HAMDEN – Research indicates that academic internships are valuable experiences that supplement classroom learning. These partnerships have an irreplaceable role, providing hands-on learning opportunities, allowing students to collaborate closely with mentors and strengthening ties between a school and the community.
Since the internship program’s inception seven years ago at Sacred Heart Academy, mentors have guided students in everything from engineering and economics to business and child development. Students work closely with mentors, mostly alumnae and local scientists, to gauge whether a career path is right for them.
Eight students, all seniors, participated in the internship program this summer.
Kristen Austin of Northford, mentored by Beth Botti, ’97, was given real world experience in finance at AXA Advisors in Milford. She gained, she said, “invaluable information about mutual funds, variable annuities, stocks, bonds and managing portfolios.”
Mitali Banerjee of Farmington continued an internship from the previous summer in the Molecular Cardiology and Angiogenesis Laboratory in the Department of Surgery at the University of Connecticut Health Center, under the direction of Nilanjana Maulik, Ph.D. As part of her project, Mitali studied the effects of deleting a gene called Prolyl hydroxylase-1 on cardiac remodeling and the formation of new blood vessels especially in areas affected by trauma such as in the event of myocardial infarction.
Vanessa Brokaw of Wallingford served an internship in marketing and communications at the Wallingford Family WMCA. Under the guidance of the director of marketing and outreach, she engaged members, staff and program participants in fitness classes, summer camp and swim lessons.
Helena Bui of Branford conducted statistical analyses on genes in hopes of finding significance concerning leukemia overall survival. She also performed cost and labor analysis in comparing two methods of electrophoresis: the very new Agilent 2200 TapeStation vs. traditional agarose gel electrophoresis.
Samantha Kennedy of Wallingford worked with Paula Kavathas, Ph.D., in the Yale School of Medicine Immunology Department studying the effects of microRNA on certain cell genes. She said she thoroughly enjoyed her laboratory experience and is grateful for the amazing opportunity.
Jenny Piciw of Shelton participated in the Yale University School of Medicine’s Discovery to Cure Internship Program. Her project, “The Effect of Nanoparticle Aggregation on Encapsulant Release,” studied the importance of the timing of the release of drugs in the treatment of disease.
Elizabeth Smith of Madison experimented with telomerase as a potential treatment for cancer in the Path to a Cure, 2015 Yale Research Summer Program, under the direction of Sandy Chang, Ph.D.
Gelsey Torres of West Haven interned at the West Haven Child Development Center in the role of teacher assistant, working side-by-side with teachers and nurse interns. She said she loved her experience with the children.
Sacred Heart Academy, a Catholic college preparatory school founded in 1946 by the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, has an enrollment of 500 students who hail from 80 different schools and 60 towns in Connecticut.