World of Work fellowships let students follow their passions

Forrest holds caterpillarPhoto/Mike Lovett

Forrest Shimazu ’23 had an up-close experience at The Caterpillar Lab last summer.

Internships can provide students with amazing opportunities and experience, but they aren’t always financially accessible. The World of Work Fellowship changes that for Brandeis students.

Overseen by the Hiatt Career Center, WOW provides a stipend to students participating in unpaid summer internships. Since its founding in 2008, over 500 Brandeis students have participated in this competitive program, experiencing the summer of a lifetime in internships across the world. Applications are open until April 2, 2023.

As students are preparing for summer internships for summer 2023, other students looked back at the experience they gained last summmer.

Last year, 45 students received stipends of up to $6,000 to participate in internships at a wide range of workplaces, from federal and state government offices, to a zoo and a caterpillar lab.

“Hands-on learning during internships plays a critical role in helping students discover what comes next in their careers,” said Jon Schlesinger, Director of Hiatt. “We’re incredibly thankful to our donors who’ve made these vital experiences more attainable for so many Brandeis students.”

Finding the path to public advocacy

Last year, Priscilla Appenteng ’23, a biology major, held campus workshops for her project, “Brandeis Black Maternal Health Organization,” as a Rich/Collins Fellow. It was through this work that she discovered the Resilience Sisterhood Project. After reading more about their mission to educate and empower women of African descent affected by diseases of the reproductive system, Appenteng knew it would be the perfect fit for an internship.

Like many of the recipients addressing social justice in their internships, her Louis D. Brandeis Social Justice WOW Fellowship was provided by the Louis D. Brandeis Legacy Fund for Social Justice.

Throughout the summer of 2022 she learned the ins and outs of nonprofit work, assisting the team with brainstorming meetings and administrative tasks while taking on a personal project.

Most importantly, she realized the value of encouraging leadership through her mentors within the office. She found that they continued to show up for the team everyday with persistent passion for the nonprofit.

“You have to continue everyday to pump up your team,” said Appenteng. “It’s so important to keep everyone motivated in what they are doing.”

While Appenteng is still exploring options for after graduation, she is now confident that she wants to pursue a path of social justice in medicine. “This internship really showed me the different paths for advocacy in public health,” she said.

An internship for the birds

Ori Cohen ’24, a biology major with a minor in psychology, worked with birds at the Southwick Zoo last summer.

He was able to apply his lifelong passion for animal behavior to real world experiences, creating training programs for the zoo’s birds, caring for them in their exhibits, and teaching the public about them. The experience solidified his plans for the future. He plans to take more psychology and biology-related courses on campus and then pursue a career in zookeeping or animal welfare.

“Being a junior, I had this pressing stress of ‘what will I do for the rest of my life?’” he said. “After coming into this experience at the zoo and immediately loving it, I feel like that weight has been lifted.”

Caterpillars and climate change

With the help of Brandeis faculty, Forrest Shimazu ’23, an environmental studies major, was selected for an internship at The Caterpillar Lab in Marlborough, New Hampshire, a non-profit that conducts educational programs and research initiatives related to caterpillars.

Colleen Hitchcock, one of my program professors, is a big fan of caterpillars and their environmental impact.” Shimazu said. Hitchcock, who teaches a variety of courses, including Biology of global climate change, connected him with the executive director of the Caterpillar Lab.

“The combination of animal care, conservation, and photography was everything I was looking for,” Shimazu said. His internship was funded by the Rauch Family Trust Internship in Climate Change.

Shimazu spent most of the summer in the lab, caring for the caterpillars. He also acted as a guide for tours across the state, sharing the importance of caterpillars at museums, schools, and public gardens. Throughout the entire program, Shimazu learned more about wildlife in habitats that are native to New England.

“Through this experience I learned the importance of environmental education and how powerful it can be as a tool combined with other conservation research and practices,” he said. “I know I will be able to apply these research skills in any field in the future.”

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