Tag: internships

New internship program puts focus on hard work of social, environmental justice

Adya Kadambari ’23, seen here during Spring Term, is among the 12 Lawrence students taking part this summer in the Social & Environmental Justice Cohort program. She’s working an internship with Bay Bridge in Whitefish Bay. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Adya Kadambari ’23 processes the slow movement on social justice issues she’s championing this summer and chooses to channel her frustration into more work. Always more work.

The Lawrence University government major from Bangalore, India, has found her summer internship with Bay Bridge, a Whitefish Bay-based nonprofit working to address systematic racism in the community, to be eye-opening in the sheer weight of the challenge.

“I have learned that being part of Bay Bridge means continuing to try—even if it goes unnoticed—because that is the point of being a racial justice organization,” she said.

Kadambari is one of 12 Lawrence students who are setting the foundation for the Social & Environmental Justice Cohort program, a new summer internship initiative at Lawrence, one that is unlike any the school has launched in the past. It’s focused on social and environmental justice issues and has been developed as a shared experience across multiple nonprofit organizations doing work in a particular geographic area.

In this case, the area is the City of Milwaukee and its suburbs. The students, working across nine organizations, meet weekly as a cohort, their discussions facilitated by Jason Brozek, the Stephen Edward Scarff Professor of International Affairs and associate professor of government, to share and reflect on their experiences—successes, failures, frustrations, and everything in between.

Jason Brozek meets with Naomi Torres ’22 and Fernando Ismael Delgado ’22, both of whom are working internships this summer with the Center for Urban Teaching in Milwaukee. Brozek meets weekly with the full Social and Environmental Justice Cohort via Zoom.

“The idea is to really be explicit and deliberate about the reflection piece of this,” Brozek said of the cohort structure built into the internship program. “One of the things I’ve learned is how important it is to not just hope students will reflect on their experience but to specifically and deliberately guide them through that process and give them space to do it, prompt them to do it.”

This is work that is often emotional and potentially life-changing. Being able to talk about it, process it, hear others’ experiences, can be educational and therapeutic at the same time.

“That process of reflection, I think that’s where the real impact and transformation of these experiences comes from,” Brozek said.

To date, more than $350,000 has been raised to support the Social & Environmental Justice Cohort program, with a goal of $1 million to grow it into an ongoing staple of the Lawrence summer.

The program came together quickly after an anonymous donor, moved by the activism that followed the murder of George Floyd, sought to fund internships that would aid community organizations, give students an avenue into social and environmental justice work, and allow those students to share their experiences with one another in a collaborative learning environment.

The program provides a stipend for the students, who are working for nonprofits that in many cases couldn’t otherwise afford interns.

“For me, that’s a really critical part of the program because it means these experiences are more accessible and equitable, and available to a wider range of students,” Brozek said.

Kenneth Penaherrera ’24 is working an internship this summer at a youth crisis center through Pathfinders in Milwaukee.

Mandy Netzel, assistant director of career services in Lawrence’s Career Center, went to work connecting with nonprofits in the Milwaukee region to set the scope of the internship program. Meanwhile, Cassie Curry, director of major and planned giving for Lawrence, set out to raise the monies needed to financially support the program as an annual endeavor.

Brozek came on board as the faculty advisor. He’s meeting weekly with the students via Zoom, a nod to the barriers still being posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The hope is that those meetings will be in person by next summer, as will all of the internships.

It all came together in a matter of a few months. The early momentum suggests this is a program that will continue to thrive, perhaps growing in the number of participating students and organizations, possibly expanding at some point to other regions.

“We really have a chance to not just make it a great experience for the 12 students who are doing it this summer but to really build something that is distinctive for Lawrence and to keep it going,” Brozek said.

Some of the students are doing social media and communications work for their organizations. Others are working with young people or families in schools or shelters. All of the organizations are located in the Milwaukee metro area with the exception of Pillars, of Appleton. The list includes Pathfinders, Milwaukee Riverkeeper, a Milwaukee aldermanic office, Bay Bridge, Legal Action Wisconsin, Center for Urban Teaching, Blue Lotus, and Walker’s Point.

“Spending time doing this justice work can be really draining,” Brozek said. “How do you make this kind of work sustainable? Not just sustainable for the organization, but personally as well? We’re talking about that and they’re learning from each other, and really supporting each other and being impressed with each other. I’ve really loved that part of it.”

For Ben DePasquale ’22, joining the team at Milwaukee Riverkeeper gave him a chance to gain valuable experience in environmental advocacy and politics. He’s working on website content, social media, surveys, and focus group questions alongside the organization’s communications manager. He’s learning about reader engagement, targeting particular audiences, and the power of clarity.

“Politics is local, yet the greatest environmental threat of our lifetime, climate change, is global,” DePasquale said. “I wanted to be part of this organization because I saw an opportunity to craft narratives around environmental issues that might appeal to people who may not always see the bigger picture.”

Ben DePasquale ’22 is working on environmentally focused social media campaigns as part of an internship with Milwaukee Riverkeeper.

Netzel said the response from partner organizations—some with alumni connections—and students has been “overwhelmingly positive” in the pilot year.

“The pace at which we were able to pull it all together indicates a need and desire in the community for social and environmental justice work, and Lawrentians are interested and ready to rise in serving that need,” she said.

Sarah Gettel ’14, one of the leaders of Bay Bridge, said the fit has been ideal, with two Lawrence students, Kadambari and Sierra Johnson ’22, doing important advocacy work.

“Right from the start, Adya and Sierra jumped into the storm of moving projects and pieces,” Gettel said. “They asked excellent questions, raised ideas, and brought their creativity and intentionality to every project. Their support has been an incredible help to us at Bay Bridge and has helped us to build our supportive infrastructure to invite more people in our community into this work, from designing a volunteer orientation, to creating eye-catching event posters, to extending our social media reach, to facilitating a book discussion, to helping us work on a communications strategy to help connect systemic justice and equity to people’s values and lived experiences.”

Curry said a gift from a second donor that followed the initial gift has put Lawrence in position to fund the program for at least the next five years, providing time to secure financial support that will hopefully feed an endowment that’ll make the program ongoing.

“The donors want to ensure that Lawrence students can share what they are learning for the betterment of society, while at the same time growing and learning themselves through the process,” Curry said. “That was part of their motivation for a cohort model and faculty involvement.”

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu

Changes aim to improve student access to Experiential Learning Funds

Thinking about summer plans? Then you should be thinking about applying for Experiential Learning Funds. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

A record number of Lawrence University students received funding over the past year through the school’s Experiential Learning Funds (ELF) program, designed to support students pursuing summer internships, self-directed research, and volunteer work.

Ninety student projects were financially supported, more than double the usual amount, an increase due in part to changing needs caused by the coronavirus pandemic, said Emily Bowles, Experiential Learning Funds coordinator.

Now the deadline for 2021 applicants is straight ahead—it’s set for March 5 but flexibility is being built in because of ongoing pandemic uncertainties—and administrators are expecting another robust year.

The Career Center has streamlined the application process in an effort to make it easier for students with qualifying projects to access the funding. Students are being asked to submit a common application, leaving the ELF committee to match it with the most appropriate of the more than two dozen donor-supported funds that make up ELF. That removes the need for students to seek out specific funds, and it provides flexibility to match a request with a fund that has like-minded intentions.

“We’re hoping we can dismantle some barriers students may have faced in the past, increase awareness of funding opportunities, and ensure we help donors—many of whom are our alumni—match their dollars to projects that align with their values,” Bowles said.

The ELF committee is expected to issue decisions on each request by the end of March.

Student uses Experiential Learning Funds for computer science simulation. See more here.

Career Center here to help as pandemic affects job searches. See more here.

The funds cover expenses for students doing internships, job shadowing, research, or volunteer work. Some of the funds are broad in nature, giving the committee flexibility in how to disperse the monies. Other funds are specific to a particular field of study. The payments might help defray a student’s transportation costs, purchase needed resources, or cover living expenses.

The maximum outlay is $5,000, although the average is usually between $1,000 to $2,000.

The record 90 projects last year were supported to the tune of more than $160,000. The increase in the number of approved requests, Bowles said, was driven by the pandemic, which took many internship and research projects virtual, removing or lowering travel and housing expenses.

A new fund in the ELF program, the Equal Opportunity Fund for Career Exploration and Development, was launched to support Black, Latino, and/or first-generation students in new ways. And new attention was paid to using ELF funds to get students experience in social justice initiatives or with nonprofits that offer only unpaid internships, Bowles said.

“We were able to support more projects specifically designed by BIPOC and/or first-generation students thanks to the Equal Opportunity Fund,” she said. “In the midst of COVID, this fund source let us meet students where they were and alleviate some financial pressures so they could pursue projects based on their passions and personal or professional goals, even with so many factors conspiring to make pursuing internships or unpaid opportunities untenable for many people.”

A wide breadth of work

Among the 90 projects funded in the past year: a virtual internship at a psychology clinic working on social skills with middle school students; immersion in a public health research study; a data science internship; research into creating biographies for a catalog of Latin-American cello works; exploration of the barriers the arts present to artists of color; research into food insecurity issues across multiple continents; work in the offices of local elected officials; and many more.

Natalie LaMonto ’22

Natalie LaMonto ’22, an anthropology major from Frankfort, Illinois, was among the students who tapped into ELF funds after the pandemic shifted summer plans. She had planned on traveling to New Zealand, but that was no longer doable. The Sara A. Quandt and Thomas A. Arcury Endowment for Experiential Learning and Research in Public Health, one of the available ELF funds, gave her a viable plan B.

“This was not the summer I was imagining back in March, but I am glad that it turned out this way,” LaMonto said in a Career Center report on ELF impact.

She took on a virtual internship researching public health issues in vulnerable communities in North Carolina. She worked closely with Lawrence alumna Sara Quandt ’73, a professor of epidemiology and prevention at Wake Forest University who does extensive research in public health.

“This past year, after taking Nutritional Anthropology, I had realized that I wanted to pursue a career in public health, but I did not know exactly what that meant,” LaMonto said. “When I was chosen for this internship, I knew that I wanted to research vulnerable communities, like the Latinx migrant farmworker community in North Carolina, but I did not know exactly what that meant either. Through this internship, I have grasped what it means, what it is like, to be a researcher in public health.”

Gabriel Chambers ’22

Gabriel Chambers ’22, a government major from Queens, New York, took on a self-directed research project on food insecurity, funded in part by the Equal Opportunity Fund.

“We see that some populations have lack of access to safe and nutritious food whereas some don’t,” Chambers said in the ELF report. “In the current pandemic, this threat leaves at-risk individuals vulnerable to malnutrition while simultaneously trying to protect themselves from a virus. This project identifies what is food insecurity, why is this an issue, who is affected by this crisis, where in the world are these conditions prevalent, and my personal insight on my story with food insecurity.”

Besides helping to center his career ambitions, Chambers said the summer experience helped him develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and networking skills. 

“In a time of need, the Equal Opportunity Fund provided me with resources to build a foundation to a path I want to follow upon leaving Lawrence,” he said. 

Funds to fill in the gaps

Bowles said those types of student experiences are at the heart of the Experiential Learning Funds program. It’s what motivates donors to participate and what drives students to seek out such opportunities.

“Experiential learning projects over the summer can help students harness their theoretical knowledge to practical, hands-on experiences,” Bowles said. “I know when I was in grad school, I struggled with a sense of disconnect—I was talking about feminist and queer theory without having opportunities for advocacy or activism—and I think for Lawrentians, these funds can help fill in that space.”

For students eyeing law school or medical school or seeking additional business training, the funds can provide opportunities to build important connections. The funds, for example, can assist students in accessing online Harvard Business School courses in partnership with Lawrence.  

“Some of these projects have direct connections to classroom learning, and others let them try out things as interns with alumni or on the job so they can start to think about what possibilities their degrees hold for them,” Bowles said. “With the funds, it’s also possible for students to try out things that Lawrence doesn’t offer without having to do that during an academic year, when the work might conflict with their ability to show up fully for their courses.” 

Bowles said students looking to apply for ELF funds should consult with their advisors, be creative in what they envision, and be realistic in their budget projections.

“One of my favorite things about working with Lawrentians is seeing the myriad ways in which imagination, passion, ambition, and critical thinking become the foundation for such different experiences in the short and long term,” Bowles said. 

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu

Internship put Lawrence physics student on research team that earned Nobel Prize

An image created by Professor Andrea Ghez and her research team from data sets obtained with W.M. Keck Telescopes shows stars that are in very close, very fast orbits around the Milky Way’s central black hole. It’s research that Amelia Mangian ’18 participated in during a 2017 internship. (Courtesy of UCLA Galactic Center Group – W.M. Keck Observatory Laser Team)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Lawrence University’s Physics Department is again celebrating close connections with the winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics.

Amelia Mangian ’18, then a fourth-year physics student at Lawrence, spent an internship in the summer of 2017 working with a team of scientists at UCLA led by astronomer Andrea Ghez, who earlier this month won the Nobel for her years-long study of supermassive black holes in the universe.

“She is the model of the perfect scientist,” Mangian said of Ghez. “She persevered, she worked hard, and she proved a lot of people wrong on the way to becoming a world-class researcher and educator. I think the other thing that is remarkable about Andrea is how easily she can communicate her work to people of all ages and how much she cares about spreading her love of science.”

Ghez is one of three recipients of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics, joining Roger Penrose, a mathematician at Oxford University in England, and Reinhard Genzel, a professor at the University of California Berkeley and director at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Germany. All were honored for their work advancing the study of black holes.

Amelia Mangian ’18

“Working with this team—Andrea, her collaborators, particularly Mark Morris and Tuan Do, as well as her research team, post-docs, and graduate students—has helped my career tremendously,” said Mangian, now pursuing a doctorate in astronomy at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. “It helped me find a passion for black holes, for astronomy, and for being a role model to other young astronomers who want to be researchers, too.”

A year ago, the Nobel went to two astronomers whose breakthroughs in the 1990s led to the discovery of thousands of exoplanets in the Milky Way galaxy, a research subject that Megan Pickett, associate professor of physics and chair of the Physics Department at Lawrence, has focused on for much of her career.

The 2019 Nobel announcement felt like a win for Pickett and her students. The 2020 announcement is much the same. Having a former student so closely connected to the research team is an opportunity to shine a light on undergraduate internships and research opportunities that are plentiful for Lawrence students in the sciences.

Not lost on Mangian or Pickett is that Ghez is only the fourth woman to win the Nobel in Physics, joining Marie Curie (1903), Maria Goeppert Mayer (1963), and Donna Strickland (2018). The Nobel adds to Ghez’s growing profile as she blazes trails as a role model for women scientists.

“One of my particular interests, long before coming to Lawrence, has been the history of women in physics and astronomy—our stories, representation, and how we can tear down barriers to success and recognition,” Pickett said. “There are a number of ways we get at this problem, but primarily it comes down to creating a sense of belonging with the department, and the discipline.”

Lawrence is part of a Howard Hughes Medical Institute initiative that challenges U.S. colleges and universities to substantially and sustainably increase their capacity for inclusion of all students, especially those who belong to groups underrepresented in science. It was one of 33 schools selected in 2018 to receive a $1 million grant from HHMI through its Science Education Program to implement its Inclusive Excellence initiative. Another 24 schools were selected the year prior, part of HHMI’s push to reimagine science education to better engage students from all backgrounds.

“Our primary focus is inclusive excellence — how can we increase our successful engagement and the success of students who are under-represented in the sciences, whether first-generation college students, for example, or under-represented minorities?” Pickett said.

Megan Pickett

Seeing scientists such as Ghez be awarded a Nobel—also of note, two women won the Nobel in chemistry the following day—helps ring that bell, and having a Lawrentian so closely tied to the work adds fuel to the fire. But it also is a reminder that while great strides have been made, the work is far from finished when it comes to equity and opportunity.

“Having those role models, and being able to send our students off campus, potentially to work in a Nobel lab, is huge,” Pickett said. “Closer to home, though, we are today more diverse and more dedicated to that diversity as a department than we have ever been. In particular, the addition of professors (Tianlong) Zu and (Margaret) Koker help make our department begin to look more like our student body—and the importance of that cannot be overstated.”

Mangian, meanwhile, counts Pickett as a mentor who helped her believe in herself as a scientist. That relationship, she said, drives her to pay it forward as a mentor as she carves out her own career.

“She has guided me through rough times and helped me be the best version of myself during the good times,” she said of Pickett. “She’s the reason that I’m where I’m at today, academically and personally.”

At Illinois, Mangian is studying actively feeding supermassive black holes and their host galaxies, using data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) to infer properties of the black holes such as its luminosity and mass. She’s also building on mentoring lessons she took from Pickett and others at Lawrence.

“I’ve been very active in diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts through the organization I run called the Society for Equity in Astronomy,” Mangian said. “We are a group focused on improving the astronomy department at Illinois and those across the country. We run a mentorship program with about 40 individuals involved and have monthly discussions about culturally significant topics such as the Strike for Black Lives, #BlackInTheIvory, and the ongoing situation with the Thirty Meter Telescope being constructed on indigenous lands on Mauna Kea in Hawaii. I am also starting up a tutoring program aimed at helping students with disproportionate educational backgrounds coming into the astronomy program at Illinois.”

Mangian’s work in 2017 with Ghez’s group came after being selected for a National Science Foundation-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates program, a highly competitive process. Lawrence students in recent years have gone through that program to land research posts at the University of Indiana, University of Wisconsin, Harvard, University of Rochester, and the University of Twente in the Netherlands, among others. 

“These experiences are valuable regardless of whether you end up going to graduate school or not,” Mangian said. “Having the opportunity to work in a research environment early on in your life allows you to explore areas that interest you the most, helps you build skills to prepare you for a wide variety of jobs—collaboration, computer skills, communication—and helps build your professional network. This, along with my time working with Megan, convinced me that I wanted to be an astronomer, and an educator, too.”  

It also gave her the chance to get to know and learn from a future Nobel Prize winner, something she reflected on when she heard the Ghez announcement from the Nobel Committee for Physics, relayed to her by her mother.

“My excitement grew throughout the day as I came to terms with the fact that I not only worked for a Nobel laureate, but I’d been to her house, too, for wine and cheese. I couldn’t think of a more deserving person to win the award.”

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu

These 8 Lawrentians connected their passions with summer internships

Bronwyn Earthman ’21 is studying which types of soil environments contain the highest levels of mycorrhizal fungi, a fungus that has been shown to promote plant growth.

Story by Alex Freeman ’23

This summer isn’t really going the way most of us planned.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on all aspects of our lives, we’ve been forced to adapt to the ever-changing situation—and Lawrence’s Center for Career, Life, and Community Engagement (CLC) has never been busier. With a little help from the CLC, students have taken the opportunity to step outside of their comfort zones into unconventional internships and research projects that have successfully made dramatic adjustments in real time.

Explore how these eight Lawrentians have spent the summer preparing for their futures in this dynamic work environment.


Natalie LaMonto ’22

In the midst of a global crisis, scientists are working overtime to minimize the damage, and for students wanting to pursue a career in public health, their assistance has rarely been in higher demand. In an effort to do her part this summer and prepare for her future, Natalie LaMonto, an anthropology major from Frankfort, Illinois, joined a team of interns at the Wake Forest School of Medicine to conduct vital research on the effects of COVID-19.

This public health research team, led by Sara Quandt ’73, has been studying the same group of Latinx farmworkers for over 20 years, focusing on a variety of public health issues, including access to housing and pesticide exposure, to name a few. As soon as the pandemic arrived in the U.S., the team shifted research to meet the growing need for information on how COVID-19 is impacting migrant farmworkers. As an intern, LaMonto is doing extensive work virtually, analyzing data from interviews, contributing to journal articles about their findings, and even writing policy briefs to provide recommendations for legislation.

“I want to do research in public health, but I had no clue what that really entailed,” LaMonto said. “This internship has definitely given me an idea of what I would actually be doing in the future.”

FIND YOUR ID NYC: Hezekiah Ortiz ’21

Hezekiah Ortiz ’21

With internships going remote or getting canceled, it was hard for many students to find a company to work with this summer, but Hezekiah Ortiz would not be denied as he zeroes in on his interest in talent management. After all, this work is personal. He knows first-hand the struggle of artists to get their work out in the world, despite immense talent and “endless reservoirs of creativity.” With a career in talent management, Ortiz, a global studies major from Staten Island, New York, hopes to provide the structure for other artists to reach a broader audience.

Working this summer with Find Your ID NYC, a talent management company, has allowed Ortiz to further explore a field he has a growing interest in. His interest has developed during the past year or so, but this summer in quarantine gave him a chance to truly focus in. Through his experience helping others with their personal brands—often in the form of his weekly Instagram livestreams, in which he scouts out other artists and gives them the platform to showcase their brand and network with talent agencies—Ortiz has gained valuable skills and knowledge for his own brand.  

“I genuinely enjoy what I am doing,” Ortiz said. “It is like a perfect blend of learning how to brand myself and helping others in their artistic journey.” 


Theresa Gruber-Miller ’23

If you have to spend your summer at home during a pandemic, why not take the opportunity to offer your ever-expanding list of skills to a local organization close to your heart? As coursework and internships swiftly announced cancellations or online workloads, Theresa Gruber-Miller reached out to the community she’s belonged to since childhood — the Mount Vernon-Lisbon Community Theatre Company. Naturally, they put her right to work.

Taking her talents behind the scenes, Gruber-Miller, a Spanish and music education double major from Mount Vernon, Iowa, is experiencing the nitty-gritty that goes into making a theater run, as she organizes decades of props and costumes, conducts theater historiographies, and learns how to ask the right questions. As her biggest project of the summer, Gruber-Miller has been interviewing long-time community members about what the company has meant to them, from an old pro who’s worked with the theater for 40 years to a young theater major who she’s known since middle school. The perks of staying close to home.

“It’s really great to have art organizations that are open and willing to accept interns for summers to help out and gain experience,” Gruber-Miller said. “It’s helping me to grow in my professional development and learn about the nonprofit sector so that I can have the best chance at continuing my career path and seeing where it leads me.”


Vinzenz Mayer ’21

When Vinzenz Mayer’s summer research plans were abruptly canceled, he turned to beer. That is, he turned to McFleshman’s Brewery, an Appleton-based craft brewery co-owned by his advisor, Associate Professor of Chemistry Allison Fleshman. Taking a less theoretical approach to his chemistry research, Mayer, a biochemistry major from Germany, is spending the summer working as an assistant quality assurance manager at McFleshman’s.

Combining classic laboratory research with hands-on functional experience, Mayer oversees the entire brewing process in order to ensure that every customer has a beer of the best possible quality. From adding hops to make an IPA more fruity to continuous testing and analysis of the fermenting beer, Mayer is quickly becoming an expert in the whole scientific brewing process — both in his academics and on the ground.

“This is basically the complete opposite of working in a lab. It’s more practical, which gives me a completely different view on my research,” Mayer said. “What I’ve learned for the past weeks is that my research doesn’t really matter if the brewer can’t apply it in a brewery. It’s a different viewpoint so it’s useful in a different way.”


Ricardo Jimenez ’21

Ricardo Jimenez knew he wanted to spend his summer working in the music industry, so when Dean of the Conservatory Brian Pertl suggested an internship with the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, a performance and outreach group specializing in third stream jazz, Jimenez was quick to make contact with the nonprofit and line up an internship. Despite the shock of the pandemic, Jimenez’s role with the organization has only expanded.

As the philharmonic worked on the fly to set up a virtual summer camp, effective communication with the young musicians in Chicago became more complicated — and as the resident Gen Z in the room, Jimenez’s knowledge of platforms like TikTok and Fortnite made his feedback critical to many discussions. While Jimenez has become a useful asset to the team, the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic has been cognizant of ensuring Jimenez gets as much out of the internship as he puts in. Jimenez is developing critical skills for his future in the industry, including virtual marketing via his work with a viral challenge and video editing as he edits the submissions.

“It teaches the career skills that you need in order to engage in the field of music,” said Jimenez, a biology and music performance (trumpet) double major from Barrington, Illinois. “If I want to do something like this, or help someone else start something like this, or even just be involved in it in the future, I now have all those tools.”


Bronwyn Earthman ’21

Bronwyn Earthman is not the type to let anything get in the way of her academic experience. So, when her original summer research plans fell through, she took matters into her own hands — which, as it turned out, would soon be deep into the dirt.

Rather than working in a lab, the biology major from Newark, Delaware, is spending her summer designing and conducting her own research project from the comfort of her home. In her efforts to determine which types of soil environments contain the highest levels of mycorrhizal fungi, a fungus that has been shown to promote plant growth, Earthman is solely in control of every aspect of the research: constructing a plan, determining potential methods, renting out laboratory equipment, extracting data, and, of course, drawing conclusions.

“I’m a pretty hands-on person. I really like getting out into the natural world and doing things and learning about my surroundings, and so I think that’s kind of what motivated me,” Earthman said. “I was like, ‘well, this is gonna be hard, but I feel like it’s going to be worth it in the end.’”


Luther Abel ’22

When Luther Abel landed the position of editorial intern for the National Review Institute, the non-profit wing of conservative news magazine National Review, it was like a dream come true — literally. During his six years in the U.S. Navy, he read the magazine each month, and he said he couldn’t help but wonder, “What if I could someday have my name there?”

Turns out the dream wasn’t as far-fetched as he’d thought. Abel, an English major from Sheboygan, has spent his summer making a name for himself as a writer for National Review online, even having one of his articles highlighted as the best of the week in his editors’ podcast. In addition to his writing, Luther is moderating the comments section of the website, editing the work of other writers, and building connections on weekly Zoom coffee calls with the higher-ups. Plus, if you ever need a Warren G. Harding emoji made on the fly, he’s your guy.

“It opens a lot of doors that otherwise would be really hard to get into,” Abel said. “Once they know who you are, it’s so much easier to get a job, even if you’re not quite as good as a random person off the street. They’ve worked with you, and they trust you.”


Nolan Ehlers ’20

Who says physically distancing diminishes personal connection? For Nolan Ehlers, a music performance (percussion) major from Appleton, an internship with the New York Jazz Academy has brought him closer to students as he hones his teaching skills in daily one-on-one lessons.

Although the New York Jazz Academy is a community music school that caters to all ages and skill levels, each summer, the organization hosts week-long intensives for students who want to truly immerse themselves in jazz music. This is where Ehlers comes in, monitoring the Zoom classes and offering 30-minute private lessons on jazz harmony and theory to every student, every day.

“I didn’t think that this summer I’d be getting to use my music degree very much, but it’s awesome that I have this time to work on my teaching abilities and keep working on music,” Ehlers said. “I’m learning stuff too from watching these intensives.”

Sounds like a great opportunity, right? The good news is you might get to do it next summer. One Lawrentian fills this internship every year.

Alex Freeman ’23 is a student writer in the Communications office. Awa Badiane ’21 contributed to this story.

Students savor substantial, important internships amid the summer chaos

Shaun Brown ’21: Interning with Healing Minds NOLA

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Shaun Brown ’21, a fourth-year psychology and cultural anthropology double major from St. Louis, is midway through a summer internship that looks a lot different than what it might have in a pandemic-free world.

The internship with Healing Minds NOLA, a New Orleans nonprofit focused on mental health resources, was supposed to be based in the Crescent City. It shifted to a remote internship as COVID-19 became a global pandemic.

Brown, who hopes to eventually go to graduate school in pursuit of a Master in Public Health degree, took the changes in stride. His work as a mental health and justice intern is proving to be substantial, even if face-to-face work is off the table.

“I’m learning about the intersection of mental health and incarceration,” he said. “I get to attend themed webinars and Zoom meetings with various professionals like judges, researchers, mental health professionals, and community activists, all discussing various information that I knew nothing about. There are a lot of things going on and COVID-19 is not making them better, so I am taking projects off other people’s plates and assisting where I can.”

Brown is one of nearly 90 Lawrence University students who are in the midst of remote, project-based internships this summer facilitated by or funded through the school’s Center for Career, Life and Community Engagement (CLC).

We salute them and all Lawrence students doing internships on National Intern Day, celebrated this year on July 30.

Much of the work happening this summer is the result of rapid adjustments made in the spring as COVID-19 concerns shut down many internship and research opportunities.

“When the pandemic hit, we had to move fast to meet evolving student needs,” said Mandy Netzel, assistant director of employer and alumni relations in the CLC. “While some internship sites were adjusting to remote work, others were being canceled completely.”

The CLC and other offices on campus quickly adapted to the shut-downs, identifying remote internship possibilities, adjusting the process for students to apply, and widening the funding structure to include more students in lieu of monies no longer being needed to cover housing and transportation costs.

The Employer and Alumni Relations team, in tandem with the Center for Community Engagement and Social Change (CCE), also launched the Hire a Viking Campaign, soliciting new remote opportunities from alumni and community partners. Alumni and friends of the University rose to the challenge, and in just two weeks, Hire a Viking resulted in 31 new internship and full-time opportunities. 

“We were able to grant $162,650 in funds for 87 different projects,” Netzel said. “Throughout the project, donors were even compelled to give additional funding for internships. Overall, it was a great success.”

Stephany Pichola ’21: Interning with The Commons

Stephany Pichola ’21 of Highland Park, Illinois, a triple major in economics, global studies, and Spanish, landed one of those remote internships, working in project management for The Commons, a Milwaukee nonprofit initiative aimed at enhancing work and play opportunities in the region.

The work, Pichola said, connects with her innovation and entrepreneurship interests.

“In the process of each project, there is a lot of research and data analysis involved, as well as creating real-world solutions to certain issues found within the Milwaukee area,” she said.

Doing the work remotely brings significant hurdles. Navigating a Zoom call with 100 participants, for example, is daunting, Pichola said. But she said she’s using the internship to build skills and connections that will pay off as she prepares for life after Lawrence.

Meanwhile, Emilia Ciotti Hernández ’22 of New York, a government major with a focus on international relations, and Eli Ferrell ’22 of Mill Valley, California, a government major with plans to pursue law school, both landed remote internships with Safe Passage Project, a national nonprofit that provides free legal counsel to immigrant children facing deportation.

They’ve helped to screen families for representation, served as interpreters for attorneys who are working pro bono, translated birth certificates and other documents, helped young people apply for work permits, and assisted in the drafting of affidavits, all done remotely.

“I got to hear the stories of these young people and see all they went through in their lives, and often it was heartbreaking,” Hernández said. “When they would tell me these stories, it was hard because I would want to comfort them, but that’s not an easy task over Zoom.”

Ferrell called the work important preparation for law school and said it has helped focus his attention on immigration issues. If federal policies rolled out during the Trump Administration continue, “lawyers trained in immigration law will be more important than ever,” Ferrell said.

For each of the students, the shift to remote internships hasn’t been ideal. But to still be able to work with these organizations, to be able to do important work in a summer internship while in the throes of a global pandemic, has been a huge positive.

“I know that after Lawrence, I want to work as a community health worker,” Brown said. “I would primarily work in various underserved communities to educate, coach, and empower people, as well as connect individuals and families to community-based resources.”

Healing Minds NOLA, he said, is giving him a taste of that this summer.

“I’m getting a preview of some of the work that I’ll be doing very soon once I graduate from Lawrence,” Brown said.

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu

Lawrence Awarded $150,000 Grant to Expand Student Internship Opportunities

A $150,000 Career Ready Internship grant from Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation will support approximately 50 new, paid internships opportunities during the 2014-15 academic year for Lawrence juniors and seniors who qualify for need-based financial aid.

More Lawrence University students will graduate with a competitive edge thanks to a $150,000 Career Ready Internship grant the college has received from Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation for the 2014-2015 academic year.

The grant, part of Great Lakes’ Career Ready Internship program, will support an estimated 51 new, paid internships or the conversion of currently unpaid internships into paid ones for Lawrence juniors and seniors who qualify for need-based financial aid.

This is the second internship grant Lawrence has received from Great Lakes. It was awarded a $125,000 grant for a pilot program during the 2013-14 academic year.

The grant will provide opportunities for all students to work in their field of study while still in college, not just those who can afford to go without a salary. When students are unable to participate in an internship for financial reasons, they miss out on invaluable, real-world experience that can make them more competitive in the job market after graduation.

“The Career Services team is excited to help level the playing field by offering financial assistance to students who participate in unpaid internships,” said Patricia Plutz, Lawrence’s internship coordinator. “Nonprofit organizations benefit greatly from the enthusiasm provided by our students who are eager to make a difference. Lawrence is pleased to partner with employers to provide enriching experiential learning opportunities.”

Lawrence’s current internship program provides students numerous resources for understanding, exploring and securing internships with small nonprofits, local businesses, large corporations and government agencies.

“Internships 101” teaches students about internship search tools, resources and the support provided by Career Services. Think Globally Explore Locally site visits offer students on-site glimpses into the workplace while promoting the Fox Valley area as a microcosm of the national and global job market. Employer-led information and tabling sessions provide students with important data about different organizations, including currently or upcoming open positions.

Annual career trips to larger cities around the Midwest expose students to organizations within fields of study and help build relationships with employers, especially alumni employers. Shadowing and networking opportunities during academic breaks enable students to “jump start” an internship or test out an organization or career field before engaging in a full internship.

Lawrence is one of 40 colleges and universities across Wisconsin, Iowa, Ohio and Minnesota to receive some of the $5.2 million in Career Ready Internship grant funds awarded by Great Lakes.

“Our Career Ready Internship grants provide college students real-world experience in their fields of study and a better chance at competing for jobs after graduation,” said Richard D. George, Great Lakes’ president and chief executive officer. “This program has the added benefit of developing relationships of lasting value between colleges and employers. We look forward to seeing the impact Lawrence can have on helping more students graduate ready for success in the workforce.”

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2015 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

About Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation
Knowing that education has the power to change lives for the better, Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates helps millions of students pay for college and repay their student loans. Through Community Investments, Great Lakes leads initiatives and funds programs that help students from traditionally underserved backgrounds start and complete a two- or four-year degree or other credential.