Summer, Shared 2021
August 30, 2021
By Stephanie Rizzo ’09
From transformative internships to industry-leading research, Tars share their top accomplishments from summer 2021.
Advocating for justice. Exploring a deserted island. Uncovering historical secrets. This past summer, Tars flocked to corners of the world near and far to take what they’re learning at Rollins and put it to the test through career-defining internships, graduate-level research projects, and international adventures. Along the way, they gained valuable experience as global citizens fueled by the broad-based, interdisciplinary study that makes Rollins unique and gives our students an edge in everything from business and education to health care and government.
As last spring turned to summer, we asked students to keep us in the loop on all their summertime experiences. From luxury fashion houses and national parks to Capitol Hill and Rollins’ own Bush Science Center, Rollins students brought their A games into all sorts of spaces. Here are a few of our favorite stories from summer 2021.
This summer, Rollins’ Gateway Fellows funded internship program allowed psychology major Carley Matthews ’22 to intern with the onePULSE Foundation in Orlando, where she leaned into the passion for social justice that she has been developing at Rollins. Founded in the wake of the Pulse nightclub tragedy of 2016, the foundation seeks to provide hope, healing, and opportunity to members of the LGBTQ+ community. Matthews served on the public relations and social media team for the organization and created educational programming via the oneAcademy initiative, which provides resources and information to youth programs.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced countless students to pivot to virtual learning last year. But how did that shift affect students with different abilities, and how have issues of accessibility changed as the pandemic is changing? Those are exactly the questions music major Elizabeth Smith ’22 and communication studies professor Sarah Parsloe sought to answer during their research this summer through Rollins’ Student-Faculty Collaborative Scholarship Program. The duo interviewed dozens of students with disabilities to identify recurring patterns in the unique experiences of their subjects—including Smith’s own.
“I was able to approach this project as an autoethnographic researcher, which means including my own personal reflections in our research,” says Smith. “I learned more about myself and my own disability identity as the summer progressed, which contributes to returning to campus this fall as my authentic self. Now, I consider myself a disability advocate. Through this research, I feel as though our voices have become un-silenced. Now the next step is for others to listen to them."
During her summer internship at government relations firm Pyle & Associates in Washington, D.C., economics major Caroline Husebo ’23 relied heavily on the skills she’s gained thus far at Rollins, including her dual minors in writing and computer science. The most exciting part of the job? She was able to attend hearings on Capitol Hill on behalf of her office. “Some of these hearings featured Dr. Anthony Fauci and other public figures. Witnessing a firsthand account of important Hill events was spectacular,” says Husebo. She credits the Editing Essentials course she took in spring 2021 through the Rollins English department as being particularly helpful in preparation for the amount of formal writing that she did on the job.
Alexandra Arnold ’22 spent her summer working with fellow activists worldwide via her internship with TurnUp Activism, an organization that runs a social network connecting thousands of activists and organizers. Not only did she shadow the nonprofit’s social media team and contribute to research for the company’s educational resources, but she also gave a presentation to her international cohort on activist techniques for combating anti-science sentiment.
“This experience allowed me to see how politics, activism, and social media help shape subjects like environmental and social justice, as well as other forms of evidence-based action,” says Arnold. “As an environmental studies major and global health minor, I find it concerning how evidence is often ignored or denied outside the realm of research. This internship has provided me with experience connecting scientific understandings with activism.“
After being thwarted by the pandemic in 2020, psychology major Eiko McCurdy ’22 got a second chance to intern at renowned luxury fashion house Balenciaga in New York City. Highlights included getting to work with the brand’s client engagement and research marketing teams. “When you really think about it, fashion is all about psychology,” says McCurdy. “Whether it’s how colors speak to someone or how a store is laid out, retail is all about catering to human experience.”
Neither snow nor rain nor heat can keep the U.S. Postal Service from completing its rounds, and that goes double for the National Postal Museum in our nation’s capital. History major Erika Wesch ’23 completed a virtual internship with the museum, which is part of the Smithsonian, producing digital content for its website. Wesch previously worked on exhibitions at the Rollins Museum of Art and the LGBTQ History Museum of Central Florida through her coursework and internship experiences at Rollins. “It was so cool to be part of a massive institution and get Smithsonian-wide emails,“ says Wesch. “I had access to special events with other museums within the Smithsonian’s network, like the National Museum of Natural History.”
International business major Melanie Doughty ’23 was one of just three elite dressage riders to represent the U.S. in the 2021 Dressage Young Rider European Tour. Doughty and her 13-year-old Rhinelander mare, Fascinata, traveled to France and Germany for a month to compete against riders from all over the world, all while balancing a rigorous training schedule and academic duties. “During this immersive training and competition tour, I was also taking a Maymester course,” says Doughty. “My team was also the first-ever U.S. Young Rider team to medal at the Future Champions competition in Germany, so that was very exciting!”
Environmental studies major and Gateway Fellow Mia Brady ’22 worked to ward off invasive plants threatening to displace native species in California. Brady interned as a plant monitor for the National Parks Service in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, where she collected native seeds and cared for native species of plants while using her knowledge of biodiversity to combat species that are not indigenous to the area.
“Working for the biology department and the Rollins Sustainability Program helped me enter this opportunity as a well-rounded candidate,” says Brady. “I am so grateful for everything the Parks Service does to protect our land, and through this opportunity, my passion for the natural world has only grown stronger.”
Nic Mulitz ’20 ’22MBA—a student in the 3/2 Accelerated Management Program—landed a summer internship with NorthStar Investment Banking thanks to an introduction to the company’s founder, Crummer Graduate School of Business alumnus Julien Meyer ’16MBA. The two met when Mulitz was working with a sports tech startup and Meyer was just starting to bring people on to a new boutique investment bank catering to the tech industry. The rest is, well, business. Mulitz started the summer building relationships with private equity partners but quickly moved up the ladder to become a full-time analyst.
In 2020, English major Hannah Butcher ’22 teamed up with Kendall Clarke ’21 and English professor Matthew Forsythe to hone methods for collaboration in fiction. This year, Butcher and Forsythe continued their project through Rollins’ Student-Faculty Collaborative Scholarship Program by writing fiction as a team. The pair revised several older works and completed new ones, which they’ve submitted for publication. Butcher says the experience was perfect practice for her upcoming honors thesis defense and that it has shown her there’s more than one way to generate material.
“Although I love writing on my own, collaborative writing is close to my heart,” says Butcher. “Finishing stories from last year and writing new ones with Dr. Forsythe was an invaluable opportunity for me to contribute to a larger discussion about the power of stories.”
Crummer MBA candidate Kovi Katz ’22MBA spent the summer interning for MRLD (pronounced “emerald”), a locally owned CBD distributor in the heart of Mississippi. Katz was brought on to conduct market research and build relationships with investors, but shifting regulations in a brand-new industry meant he also took on additional duties, like building the company’s website from the ground up—an experience he was prepared for thanks to the skills in problem solving and adaptability that he has developed at Crummer. “I was glad to gain so much experience in a multibillion-dollar industry with extremely high growth potential,” says Katz.
As an intern at the Florida Native Plant Society, environmental studies major Tracey Comazzi ’22 spent the summer restoring native species to their natural habitats and learning as much as possible about rare and native plant conservation techniques. “Meeting so many like-minded people devoted to the preservation, conservation, and restoration of Florida’s natural habitats has expanded my professional network considerably,” says Comazzi. “I feel as though I’ve transitioned from a student studying to a student practicing environmental conservation.”
Gateway Fellow Daniel Elliott ’23 started off his internship with North Carolina Congresswoman Virginia Foxx on Capitol Hill. The public policy and political economy major spent the first few weeks of his summer working directly with Rep. Foxx’s constituents, attending congressional committee meetings, and researching policy proposals. For the final week, Elliott spent time with Foxx in her hometown of Blowing Rock, North Carolina, where he helped prepare the representative’s annual fundraiser.
“I learned a lot about event planning and fundraising in that week,” says Elliott. “On the day of the first event, Dr. Foxx insisted on ironing my suit jacket and joked that I could come back home and tell people that a member of Congress ironed my clothes. She is honestly one of the best people to work for in Congress, and working for her has given me a lot of insight into how useful my liberal arts classes are in thinking about public policies.”
Rollins’ Gateway Fellowship allowed environmental studies and sustainable urbanism major Miguel Santiago ’22 to spend his summer teaching kids about the unique ecology of the Indian River Lagoon. Through his internship with the Marine Discovery Center in New Smyrna Beach, just an hour’s drive from campus, Santiago got to combine his love of service and education with his passion for conservationism thanks in no small part to his supervisor, environmental studies grad Tess Sailor-Tynes ’17. The experience led Santiago to receive a job offer at the end of the summer as a part-time kayak guide for the center.
Since 2019, anthropology majors Zoe Milburn ’22 and Ellie Minette ’22 have been involved in an ambitious project to reconstruct the cultural and archeological history of Shell Island, a pre-Colombian archeological site on the Wekiva River. The duo partnered with anthropology professor Zack Gilmore through the Student-Faculty Collaborative Scholarship Program to spend the summer excavating the island and cataloging their findings—some of which are more than 6,000 years old.
“I began working with the Shell Island collection my sophomore year, which means this project has spanned most of my time here at Rollins,” says Milburn. “It has influenced which classes I wanted to take and has helped me understand which aspects of the field of archaeology that I enjoy working with the most. I am so grateful that I have been able to work firsthand with these collections to gain hands-on experience within my desired field.”
When political science major Addie Perez ’22 wanted to better understand public perceptions surrounding the Capitol riots on January 6, he turned to political science professor Pavielle Haines. The two surveyed thousands of Americans and used quantitative methods to collate their findings through the Student-Faculty Collaborative Scholarship Program. The pair are set to present their research at the prestigious American Political Science Association.
Computer science and philosophy double major and 3/2 Accelerated Management Program candidate Angelina Khourisader ’23 ’24MBA worked with philosophy professor Eric Smaw through the Student-Faculty Collaborative Scholarship Program to research the ethical considerations and dilemmas posed by using artificial intelligence algorithms in diagnostic health care.
“This work allowed me to make an interdisciplinary connection between my two majors,” says Khourisader. “Computer science and philosophy rarely overlap, but this project combines them in a way that makes perfect sense.”
Psychology major Monica Saad ’22 plans to attend law school after graduation, and she’s already getting a head-start on understanding the legal process thanks to a summer spent conducting research with psychology professor Juan Diego Guevara Pinto. The pair examined how jurors perceive eyewitness testimony based on group bias and confidence inflation. The latter describes a false sense of confidence that can occur in eyewitnesses over time, often leading to wrongful convictions or unfair sentencing.
“By understanding how the human mind functions, we are given the opportunity to establish the fairest and most equitable justice system possible,” says Saad.
This summer, Master of Liberal Studies graduate Sonia Pasqual ’21MLS became the first Black playwright to premiere an original work at the Annie Russell Theatre. Pasqual’s groundbreaking enthodrama Conscious Voices explored concepts of social justice, race, identity, and more in an experimental format. The play was presented with support from theatre professor Marianne DiQuattro and theatre arts majors Nicole Ponce ’22, Allison Stewart ’22, and Margaret Stewart ’22, each of whom took on multiple production roles to see the piece come alive.
Biology major Brandon Garcia ’23 and biology professor Sabrice Guerrier spent weeks in the lab researching the role of reticulon—a protein found in organelle membranes—in the fusion of cells. The research they conducted through the Student-Faculty Collaborative Scholarship Program showed a connection between reticulon and the formation of cell pairs, as evidenced by its presence at the site where two cells fuse together. The project involved advanced lab work—such as cloning DNA fragments containing the code for reticulon and then creating cells that were deficient in the protein.
“I was able to think critically about the importance of the research that we were doing,” says Garcia. “In turn, this project promoted independent thinking and confidence building.”
Hiroki Sato ’22 interned for the fisheries branch of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA). The music and computer science double major served as a software engineer, creating data visualization and agent-based modeling tools that allowed the organization to better manage fisheries across the country.
“As an international student, I’m very grateful for this opportunity,” says Sato. “Working on interdisciplinary projects at NOAA in an environment similar to Rollins shaped my experience.”
Biochemistry/molecular biology and anthropology double major Isabel Adamus ’22 landed an internship with the Florida Department of Health’s Seminole County office as part of the Rollins Gateway Fellowship. Adamus spent five months working as an epidemiology intern, helping county and state officials combat COVID-19 at the community level.
Chemistry and Spanish double major EJ Broker ’22 continued research that he started two years ago with chemistry professor Brian Mosby on the applications of a multilayered compound called alpha-zirconium phosphate (ZrP). Their research was published in two peer-reviewed journals with contributions from chemistry grad Eddy Cruz ’21. This summer, Broker and Mosby teamed up once again via the Student-Faculty Collaborative Scholarship Program, expanding on their work to test the limits of ZrP by introducing carbon chain ligands of various lengths into the interlayer.
“Ultimately, my years of research under Dr. Mosby’s guidance and mentorship have provided me with the relevant and much-needed experience a chemist requires in the lab,” says Broker. “And there is no teacher quite like experience.”
At the end of the spring semester, biology major Tiara Ashurst ’23 and psychology and theatre arts double major Ghina Fawaz ’22 set out to produce a play addressing BIPOC trauma. Working through the Student-Faculty Collaborative Scholarship Program under theatre professor Hilary Cooperman, Ashurst and Fawaz produced Moonwake, an interactive, choose-your-own-adventure performance that allows the audience to experience the consequences of their choices in real time.
“The piece is set during a parasitic outbreak,” says Ashurst. “I was able to use my knowledge of microbiology to inform the plot.”
“In the process of making our idea a reality, we stumbled upon a word that felt too perfect to let go: ‘moonwake,’ the reflection of moonlight on a body of water,” adds Fawaz. “This word resonated not only with the story we were trying to tell but with the impact we were trying to make within the Rollins and Winter Park communities. Change cannot occur without reflection, especially in the pursuit of anti-racism. Our show calls upon the audience to step into the community by embracing empathy and self-reflection.”
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