Halena Martin ’20: The Innocence Project

Name: Halena Martin
Class Year: 2020
Major: Political Science and Sociology
Hometown: Eatontown, N.J.

Internship Organization: Innocence Project
Job Title: Intake Intern
Location: New York City

What’s happening at your internship?

This summer I had the privilege of interning for the Innocence Project as a Liman Fellow. The Innocence Project is a national litigation and public policy organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted individuals through DNA testing and reforming the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice. I am interning with the Intake Department which is tasked with weeding through the enormous number of requests for assistance that the Innocence Project receives (approximately 2,400 new requests per year). At any given time, the Innocence Project is evaluating between 6,000 and 8,000 potential cases.

As an intake intern, I assist with the identification and evaluation of cases for possible representation. My main responsibility is producing memoranda which include a summary of the facts, possible avenues for DNA testing to prove innocence, and my recommendation on whether the case should move forward to the legal department. The other intake interns and I report to the case analysts who review our work in biweekly meetings.

Interning at the Innocence Project has been an incredibly formative experience. It has exposed me to the early stages of post-conviction legal work, has deepened my understanding of the faults in our criminal justice system, and has helped me develop my reading, writing, and analytical skills.

Why did you apply for this internship?

In one of my classes last semester, my professor posed the question of whether the implicit risk of executing an innocent person makes the death penalty inherently immoral. This question really drew my attention to issues surrounding wrongful conviction. So, I knew when the Innocence Project came up in my internship search, it was the organization I wanted to intern with.

What is most rewarding about your internship?

There are numerous rewarding aspects of my internship. The most rewarding is the ability to do meaningful work. Not only am I able to be a part of an impactful organization, but I am given the opportunity to work hands-on with actual cases.

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

My biggest challenge has been the emotional work of reading through case documents. I read both the testimonies of people who have been the victims of heinous crimes and the letters from defendants who see the Innocence Project as their last hope. It has prepared me well for the areas of law I may go into in the future. It has also made me more appreciative of the downtime I got to spend with friends, family, and (especially) my puppy this summer!

Amalia Jaimes-Lukes ’21: Heritage Farm

Name: Amalia Jaimes-Lukes
Class Year: 2021
Major: Sociology
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

Internship: Heritage Farm
Job Title: Intern
Location: Philadelphia


Working at Heritage Farm is my dream internship. As a sociology major, much of my interest lies in making social change and studying what positive impacts people can make to communities.

Last summer, I worked my third summer at a day camp in New York City where I was asked to help start the gardening program for the campers. Along with my supervisor, we helped cultivate a vegetable garden and ran programming for children ages 4 to 13. Growing food was not something I had too much interest in until I began tending to the garden. As the summer went on, growing vegetables and teaching kids about sustainability was all I could think about. I had a growing passion for farming and gardening and a colleague recommended I visit an urban farm in Philadelphia while visiting friends one weekend. I attended the farm’s summer event and I learned all about the incredible community outreach work they do within their neighborhood to address issues of poverty, health, and food deserts. Immediately, I knew that the following summer I wanted to work at an urban farm in Philadelphia that worked within their community to make a change. Beginning in September, I had been researching, emailing, and visiting farms all throughout Philadelphia to learn more about what they do and how they contribute to their community or neighborhood. Through that research, I found Heritage Farm, which blew me away with the programs offered and the great impact they make on participants of Methodist Services and their greater community.

As I shifted my career goals after last summer, I am now looking to focus my sociological concentration in food justice. Through my sociology major I hope to be admitted to Bryn Mawr’s 4+1 program, where I can begin taking Bryn Mawr Graduate School of Social Work classes during my senior year. With a social work degree, I can work at nonprofits like Methodist Services who help give access to resources like affordable housing, access to education, and access to fresh produce. My aspirations has shifted from being a general social worker to doing sustainability and food justice work in urban areas and food deserts because of how passionate I am about the subject.

I felt this internship would give me the opportunity to be fully immersed in the Philadelphia urban farming community, a community I would really love being a part of looking forward to a future career. It would also let me experience the reality of being an urban farmer and help me commit to the pursuit of this career.



Libby Otto ’20: Secular Coalition for America

Name: Libby Otto
Class Year: 2020
Major: Sociology
Hometown: Seattle, Wash.

Internship Organization: Secular Coalition for America
Job Title: Policy Intern
Location: Washington, D.C.

Debbie Allen and Libby Otto

When I first applied to the Secular Coalition, I wasn’t sure exactly what I was getting into. Secular Coalition for America is a nonprofit which represents 19 secular organizations around the nation, using both grassroots activism and direct lobbying to protect the rights of secular Americans and the separation of church and state. The opportunity was perfect — I had been looking for public policy and advocacy positions which would allow me to apply what I had been learning in my sociology courses to the real world. That being said, most of the other positions I was looking at had specific focus issues such as Immigration or Native American rights. While I knew Secular Coalition worked to ensure a separation of church and state, what exactly did that look like? Here’s what I found out:

Separation of church and state covers almost any issue you can think of.

Since starting the internship, I’ve gotten to work on issues ranging from reproductive rights to immigration, vaccinations to discrimination, to education and beyond. As my boss advised me, “if debate includes religious rhetoric, it’s an issue we handle.” As for what I do, it’s almost as varied. My main project combines all of these issues through the educational branch of the organization: throughout the summer I will be following the 2020 presidential election, creating profiles for the candidates and updating our constituency on their positions to help voters make informed decisions. Beyond just tracking the candidates, however, I also get the chance to engage with policy making more directly — experiences, I’ve realized, rooted in the location of Washington, D.C.

When I first thought about living in D.C., I was apprehensive. Going to school across the country from home, it always felt important to me to go back to Seattle over the summer. Although I have a wide range of friends and family living in Washington, D.C., and spend large amounts of time here, it still felt like a foreign experience. As I realized that the best opportunities for me were here, I became excited by the idea. Being in D.C., I have access to not only work-specific lobbying and coalition meetings with groups such as Planned Parenthood, but also incredible intern events. Over my summer, I will be attending weekly lunches (with free food I might add) dedicated to work on reproductive rights, multiple lobby days, and all of the protests and rallies the capital of the United States has to offer. In these spaces, I am able to learn skills that are both crucial for a future in public policy, such as coalition building, legislation tracking and memo writing, but also tools for my own political activism.

Although I’m just a few weeks into the summer, I can’t wait to see what comes next. Even when the work gets tiring or I’m saddened by something I see in the world, I can pinch myself and remember, I’m doing something to help and I couldn’t ask for more than that.

For more information on the work of the Secular Coalition for America, and Libby’s candidate tracker, visit Secular.org

Daphne Tsapalas ’20: Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

Name: Daphne Tsapalas
Class Year: Class of 2020
Major: Sociology
Hometown: New York, N.Y.

Internship Organization: Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile; Faculty of Medicine; School of Nursing
Job Title: Research Intern
Location: Santiago, Chile


The banner reads: El primer día del orgullo fue un LEVANTAMIENTO. A 50 años de la revuelta de Stonewall a protesta mas necesaria que nunca. Translation: The first Pride was an UPRISING 50 years after the revolution of Stonewall protest is more necessary than ever.

This summer I am working at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile on a research project about efficacy of tools for the detection and confrontation of gender-based violence for healthcare professionals within Latin America and the Caribbean. This project has been incredibly interesting, as while learning about the processes of conducting research I am also learning about topics of importance and cultural attitudes within the region I am visiting.

I applied for this internship very last-minute but I am so glad I did as I have gained invaluable research and intercultural skills in Santiago that I will not soon forget. I applied to this position because I have found few research opportunities for sociology offered within Bryn Mawr and I wanted to gain experience in qualitative research before I graduated.


The banner says Transgrede el CIStema: Transgress/break the CIStem.

That being said, my favorite part of this internship has been being able to experience a research project from the inside. I am currently involved in the methodological collection of literature and data working on two projects, a scope review of gender-based violence protocols (or lack thereof) for healthcare professionals in LAC, and interviews, which we conduct and transcribe, with nursing students about their experiences learning about gender-based violence protocols within the healthcare curriculum when in university.

There have, of course, been things to adjust to in Santiago; it’s winter here, which is not nearly as brutal as Bryn Mawr winters but is still not the summer weather one might expect to have in June and July. Winter sunsets are very early so by the time you get home from work most days the sun has set and it’s night already! Nevertheless watching the Copa America in Chile, the solar eclipse, and seeing the places on Earth most similar to Mars certainly make up for the cold!

Living in a new city, especially Santiago, one of the largest cities in Latin America, has been a wonderful experience. Coming from a New York City context I feel right at home in this environment and though I have studied abroad in other cities (small and large) before, my experiences in Santiago have come the closest to New York life; the financial district here is even called Sanhattan.

Even though Santiago is far away from New York, there have been moments in which the two seem closely aligned. One such day, and my favorite day here so far, has been the Pride parade. Pride here is smaller than in New York but growing each year, and unlike Manhattan, here you actually get to march with the parade, which inevitably becomes a joyous mixture of singing and chanting, dancing and remembrance, which is especially important for many groups here whose visibility and sometimes acceptance is still relatively low. It was very interesting to experience this event in another country and it demonstrated that there are certain priorities shared throughout the world, even across international borders.

Emily George ’21: Sociology of Sport Research with David Karen

Name: Emily George
Class Year: 2021
Major: Sociology
Hometown: Wilmette, Ill.

Internship Organization: Sociology of Sport Research Project with David Karen, Chair and Professor of Sociology, Bryn Mawr College
Job Title: Research Assistant
Location: Bryn Mawr College

What’s happening at your internship?

Currently, I’m working on a few mini-assignments under the umbrella project of researching the benefits and possibility of the “all sport for all” model! Right now, my main focus is researching how the six major confederations of FIFA regulate recruiting in order to maintain competitive balance among the teams. Other than that, I’m looking at how the UN’s Centre for Sport and Human Rights is working towards creating a global respect for sport as a human right and a tool for peace building. On top of these projects, I do some speed-reading and summarizing of books and articles for DK!

Why did you apply for this internship?

I applied for this internship because I felt it would give me the opportunity to explore and experience what a large-scale, long-term research project is like. Furthermore, I felt that it would allow me to obtain and practice many research skills that will be highly beneficial for the remainder of my college career and beyond! Finally, the topic sounded fascinating, so I was thrilled to have the chance to get involved.

Was there anything special about how you found this internship?

In the fall semester, I had asked DK if there were any research opportunities in the Sociology Department, as I was hoping to gain hands-on research experience outside the classroom. At that point, there were no research assistant positions available. However, in February, I received an email from DK explaining that he was planning on conducting research for a book on sociology of sport and asking me if I’d like to discuss the possibility of joining his project as a research assistant for the summer. Naturally, I was thrilled to have the opportunity and expressed my excitement immediately.

What has been your favorite part of this internship?

This is very small, but I have my own office and key to all the rooms in Dalton, which is very fun!

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

I believe that the research skills I am gaining will be useful in all my classes going forward, as well as my thesis. Outside of hard skills, I am certain that the other soft skills I am honing, such as persistence, time-management, organization, dedication, and drive will be beneficial in my college years and beyond! I am incredibly grateful to have this opportunity because I feel as though it is helping me grow as a student, researcher, and person.

Morgan Coursey ’20: Pennsylvania Prison Society

Name: Morgan Coursey
Class Year: 2020
Major: Sociology
Hometown: Wayne, Pa.

Internship Organization: Pennsylvania Prison Society
Job Title: Summer Internship
Location: Philadelphia

What’s happening at your internship?

At my internship thus far, I have been responding to letters and calls from incarcerated people and their families, processing Official Visitor requests (volunteers from the Prison Society who have unsolicited access to speak to incarcerated people and prison officials to ensure humane prison conditions) and I have been helping with the upcoming issue of the organization’s bimonthly newsletter, Graterfriends.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I applied for this internship because I respected the deep history (which I have since learned more about) behind the Prison Society, and after tutoring at the Glen Mills School with the Petey Greene Program, I was looking for an opportunity to work with incarcerated people and their families. I also found that the work the Prison Society does helps to highlight, in a material sense, many of the sociological and philosophical phenomena that I have discussed at Bryn Mawr.

What is something you have learned from your internship that you didn’t expect?

When I first started reading letters from prisoners, I was really surprised about what goes on inside of our state’s prisons. Though I understand that there are limitations and challenges in prison distinct from those in the outside world, it was really disheartening to read about people not receiving adequate or timely medical care for serious health issues, being assaulted, filing grievances and being ignored, having mail withheld or tampered with, losing touch with family and friends, being forced into solitary confinement, and just feeling ignored and forgotten.

What is most rewarding about your internship?

I think the most rewarding aspect of this internship so far is being able to provide people with hope. Just this past Friday, a woman wrote in from a county jail and shared that she had gotten engaged exactly a year ago. She mentioned that she and her fiance were previously using drugs and were on the streets. She was looking for information about how they could get married, as they are incarcerated in the same prison. Finally, she wrote that she did not have anyone on the outside that she was in correspondence with that could help them. I was fortunate enough to be that person on the outside to get back to her with some information about how she might be able to apply for a marriage license or even have a ceremony in prison.

Even though I know as an organization we cannot solve all the problems of the people who contact us, just being able to correspond with people who need and deserve a listening and understanding ear is really special. I am looking forward to learning more about the history and philosophy behind the Prison Society, prison conditions today, and finally, what we as both an organization and as individuals can do to ensure that conditions are humane inside of our prisons.