What did Franklin & Marshall College students do during a summer altered by COVID-19? Over the past few months, we shared several examples through our #FandMForward series. From Ojima Abraham ’23 building interactive web applets through a remote internship with CK-12 Foundation to Ashani Williams ’22 advocating for social justice during a remote internship with Spitfire Strategies, F&M students showed impressive resilience in navigating pandemic-related obstacles.
During F&M’s Virtual True Blue Weekend, more than 40 sophomores, juniors and seniors presented their summer internship, entrepreneurship, volunteer and service, and research experiences. Captured through presentations and slides, the 2020 Summer Experience Fair showcased the creative and agile ways they explored their academic interests and career goals.“In working with many of the students involved in the fair, I witnessed firsthand our students’ ability to be creative and resilient while navigating hurdles brought about by the pandemic,” said Ashley Fry, student development adviser with the Office of Student & Post-Graduate Development. “Students faced varying degrees of uncertainty surrounding whether their intended summer experiences would be allowed to continue. In many cases, they successfully pivoted to alternate plans.”
Many of these students directly immersed themselves in helping to combat COVID-19. Neuroscience major Mariana Squicciarini ’21 volunteered at a free COVID-19 testing site in New Jersey; American studies major Anna Goorevich ’21 took a leading role in conducting surveys monitoring COVID-19’s impact on sport businesses; computer science major Phyo Thuta Aung ’21 created a mobile application, “Protect Yangon,” to help social distancing efforts in his home city of Yangon in Myanmar; and biochemistry and molecular biology dual major Maija Woodruff ’22 studied the actual and projected impacts of COVID-19 on Delaware residents with disabilities and co-authored multiple reports for the Delaware Journal of Public Health (DJPH) on race and pandemic.
“This amazing opportunity allowed me to feel as though I was truly doing something for a greater good," Woodruff said.
Other students explored passions wholly representing the vast array of interests F&M’s liberal arts education supports. Biology major Ahnyia Sanders ’21 monitored sea turtle nests and rescued hatchlings who became disoriented due to light pollution; public health major Elizabeth Ramsay ’21 researched reproductive health in South Africa; Alana Brodie ’21 supported Washington Improv Theater in its transition to a virtual space and its efforts to diversify improv; and Hulamatou Dukureh ’23 remotely interned with The Smiling Coast Women Empowerment Network, providing support and guidance to young women who identify as Muslim, West-African, and American.
“I identify with each of those identities, so being able to experience firsthand the work that they do has been incredible,” Dukureh said.
Fry said these internships, research opportunities, and other professional experiences are important complements to the liberal arts education F&M provides. She said that they not only provide a differentiating factor in students’ marketability in the job market, but they also provide them with a chance to test out various job functions and industries for fit and desirability.
“The combination of the critical thinking and analytical skills gained through a liberal arts education coupled with demonstrated, real-world experience is critical for a trajectory of success,” she said.
Explore the 2020 Summer Experience Fair and discover how these and many more F&M students adapted in a pandemic and enjoyed incredible learning opportunities this summer.