Project ACCESS

This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Victoria Kalbacher, COL ’19

This past summer, I have had the privilege to work in CHOP’s research division under PI Dr. Ricardo Eiraldi. Dr. Eiraldi’s study, Project ACCESS, concerns itself with child and adolescent mental health, and how programming can be implemented in Philadelphia public schools to positively intervene in the lives of at risk youths. As a research assistant, I had a number of responsibilities in the office and in our partner schools. I speak with children and their families to get a holistic picture of a participating child’s life. I also organize and enter data relevant to the study, and conduct structured interviews which assess mental health. I enjoy my position immensely because I believe effective behavioral health services in trauma informed communities will serve as a protective factor against the potential development of mental illnesses later in life. Overall, working for Project ACCESS this summer was fantastic, and I am excited to continue on with the endeavor as it enters its fifth and final year.

CS Radio – Episode 49: “Writers Inc”

This week, Michael reports on his trip to the Austin Film Festival Writer’s Conference. If you have wondered what it takes to break into playwriting, screenwriting, writing for television or creative podcasting, Michael has great advice straight from the mouths of industry professionals. Learn how to network effectively and what professional organizations are there to support you. All that and more on this unique and insightful episode!


The AAMC’s Aspiring Docs Website: A Reliable Online Resource for PreMed Students

Mia Carpiniello, Associate Director

If you’re thinking of applying to medical school, you may find the Association of American Medical Colleges’ Aspiring Docs website helpful. With fact sheets, Ask a Med Student videos, and Ask the Experts Q&As, this website provides detailed information on becoming a physician from multiple perspectives. Moreover, the Aspiring Docs Diaries blog and the Inspiring Stories interviews reveal the personal journeys and perspectives of individual pre-med students, medical students, residents and physicians.

So, in addition to meeting with your pre-med advisor in our office, we encourage you to check out Aspiring Docs for reliable information as you explore pursuing a career in medicine.

Reflecting on a Summer Abroad

This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Brendan Taliaferro, COL ’19

I began to plan how I wanted to spend my summer after sophomore year with one thing in mind: to push myself further out of my comfort zone than I ever had before. I had spent the summer following my freshman year as a teacher for a non-profit in California, an incredibly challenging and rewarding experience that shaped me enormously as an individual. From that internship I learned that the best way to learn about the world and about myself is to immerse myself in completely foreign experiences. With this in mind, I set out to find opportunities that would allow me to face new challenges, meet new people, and discover new parts of myself and the world. My coursework in international relations and English first semester of sophomore year aroused in me a curiosity for international development work, and I set out to find a way to explore the field over the summer. I applied for over a dozen development-oriented organizations in New York and Washington D.C., but when I discovered the opportunities that the International Internship Program offered, I knew I had found exactly what I was looking for.

IIP offered a chance for me to fulfill both of my criteria for an ideal summer: to immerse myself in a completely different world than my own, and to explore the field of international development. After doing fairly extensive research on the opportunities IIP presented, I decided to apply to ILC Africa, a development consulting firm based in Accra, Ghana. The organization was founded by two Penn grads. I was accepted and made preparations to fly to Ghana, where the firm is located. I jumped headfirst into work: ILC was working on the biggest contract they had ever received, so they put me to work immediately. The company was performing data collection on a literacy initiative funded and implemented in Ghana two years ago by USAID. USAID hired a development evaluation organization called Social Impact to determine how effective their initiative has been, but because Social Impact is based in Washington D.C., they hired ILC to do the on-the-ground data collection, which meant visiting 500+ schools around the country testing children, interviewing teachers, and observing classrooms. I was largely responsible for communications and data checking, and it was fast-paced and extremely demanding, but I learned a lot about the details and specifics data collection and development work.

Despite the enormous amount of work it took to complete a data collection project, I also got free time to explore Ghana. I lived and worked in Accra, which is the capital of the country and a considerable metropolitan area, so I saw a lot of the city. The other interns and I ate at different restaurants every weekend, experimenting with both local and international cuisine. Turns out there is some great Indian food in Ghana! We saw the botanical gardens, explored some of the largest markets I have ever seen, hung out at the beach, went out clubbing, and visited the museums the city offered. We took a very bumpy tro-tro ride (Ghana’s public transportation) three hours to Cape Coast, a city that used to be a prominent slave trading post for the Portugese and the British. We visited the slave castle in the city, which is the largest in Ghana–the Obamas actually toured it in 2011. It was a fascinating and deeply saddening experience to see the spaces in which Africans were detained and abused before being shipped to the Americas, and the stories and statistics our guide shared with us were truly horrifying. We proceeded from there to Kakum National Park, which is an unbelievably gorgeous rain forest an hour from Cape Coast. We did a canopy walk that rests 150+ feet over the floor of the forest, and it was an incredible and breathtaking experience. We even got to see a thunderstorm in a rainforest! It was epic, especially because we were safely under cover and stayed dry.

This internship helped me change and grow in ways I thought not possible, and I am extremely grateful for that. Through IIP I was able to learn so much about myself and the world and simultaneously to unlearn a lot of the assumptions and biases I had about the world outside of the one I have always known. I gained some really valuable work and life experience, and I know that this opportunity has truly changed the path of my future.

A Summer in Global Health

This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Sophia Simon, COL ’19

As a hub for international organizations and governance, Geneva, Switzerland was the ideal setting for me to explore global health this summer. Surrounded by the stunning scenery of the Alps and Lake Geneva, I had the opportunity to intern at the International Center for Migration Health and Development (ICMHD), a non-profit which focuses on research, training, situation assessments, and policy recommendations. When I first arrived at ICMHD, I couldn’t help but be surprised by the family feel of the organization. Daily, the group cooked and ate lunch together, fostering an incredibly welcoming and open environment. My coworkers were all dedicated to tackling global health and migration issues head on, and their commitment has further fueled my interest in public health.

While we all worked as a close-knit team, our responsibilities ranged between a broad spectrum of topics which impact migrant health. Just before I started my internship, the Italian Ministry of Health had commissioned ICMHD to produce a set of reports for an upcoming G7 meeting on the relationship between climate change, health, and migration, ultimately aiming to spur policy change in G7 members. As the greatest upcoming threat to health, climate change and health are inherently related. Meanwhile, the environmental phenomena will also result in drastic population shifts within and between nations, with corresponding health consequences. Because the topic is so multifaceted, I have long been interested in the intersections between environment and health. I became a part of the team working on the climate reports, and was ultimately responsible for a 60-page report on climate change and health policy.

I first began my research by considering the most substantial impacts of environmental change on health, ranging from increased infectious disease risk to increased mortality from extreme weather. I was blown away by what I was reading, and found myself frequently doubting what the future of the human population would look like over the next century. While I was doing my initial research in June, the US announced plans to pull out of the Paris Agreement, which inspired me to delve deeper into policies related to climate change-induced health problems. I focused on international and national climate legislation, and evaluated common barriers facing climate legislation as well as climate adaptation measures with respect to health. I continued to develop the report with policy recommendations for governments to follow in response to a variety of climate change and health issues. Not only did I love what I was working on, but throughout the summer I was fortunate to participate in meetings on greater public health and migrant health issues, including the sexual health of migrants, diabetes and tuberculosis risk, and the health of children left behind.

Working at ICMHD was an incredible learning experience for me, increasing my exposure to a field in which I hope to have a career someday. As a Biology major, researching the policy aspects of health provided me with invaluable experience which I might not see within the classroom. I am beyond grateful to Career Services for making this opportunity a reality.