NCHS students take on summer internships


Cat Levine, Executive Editor

While the majority of NCHS was catching up on sleep in New Canaan or travelling to a number of tropical islands, some students were dressing in blazers or lab coats and entering the workforce. Whether local or abroad, there are many internship opportunities for high school students to work under professionals and gain experience to take with them as they go to college.

Senior Luke Stewart has been interning as a research intern in the lab of Dr. Amy Maas, an invertebrate physiologist at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS) for three summers. “Ultimately, I decided to do this internship because I wanted to research the specific effects of these anthropogenic forces on marine organisms – the more knowledge and scientific data we can accumulate, the better able we are to form solutions and mitigate these issues,” he said.

Cassidy preparing to scrub in on a surgery at 4 AM. Photo contributed by Cassidy

Senior Cassidy Little, fuelled by her interest to go into the medical field, traveled abroad to Geneva, Switzerland and stayed with a host family to study under Ophthalmologist Dr. Leyla Tahintzi. “I saw a bypass surgery in the leg, an open heart coronary bypass surgery, a cornea transplant, and a knee replacement,” she said. “Although I learned a lot from observing and running tests, it was amazing to scrub in and stand right up next to the patient.”

Emma, along with her fellow intern Jake Neuberger, gets interviewed by NCTV to discuss her video project. Photo by Roman Cebulski

More locally, senior Emma Smith worked on a video project for the non-profit Voices of 9/11, which was shown at a conference in New York. “We interviewed people who were affected from the 9/11 attacks, but also those from the Columbine & Aurora shootings, the Newtown shootings, and the Current Israel-Palestine Conflict in an attempt to establish how, in the face of terrorism as well as mass violence, survivors, responders, families, and communities are able to overcome and prevail in light of these harrowing experiences,” she said. “We felt it necessary to incorporate as many different perspectives and point of views to help expand our understanding of the world around us, and express how acts of terrorism and mass violence are still prevalent in our society, and how we as a nation must respond and through resiliency, recover and become stronger than before.”

With his primary focus centered on ocean acidification, Luke used a three step chemical process to conduct experiments in Bermuda. “I used a process called DNA metabarcoding, which evaluates the population biodiversity of a given sample of organisms. My objective was to test the accuracy of this tool with many different species of critters,” he said. “I found that this method is extremely accurate, and will be useful in long-term studies of ocean acidification.”

Cassidy was able to see first hand that having passion and good work ethic can take you far and propel you towards success. “She showed me that being smart isn’t enough in a profession like this. You need to be kind, caring, sociable, and hardworking,” she said. “This internship showed me that despite the challenging lifestyle that it takes to be a doctor, if you have enough passion and desire it is all worth it.”

Luke conducting his experiment through DNA metabarcoding. Photo contributed by Luke

After three summers at the institution, Luke believes that his internship has helped him to learn invaluable lessons and confirm his interest in the career area. “I learned was the importance of creativity and ingenuity in field research – in a place as remote as Bermuda, a broken part cannot be replaced quickly. You have to figure out a way to make things work,” he said.

Emma found that working for the Voices of 9/11 was a rewarding professional and personal experience where she got to interact with family members and friends whose strength inspired her. “Obviously, there were the basics: learning how to dress appropriately, working from 9 A.M to 5 P.M, and getting used to operating with a group of people. But there was also a more personal, deeper relationship that I built with the staff as well,” she said. “The Fetchets, who dedicated their lives to VOICES after the death of their son on 9/11, taught me more than could ever be put into words. Their resiliency and strength after such a tragedy gives me hope for a brighter future.”  


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Cat Levine is a senior at New Canaan High School and Executive Editor for the Courant.

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