The Adventures of the Summer Scotties!

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Summer is the time everyone looks forward to. We count down the days during the spring semester to when we will finally be done with exams and walk away from campus. Summer is supposed to be a time for relaxing and going to the beach… Except for when you're in college. Everyone knows that in college the pressure is on to get field experience in a job or internship over the summer. Even though we stress about what we are going to do in the summer, once we finally land that job or internship, they can be really awesome experiences!

Personally, I was super stressed about getting an internship before I applied to Emory’s nursing school in the Fall. I was rejected from one internship and waiting to hear from another and was starting to think I would end up with nothing to do. Luckily, my uncle is a urologist and works at a surgery center and told me I could come spend the summer with him! Urology is the field of medicine that deals with the urinary system. So I got to see kidney stone removals, vasectomies, cystoscopies (looking through a camera into the bladder), and so much more urological procedures!

During my time at the surgery center, I started to wonder what other Scotties were doing over the summer so I reached out and found out some cool Scottie experiences:

Elizabeth Dudley did an internship at the ACLU of Alabama.

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Class year: 2021

Hometown: Montgomery, AL

Major/minor: International relations/music

Can you tell us a little about what you did at the ACLU?

I was the Communications Intern at the ACLU of Alabama, so I was working under the Public Advocacy Director. Throughout the course of my internship, I did a lot of work with their social media accounts, updating the public as to current events or actions that the ACLU was taking on their behalf. Along with this, I also was a part of planning numerous events, both in Montgomery and across the state. I think my favorite task there was going through the legal intake, because it gave me an insight into how the people of Alabama are struggling, and it will help me improve Alabama in the most effective way.

What was the atmosphere like at the ACLU?

The atmosphere at the ACLU was very casual; we were all very professional, of course, but along with civil liberties comes the idea of freedom of expression, so the dress code was much [relaxed] than it would have been in other offices, and our language was never policed in any way. Because of this, the environment was very nurturing, and my supervisor and I became close in a way that encouraged my growth.

Was working with the ACLU related to what you want to do after college?

I want to go into politics after college, so the ACLU was definitely on my radar.

Is there a specific story you would like to share about your experience?

I can't talk about most of the substantive work that I did, for confidentiality reasons, but I can tell you the story of how I got the internship. Immediately after the first executive order travel ban was announced and protests broke out in airports across the country, my friend asked me to go with her to one in Birmingham, which is about an hour and a half away. It ended up being that neither of us could go, so I suggested that we organize one for the Montgomery Airport, a regional airport in the city. Though it is a regional airport and we knew that no one was actually being held there, what we felt was most important was the solidarity that we could give. Twenty-four hours later, we were standing outside the airport with a crowd of over one hundred people who decided to come out and join us. At the protest, we were approached by the Public Advocacy Director who invited us to apply for the internship, even saying that she'd be willing to take two interns so we could both work with her! I applied soon afterward and started working as soon as she got back to me!  

Alexis (Slim) Smith took part in the ASC in Spain program.

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Class year: 2018

Hometown: Memphis, TN

Major/minor: Spanish/Psychology double-major

Can you tell us a little about what you did in Spain this summer?

For the first week, I stayed in a hotel in Madrid and learned about the history of the city while visiting nearby cities to learn about their history, as well. For the next four weeks, I attended the University of Oviedo where I took one main class and two modules. Outside of class, I explored Oviedo, as well as took the bus to see and explore other cities nearby.

What made you decide to go to Spain?

I needed the credits for my major and also needed to improve my speaking skills in Spanish (I literally was confident in every skill except speaking). I also want to travel to countries (especially Spanish-speaking countries) to teach children about Jesus in the near future, but I had never traveled abroad to know if I really wanted to achieve that dream. Therefore, I participated in the faculty-led program "ASC in Spain" so that I could take the classes and also experience the Spanish culture and get a feel for if I like traveling overseas.

What was it like to go from speaking Spanish in a classroom to being immersed in the culture and language?

Being in the motherland of the Spanish culture and language was definitely life-changing. I was sick my first week in Spain and had to learn how to explain my symptoms at the pharmacy so that they could provide me the right medication. I learned that their routine, as far as eating and sleeping go, is very different. They are big on taking naps, staying up/out very late, and eating long, extensive meals. They also are very good at figuring out that you're a foreigner, and I was not prepared for the amount of stares I got while I was there, especially in Oviedo.

Is there a specific story you would like to share about your experience?

My time in Spain definitely tested my faith in God. I've heard the saying that "hurt people hurt people" but never really got it until I experienced it in Spain. My first host mom had a lot of hurt and anger that resulted in me switching host moms because it was not a good environment for me to live in. Granted, she was hurt and angry about some things in her life, but it was no excuse for the things she said and did. However, with those two weeks in her house, I learned what it means when God says to treat everyone with His love and how His love is the only thing that can heal a broken person. Although she said and did things that upset and hurt me, I still treated her the way that I wanted to be treated. I prayed that my actions and words were an example of God's love. It's easy to let something provoke you or to want to get revenge, but this situation showed me how strong my faith in God really is, granted I had a lot of support from my peers and loved ones back at home who reminded me that I am a child of God.

 

Anna Tomkins took part in a Physics REU at the College of Wooster.

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Class year: 2018

Hometown: Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Major/minor: Mathematics and Physics double major

Can you tell us a little about what you did at the College of Wooster?

I studied orbiting point masses, but we extended those points into line segments of infinitesimal width. We studied the orbits of these line segments, in cases of both two and three slashes, in several different configurations. This might sound super complicated, but basically, I am just doing a lot of math and integration, which has a physical application. This work is expanding on work done by Isaac Newton, Euler and Lagrange in the 1600-1700s. This problem is very interesting because it is hopefully leading us in the direction of being able to calculate the forces between non-spherical objects (such as asteroids) and enabling us to compute their orbits!

What started your interest in physics?

When I was in high school, I took Honors Physics, and I really enjoyed the application of mathematics. Then, I took a college physics class and was hooked! I really enjoy computational physics, as I originally came into college as a math major.

What has it been like being in a heavy research atmosphere?

At first, it was actually really intimidating. In the beginning, I found it really hard to have confidence in myself in an academic setting, especially coming from an all-female setting to an extremely male-dominated program. As the internship went on, I started to find my place and realize that everyone around me was really similar; we all became really close, and I made a lot of really great friends. I ended up being really successful this summer and found a lot of results. It was definitely an adjustment I had to make, though, but all worth it!

Is there a specific story you would like to share about your experience?

On the last day of my internship, we had poster presentations (similar to SPARC) to present all we had done this summer. The President of the College of Wooster came up to me, and she asked where I went to school, and I said, Agnes. She then said, "No way! I just got off the phone with your president not even an hour ago!" I thought it was such a crazy small world. It was also a little nerve-wracking presenting to the President of the College (especially because she has a Ph.D. in Physics!). Overall, I had a truly amazing experience. I would highly recommend for students to broaden their experiences and try doing an REU!

 

Anoushka Pant was selected as a Hubert Scholar to work at an NGO in West Bengal, India.

Class year: 2020

Hometown: Uttarakhand, India

Major/minor: Business Management + Dance majors/French minor

Can you tell us a little about what you did in India?

I Received the Hubert Scholarship to go to a different country and work with an NGO regarding health issues of a certain area and analyze the situation through the lens of an economist with respect to the humanitarian goals of the entire project.

What made you choose this project?

I had worked with the NGO "Association for Social and Health Advancements" (ASHA) previously on menstrual hygiene and product management of cost efficient pads in rural parts of West Bengal. So this summer as well I wanted to work with them in much more depth on how worsening health conditions lead to changes in the villagers’ total income and day to day savings. The Hubert scholarship provided by our college fit perfectly with the goals of the project and also provided me with funds that I could use for broadening my horizons and working more efficiently with an NGO. I not only got the chance to talk to the people but also got to analyze the different roles and responsibilities of the government bodies and other decision makers of society that impact the lives of these people. It truly gave me the hands-on field experience to thoroughly understand the complexity of problems that the poorest of the poor face in these areas. It was an eye opening experience, and I am glad I got the chance to make a small difference and bring about certain change agents in their society.

What was your experience like working with the NGO? What were your favorite and least favorite parts?

Since the beginning of high school, I have been extensively involved with community engagement programs and have gotten the opportunity to work with Care India, UNICEF, Asha, and several care projects affiliated with our school. ASHA NGO has done amazing work for the past eighteen years, and I loved working with them. My field visits and work at the office was a great experience. My mentor was very helpful and prepared me very well for the field visits. They helped me organize and coordinate field visits, which was very nice. One thing that I think they could have improved on was organizing meetings with people of the village and putting more time in the schedule for interaction with the specific sample population.

Is there a specific story you would like to share about your experience?

Part of my research was focused on beedi (rolled tobaccos in leaves) binding women workers and the health challenges they face in their daily lives. Here's a story of a young beedi binder:

Hashina, an eighteen-year-old currently pursuing her Bachelors in Arts was talking to me about her beedi binding experience and how she really doesn’t mind it that much. She is a rising first year and loves to study. But she fears for her future education as her family might want her to get her married. Right now she enjoys going to school, studying, helping her mother with household chores, and binding for four to five hours every day.  Beedi binding is something that she says given an option she would not choose. When I asked her if she faced any health problems in the past or recently, she said nothing major, just a sore throat and coughing. She had visited the local doctors several times, but they just gave her a few tablets which were not at all effective. While we were talking, I asked her whether she ever thought of her coughing as being due to spending so much time continuously beedi binding. She thought about it for some time and then she suddenly spoke up and said, “Oh I remember!”

She remembered an incident that happened with her aunt. She explained how her aunt would cough a lot too. She didn’t pay much attention to it and decided to not worry about it too much. So she didn’t go to a professional doctor or a private doctor, because of the extra costs. But one day she started coughing blood out. They went and admitted her in a good hospital, where the doctor diagnosed her with blood cancer. Her aunt’s situation just got worse and became very critical. Their family had already spent a lot of money on ineffective medicine and small treatments here and there, so they had no money to pay for her proper treatment in the better hospital. The doctors tried their best, but after months of struggle, she couldn’t survive. The doctor later mentioned how the consumption of ineffective medicines,  lack of proper check-ups, and the inhalation of smoke while binding the beedis all were factors to her condition.

As Hashina narrated this story her voice got quieter as she imagined herself in place of her aunt. She told me how she understood the value of her life and that beedi binding might be something that’s risking it, but what could she do? She then said, “But I don’t even have another option, I have to work and earn money, I cannot just stop beedi binding, but at the same time I don’t want to risk my life for it. It’s this dilemma that we are going through; I don’t know if there will ever be a fix to it.”

Hashina was one of the few leaders I identified during my stay and helped spark a drive to influence and teach others about the importance of health. She agreed to help us educate young adolescent girls about the importance of good health and hygiene practices in her community. ASHA (NGO) ensured to follow up with Hashina and slowly grow this initiative in the coming months.

 

Laura Millan Buendia worked as a medical assistant.

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Class year: 2021

Hometown: Barcelona, Spain

Major/minor: Intended Neuroscience major/music minor

Can you tell us a little about what you did as a medical assistant?

I have been assisting the doctor in various procedures like biopsies, epidermoid (sebaceous) cyst removals, and botox. I check in/out patients, and I also clean and organize the rooms after every patient comes out.

What sort of tasks were your responsibility as a medical assistant?

During procedures, I usually hand her the surgical instruments she needs and grab extra gowns, medicine, or sutures. If I’m working at the front desk, I will greet patients and pharmaceutical reps, organize and scan papers and documents, answer the phone, and figure out what insurance patients have and what they have to pay. I also have to clean the office and make sure everything looks neat and organized.

Have you worked in a medical setting before? If not, how was it experiencing that for the first time?

I have never worked in a medical setting before. At first, I was EXTREMELY nervous because there was so much stuff I had to learn and the setting was very hectic, but after a couple of days I got used to it and learned how to manage my time.

What was your favorite part of the job?

My favorite part of the job was assisting during procedures. The doctor knows I want to become a doctor, so she explained everything she was doing and why she was doing it that way. She would say something like “I’m cutting this way because…” or “This white part you can see is the dermis” so I learned a lot and it was so fun! If we ever had some free time after we were done with patients, the doctor would tell me about medical school and she would also teach me how to write a prescription and some medical terms, and I liked that too.

Is there a specific story you would like to share about your experience?

Working for a doctor has been one of the best experiences I’ve ever had! It has been really motivating and it has also made me realize how passionate I am about it.

 

Jordan Keesler interned at Green Spaces (an environmental nonprofit) in Chattanooga.

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Class Year: 2020

Hometown: Trenton, Georgia

Major/Minor: Women's Studies/Environmental Science and Sustainability Studies

Can you tell us a little about what you did at Green Spaces?

My main task was writing a report for the state of Tennessee on the standing of utilities and the future of energy in Tennessee.

What was your favorite part?

While working at Green Spaces Chattanooga, I thoroughly enjoyed being able to work with such committed individuals that sought to address sustainability from both a grassroots and top down approach.

Were there any sustainability initiatives Green Spaces does that could be implemented at Agnes Scott?

I would find it difficult to pinpoint any specific aspect of Green Spaces that Agnes could implement due to the very specific nature of Green Spaces’ goal of working toward what Chattanooga specifically needed. Granted, education around simple low cost, no cost ways to conserve energy would be informative.

Is there a specific story you would like to share about your experience?

While I cannot think of a specific story to share about my experience, overall I would say that it has changed my view of my hometown. Once you understand a need of a community, it's hard not to see it every day and how individual actions shape others lives.