Fledgling Fellows

September 25, 2018

By Audrey St. Clair ’03

Laura Tao ’19
Photo by Scott Cook.

A new funded internship pilot program aimed at delivering the best in hands-on experience puts Rollins students on the front lines of tackling some of today’s most pressing issues.

Reporting for one of Morocco’s largest news organizations. Fighting for LGBT rights on Capitol Hill. Making lab discoveries at a premier medical research center. These are just a few of the opportunities made possible by the launch of the Gateway Fellows program, a highly selective funded internship program that enjoyed a highly successful trial phase this past summer.

Rollins trustee Carroll Hanley Goggin ’85 provided seed funding for the inaugural cohort of 11 Gateway Fellows this summer. Goggin’s gift will also fund a second cohort of enterprising students in summer 2019. Meanwhile, longtime Rollins donor David Lamm made the first gift to help establish an endowed fund, which when fully funded by additional donors would support the internship program moving forward.

To be considered for the program, students had to submit an application, resume, and a personal essay articulating both the value of the experience toward their career goals and the potential impact of the funding on their ability to engage with their internship, along with a detailed budget of expenses. Upon conclusion of the internship, each student completed a final reflection project that included key takeaways from the experience and their plans for moving forward in their career journey.

Most of the newly minted Gateway Fellows would have struggled financially without the support of the program, which would have diminished their ability to fully capitalize on the value these one-of-a-kind internship opportunities have to offer. Students like Kalli Joslin ’19 might not have discovered her passion for nonprofit advocacy, and Yaya Mbengue ’19 might still be unsure about a career in agro business. Thanks to this new funded internship program, neither of these are the case. This group of changemakers now stands at the ready, equipped with on-the-ground experience, to take on the world.

Laura Tao ’19Laura Tao ’19
Laura Tao ’19 spent the summer studying lipid metabolism at one of the country’s premier medical research facilities.Photo by Scott Cook.

The Scientist: Laura Tao ’19

Research Intern, Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute

Biochemistry/molecular biology major Laura Tao ’19 thrives off systems and order and analysis. She’s most at home when she’s in the lab, and her home for the summer was a lab at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute in Lake Nona. Tao worked alongside molecular biologist Dr. Timothy Osborne studying lipid metabolism, performing experiments, and taking care of human cells.

“During my internship, the terms I’ve learned in class weren’t just terms anymore,” says Tao. “Instead, they became samples and data that were actually done by me. Because of the support of the Gateway Fellows, I was able to throw myself into doing and learning without worrying about how to support myself financially for the summer.”

Photos by Scott Cook.

Tao says her biggest takeaway from her internship experience was learning how to perform Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS). In fact, she believes the future of molecular biology is all about NGS and the discoveries it’s making possible in the lab. Tao’s experience at Sanford Burnham has solidified her plans to study neurobiology in grad school and pursue a career as a research scientist, spending her days quietly in the lab, making discoveries amid the systems and order she has come to crave.

As an editorial intern at the Sun Sentinel, Ellie Rushing ’19 wrote dozens of stories this summer, including tales of invasive iguanas and Florida’s lone female python hunter.

The Reporter: Ellie Rushing ’19

Editorial Intern, Sun Sentinel

Ellie Rushing ’19 is a doer. She’s editor-in-chief of The Sandspur, co-lead coordinator of Rollins’ Sustainability Program, a writing consultant, a tutor, and the list goes on. Perhaps above all else, though, she’s a storyteller. In her internship with the Sun Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale, Rushing split her time between the features desk and the business desk, getting six bylines online within the first week.

“My internship with the Sun Sentinel has been nothing short of spectacular,” says Rushing, whose path to a career in journalism is now crystal clear. “I have written almost 30 stories now, with five making the front page, which is creating a really great portfolio of clips that I can use for future jobs and opportunities.”

Because of the Rollins Professional Fellowship program, Rushing—a double major in communications and environmental studies—was able to take her first-choice internship without the burden of figuring out how to cover food and housing costs for the summer. She calls her time at the Sun Sentinel a “true career-launching opportunity.” She got to feel the rush of the news desk and learn firsthand that she enjoys the fast-paced and often cutthroat nature of media. Stories about Florida’s only female python hunter and invasive iguanas and the people who eat them are just the beginning of what this doer will do.

A summer working at the National LBGT Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C. solidified Kalli Joslin ’19’s passion for advocacy and helped pave the way for her next step: law school in the nation’s capital.

Kalli Joslin ’19Kalli Joslin ’19
A summer working at the National LBGT Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C. solidified Kalli Joslin ’19’s passion for advocacy and helped pave the way for her next step: law school in the nation’s capital.

The Advocate: Kalli Joslin ’19

Intern, National LGBT Chamber of Commerce

Kalli Joslin ’19’s time at Rollins has made her a changemaker. This summer in Washington, D.C., the theatre arts and American studies double major helped promote diversity and inclusion as an intern at the National LBGT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC). She split her time between assisting the Affiliate Relations & Advocacy team in communicating with more than 50 state and local LGBT chambers of commerce and helping the National Legal Partnership team with legal research. It turns out nonprofit advocacy has won her bleeding heart.

“My time at the NGLCC has allowed me to develop even stronger research and communication skills and has broadened by knowledge of D.C. advocacy and policy networks, allowing me to connect with some of the most influential people in the city,” says Joslin, who plans to attend law school in the capital next fall.

The path to this internship started at the Center for Career & Life Planning, where Joslin was connected to alumna Sabrina Kent ’15, who now serves as the NGLCC’s chief of staff. Through the Gateway Fellowship, Joslin was able to afford to live in D.C. for the summer, which she says she wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise.

Joslin credits her many experiences at Rollins for preparing her for the kind of analytical work required of her internship—in particular, the critical-thinking and communication skills gleaned from her classes with history professor Claire Strom, script analysis with theatre professor Marianne DiQuattro, and research project through the Student-Faculty Collaborative Scholarship Program with theatre professor David Charles. At Rollins and through this internship, Joslin has emerged as a leader—unafraid and unapologetic—armed with the tools to fight for real change.

Ryan Colangelo ’19 honed both his business acumen and cultural awareness during his summer in Italy.

The Global Citizen: Ryan Colangelo ’19

Management/Marketing Intern, Il Centro di Lingua e Cultura Italiana per Stranieri

Fluent in German, international relations and economics double major Ryan Colangelo ’19 is the embodiment of global citizenship. Different languages and cultures and traditions have always fascinated him, so when an internship at an Italian language school in Milan arose, he was quick to snatch up the opportunity.

“Having completed an internship in another country is a huge career advantage not only for my resume, but for the knowledge and skills I’ve taken away from this experience,” says Colangelo. “Because of my experiences at Rollins, I felt prepared to jump in head-first. Several of my supervisors complemented my understanding of other cultures, customs, and legal and governmental procedures.”

At the core of the mission of Il Centro, a language school open to the public, is its affective humanistic approach, which places an emphasis on teacher-student relationships and student-student relationships more than the use of standardized textbooks or testing. This methodology resonated deeply with Colangelo, who has benefited greatly from the individualized attention and tailored track at Rollins.

During his internship, Colangelo’s two main goals were to revamp the school’s website and social media presence in both German and English and to establish partnerships between Il Centro and other American universities and Italian business schools. In the process, he also started learning Italian and discovered a passion for the field of international education.

The Writer: Mary Armstrong ’20

Editorial Intern, Orlando Style

Mary Armstrong ’20 never expected to come out of her internship as a published writer with op-eds and bylines, but that’s exactly what happened during her summer at Orlando Style magazine. The English major wrote articles on everything from food and fashion to travel and health, conducting interviews and assisting the editorial staff with production and graphic design.

“I didn’t want to pass up this incredible internship opportunity simply because it was unpaid, so I’m so thankful to the new Gateway Fellows Program for making this experience possible,” says Armstrong. “This internship really gave me the confidence in my writing abilities and further confirmed my career goals to serve as a travel editor for a well-respected publication.”

Armstrong initially discovered her love of writing at Rollins, where her professors have always given her thorough and constructive feedback while also encouraging her and highlighting her strengths. It was clear from day one at Orlando Style that the staff had a great deal of faith in Armstrong, who credits Rollins for developing her creative writing and editing skills in ways she could actually apply to the real-world stories she was creating.

An internship at a USAID-recognized organization in Senegal has helped Yaya Mbengue ’19 move one step closer to her career goal of working for the U.N. or UNICEF.

The Social Entrepreneur: Yaya Mbengue ’19

Marketing Intern, Kumba

Business management major Yaya Mbengue ’19 left for Senegal, Africa, as a wide-eyed college student and returned as a global citizen focused on economic and sustainable development. While interning for Kumba, an organization recognized by USAID that commercializes local African products such as millet, baobab, and moringa, Mbengue learned the importance of immersing oneself in different cultures, different ways of doing business, and different expectations.

“This internship taught me so much about culture, especially work culture,” says Mbengue. “This is a poor country where people are living on less than $4 a day. There are so many differences from Western culture, but just because they’re different doesn’t mean they’re wrong. I’m taking back so many great ideas from this experience, which has truly helped me see my full potential in the field of agro business.”

By the end of her internship, Mbengue had created Kumba’s first website, worked alongside female-empowerment organizations, and discovered that African studies isn’t taught correctly in most Western schools. Mbengue—whose goal is to work for the U.N. or UNICEF—is grateful to Rollins for all the real-life scenarios and discussions in class that prepared her to get the most out of what she calls “one of the best experiences of my life.”

Renee Sang explores Morocco as a reporter and photojournalist intern for the Morocco World News.Renee Sang explores Morocco as a reporter and photojournalist intern for the Morocco World News.
Renee Sang ’21 covered several stories in the Moroccan capital of Rabat as both a reporter and photographer for Morocco World News.

The Media Enthusiast: Renee Sang ’21

Staff Reporter and Photographer Intern, Morocco World News/SIT Study Abroad

One word defines Renee Sang ’21’s experience while interning in Rabat at Morocco World News: perspective. The double major in studio art and critical media and cultural studies got to experience life through a different lens, learning about Moroccan history, cultural norms, the education system, and social issues at the Center for Cross Cultural Learning and then reporting on them for Morocco World News as a journalist and photographer.

“This internship has taught me to use every challenge and experience in life as a chance to learn and grow,” says Sang. “Most importantly, I learned that it is very dangerous to generalize or compartmentalize a culture. Everyone is human and has their own unique lifestyle that helps them get by, but we have a lot to learn from each other.”

For a period of time, Sang didn’t think she was would be able to attend this program since she’d be unable to work her part-time job for seven weeks, but thanks to the Gateway Fellows, this dream opportunity became a reality without the burden of additional costs. She fully immersed herself in the sights, sounds, and smells of this unique North African country and garnered a great appreciation for the news organization’s dedication to objectivity, cultural awareness, and collaborative communication. Sang, who plans to apply for a Fulbright Scholarship, is aching to go abroad again to explore more opportunities in the intersection of media and art.

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