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A summer of learning: Delta State students work across the map this summer

By August 21, 2013General
For many Delta State students, there’s no such thing as a summer off. A number of dedicated and talented students made the most of the academic break by developing their professional skills through meaningful summer internships and jobs. Here are just a few Statesmen and Lady Statesmen who shined this summer:

Name: Mary Ashley Miller: senior
Summer job: government affairs intern
Location: Land Trust Alliance: Washington, D.C.

The Land Trust Alliance is a national nonprofit conservation organization that represents more than 1,700 community-based land trusts across America by lobbying for public policies and Farm Bill programs that increase the pace of land conservation.

“As a member of the Alliance’s policy team, I am responsible for a variety of tasks,” said Miller. “One day I could be inputting data and the next I could be attending a Farm Bill Congressional hearing on the Hill and meeting elected officials."

“My experiences in D.C. as an intern will substantially help me in my future endeavors. In fact, I have already begun to reap the benefits of doing an unpaid internship. I recently got news that I had been chosen to do another internship in D.C. for the fall semester with Sen. Roger Wicker.”

Miller added that the position helped her significantly expand her professional skills.

“This experience as a whole has placed me on the fast track to learning the under the beltway ‘K street politics’ of our nation’s capital, where I have learned more about our government and the political process by attending congressional hearings and meeting with Hill staff than I ever did sitting in a classroom.”

She strongly believes completing an internship or fellowship in the real world is essential for entering the work force.

“This experience as a whole will allow me to apply my theoretical textbook knowledge that I’ve learned at Delta State and use it to my advantage in a political career,” she said. “The highlight of my experience would have to be securing a subsequent internship in Sen. Roger Wicker’s D.C. office for the fall semester.

“Another component that I found particularly exciting was the unique opportunity to meet people. One day you can be at the grocery store and see a Supreme Court justice browsing the vegetable aisle, and the next, you can be talking with a senator at a congressional reception. You never know who you are going to meet here, and making those connections will pay off substantially after graduation.”

Name: Justin Badon: senior
Summer job: Elliott internship
Location: Elliott-Elliott-Head Breast Cancer Treatment and Research Center: Baton Rouge, La.

Badon took part in the 10-week Elliott Internship program hosted by Dr. Robert Elliott ‘59 and his wife Dr. Mary Elliott ‘63. The Elliotts give Delta State students first-hand experience each summer by working in their laboratory, which is dedicated to the detection and treatment of breast cancer.

“There are not many internship opportunities for undergraduates that provide the benefits that I received through the Elliott internship,” said Badon. “Normally it would take two or three separate internships to provide the level of experience that the Elliott internship provides in only one summer.”

Badon said the position offered an array of practices that included cell culture research of various cancer cell lines, shadowing physicians on a day-to-day basis in the clinic and in the operating room, performing experiments on animals at the LSU Veterinarian School and partaking in a tumor conference every Monday morning. 

As a senior pre-med biology major, Badon hopes to begin a career as an orthopedic surgeon — making it easy for him to choose the summer placement. “This internship offered me firsthand insight into the life of a surgeon via surgery observation and clinical experience,” he said. 

He was able to closely watch many surgeries, including tumor biopsies, lumpectomies, mastectomies, reconstructions and more. In the clinic, he shadowed the Elliotts and Dr. Catherine Baucom.

“One of the most important attributes of the internship was actually living in the household with Dr. Robert and Dr. Mary Elliott,” he added. “It helped me realize that being a physician is not a normal 8-5 job — it’s a lifestyle. Being an excellent physician requires a lot of behind-the-scenes research because medicine is an ever-changing field.”

Badon added that scientific laboratory research requires a number of tedious techniques — many of which he was already skilled at due to his science background at Delta State. He was happy to put his acquired skills to use in the medical field.

“The highlight of my summer was seeing Dr. Elliott interact with his patients,” said Badon. “Dr. Elliott taught me something that I will I will never forget — treating the patient, not just the disease or illness, is what being a physician is all about." 

“Upon returning to Delta State, I look forward to sharing my internship experience at the Elliott Symposium in October. I will, without a doubt, be a better student and person because of the Elliott internship. Dr. Elliott taught me the importance of work ethic and persistence.”

Name: Maria Alejandra Torres: senior
Summer job: graphic design intern
Location: Brandlab-Circus: Lima, Peru

Torres, a Peru native and Delta State graphic design student, said this summer was about branching out, taking risks and trying new things as an intern like she never had before.

For an intensive two months, Torres put her graphic design skills to the test for Brandlab-Circus, a design company with a studio based in Peru’s capital city.

“This was the first time I really had my own challenging projects,” said Torres. “The director gave me a big project with no guidelines and basically told me to come up with results. It was pretty tough, but I did my research.”

Torres was tasked to design the packaging for a new brand of meat being imported from the United States and sold in Peru for the first time. By the end of the summer, she was able to complete the branding, logo and stickers for the new product.

“Hopefully I’ll be able to see what it looks like in the stores when I go home in December,” said Torres, who returns to Peru to visit with family each winter and summer break.

“I still have lots to learn — one summer internship is just not enough. But it did give me a glance into what I’ll be doing for a career.”

She said the biggest lessons learned were appreciating teamwork, strong communication is essential, simple is always better and the competitive graphic design field requires lots of research and dedication.

“I also learned that networking is really important and you shouldn’t be afraid to just meet people,” said Torres. “Whether you are meeting to talk about art or other topics, it’s better to have work relationships in person — not just on the computer.”

Torres, the marketing director for Delta State’s Kappa Pi art fraternity, said she and a few other members are working on putting together a database of tools and information learned over summer internships.

“We want to take all the new things we learned and put them in one place for everyone to share,” she said. “It would be a project for everyone to learn new ideas.”

Torres also had the pleasure of exploring the bordering country of Colombia this summer, along with her first visit to New York City.

Name: Alyse Cathryn Malavasi: senior
Summer job: Missions and Communication specialist
Location: World Changers: across the Southeast

Malavasi has spent the past two summers working for World Changers of LifeWay Christian Resources, an association that organizes mission experiences for Christian youth and adults designed to meet the physical and spiritual needs of others.

Students learn through practical acts of service that teach servanthood and a life-long commitment to missions.

“There are over 110 week-long World Changers projects in over 85 cities across the nation,” said Malavasi. “There are 18 teams made up of four college students and each has a different job description.

“My job was a Missions and Communication Specialist. I was responsible for teaching students about missions opportunities open to them and communicating with media outlets in the cities we worked in, hoping to get press and media coverage for the work we were doing.”

The position required Malavasi to travel throughout Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Oklahoma.

“I was on at least 10 different news channels in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, and quoted in over 15 newspapers,” she said. “Each week our projects were made up of anywhere from 100-500 students and adults who slept on air mattresses in schools or churches and worked construction on homes from 7 a.m.-4 p.m. for a week.”

The groups would also meet in the lodging facility each night for worship.

“Through my position I have learned all about communication techniques, whether it be with media outlets, adults, a team or students younger than me. I will most definitely be an improved student and person because of my training, experience and relationship with Christ.”

“I could speak forever about the highlights of my summer,” she added. “I think what I enjoyed most was being in worship with a community of believers from across the nation each night — people I had only known for a few short days, but that shared the same common goal, love, and mission as myself.”

Malavasi is looking forward to her final year in the Robert E. Smith School of Nursing at Delta State and nearing her goal of becoming a registered nurse.