Vinny Ong ’22: LITS, Bryn Mawr College

Name: Vinny Ong
Class Year: 2022
Major: Undeclared (but anticipating Linguistics major, math minor)
Hometown: Edison, N.J.

Internship Organization: LITS: Building Digital Resources for the Revitalization of an Endangered Indigenous Language
Job Title: Linguistics Intern
Location: Canaday Library

What’s happening at your internship?

There are three main tasks we’ve been assigned as a team: developing a website that makes learning materials and resources for the language more accessible for a specific community, creating morphology slides that showcases how words are formed linguistically, and creating a resource for our client so that they will be able to analyze texts with ease and gain statistical data to supplement their research. I am currently working on the latter two projects, so what that currently means for me is that I am learning how to make the morphological taxonomy we have created functional by using D3 to develop the animations. In terms of the last task, I am currently learning R to create the program our client wants for research purposes.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I applied for this internship because linguistics is something that I am passionate about, and I thought it would be a good opportunity to explore different fields within it as I’d consider doing similar work post-grad. Additionally, this project allows me to become more aware of sociolinguistic issues, and to hands-on tackle linguistic discrimination, language endangerment, and provide some degree of social justice for the community we are working with (that has decided to remain confidential for various reasons) to the best of our abilities.

Can you talk about the skills you are learning and why they are important to you?

I’m learning a lot about coding and team building with other student interns, as well as with clients in a more professional setting. The programming aspect of the project has made me realize how important having computer science skills are because it can be involved in a bunch of other fields to some degree even if they might not seem that related at first glance. Team building and collaborating has been very important for me because I know that working on a team is something I would be doing for the rest of my life — whether that’s in work, schoolwork, or other extracurricular activities.

What has been the biggest challenge you have faced at your internship?

Ironically, what has been one of the most important skills I have been learning is simultaneously the biggest challenge I am currently still trying to overcome. I have had very minimal coding experiences in high school, so going into a project that is very reliant on digital skills and programming has been difficult for me. Fortunately we have been generously given time to learn programming languages like R independently, so that we can work on completing the tasks we have been assigned. It has been very rewarding to actively learn something like this and then apply it in a way that will benefit a community.

Rose Arasa ’22: LITS, Bryn Mawr College

Name: Rose Arasa
Class Year: 2022
Major: Undeclared-Computer Science
Hometown: Kisii, Kenya

Internship Organization: Library and Information Technology Services
Job Title: Intern
Location: Bryn Mawr College

What’s happening at your internship?

We are working on a language revitalization project whereby we are using digital software to create a language learning tool for educational purposes and also contribute to the revitalization of the Indigenous language that we are currently working on. My duties involve troubleshooting and fixing some errors in the Drupal site of the language in an attempt to make the files usable for the development of the interactive site for learning the language. I am also working on some backend web development in HTML and CSS to customize the views of the site to meet the client’s needs.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I applied to this internship because I wanted to expand my knowledge in the different digital and technical skills that were related to my field of study: computer science. I had also anticipated to learn new technology and apply it at the same time; therefore, this internship was a great opportunity for me to accomplish that.

What has been your favorite part of this internship?

My favorite part of this internship has been learning and using the Drupal site to create the language learning tool. With the mentorship from my client’s professional team, we have been able to get some tasks done as we prepare to launch the site in August at the end of our internship. I was also prompted to learn web-based programming languages that I have used in some tasks of my project and that was a good learning experience. Discovering the interdisciplinary elements of this project has also been my favorite part as I develop both my digital scholarship skills and leadership skills while working in a team.

Can you talk about the skills you are learning and why they are important to you?

I am learning to develop competency in human interface design for the online learning system.

Through this work, I will develop competency in human interface design for an online language-learning system, using the Drupal content management to link rich multimedia objects. As a computer science major and a person interested in working in this field, the exposure to user experience early in my career will be essential to making decisions about the skills that I want to be really proficient in which will be more aligned with my career interests and focus on developing them.

Exposure to design thinking, as my team and I test different interactivity to different approaches to programming interactivity, will go a long way in helping me create digital solutions to problems based on the needs of the client and considering the different factors and experiences that make their digital experience unique. Troubleshooting experience will definitely be helpful in my student career in the computer science field since I have definitely learned the importance of isolating problems and breaking them down to run diagnostics and identify a problem to come up with solutions. Since we have worked with a large number of digital files in the database, I have learned the importance of keeping the integrity of the client’s work secure as they need it. Lastly, the skills learned in algorithmic coding while making changes to the backend of the site are also key to my career as a student in my field of interest.

Rania Dali ’22: Prevention Point Philadelphia

Name: Rania Dali
Class Year: 2022
Major: Economics
Hometown: Houston, Texas

Internship Organization: Prevention Point Philadelphia
Job Title: Community Outreach, Development, and Education Intern
Location: Philadelphia

What’s happening at your internship?

Prevention Point is a public health organization that seeks to improve access to medical services and promote empowerment and safety to the community of Kensington, Philadelphia, which is largely affected by drug use and poverty. Therefore, every day my tasks change depending on the needs of our participants and my ability to cater to their needs.

Why did you apply for this internship? What is something you have learned from your internship that you didn’t expect?

I applied to intern with Prevention Point Philadelphia because I wanted to work with a public health organization that is very integrated in the community that it serves, and when a friend at Bryn Mawr who interned with PPP last summer told me about her experience, it seemed perfect. PPP is in the heart of Kensington, which makes it easily accessible for people in need of syringe services, wound care, or just a hot meal. Now the question that comes up is: Why is an organization serving a community affected by drug use handing out free syringes on a weekly basis? This is called a harm reduction approach. Harm reduction aims to reduce the harm associated with drug use, meaning reducing the amount of overdose deaths and HIV/Hepatitis cases. Overcoming addiction is a battle and recovery is not a thought everyone has, therefore, many continue to use drugs no matter whether they have access to new syringes or not. Handing out new syringes means fewer people sharing their used syringes and fewer HIV/Hepatitis cases. Since PPP opened 27 years ago, it has expanded its services to include case management, HIV/Hepatitis testing, mail service, medically assisted treatment, shelter and more. As a result, I learned a lot about harm reduction as a service and practice. More importantly, I found ways to connect it to my major by exploring the cost effectiveness of PPP as a harm reduction program since it opened its doors and the ratio between cost of HIV cases prevented vs. the cost of syringes given out.

What has been your favorite part of this internship?

My favorite part of interning at Prevention Point has been working with my team and interacting with the participants. My team is very small so I can always get immediate feedback on my work and ask questions. Since I work as an outreach and engagement intern, a lot of my work serves to engage the community and allow the participants to voice their needs and concerns. Recently, I have been doing presentations about HIV medications and chronic homelessness to our participants in the drop-in area and they’re very responsive. They ask questions and provide me with feedback that I can use to better cater to their needs. For my most recent project, I filmed a guidelines video for our staff and participants and once I played it in the drop-ins, the participants were so excited to see familiar faces on the screen and they clapped at the end, which made me realize the impact I’m having on the community even if it means making one person smile.

Kass Wojcik ’22: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Name: Kass Wojcik
Class Year: 2022
Major: Biology
Hometown: Green Township, N.J.

Internship Organization: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Job Title: Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Intern
Location: Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge, N.J./N.Y.


Most days, I leave for my summer job at the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge in northwest New Jersey at around 7 a.m. A few weeks into my internship, though, I found myself stumbling out of the door at 3:15 a.m. and sleepily driving to the Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge a couple of hours away in upstate New York with Wallkill Refuge Specialist Chelsea Utter and Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge Wildlife Biologist Marilyn Kitchell. As we arrived, the sun was just breaking over the top of the Shawangunk Mountains and illuminating the dew-covered fields. We didn’t waste any time marveling at the view, however.  We tucked our pants into knee boots, strapped on bags and binoculars, and waded out into the dew-soaked, waist-high grass to begin a four-hour trek around the Refuge.

Why was I doing this again?

The simple answer was because of the birds. Grassland bird species are most active in the early morning — which is why we too were up so early. Our task was to conduct a grassland bird survey for the Lenape Complex U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Every year, the Lenape Complex (which includes the Wallkill, Great Swamp, and Shawangunk Refuges among others) collects data on breeding bird species to ensure that the area’s populations are thriving. My job was to monitor and record the wind speed and temperature while Chelsea and Marilyn counted birds by visually spotting and listening for them over a five-minute period at 20 different sites throughout the refuge.

Sunrise over the SGNWR.

Sunrise over the SGNWR.

If you want the deeper answer as to why I was up at the crack of dawn tramping through soggy grass, it’s because I love doing things like this. There’s few things that I enjoy more than adventuring outdoors and learning about what’s around me, which is how I realized that interning with the USFWS (whose mission is to conserve our natural resources) would be the ideal experience for me. The USFWS focuses on what I’m passionate about while connecting to my career goal of going into biology and ecological science. My interests coupled with my prior interactions with the Wallkill USFWS during high school is what allowed me to connect with the refuge staff and set up my internship with them.

Besides the bird survey, I’ve tracked turtles, monitored bald eagle and sandhill crane nests, learned the basics of GIS, developed interpretive signs and fliers, worked at public outreach events, and helped various staff members around the refuge. I’ve learned so much about being a biologist not just from the field work that I’ve done, but also from just talking to refuge staff. As a young woman considering a career in biology, it’s been especially useful to have the opportunity to talk to Chelsea and Marilyn — two accomplished female conservation and wildlife biologists working in a field still mostly dominated by men.

My experiences at the Wallkill Refuge have been invaluable, and I’m so grateful to the USFWS and Bryn Mawr for allowing me the opportunity to explore both my interests in the natural world and a career in biology with this valuable and rewarding internship.

Jasmine Bao ’22: LITS Digital Technology Intern

Name: Jasmine Bao
Class Year: 2022
Major: Not declared
Hometown: Basking Ridge, N.J.

Internship Organization: LITS
Job Title: LITS Digital Technology Intern
Location: Bryn Mawr College

The LITS Digital Technology Interns are split into two projects: the Great Law Project and the Palumbo Project. I am part of the Palumbo Project (also known as the Factbook Project) named after our “client” Lindsey Palumbo of the Office of Institutional Research along with another fellow LITS intern. My internship involves working closely with Bryn Mawr College’s historical factbooks. The factbooks contain valuable data and facts about the college and they date as far back as 1983 and the latest being 2003. However, there is only one physical copy per year, meaning that if anything should happen to these copies, the information in the factbooks would be gone forever. It is my job and goal as an intern to digitalize these factbooks so the information can be immortalized in the digital age and, ultimately, create a public database containing the data so the Bryn Mawr community can access and learn about the college’s history.

Being a Bryn Mawr student, of course I got excited when I saw that the college’s LITS offered an internship over the summer! Although I do not plan on pursuing or majoring in computer science or technology-centered fields, I still recognize the importance of technology and digital skills in today’s increasingly technology-dependent world. I applied for this internship because I thought it would be a good opportunity to contribute to the Bryn Mawr community, connect with other interns, build networks, learn various technology skills, and experience what it is like to be in an internship and a work-like environment.

My favorite part of this internship has definitely been connecting with my fellow interns. Every person in this internship is a passionate, kind member of the Bryn Mawr community who genuinely loves giving their knowledge, time, and effort to help others. I bonded with my coworker, Tanjuma, quickly by working closely together on the Factbook Project as well as finding out we have common interests such as drawing, watching Netflix, etc. I also became good friends with Vinty. Although Vinty is a member of the Great Law Project, the fact that we were both born in China and spoke Chinese brought us really close to each other. We even visited Philly to watch Fourth of July fireworks together (see photo)!

Because the Factbook Project is all about converting and formatting something physical into a digital form, I have become quite familiar with the scanning and optical character recognition (OCR) functions in Adobe, as well as inputting data into Excel. In almost every workplace, knowing how to extract and manipulate data is either very helpful or crucial. I encourage everyone, no matter if they are pursuing a technology-related field or not, to become familiar with data collection and editing. I am lucky and grateful that I have my colleagues here at LITS to help me when I run into trouble, so finding a reliable mentor when it comes to learning something can make all the difference!

fourth of july

Houda Bouchouari ’22: Massachusetts General Hospital

Name: Houda Bouchouari
Class Year: 2022
Major: Biology
Hometown: Boston

Internship Organization: Massachusetts General Hospital
Job Title: Research Intern
Location: Boston

What’s happening at your internship?

When I first started, I spent the first 2-3 weeks shadowing an oncologic orthopedic surgeon in his clinic and surgeries, and it was so eye opening. With a bunch of shows on TV like Grey’s Anatomy and House it’s very easy to come up with an idea about doctors. These shows often depict doctors as mean or straightforward and if I’m being completely honest. I thought the same. However, when I first started, I couldn’t have been more wrong, I have met so many kind surgeons, fellows, and residents. Since I started, I have gone from being really nervous to excited about coming into the office every day. On the fourth week I officially began research and that has been really cool. I had to do a bunch of training that will be beneficial for future internships.

Right now I am doing a little bit of everything before I officially start a project with the other research interns. I worked on a chemotherapy, Paget’s disease and a sarcoma project where I basically had to fill out the patient’s information into a spreadsheet that would then go onto other researchers. For example, this past Wednesday I finished a project that was sent to Johns Hopkins for the next step.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I applied to this internship because I plan on pursuing an MD/PhD and I have experience in research in the Biology Department at Bryn Mawr; however, I had no idea what it was like being a doctor. At times, especially during midterms or finals, I felt like my dream of being a doctor was out of reach for me, and don’t get me wrong, I still feel that way at times, but for some reason this goal feels more realistic after I started this internship. I’m getting closer to figuring out what I want to do with my life and that is because this internship has allowed me to see and experience what it means to have an MD/PhD.

Can you talk about the skills you are learning and why they are important to you?

I don’t know how to explain but I kind of learned how to learn independently, if that makes sense. The research coordinator often throws us something we don’t know how to do and wants us to think about what the goal of the project is in order to clear any confusion. This is probably the biggest and most important skill that I have learned so far. It will definitely be a skill that I carry on to my classes and future endeavors.

Can you give us three adjectives and three nouns that describe your internship experience?

Nouns: Hope, clarity, and surprise
Adjectives: Amazing, informative, and motivating

Tania Feliz Soto ’22: Bosak Lab, MIT

Name: Tania Feliz Soto
Class Year: 2022
Major: Geology
Hometown: Boston

Internship Organization: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Bosak Lab
Job Title: Research Affiliate
Location: Cambridge, Mass.

What’s happening at your internship?

Here at the Bosak Lab, researchers study the development of early life on Earth and use modern organisms to model and understand life that can now only be found on the geologic record. I have been working on research regarding stromatolites, which are believed to be evidence of the earliest life on Earth⎯ cyanobacteria. Modern Cyanobacteria exist today in very limited environments where extreme conditions prevent other life from thriving. One such location is Shark Bay, Australia, where hypersaline waters act as the perfect shelter for cyanobacteria. Here, cyanobacteria called Entophysalis form pustular colonies strikingly similar in shape and texture to some 2.6 billion year old stromatolites. We know that in these ancient stromatolites, silica is present in the form of chert and seems to play a role in preservation. In the lab, we run experiments where Entophysalis and other modern cyanobacteria are exposed to a silicified ocean environment similar to the ancient environment to better understand their interaction with silica, how they fossilize and what factors contribute to the fossilization.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I sought this opportunity because I am interested in pursuing geology. However, I’ve come to understand that it is a broad and interdisciplinary field. I want to learn more about the connections between geology and other sciences, in this case biology, so that I can find specific area that I would like to focus on in the future.

What has been the biggest challenge you have faced at your internship?

One of the biggest challenges I have encountered so far is reading scientific literature to understand the background and scope of the research I’m doing. It has proven difficult since you have to put the information of the different papers together specially when forming connections between ancient life and the present. Also using this information in my own ideas has been difficult since not all experiments are logistically possible within the short time I have this summer.

What is most rewarding about your internship?

What I’ve found to be the most enjoyable aspect of this internship is the guidance I have received from the graduate student I’m working closely with. I appreciate the balance in learning and independence since I’m encouraged to pursue my own ideas using the lab techniques and information I’ve learned. Although challenging, the research has been fun and stimulating as I have met people who are very excited about their research and eager to learn more.