able to get to know people.
Graduation was an incredible experience. It was humbling to know that the graduates, all of whom were older than me, have so many more barriers than I do but that they had all made this first important step of achieving high school diploma equivalency. Yet, in the midst of celebration, I knew that many people would scoff at this graduation because these graduates’ future will hold so many more barriers, or because they would consider high school graduation to be a given. Like the rest of my internship, it was an awakening for me to really figure out my perspective.
To view the videos that Christie produced this summer, click here.
— Christie Jiang, Class of 2017
Paying it Forward by Helping Change the Higher Education Narrative
Growing up, I refused to believe that my zip code determined my destiny. Born in Mexico, but mostly raised in the US, I was a product of low-income and working class, immigrant neighborhoods. I persevered through my public school background to attend Princeton as a first-generation college student. I became driven to improve the higher education narrative for students coming from similar backgrounds as mine, and my passion to help increase college access and success helped land me a PICS internship at uAspire.
Once here, I dove into multiple projects where I was involved in performing market research and analysis for the development of marketing strategies, cataloging material and developing intellectual property policies, revamping resources aimed at helping undocumented students, creating a system to collect Advisor stories, entering data measuring the impact of our high school programming, and researching students’ college matriculation information for the delivery of important text messages aimed at reducing Summer Melt.
Overall, I took on a range of projects in multiple departments. It proved challenging yet highly stimulating and rewarding because a lot of the work I was doing hadn’t been done before. I had the privilege of doing work that would have lasting impact for uAspire.
In addition, I felt immensely connected to everybody in the office and was motivated not just by the mission, but by everybody else’s desire tireless and infectious work ethic.Working at uAspire was an immensely rewarding experience that has changed my life goals and how I want to contribute to improving society.
— Carlos Sotelo, Class of 2017
Empowerment and Enrichment through Education
In the beginning of my internship I remember I remember going in the bathroom to talk with one of the students who was very discouraged about her math class. I had a heartfelt conversation with her about her ability to do it and the resources available to help her. At the end of the summer program, she received an award for most improved in math.
My best work experience was attending the college tour with students. I had planned the tour so I had to exercise a lot of leadership in executing it. My second project was planning some gender specific programming for the young girls. The “Sisterhood Circles” were a meaningful space for them when they could talk about relevant topics and interact with each other in positive way. My third project was to help produce content for workshops to help the recent graduates transition into college.
My internship was educationally enriching because I saw first-hand a lot about the conditions of the Chicago Public School System and proven ways of alleviating some of the issues there.
— Briana Payton, Class of 2017
An Inside Look at Medicine
Following my freshman year at Princeton, I interned at Children’s National Medical Center (CNMC), a pediatric hospital in Washington, D.C. I spent ten weeks doing research and shadowing doctors in the CNMC Neurosurgery Department. I had always been interested in medicine and called myself “pre-med” freshman year, but I had never spent significant time in a clinical setting or seen the daily operations of a hospital.
Over the course of my internship, I was able to observe dozens of brain and spinal cord surgeries in the operating room, shadow several doctors on rounds and during clinic visits, and work on one of the Neurosurgery Department’s research databases. I felt so included by the neurosurgery medical team and I was confident that I was doing meaningful work both for my own development as well as for the hospital.
The internship opportunity aided my preparation for medical school immensely — it gave me unparalleled experience in the medical field, allowed me to make contacts with amazing mentors and affirmed my passion for a future career in health care.
— Lindsey Heigh, Class of 2015
An Advocate for Others
I’ve always been interested in the law and wanted a summer internship where I could participate in a cause I was passionate about. I interned at Legal Services of New Jersey, which provides free legal assistance to low-income residents for their civil legal problems. I worked on issues such as housing evictions, welfare, immigration deportation and domestic abuse.
On a typical day, I could expect to review medical records for clients and conduct research for the attorneys in the Legal Assistance to Medical Patients program. Cases involved helping a patient get back on an organ donation wait list or assisting an undocumented immigrant in need of hospital care.
I got to see first-hand a lot of the problems facing people who don’t always get much attention — the poor, the disabled and the undocumented. For me, there’s nothing more satisfying than knowing your actions contributed to aiding someone in their time of need. I am a sociology major and I’ve really grown as a thinker and a doer by combining sociology lessons with my internship experience.
— Xiaonan April Hu, Class of 2014