Wrapping up my internship

I’m barely a week past the final day of my internship, and if I were to say that it’s been any less of a whirlwind out of it than it was during, I’d be lying. Filling my time hasn’t been difficult, with a nonstop rotating door of research and moving and veterinary school applications to fill my time. I got to spend some time with my family, some time outside, and only a little time relaxing – but in true Capricorn fashion, that’s the way I like it.

Have you ever had the opportunity to directly learn the techniques and methods under people who have complete mastery for a subject that you never really knew you would be engaging in? That’s exactly what this summer was, down to every feather and talon. I got to assist with assessments, physical therapy, and treatments all day long, and I loved every second of it. Was it sometimes like working at the emergency room? That one day that we got in eleven birds comes to mind, so yes. Was it always, always worth it? Definitely.

The main reason that I wanted to take this internship was to gain more experience in wildlife and rehabilitation work, specifically in a medical context. I’ve done over 200 hours in a small animal veterinary clinic, and my time working with wildlife over the past six years always serves to confirm that it’s where my heart seems to lie. With the amount of medical knowledge that I’ve gained, not to mention the much clearer career path, I know that I’ve accomplished this.

If you’re interested in working, interning or volunteering with wildlife, in a clinic or in an educational setting, my advice is this: ask questions. Ask so many questions that you can’t think of any more, and think brainstorm some more. Never stop being curious. Be insatiable, be relentless, but above all, try to answer them yourself. If you can get to a point at which you’re asking questions and answering them in your own head, you’ve begun to learn and internalize and most importantly, you’ve begun to be able to apply what you know to a problem.

Be single-minded in your pursuit of knowledge and self-betterment, especially when it’s on the course of creating something better that’s beyond yourself. Go on relentlessly, finding your answers and find a sticking point that you can grow on. This summer has taught me that while what we may choose to do may not call to us, and what may call to us may not be what we choose to do, but if there is anything one must prioritize when working anywhere, it is drive to improve, not just oneself, but everything surrounding.

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2 Weeks After Internship

This internship was a fantastic experience and really enabled me to grow towards better understanding and achieving both my personal and professional goals. I had the opportunity to talk to a lot of professionals in my dream industry and ask them questions about their careers and they gave wonderful advice for young people starting out in the entertainment world. I read a lot of scripts and more fully understood what a good story entails after discussing them with my boss and intern peers. I felt very grateful to have the unique opportunity to talk to clever storytellers working in development about the scripts and how to better spot a good writer. I also improved my own writing skills as well by doing coverage for the scripts. Also, I improved my professional skills and my understanding of office culture by answering phones, completing projects and other tasks quickly, and talking to my peers in the industry.

Moving forward, from the connections I have made I will be able to find more internship opportunities to further grow in my industry. I have also learned a great deal more about the entertainment business so that now I can better discover what truly interests me in it. I want to write my own stories and make my own short films. I think these will be my creative passion projects on the side of school that will help me grow as a storyteller.

I think the internship process is difficult at times but what helps the most is being kind, communicative, and persistent. When students are persistent but in a polite and thoughtful way, it shows the employers how greatly they value the company and how dedicated they are to working for it.

Furthermore, I think my ideas and concepts of gender and social justice in the work place have been reinforced – many companies currently in the entertainment industry are working hard to bring social justice issues to light. My company in particular has a goal of developing stories in both films and TV shows that have a deeper meaning to them and that touch on social justice issues. I hope to continue to work for companies that have that passion as a part of their overall mission.

Lastly, I learned a lot about leadership and communication in the workplace. I think leadership is really about communicating with coworkers and helping everyone together find the best ways to solve problems. Taking on this team-builder/project organizer role often gains the most respect and enables someone to become a great leader. Also, I have learned that clear communication about expectations on projects and goals is key to effectively solving problems and being an incredible worker. If everyone understands the expectations of the company, they can then take the right steps to solve the issues that arise.

 

Finishing Up My Internship!

The summer flew by so fast! I really loved my internship this summer and I am so grateful to have gotten a grant from Newcomb. I had the opportunity to work on several projects which allowed me to observe and learn from several different perspectives. I worked on layouts, practiced my Revit skills, did test fits, organized program, attended meetings, had an internship project, and so much more! Additionally, I realized how important it is to have a healthy work life balance. Because of my work life balance, I never felt overwhelmed with the amount of work I had but I also felt I learned and accomplished so much! I feel as though I truly accomplished all of my summer goals!

Because of my Newcomb Grant, I was able to live in New York City. I really enjoyed my experience and think it is somewhere I would like to like upon graduating. There is always something to do. I went to museums almost every weekend, saw music, went to art galleries, ate at amazing restaurants, and so much more. It can be really hard to meet people in a large city so I think it’s really important to get out and try new things. I went to a SoFar Music show. SoFar Music is a company that hosts music performances of about 3 amazing music groups in people’s living rooms. Everyone was super friendly and they really encouraged for people to get to know each other. I would really recommend this to people who are moving to new cities as a casual way to meet some friends! I also would recommend signing up for the Newcomb Mentor Program. My mentor has been so helpful in answering all my questions and concerns about the workforce and my area of study. I had the opportunity to meet her in person this summer as we were both in New York. She was so kind, funny, and smart. I would really recommend signing up for this program, if anything it’s just a great way to practice your networking skills!

Lastly, I want to thank Newcomb College Institute and Betsy Lopez for helping and supporting me this summer throughout my internship. I feel as though I got so much out of the summer in such a short period of time. I gained experience, leadership skills, and knowledge. I am so grateful!

Finishing My First Summer of Reproductive Health Research

It’s hard to believe that the summer is coming to a close and that we’ll be back in the swing of things in a week or so! I am so grateful to the Newcomb Reproductive Rights and Reproductive Health Intern program for the opportunity to work alongside Dr. Alyssa Lederer at the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine (SPHTM). Through this program, I have learned so much about how public health research is conducted and have developed many professional skills along the way.

My main project for the summer was to begin the qualitative analysis of a program implemented by Dr. Patricia Kissinger’s research team entitled Check It. The Check It program provides African American males aged 15-24 free STI (chlamydia and gonorrhea) testing and treatment throughout New Orleans. Researchers recruit young men from university campuses and barber shops and screen them for STIs right at the location of recruitment. After I completed one of my first tasks with Dr. Lederer, a literature review, I began to truly understand the broad impact this program could have on both the New Orleans community and the broader public health community, as it is one of the only STI testing and treatment programs that focuses specifically on recruiting men that have sex with women. At our bi-weekly intern meetings, we made sure to discuss the intersectionality of reproductive rights and reproductive health initiatives, so I truly enjoyed working on a project that impacts the health of a whole community yet focuses on men, who do not typically receive the research and resource attention that women do regarding STIs. In addition to the literature review, I began the process of transcribing interviews of the Check It team and men that participated in the program. Though this is sometimes a tedious task, it introduced me to the world of qualitative analysis, as Dr. Lederer and I will eventually analyze each transcription line-by-line to provide a research-based analysis of the program’s effectiveness in order to improve it to the best it can be, with the goal of broadly understanding the barriers that these men face when pursuing STI testing and treatment.

 

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Dr. Lederer gave me this sticker on my first day at this internship, and it serves as a reminder that public health research is not always glamorous, but it is always important.

In addition to the qualitative analysis research skills I have learned through my work with the Check It project, my summer with NCI and SPHTM has led to the development of many other professional skills that I will take with me through any career pursuit. I have learned the ins and outs of grant-funded research, and the hectic timelines that it sometimes produces. Since my internship was primarily remote, I have improved upon my time management skills (and my emailing skills!). One of my favorite elements of the internship was our Journal Club, where the interns that focused on reproductive rights and health research and their respective supervisors met monthly to discuss a journal article focusing on some issue within the field. In discussing research with prolific researchers like Dr. Lederer, Dr. Johnson, and Dr. Daniel, my understanding of academic writing improved, as did my public speaking and discussion skills when it was my turn to pick the piece!

This internship has allotted me the opportunity to network with incredible people with which I share the same passions. It has given me the opportunity to write in a way I haven’t written before, such as my Spotlight piece in August’s ReproNews newsletter. It has introduced me to passionate, intelligent women at Tulane whom I hope to continue getting to know. I am so grateful for the opportunity and look forward to continuing my work in the fall.

Closing out the summer with YWWAV

It’s hard to believe the summer is almost over and we’re prepping to dive back into the fray of the school year again. This is a bittersweet moment for me as it marks the beginning of my last semester as an NCI RRRH intern. I’m so lucky to have been able to see this program evolve from its conception my sophomore year into its current form. Things have only gotten better! I’m extremely grateful for the opportunities this internship has afforded me and the relationships I’ve been able to make as a result of it. I can confidently say that I am in the position I stand today in no small part because I was given the chance to be a part of this program and grow into a very different version of myself than what I anticipated.

I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting lately on my personal and professional growth, and this reflection has informed my approach to the work I’ve taken on this summer. Part of this work has been revamping the mentorship component of YWWAV and digging deeper into why mentorship is so important for young Black women like myself as well as why it’s essential in the fight for reproductive justice. It is an unfortunate fact that many of the program participants, like lots of their peers, lack an abundance of positive relationships with other Black girls and women–whether these people are their friends, siblings, elders, mothers, teachers, counselors, etc. The relationships they do have may at best be shallow and fleeting or at worst lack consistency and compassion, be fraught with violence and/or manipulation, or be colored by selfishness or unresolved baggage. To break the harmful intergenerational cycles that bind many of us, we must redefine our relationships with one another so that they are based upon principles of loving sisterhood, so that they are true partnerships (regardless of age differences), so that they enable us to lift one another up. If we as Black women want the world to trust us, we must first learn to trust each other while simultaneously unlearning all the stereotypical falsehoods about Black women that we have come to believe ourselves. And to do that we must take time, plant roots together, treat each other and ourselves with care, turn outward towards one another, and work through our issues as communities. Black girls need to be reminded of all the possibilities and definitions of Black womanhood–especially the revolutionary ones that shatter the boxes our society too often attempts to trap marginalized women in. Black girls need to see Black women that come from the places they come from flourishing. They need to see that they matter. And Black women need to take on the responsibility of passing on their knowledge and loving Black girls into the people they need to be to serve as the future pillars of our community. This is the purpose of mentorship, and really the program as a whole, which is itself the brainchild of a young Black woman.

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(Shante Fletcher, YWWAV alumna, educates workshop participants on CSE)

As YWWAV nears its second birthday, I have already seen so much growth in the program participants as they move through the stages of their teenage years, then early 20s. It’s been amazing to see the girls gain confidence in themselves and take on new leadership roles as they graduate out of the cohort. My favorite accomplishment this summer was helping our very first program alumna put on her own first workshop for the younger program participants. Talking about the sorry state of comprehensive sex ed in Louisiana, and specifically New Orleans, she helped the workshop members make connections between their own sex ed experiences and the greater issues of reproductive health and reproductive rights affecting them and their peers. These connections are crucial if they are to understand how cycles of reproductive injustice are perpetuated, and how broader social forces have very real effects on their own lives. This was actually one of the most successful workshops we’d had in a while, and it was just the beginning–this one workshop has blossomed into an ongoing curriculum. I would like to see this model carry on into the future as other program participants age out of the everyday cohort. My hope is that this group will continue to teach and learn from each other for as long as possible. People will not age out but be continually reintegrated, called to take on new roles that reflect their unique interests and talents.

I am fortunate to be able to say that I love the work I do. It is meaningful work. It is satisfying work. It is challenging work. And I get paid for it. Which is extremely important, because I am not (yet) financially privileged enough to work for free. But I need these experiences to become who my community needs me to be. This is another thing we understand at YWWAV, where the girls have been working this summer at paid internships in their chosen spaces all over the city. Perhaps if I had had such opportunities when I was their age, the road to here would have been an bit shorter. Perhaps if more of us had such opportunities, our world would be a more equitable place. I’ll forever be grateful to the generous donors and dedicated staff and faculty of NCI who make it possible for me to do the work that needs to be done, and share with others what has been shared with me.

 

Reflecting on my internship at the State Department

Hey guys!

I can’t believe that I finished my internship. I was sad to leave, but I know that I’m going to treasure this experience for the rest of my career.

I was able to fulfill all of my learning objectives through my tasks and responsibilities:

  1. Improve my ability to write clearly and concisely. My tasks would often include taking several pages of documents or seeking out existing research, and then prioritizing the important topics to cover in a one page document.
  2. Enhance my communication skills. Sometimes I would present my research at meetings, which was honestly nerve-racking at first, but sharing the work that I had done definitely enhanced my communication skills as well as my confidence.
  3. Learn how to effectively network. Networking is HUGE in DCI took advantage of being in the area by setting up informational interviews with people both inside and outside the government. It was great practice for when I return and need to seek out a job!
  4. Pursue my personal interest in learning more about the Central and Eastern Europe region. DC is great because there are free events throughout the city that people regularly attend to learn about certain topics. I attended meetings and events throughout DC on topics such as the EU and NATO that enabled me to continue learning about the region that I am interested in.
  5. Gain a better understanding of U.S. goals abroad. As someone who worked on Internet Freedom and Business and Human Rights, I learned about the multilateral fora that the U.S. participates in to advance human rights, such as the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, the International Code of Conduct Association, and the Freedom Online Coalition.

After this experience, I am even more passionate advancing human rights, and I plan to continue doing so at Tulane and beyond. Engaging in such important work has also instilled a new level of confidence in me, and I have a better understanding of how to seek out job opportunities in DC after graduation.

Although I have learned so much upon the completion of my internship, I am still eager to learn more. During my internship, I saw more of a top-down, governmental policy approach to human rights, which was fantastic. Next, I would love to see the other side of this: a more in the field, civil society approach to advancing human rights.

For a student who is interested in interning at the State Department, my advice is to just apply online! The application opens in September and is due in October. Be prepared to manually enter a very descriptive resume and write a personal statement.

For a student who is interested in working in foreign policy and/or international human rights, I believe that it helps if you have language skills and extensive experience abroad. Neither of those things applied to me, so I built on my coursework and my previous internship experience in public service to demonstrate my interest.

My concept of gender in the workplace was challenged because I worked on a team of all women. The business and tech fields are often seen as predominantly male, so I was surprised and pleased by this. I also heard about the State Department’s effort to recruit more diverse employees. As someone who believes that diversity shapes a better workplace, this belief was reinforced.

I have learned that being a more effective problem solver is a team effort. It is crucial to reach out to different people who are experts on other topics and hear about their input. Diplomacy and foreign policy require this collaborative approach.

*NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency of the U.S. government.

 

 

 

Reflecting on a Summer in the City of Stars

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It’s been almost two weeks since I shared a work space with some of Berklee’s finest musicians, composers, and copyists. In being back home with just my “Summer Goals List,” an old piano, and a family full of non-musicians, I’ve gotten the opportunity to truly appreciate the experience that I had in Los Angeles.

Being able to twirl around in my little desk chair, throw out any composer’s name, and get a chorus of information in response from my co-workers was truly inspiring. Since that first day in the office, I’ve started a mini archive of my own, divided by film and classical composers. The archive contains their education, their path to success, their biggest works, and in some cases, sheet music from some of their pieces. In creating this, and augmenting my knowledge through what I learned in LA, I realized just what an immense amount of information I absorbed this summer. My awareness of composers has more than tripled, and I’m so appreciative.

It’s so interesting how once you start to build on your foundation in a field, your ability to add to that field multiplies. One of my goals in the beginning of this summer was to compose a piece for double bass, piano, percussion, and clarinet, and I’ve written dozens of versions of it (finally composing mentally instead of writing it all out), and each version is so different depending on what composer I was studying at the time. In these next two weeks, I hope to finish the piece, allowing the style to be a culmination of all of those that inspire me musically.

My biggest incentive for taking this internship was to grow as a composer, even if my job description did not include composition. Seeing how my style has changed just this summer, I feel that this desire was met more than I could have hoped. Now, I’m focusing on expanding my understanding of the differences between classical and film composition, and deepening my knowledge of the main composers, while also composing more, and working with short films to start actually creating for the screen.

For anyone interested in interning at JoAnn Kane Music Service, my one piece of advice is to make the most of the brilliance of your coworkers. The work may be tedious, and at times, boring, but your hands are moving alongside those of composers, conductors, orchestrators, instrumentalists, and quite frankly, geniuses. In fact, in the entirety of the music industry, whichever part of it you’re interested in, your most valuable resource are those that know more than you–and they always will. Humble yourself, listen well, and try to be genuine in every interaction; relationships in LA often serve as ladders, so keep that in mind while also absorbing something from every moment.

IMG_9943 At the end of my internship, I learned that my boss, Daniel Gold (to the left in the picture), used to be a film composer. Over lunch that day, he explained to me the ins and outs of the process, the conflicts in the path, and what he learned. My other coworker, Laurel, is an accomplished instrumentalist in LA, and she explained how the most important thing, no matter what you end up doing 9-5, is that you have an outlet for your passion.

While I realized that music preparation might not be the career for me, I got so much from this experience: figuring out what questions people will ask before they ask them, treating every individual as significant in this field, and listening, ALWAYS. Whether you end up hearing information on a train delay, or Barbara Streisand’s new album, you’ll always walk away better for it.

Regarding this field as an arena for gender equality, I finally understood my professor’s advice on the matter of being one of few female composers: “You just have to be good. Be undeniably good.” My coworker Laurel, though she usually was the only female in her office, responded to the situation with a “I didn’t even notice. I just do my work.” And she warranted respect. Of course, change needs to come in the industry. But this is one of those areas where we cannot right the inequality by just drawing attention to it, we have to put forth viable options for attention.

This summer strengthened my social justice agenda, while, interestingly, also diminishing my frustration with the situation in film composition. I suppose I’ve just resolved to fix the problem by being, well, undeniably great.

Title IX Conclusion

I’m incredibly energized to announce that my contributions should be live on the Title IX Tulane website…. soon. It’s a little disappointing to look over my summer and not be able to leave with a tangible product to show off to my friends and family, but I am optimistic because Meredith will be meeting with individuals with control over the website and will hopefully be able to put it up soon. This will include the “Resources and Information Clickthrough” I talked about in the first blog post, the “LGBTQ+ Resources page” after it goes through one more round of edits from Julia and Meredith, a “Common Terms and Definitions Page” and an “FAQ Page”. The FAQ page is going to be delayed, as I am still currently working on it at my own pace after my internship (which is getting delayed even further as I prepare for move in day and the beginning of school).

One very tangible project that all of the interns helped Meredith with was creating a video for new student orientation. This ~5 minute video explains how important sexual violence is to this campus and stresses the need for every student to care and speak up to help end sexual violence. It is short, to the point, shares some of the climate survey data but the most important aspect is the call to action. Since all of us interns are students themselves, we helped edit the script to make it relatable and serious without being too heavy for students that they check out completely. It’s in the editing process right now and I look forward to seeing the results next week at orientation!

Unlike many of my NCI peers, I have the privilege of remaining in close proximity with my supervisor and I have offered to help out on new projects that Meredith needs support with in the upcoming year. My first task is to finish the FAQ page, and in the next few weeks Meredith and Julia will have a script walking students through the conduct process. They plan to record a series of videos with “what to expect” and “how to report” and “what happens next” with everything conduct related. Students will act in these videos so it’s more relatable to individuals who may find these videos. I look forward to these projects and anything else I’m able to support in the upcoming year! This was a tremendous opportunity and I feel very accomplished at the end of this summer.

Final Blog Post – Reflecting on my Manos Abiertas Experience

My learning objectives for the summer were as follows:

  1. Gain a close understanding of alternative medicine practices.
  2. Become more familiar with the women’s reproductive health and obstetrics sector of healthcare.
  3. Develop a wider, more open-minded perspective of the healthcare field and the world.
  4. Become more confident in my interactions with patients and peers/mentors in the professional setting.
  5. Further develop my Spanish with a focus on strengthening my ease and confidence of communication.

Over the past months with Manos Abiertas, I have become well acquainted with alternative medicine practices (i.e. traditional herbal remedies, life-style changes, belly-binding, and more); I now know more about women’s reproductive and obstetric health than I do about any other healthcare field through first hand experience monitoring fetal and maternal development throughout pregnancy and assisting in births; I feel I have a much wider perspective on healthcare as well as a broader definition of what the word itself means as a result of having being exposed to such new aspects within this field; I have gained a new level of confidence in communicating in the professional setting after being faced with the challenge of communicating with patients and co-workers in a language other than my native one; and months of speaking primarily Spanish has given me a level of confidence with the language I never expected to have. 

Going forward with all I have learned and gained from this experience – I intend to apply and continue to expand on my skills relating to Spanish as well as the OB/GYN field. I will continue pursuing my Spanish minor at Tulane, and I will try to find connections to women’s reproductive health and fetal health in the biology classes I take in the future. With a more-long term vision, I will seriously consider a career working with Spanish-speaking communities or even in a Spanish-speaking country as well as a career in obstetrics/gynecology. I think the biggest take-away from this experience that I hope to carry with me in future endeavors is finding and maintaining the right intention in medicine. Especially in practicing more traditional/homeopathic medicine, I think there is a greater closeness with the original intention of medicine – to help people be well while respecting the body’s natural capabilities to do so. I have learned a lot about the benefits of minimizing intervention and invasiveness, and I hope to carry those values with me in my career.  

For other students interested in interning with Manos Abiertas, a similar organization, or any organization within the realm of healthcare – there are 2 pieces of advice I think are most helpful.

  1. Reach out! Send that first email stating your interest, apply, contact the organization, go meet them in person! Whatever it is – taking the first small step towards getting involved is the most important one. Every internship I have had, including this one, started from a place of little confidence/faith that it would actually come to fruition. Go for it anyway – you never know where one email might take you. 
  2. Use your previous experiences to help guide you while keeping an open mind. Seeing healthcare from such a new, specific, and drastically different perspective really tested my beliefs, values, and opinions about the healthcare field as I knew it. It’s ok to realize your perspective was narrow and even ignorant. There is great room for growth in those types of realizations. Be open to learning new things even if those new things seem so foreign. 

It is difficult to monitor the change in my ideals and concepts of gender and social justice in this setting; while the environments share some similarities, Guatemala and the United States are homes to significantly different attitudes surrounding gender and social justice in general and in the professional healthcare setting. There still exists a very prominent “machismo” presence in Guatemala – much more so than in the United States. While I think I am still organizing concepts of gender and social equality that are new to me, one ideal reinforced by my experience working in a completely female-owned and operated OB/GYN clinic is that gender is not a determining factor when it comes to aptitude or capability in the healthcare setting. Men can be amazing healthcare providers. Women can be equally amazing healthcare providers. We benefit from working together and uniting our collective perspectives and knowledge that maybe unique to our individual selves but that is not unique to our genders. 

Effecting positive change and coming up with productive solutions to problems is not simple. There is no quick fix or answer – these are processes that take time, thoughtful consideration, and often-monotonous TLC. I have learned this through my conversations with the women who founded and have since overseen operations at Manos Abiertas for the past 10 years and firsthand through the work still being done to maintain this project that has been and is still providing a solution for thousands of women in need of well-intentioned, honest, high-quality reproductive healthcare services who would otherwise not have access to such services. I have also learned that it takes teamwork and the humility required to accept help from others. Helping others is a central part of the spirit that is so inherent to positive social change; it only makes sense that it is a central part of the means of getting there as well. 

Phase 1 Complete

Hello again readers! Just a quick recap- I’ve been working with Dr. Lederer this summer composing a literature review of the public health community’s current knowledge about factors relating to STI knowledge. We are right on schedule as we have officially completed this first phase of the project! Looking forward, the next step is to draw conclusions from the published research to lead our research question and analysis.

Concurrently, I had the pleasure to form a relationship with the Public Health Research Librarian, Elaine Hicks, whom I met with twice. She helped cultivate my research skills especially in advanced-line searching and determining which research database is best for different topics of interest. I also became very well-versed in Refworks for citations. I’m really grateful for all of her help as I can use these skills in future research projects in my undergraduate studies and into medical school.

In addition, I participated in a newly created journal club with fellow women in research. At our first meeting, we explored a new perspective to contraception in which the article’s authors believed that the discussion should focus more on fertility awareness than pregnancy prevention. This challenged some of our views and led to a lively discussion. We also brought challenges in our own research to the group to search for other perspectives and ideas. I thoroughly enjoyed this meeting especially because it was a mix of faculty and students, but the environment felt like we were peers. I look forward to attending these meetings this Fall.

I’m eager to continue this research, learn more about research dissemination, and publish our paper this coming semester.