Students from North Central College put their classroom knowledge into practice this summer with internships at NASA, Scripps Research Institute and the Kansas City Royals—to name a few. As a result, these students will be returning to campus Sept. 11 with a new outlook on their professional aspirations.
Kimberly Dawid ’17, a biochemistry major, was one of only 32 undergraduates nationwide to participate in NASA’s Student Airborne Research Program in California.
“After this life-changing summer, I still plan on going to medical school but now I hope to become a surgeon for NASA,” said Dawid.
At NASA, Dawid used ocean remote sensing to research cyanobacterial harmful algae blooms (CyanoHABs) and their association with nonalcoholic liver disease. A highlight for Dawid was flying 28,000 feet in the air in NASA’s UC-12B King Air plane and operating the GeoTASO instrument.
Biochemistry and anthropology major Julia McCartney ’19 interned as a research assistant at Scripps Research Institute in Florida. Originally wanting to work in physical anthropology, McCartney has since become more science and lab focused.
“When I started doing my summer research, I realized I loved working in the lab independently on a problem that didn’t have a set answer,” said McCartney, whose work focused on synthesizing derivatives of a molecule and testing their effects on normal and cancerous cells in various assays.
McCartney’s mentor at Scripps, Dr. Tomas Kodadek, offered her the chance to design more than half the variations she made over the summer. For McCartney, one of the biggest takeaways from the internship was the different paths she could pursue after finishing her undergraduate degree.
“I’ve always been pretty set on going to graduate school,” said McCartney. “But I’ve learned about other avenues that aren’t strictly academic, like doing a post doc in industry.”
Students also found success with internships abroad. Sport management major Jorge Guzman ’18 worked with the Kansas City Royals’ minor league training camp in the Dominican Republic. Bilingual in English and Spanish, Guzman taught the Dominican players English both on and off the field.
“In the mornings on the field, I’d go over different baseball terms depending on position or practice,” said Guzman. “In the evenings I assisted in Rosetta Stone classes and sometimes worked with players one-on-one going through specific lessons depending on their knowledge.”
Guzman’s work didn’t end at the training camp, however; Guzman and the team gave back to the local community, too.
“One rewarding aspect was the weekly visit to a local orphanage called Casa Amor, where a couple ballplayers and I helped run a baseball clinic. I loved seeing their smiles and interactions. It definitely has been a life altering experience.”
For Guzman, the experience has also helped to defined his career aspirations. “Prior to arriving I really just thought about getting a job within sports,” said Guzman. “After seeing all the different avenues that are available in baseball, this is where I want to be.”
Other student interns stayed closer to home this summer. Sydney Stacy, a transfer student double majoring in exercise science and psychology, interned at the Hinsdale Wellness House, a nonprofit organization that aids individuals fighting cancer. Using her exercise science background, Stacy developed workout programs for participants.
“The programs I created included a warm-up, workout, and cool down,” said Stacy. “They varied in equipment and level of intensity, and as the programs changed each month they were all significantly different and challenging.”
Combining her physiological experience with her studies in psychology reinforced Stacy’s personal viewpoint.
“I chose the Hinsdale Wellness House because it helps me better define my philosophy as a practitioner and person in general: to treat the individual as a whole person beyond just the immediate impairment one can see.
Noah Meyer ’19, an exercise science major, worked at the University of Nebraska as a strength and conditioning coach for its athletic teams. “From speed training to weight training, the Cornhuskers showed me how to improve all areas of training and how to construct a successful program of athletic development,” said Meyer. “This was a wonderful experience that mirrored the goals I want to achieve in my career as a coach.”
North Central College students have opportunities to intern throughout the school year. The College’s Office of Career Development assists students in exploring internship opportunities that meet their needs. Click here to learn more.
By Mark Mullane
Pictured second from right, Kimberly Dawid ’17, a biochemistry major, was one of only 32 undergraduates nationwide to participate in NASA’s Student Airborne Research Program in California.