Summer, Shared 2019

Compiled by Bailey Morris and Audrey St. Clair ’03

Growing oyster gardens in upstate New York. Interning as a technical account manager at Microsoft. Advocating for human rights with a global nonprofit in Jordan. Each summer, Tars take what they’ve learned in our small, discussion-based classes and head out into the world to test their ability to make it brighter. From helping transform education reform in local communities across Memphis to teaching English to schoolchildren in China, their accomplishments serve as compelling proof of the power of a Rollins education.

So, as students left campus this spring, we asked them to keep us in the loop on all their summer adventures via social media. Dozens obliged our request, and we were consistently amazed by the stories flooding our Instagram and Facebook accounts. Here are a few of our favorites from summer 2019.

Brian Mahanpour ’20 worked as a technical account manager intern at Microsoft, where he focused on strategizing and developing innovative solutions to drive operational efficiency. The economics major was drawn to the tech giant for its strong company culture and the chance to build strong connections and develop impactful and sustainable processes. “I learned how important it is to always ask insightful questions, surround yourself with individuals who are smarter than you, maintain a growth mindset, and never to be afraid of speaking your point of view.”

Before even setting foot in a classroom, Bridget Collis ’23 and 11 other first-year students got a jump-start on their Rollins experience by embarking on a 10-day field study to Costa Rica. Environmental studies professor Barry Allen has been leading students to the Central American country for more than 20 years, giving them a hands-on look at sustainable development and sparking an interest in global affairs. “This was such an incredible opportunity to be immersed in a culture that is centered on nature rather than technology,” says Collis. “Plus, I loved having the chance to meet 12 students and bond with them before starting the school year.”

International business major Ariadna Parada ’20 taught English to elementary school students in Shanghai as part of education professor Jie Yu’s field study to China. Parada and seven other Rollins students also explored Tibet and the north face of Mount Everest, where they gained a multidimensional and enriched understanding of China and its culture. “I’d always wanted to interact with a different culture and experience the Asian religions firsthand,” says Parada. “An added bonus was that I was able to practice my Mandarin!”

Andrew Boyd ’21 honed his skills in task management, problem solving, and system analysis as an intern with Feeding Children Everywhere, an Orlando-based nonprofit focused on creating a hunger-free world. In addition to requesting and tracking shipments, creating bills of lading, and updating inventory, the business management major had the opportunity to assist on-the-ground efforts at large-scale events like the one he participated in this past July alongside Orlando City players during MLS All-Star Week.

Hannah Jackson ’21 and Caitlin Robison ’20 attended Alternative Break Citizenship Schools (ABCS) in support of Rollins’ Immersion program. The weeklong experiential training sessions provide student leaders with the knowledge, skills, and connections they need to strengthen a quality alternative-break program. Jackson, a social entrepreneurship major, traveled to Memphis to brainstorm ideas on how to improve education reform. Meanwhile, Robison, a double major in anthropology and philosophy, partnered with Break Away and the National Park Service to engage in service projects and discourse related to issues of environmental conservation and social inclusion. Last year, 371 Tars contributed more than 4,200 hours at more than 35 community organizations through the Immersion program.

Social entrepreneurship and communications double major Ryan O’Donnell ’20 interned at Spire Sports & Entertainment, learning everything from how race cars are built to how to sell sponsorships. “This was a great opportunity to find out what I do and don’t like in a ‘test-run’ kind of environment. It helped me see which areas of life and work are the most important to me.”

Maliha Qureshi ’19 worked at Goldman Sachs in New York City as an operations intern in the asset management division. The economics and math double major served on the funds oversight team, which is responsible for managing risk and daily oversight of all internally managed hedge funds, money market accounts, and exchange-traded funds. In her role, Qureshi focused on process-improvement projects designed to increase automation and efficiency using tools like Alteryx. “This summer gave me a taste of the finance industry and showed me what it takes to be successful at a prestigious firm in a demanding business,” says Qureshi, who’s been offered a full-time position at Goldman Sachs following graduation. “A commitment to excellence, work-life balance, and staying true to yourself are the most important things I took away from this experience.”

Shannon Sullivan ’20—a double major in international relations and Spanish—served as the site leader for Rollins’ Verano Espanol program, one of the oldest and most prestigious American summer study abroad programs in Madrid. Working alongside Spanish professor Alberto Prieto-Calixto, Sullivan focused on setting up immersive cultural activities and day trips and serving as an RA to students studying at the language school, Don Quijote. “This trip allowed students, myself included, to enjoy an immersive experience in another culture and language as well as gain college credits over the summer. As an international relations major, the ability to speak Spanish is a wonderful asset that allows me to communicate with more individuals, a skill that is vital if I hope to work in the realm of diplomacy and international relations in the future.”

Marine biology major Hannah Lesko ’21 was one of 13 students to study the local marine flora and fauna on San Salvador island in the Bahamas alongside biology professors Fiona Harper and Paul Stephenson. On this two-week field study, the students studied everything from reef fish to algae to gain a deeper understanding of this unique marine ecosystem.

As part of the Bonner Leaders Program, psychology and religious studies double major Cassidy Rodriguez ’21 volunteered in the medical slums and orphanages in Faridabad, India, performing first aid, assisting doctors, and playing games with children. “I chose to be a Bonner Leader because life is for service,” says Rodriguez. “I’ve seen life from the eyes of a 5-year-old child growing up in a developing nation to a 90-year-old man who battled AIDS during the ’70s. Even though I’m halfway across the world, people are still the same; they breathe, bleed, love, and need the same things.”

Rachel Lia ’21 spent 30 days hiking through the Rocky Mountains in Wyoming as part of an expedition with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), a nonprofit organization that teaches leadership and wilderness skills. The philosophy major scaled towering mountains, crossed raging rivers, descended into deep canyons, and trudged through knee-high patches of snow—all without the aid of any technology. “Through this experience, I learned how to be a better leader and team member,” says Lia. “When you’re working together with others to survive in the wilderness, there has to be a lot of trust and mutual respect and teamwork.”

Through Rollins’ Student-Faculty Collaborative Scholarship Program, Abbey Glover ’21 worked alongside biology professor Pamela Brannock to perform genetic analysis on apple snails in Florida with the goal of aiding in the control of the invasive populations. “I got to see what lab work was really like outside the classroom,” says the biochemistry/molecular biology major. “We weren’t entirely sure what we were going to find, which taught me how to persevere, be patient, and problem-solve.” The pair has already received permits to collect more samples in several state parks around Florida and will present their findings at the Society for Integrated and Comparative Biology in January.

Devorah Burgess ’21 got to experience the magic of Disney World up close and personal as a character attendant in the Disney College Program. The history major was tasked with keeping her character safe, interpreting the character’s actions for guests, and providing excellent customer service. “Working for Disney has been a dream of mine since I was a kid,” says Burgess, who credits the program for improving her leadership, customer service, and interpersonal skills.

As a digital intern with the Golf Channel, a subsidiary of NBC Sports, Molly von Eschenbach ’21 immersed herself in the data side of social media. The communications major engaged in extensive research, learned how to analyze metrics, and assembled reports for various sponsors. “This experience really allowed me to test the waters of the sports-broadcasting world, where I learned how much every detail matters, especially when working for such a large company like NBC.” | Tanishq Lalvani ’20 interned at Golf Now, the world’s leading tee-time marketplace and part of the suite of digital businesses managed by the Golf Channel. The business management and communications double major spent the summer helping find business solutions for golf courses and managing the organization’s social media accounts.

Through the School for International Training (SIT), Lauren Oxendine ’20 landed a spot as an advocacy, media, and communications intern with Save the Children Jordan, the world’s first global charity founded exclusively to help children. The international relations major was one of seven students selected for the second cohort of Rollins Professional Fellows, a funded internship program aimed at delivering the best in hands-on experience. A typical day at the office included compiling daily news reports for the organization’s beneficiaries, transcribing case study interviews for publication, updating social media accounts, and taking copious notes on field visits to the refugees living in host communities. “This experience provided me with an outlet to apply knowledge from my coursework to the real world,” says Oxendine, whose career sights are set on the international humanitarian field. “I got to see firsthand the connections of learning about political theories, history, and communications.”

As one of 2019’s Rollins Professional Fellows, Kimmy Bonar ’21 interned at Drexel University’s College of Medicine in Philadelphia. The biology major assisted a graduate student with her project focusing on the investigation of dopamine-signaling pathways in primary human macrophages by performing protein quantification. “This internship helped me write my own experimental protocols and create better time management skills that I can use going forward,” says Bonar, who plans to pursue a PhD in pharmacology and physiology.

Neny Lairet ’21 credits classes like Statistics for Business with Serina Haddad for preparing her to succeed in her internship as a client support specialist with Knoza Consulting, an Orlando-based firm focused on optimizing client listings and growing revenue on Amazon. As one of seven Tars chosen for the second cohort of Rollins Professional Fellows—a funded internship initiative organized by the Center for Career & Life Planning—Lairet got a crash course in e-commerce. She learned how to replenish inventories, research product listing optimization, develop Excel spreadsheets to improve company operations, and investigate compliance requirements and best practices for selling on Amazon and other marketplaces.

Sarah Allyn ’20 was one of a dozen Tars who explored sustainable development and conservation practices in Costa Rica, where more than 25 percent of the land is designated for preservation. The Environment & Development in Central America field study—led by environmental studies professors Barry Allen and Lee Lines—is devoted to understanding how physical geography, social fabric, and political economy play a role in issues of sustainability.

Hannah Gonzalez ’20 was one of 19 Tars who participated in the Performance Design at Prague Quadrennial field study in the Czech Republic. Held every four years, the Prague Quadrennial is the world’s preeminent performance design exhibition, bringing together designers, directors, students, and the general public for seminars, performances, and workshops that create an opportunity for the cross-cultural exchange of ideas. “We got to see exhibitions from more than 80 countries,” says the communications major. “As a Rollins student, we get a 360-degree look at our craft. Going to the Prague Quadrennial was so important to widening my interpretation of what performance art and theater can be.”

Co-sponsored by Rollins Trustee David Lord, the Colorado Immersion transforms students in active citizens through direct service and connection with community changemakers in Colorado Springs and Denver. Tackling social issues like hunger, homelessness, and aging populations, international relations and Spanish double major Meghan Oxford ’20 and 11 other Tars participated in panel events, sorted food at a local food bank, hosted a dance for elderly residents, and toured a variety of facilities and social enterprises focused on innovation.

Psychology major and international student Nina Steigerwald ’20 went behind the scenes at AdventHealth, one of the largest nonprofit health systems in the nation. Through the funded internship program, Rollins Professional Fellows, she landed a role as a human resources assistant and employee specialist intern, where she was responsible for issuing new employee badges, verifying employment information, developing company-wide surveys, and creating wellness initiatives. “This experience really affirmed my desire to pursue a career as a consultant and industrial/organizational psychologist.”

Matthew Weiner ’20 was one of 13 Tars to participate in business professor Tim Pett’s new six-week program, Studying High Performance Organizations in France. The immersive program brings together the interdisciplinary strengths of faculty and students from both Rollins and Groupe ESC Pau Colleges as well as the knowledge of business owners, community partners, and entrepreneurs within the Aquitaine region of France. “Studying abroad has allowed me to learn from other students and grow as a leader,” says the business management major. “I’ve been able to work with diverse populations and use my knowledge to advance my education in the global market.”

Physics major Josephine Spiegelberg ’20 spent the summer studying abroad at the Ludwig Maximilian Universität in Munich through Rollins’ Junior Year in Munich program. The semester-long program begins in Munster, where students take an intensive four-week German language course before enrolling in classes at the university. “Studying abroad really allows you to fully understand the meaning of global citizenship,” says Spiegelberg. “It’s been so interesting to take politics classes abroad and to understand the different perspectives that people who aren’t American have about world politics.”

Sydney Brown ’21 was one of a dozen Rollins students to engage with local historians, academics, and environmentalists in Namibia on a 10-day field study led by German professor Nancy Decker and political science professor Mike Gunter. Students had the opportunity to see both cityscapes and wild terrain and to discover how a timeless African country meets a fledgling nation treading a unique path into the 21st century. “I'm really interested in the politics and environmental conservation efforts of recently independent nations, such as Namibia,” says the political science major. “Through our discussions and excursions, I strengthened my identity as a global citizen, gaining a deeper understanding of the Namibian liberation struggle and history of global partnerships.”

Physics majors Jeremy Spitzenberger ’20 and Alec Vaughn ’22 spent the summer conducting original research alongside physics professor Chris Fuse as part of Rollins’ Student-Faculty Collaborative Scholarship Program, each looking at isolated galaxies. Spitzenberger is trying to understand the formation histories of these galaxies, while Vaughn is examining the notion that isolated galaxies were formed by the merger of two or more regular galaxies.

As part of the second cohort of Rollins Professional Fellows—a funded internship program that provides students the financial freedom to pursue the world’s top internship opportunities—marine biology major Colin Kelly ’21 interned with the Cornell Cooperative Extension. This educational system links the research efforts at Cornell University, the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station, and Cornell AgriTech to maximize the state of New York’s agricultural and natural resources. Kelly’s responsibilities for the summer included working with local community members to grow oysters to help restore shellfish to the bays and conducting his own experiment that involved measuring the growth potential of three different oyster-growing techniques. “Every day presented me with a different understanding of aquaculture,” says Kelly, “and my boss showed me how vital it is to pursue a career that not only benefits me financially and spiritually, but does so by raising the quality of my community and the world.”

Erin McFee ’19 and Julie Sparks ’20 were two of 14 students who delved into the history and culture of Vietnam alongside history professors Jim Norris and Claire Strom. Whether it was visiting museums, getting to know local college students, learning about the business center of Ho Chi Minh, or taking a river cruise on the Mekong, the students on this field study tapped into the resilience of this country. “After finishing a course on the Vietnam War with Dr. Strom this past spring, I wanted to experience what I had been reading about for months,” says history major McFee, who’s grateful to Rollins for expanding her horizons and pushing her outside her comfort zone. Sparks—a triple major in history, economics, and computer science—noted the importance of learning about another culture while seeing the impact of Americans and tourism on Vietnam. “This experience helped me gain self-awareness and cultural competency,” says Sparks.

Through Rollins’ Student-Faculty Collaborative Scholarship Program, business professor Josephine Balzac and philosophy major and pre-law student Joshua Bedoya ’21 took a deep dive into benefit corporations, or B-corps, which are businesses defined as having a triple bottom line: people, planet, and profit. A current pending bill in the U.S. Senate would require corporations earning more than $1 billion to become a benefit corporation, and the pair is investigating how such a bill would impact the future of business in the United States.

Rollins Results

From our innovative curriculum to our commitment to career services, find out how Rollins prepares our graduates to lead meaningful lives and forge productive careers.