Senior Spotlight: Hayden

Author: Gigi Speer, junior

The Senior Spotlight Series is an opportunity for Rose Hill Honors students to interview their peers in the Program and share the conversations with the broader community.

For this article, Honors junior Gigi Speer interviewed Hayden Cresson, an Honors senior majoring in International Political Economy and minoring in Philosophy.

Hayden Cresson, Class of 2021

Tell me about yourself and what you’re interested in!

I am majoring in International Political Economy with a minor in Philosophy and am in the process of applying to law school. I am the president of the b-Sides a cappella group and am a member of the Rose Hill Society, where I lead tours and information sessions to prospective students. I am on the Executive Board for the Campus Activities Board as the Comedy Co-Chair, which means I am responsible for bringing comedians to campus (or Zoom!). I also helped teach the First Year Formation Class, and I was an Orientation Leader.

How did you get involved in all of this?

I learned about the B-sides at the club fair, and my orientation leader recommended CAB since I had been on Student Council in high school. I joined the Comedy committee because I am very into SNL and stand-up comedy; one of my favorite memories from Fordham was seeing John Mulaney perform at Radio City during his “Kid Gorgeous” tour.  It has been so interesting to navigate how live performances have changed with the transition to Zoom since COVID-19. Heidi Gardner from SNL did a Q&A for Welcome Week via Zoom, and it was nice having her explain the ins-and-outs of SNL, especially since so much of the format has changed during COVID.

What has been your favorite experience at Fordham?

Orientation, in general, has been one of my favorite experiences because it allows me the opportunity to give back to a community that has provided me so much growth.  Not only do you make new friends yourself, but you also get to help other people form friendships and feel welcome at Fordham. When I moved in freshman year, my Orientation Leaders made me feel so safe and comfortable, and getting to provide that for other new students has been so rewarding. Aside from Orientation, being a part of the b-Sides has definitely been one of the best parts of my time at Fordham.  I especially enjoyed getting to perform at events like the Founder’s Dinner!

What initially interested you about being in the Honors Program?

I did not know about Honors when I initially applied to Fordham; I received the invitation to join a few weeks after I was accepted to Rose Hill.  Upon the invitation and some research, I decided to accept my place in the Honors Program because I felt that the small, seminar-style classes would be really conducive to my preferred style of learning.  For a girl coming from a very small high school, I felt that the size of the Honors Program might help make Fordham feel more intimate and close-knit.  I also really liked the design of the curriculum, as I knew it would challenge me and push me outside of my academic comfort zone.

What do you think is the best thing you’ve learned while in the Program?

I’ve really loved all of the English classes I’ve taken in the Honors Program, even though I’m not an English major.  The readings were fascinating and the professors were some of my favorites; my Contemporary Lit professor even wrote my law school letter of recommendation.  Outside of my coursework, the biggest thing I’ve learned is that it is okay to ask for help.  I’m not always going to have the right answers, so it’s good to rely on other people sometimes.  I used to feel like a failure if I needed help outside of class time, but Honors has taught me that asking for help when you need it is a strength, not a weakness. 

I agree, I have had so many good relationships with professors and I would also recommend that everybody talks to their professors after class or during office hours.

Is there a teacher, book, or course that has had the most impact on you?

Like I said I loved all my English professors, especially Dr. Keri Walsh, who taught Contemporary Literature. I appreciated that she gave us freedom in our papers — I was given the freedom to write an essay comparing the film A Star is Born to Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poetry. I also really loved Dr. Bruce Berg and had the chance to take a public health-focused class with him last spring, which ended up being especially fascinating and relevant, as we were sent home due to Covid right after midterms.  That class really sparked my interest in public health, which is now the focus of my senior thesis.

Speaking of theses, what is yours about?

After being indecisive for months, I have finally settled on my topic.  I am examining the way Medicaid expansion in Louisiana has impacted women’s health care.  My research will consist of interviews with clinic directors, hospital officials, and advocacy groups.

How do you think you have grown during your time in the Honors Program?

I have definitely gotten better at studying, and I have also learned to be more comfortable with failure.  I have become more self-aware and have learned to trust my strengths and understand my weaknesses without constantly comparing myself to others.  

I know things are so crazy right now because of COVID-19. Given the circumstances, is there anything else you would like to add? 

No matter where you go to school, it is important to seize the day and make your college experience worthwhile. College really does fly by, so savor every moment and take advantage of every opportunity!

A Mentoring Role Grows into a Lifelong Connection

Author: Megan Farr, junior

Megan Farr, Class of 2022

I first discovered South Bronx United (SBU) as a first-year student helping put on a resume workshop through Fordham’s College Access program. I fell in love with the SBU students, staff, and mission pretty much instantly. As a first-year student, I had some vague idea that I might like to work in education policy someday, but I knew for sure that I was passionate about equitable education, especially in the Bronx community we’re so lucky to live in at Rose Hill. Working with SBU seemed like a no-brainer for me: I love kids, am passionate about equitable access to educational resources, and enjoy teaching. So I emailed SBU’s Education Director, went through the internship hiring process, and started working with SBU in an official capacity during the fall semester of my sophomore year. 

For context, South Bronx United is a local non-profit organization that uses soccer as an outreach tool for students in the Bronx. Two days each week, middle and high school students play on competitive club soccer teams; for another two days each week, they attend after-school tutoring sessions where they get homework help, extracurricular enrichment for math and language arts, and SAT preparation. I’m fairly terrible at soccer, so I work on the academic programming side of SBU. I was an Education Intern my sophomore year and a Room Lead and volunteer tutor this year, my junior year. 

My time at SBU has been one of my favorite parts of my time at Fordham — from the serious moments, like when a student confided her troubles with some of her teammates to me, to the funny ones, like when a student put a reminder to do his homework into his phone’s calendar under the name “Megan’s head is going to explode if you don’t do your work.” Even through the start of the pandemic last spring, with the transition to online learning, SBU has been a constant in my life. My friends and family know the names of the students I’m closest to, and I’ve even seen some of my students on Fordham Road and the subway. 

My experience with SBU has aligned beautifully with my Honors experience – learning to work collaboratively with Honors students has made me a better tutor, and building relationships with other Honors students and professors in an academic setting has made me a better mentor. I like to joke that I’m going to be involved with SBU until I die, but I sincerely think that’s the truth – they’re my family now too, just as much as Honors is. 

A New Partnership: The YEP Holistic Mentorship Program

Author: Cristina Scofield, first year

Cristina Scofield, Class of 2024

Earlier this month, Honors students and Jonas Bronck Academy scholars met for the inaugural meeting of the Youth Engagement Program (YEP), a mentorship initiative between the Rose Hill Honors Program and the Jonas Bronck Academy (JBA), a public middle school near Rose Hill. Initially proposed by Brenda Gonzalez, principal of JBA, and Dr. Keller, director of the Rose Hill Honors Program, YEP was turned into reality with the efforts of JBA administrators and five Honors students. YEP is the first of its kind: a holistic mentorship program designed to connect Honors mentors with JBA scholars to help the middle school students plan and achieve their goals, both academic and personal. 

At the inaugural meeting of YEP, many of our Honors mentors described a similar inspiration for their involvement: to engage with the Fordham neighborhood, fully embodying our mission as a Community of Scholars for Justice. The Honors mentors representing Fordham this year are Nick Urbin (‘23), Danielle D’Alonzo (‘22), Jack Amrol (‘24), Maniza Khondker (‘24), and me, Cristina Scofield (‘24).

For many of us, the first meeting with our mentees served as a goal-setting workshop. We encouraged them to identify their goals and then outlined plans to achieve them. In addition to academic goals, our scholars outlined goals in other areas, such as a college or career dream or another area they’re passionate about. In this first session, I was truly inspired by my mentee’s ambition and determination. While we mentors have experience and advice to share, we have just as much to learn from our mentees! I, just like my fellow mentors, cannot wait to see how far they come during the eight weeks of this spring’s YEP program. 

While we are restricted to virtual meetings for the time being, hope is not lost on an eventual in-person reunion of the JBA and Fordham Honors communities. We are looking forward to future sessions of YEP, when we hope to expand the program to welcome more mentor-mentee partnerships!

A Network Like No Other: Honors Professional Development

Author: Isaiah Chu, Senior

When it comes to a professional network, you won’t find one better than the one forged through the Fordham Rose Hill Honors Program. As a senior in the Honors Program and the head of the Professional Development Committee, I’ve had the chance to both plan and participate in an incredible array of professionally-related activities. From resume and cover letter workshops to entire alumni panels, my career ambitions have been assisted in an infinite number of ways by these programs. 

Isaiah Chu, Class of 2021

One annual professional development program that has been incredibly helpful is the Honors Alumni Network. After opting in, current students are matched with an Honors alumnus in their desired field. In my sophomore year, I was matched with Mr. Tom Pecoraro, an attorney and the co-founder of his own HR consulting firm, Excelerator Consulting. As my mentor, he provided a constant stream of advice to help me discover my interests and next steps professionally. He was especially helpful in networking; he introduced me to several attorneys from all walks of life who helped me understand the full breadth of the legal profession. It’s been two and a half years since we met through the Honors Alumni Network and he still provides helpful advice despite his busy schedule. 

In fact, last week Mr. Pecoraro was the guest speaker at a professional development event for the entire Honors community. He was invited to share his experience, both in Honors and professionally. Among the great advice he gave, two points stood out to me. 

Honors alumnus Tom Pecoraro speaks to current students via Zoom about his experiences in the Honors Program and the professional world.

First, in the spirit of the Jesuit tradition, make sure to always self-reflect. Whether it’s every day, every week, or even once a month, take some time to think about where you are, what your interests are, and where you want to be. One of the great strengths of the Honors Program is that you can explore many disciplines while also building up analytical skills that will allow you to succeed in a variety of fields. In reflecting on where you want to be, make sure you create a plan. Your goals can be as simple as meeting a new person, joining a club, or just watching an interesting movie about your field, but a constant self-evaluation and goal-setting cycle is essential. 

The second important piece of advice was to do what you like. On the surface, this sounds simple, but many students get stuck in the mindset of needing to do what “looks good” rather than what they enjoy. This isn’t to say that you should avoid opportunities, but you should use every opportunity as a learning experience that furthers your understanding of your interests. If you learn from a volunteer position or internship that you have no interest in your intended profession, then maybe it’s time to pick something new! For me, my interests have meandered from engineering, politics and law to economics, math, and finance. I was only able to decide where I wanted to be by trying every opportunity, reflecting on my experiences, and slowly pivoting towards what my true interests were. After all, finding a career that truly suits your interests is one of your most important jobs as an undergraduate.

With everything I’ve learned so far through the Honors’ professional development programs, I can’t wait for future events. With two more upcoming alumni speaker events, as well as a networking session that I am helping to lead, I hope I can continue connecting with amazing alumni and fellow students in my last semester as a student in the Honors Program.

An Impact Research Partnership to Better Serve East Harlem

An LSA client family attends an outdoor partner event.

Author: Caroline Albacete, senior

The Little Sisters of the Assumption have been serving East Harlem since they arrived from Paris in 1891. Their current operation, the LSA Family Health Service, has been in operation since 1958. I knew very little about LSA until the fall of 2020, but the more I learn about their work, the more I marvel at their impact.

The Honors Program’s own Dr. Brenna Moore has been involved with LSA for a number of years. She brought the organization to Fordham’s attention in 2020, and has been leading a team of Fordham professors and students to research the organization and quantify its impact. The team is working to find out which of the resources and services LSA clients have found most useful over the years. Throughout the fall semester, Fordham professors and students collaborated to conduct interviews with LSA staff and clients, as well as conduct archival research. The project will culminate in a journal article that can help secure more funding for LSA and show concrete evidence of the ways in which the organization has helped the community.

Caroline Albacete, Class of 2021

I first met Dr. Moore during the fall of my junior year for an Honors’ course, Religion in the Modern World.  She invited me to join the team in the fall of 2020. She knew I spoke Spanish and could do translation work, which would prove useful during the interview period because the majority of LSA’s clients are immigrants from Central and South America. The interviews we conducted ended up being almost entirely in Spanish, which we then translated into English for the researchers who did not speak Spanish. It was not always an easy process—mostly due to technological difficulties; we conducted the interviews over Zoom because we could not do them in person during the pandemic—but it was interesting to begin to spot patterns about which of LSA’s services clients appreciated the most.

LSA offers a whole host of services. Many of the women I spoke with or whose interviews I translated particularly appreciated the English courses LSA offered. Some of the mothers enjoyed the socialization groups and after school activities their children could participate in. Even more appreciated the help the LSA staff gave in navigating the NYC school system. LSA, I realized, has done a lot for the East Harlem community.

I’d previously done some volunteer work in the Bronx, but working with Dr. Moore to research LSA has reminded me how vital nonprofit organizations are for creating community. I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity to help quantify LSA’s impact so that the organization can receive the recognition it deserves and continue its work in the future.

LSA parents and children take part in LSA’s Parenting and Child Development Program.

Senior Spotlight: Amelia

Author: Gigi Speer, junior

The Senior Spotlight Series is an opportunity for Rose Hill Honors students to interview their peers in the Program and share the conversations with the broader community.

For this article, junior Gigi Speer interviewed Amelia Antzoulatos, a senior Honors student majoring in Theology and Economics and minoring in Comparative Literature.

G: Do you have any passions that still exist today that were founded in your childhood?

A: Passion is a strong word, but I guess Greek music most closely fits here. I took a class with Professor Mohamed Alsiadi, another incredible Fordham professor, director of the Arab Studies minor, and world-renown oud player, who once said that listening to traditional Arab music “rips your chest open and makes you want to fly.” It’s not a violent sentiment so much as a deeply spiritual one, wherein you’re moved so profoundly you don’t know if you should jump out of your chair and dance or just let that ineffable joy or pain or nostalgia swell up from your chest and water your eyes. I can’t think of a better way to describe how I feel when I listen to Greek music. 

It might have been the hours spent writing Honors essays that got me exploring new playlists & following different musical leads while I (should’ve) worked, but I’ve got to thank Professor Walsh for also allowing me the intellectual space in our sophomore Honors Contemporary Literature class to research 19th and 20th century Greek urban music. Last year, too, I finally bought myself a bouzouki, a traditional Greek instrument, and it was Prof. Alsiadi who actually helped me find an instructor and prepped me & my instrument before my first lesson. 

G: Who were the Honors professors that made the biggest impact on you?

A: Wow, so many I’m not even sure I can list them all, but here are just a few.

Dr. Fiano, who introduced me honestly to the world of academia and the possibility of doing scholarship & “pursuing knowledge” in the long-term. And wow, constructing a syllabus really is an art.

Prof. Davis, my advisor, who inspired a wild excitement in theological texts and is probably the reason why I’m a Theology major. 

Prof. Callaway, for making me feel, for the first time here, like we were partners in scholarship.

Prof. Burnett & Prof. Gribetz, for being the truest examples of compassionate, innovative, and attentive scholars and educators I’ve ever met. Also so brilliant. How they teach is just as important as what they teach.

G: What will you miss most about Honors?

A: It really is a community in the end. And, as with any community, my relationship with it evolved over the course of my time at Fordham; I stuck close to it, grew disillusioned then grew nostalgic, reflected upon it, but, ultimately, always knew I could return to it whenever I wanted, even if only to pop in for some warm seltzer and free pizza. For all its exclusivity, Honors can be whatever we want it to be, and I’ll miss its flexibility (except when it comes to fulfilling the core) and the communal spaces it offers students and professors to discuss and react and adapt and act together for those things most meaningful to us. 

G: What has been your best internship or volunteer experience while at Fordham?

A: My internship experiences have been somewhat limited, but during my sophomore year, I very, very briefly volunteered with a Hellenic-American radio/television station called Aktina FM. The previous summer, a friend of mine had invited me to a Greek/Cypriot event at which the station’s founder, Elena Maroulleti, was a speaker; I ended up approaching her after the event about the possibility of working with her and she obliged! The commute was a little unsustainable for me (3 hrs each way to Astoria), but I really enjoyed learning from Elena’s experiences (she was a Cypriot refugee to the US in the 1970s who built her station on her own, becoming one of the first major advocates for Greece & Cyprus in this country, but who doesn’t hesitate to criticize the male-dominated leadership of the Greek-American community). At one point, I helped her cover an event attended by the Prime Minister of Cyprus and interview a member of his cabinet.

G: What have you enjoyed on-campus?

A: Late night walks around campus, exploring new spots to hang with friends. There’s nothing better than texting someone at 1am on a Thursday and taking a break to talk with them outside in the fresh air.

G: Favorite off-campus spot?

A: Pick a cafe and Isabel Velarde and I have been there for a mid-afternoon existential interlude. Prince. Luna. DeLillo’s. Dealy Starbucks in a pinch. 

G: Any favorite authors?

A: Barbara Kingsolver, Robert Penn Warren, Sally Rooney. Also Abraham Heschel; every time I read a line I’ve gotta put the book down and find someone to share it with. A few books I’ve read at Fordham that I can’t stop thinking about are I & Thou by Martin Buber; Mr. Mani by A.B. Yehoshua; and Sisters in the Wilderness by Delores S. Williams. One book that I never actually read but can’t stop thinking about: Memoirs of Hadrian

G: Any last things to add?

A: It’s been wonderful meeting some of the Honors underclassmen. They’re seriously impressive, and I’m really excited to see how else they’ll transform Honors and Fordham.

Honors Summer Internship Fellows: Elizabeth

This is the final post in a series of four posts written by the Summer 2020 Honors Internship Fellows. The students received a stipend that enabled them to work at non-profit organizations for the common good.

Author: Elizabeth Lurz, junior

I began the summer doing extensive research on the current job market in the U.S. and Fairfield County, with special attention to jobs both impacted and created by the COVID-19 pandemic. My goal was to locate the gaps where B1C clients could enter the particularly tricky and unprecedented job market, while also becoming familiar with the organization’s systems. Simultaneously, my boss encouraged me to seek out other projects within B1C, and I connected with the Legal Team to help build an improved webpage, which nicely connected my interests in law and computers, as I am minoring in Cybersecurity.

By July, I began to work with my boss on the Unpaid Wages team, a clinic set up to assist clients who were unpaid for a completed job, often an unfortunate result of employer exploitation of a worker’s immigrant status. After developing an in-depth project management tool and reworking intake forms to accommodate the new online environment, I became one of the primary contacts for new clients. I met with them over the phone to gather their information, understand their case, and help prepare their supporting documents for our volunteer attorney. Though I had to quickly brush up on my loosely conversational Spanish, and learn to adapt when a language barrier occasionally emerged, this soon became my favorite task of the summer.

My work with B1C has been an extremely rewarding experience. It was challenging to work in a fully remote setting, but I pushed myself to still develop positive relationships with coworkers and clients. Truthfully, without the Honors curriculum, I do not think I would have been able to make meaningful contributions to B1C. Honors pushed me to embrace my community and connect with and learn from others. I used my interdisciplinary knowledge on the movement of people and changes during crises to sympathize with clients. I was empowered to stand up to injustice, even when the results are farsighted, as they always are with slow courts and uncooperative employers. Though the summer has come to an end, I excitedly agreed to continue working remotely for the Unpaid Wages Clinic throughout the fall semester. I am looking forward to our upcoming cases and hopefully obtaining hard-earned money for several amazing people.  

Honors Summer Internship Fellows: Amelia

This is the third post in a series of four posts written by the Summer 2020 Honors Internship Fellows. The students received a stipend that enabled them to work at non-profit organizations for the common good.

Author: Amelia Medved, junior

For eight weeks of this unconventional summer, I interned with the North Shore Land Alliance, a non-profit that owns and maintains nature preserves on Long Island. Many of these preserves have trail systems for hiking, which staff and volunteers maintain for public use. 

Amelia with a porcelain berry root.

An Honors Summer Internship Fellowship allowed me to work from home full-time for the Land Alliance. My primary responsibility was to design interpretive trail signs for the Cushman Woods preserve in Matinecock, NY. I painted mostly in watercolor and then used digital media to assemble the final signs. I’m majoring in Environmental Studies and plan to complete a Visual Arts minor; I gained professional experience in both design and non-profit work by collaborating with my supervisors, researching local history and ecology, and executing multiple designs for the Land Alliance.

I worked most closely with Stewardship staff, and though my work was mostly remote, I was glad to spend one day a week at Cushman Woods performing trail maintenance. Working one-on-one with my supervisor, I learned plant identification to inform my trail signs. We also picked up trash, weeded native plant gardens, and sawed fallen trees after storms.

Watercolor of a Wood Thrush.

I also did a significant amount of invasive plant removal along the trails. The international nature of the city and its surrounding region allows plant species from all over the world to find their way to New York; the plants that face no natural predators can grow out of control, decimate native biodiversity, and compromise an ecosystem’s resilience. While removing garlic mustard and mugwort originating in Europe and multiflora rose and mile-a-minute weed native to Asia, I observed some local consequences of globalization. Especially through the lens of the coronavirus pandemic, I considered how connected the world is and precarious our systems have proven to be.

I am so glad to have spent my summer as an intern at the North Shore Land Alliance. It was an environmentalist’s dream to work out in nature at a time when I really needed to get out of the house. Thank you to the Honors Program and to Dr. Keller for this opportunityーa valuable internship and time to see my local ecosystem up close and hands on.

The Inaugural Van Cortlandt Park Scavenger Hunt!

Author: Julian Navarro, sophomore

On September 5th 2020, Honors Program First-Years completed a scavenger hunt as a part of the Honors’ orientation programming, a tradition hundreds of First-Years before them have had the fun of experiencing as well. This year’s scavenger hunt, however, was quite different than years prior. Instead of taking the D Train down to Columbus Circle and running around Central Park to take photos in the Shakespeare Garden or at the Bethesda Fountain, the Class of 2024 logged into a Zoom call for a virtual scavenger hunt “in” Van Cortlandt Park. 

The idea to move the annual Honors scavenger hunt from Manhattan’s Central Park to the Bronx’s Van Cortlandt Park first came about during one of this past summer’s Honors Mission Discussions, a series of meetings between current Honors students and professors that served to assess the Honors Program’s role in newly prevalent public dialogues on racial justice. Honors Sophomores Erik Brown, Amelia Medved, Julian Navarro, and Pilar Valdes designed, organized, and hosted the hunt with the intent of creating a Bronx-affirming program to highlight disparities in care, treatment, and accessibility between Van Cortlandt Park and Central Park. Fordham’s hybrid approach to the Fall 2020 semester complicated the original plans for an in-person event, but the scavenger hunt was quickly adapted to an online format as a Google Form.  

The First-Years were asked to research and answer a series of trivia questions that were scored on correctness and timeliness. The trivia emphasized Van Cortlandt Park and the Bronx’s historical significance as well as their contributions to the beauty of New York City. Examples of such questions are, “Which park is one of the 3 largest parks in New York City?” and, “Which park has over 1000 acres of land considered to be ‘Forever Wild Reserve,’ an NYC Parks program that was established to protect ecologically valuable land?” The correct answer to both of those questions is “Van Cortlandt Park.”

Julian and Honors first-year students overlooking the city from Van Cortlandt Park.

After the virtual scavenger hunt, an in-person, socially distanced trip to Van Cortlandt Park was planned for those who could safely attend. A total of eight First-Years, accompanied by three of the hunt’s organizers, Erik, Amelia, and Julian, as well as sophomore Nick Urbin, walked northward to the park along Mosholu Parkway. Everyone noted the difficulty of reaching the park from anywhere south or southeast of it as Sedgwick Avenue and the Major Deegan Expressway’s on-ramps are formidable opponents to foot traffic. However, trumping the sight of such deficits on the trip was the beauty of Van Cortlandt Park and the Bronx. Friendly hellos were exchanged with people barbecuing along the Parkway on the walk; the historical Van Cortlandt House stood in all the vibrant green of New York City’s third largest park; and from the Vault Hill Overlook everyone caught a glimpse of the Manhattan skyline and the roofs of the wonderfully colorful borough the Honors Program has the privilege to call home.

Honors Summer Internship Fellows: Amalia

This is the second post in a series of four posts written by the Summer 2020 Honors Internship Fellows. The students received a stipend that enabled them to work at non-profit organizations for the common good.

Author: Amalia Sordo Palacios, sophomore

The Covid-19 pandemic would have made obtaining an unpaid internship impossible for me this summer, which is why I am incredibly grateful to Dr. Keller for awarding me with the Honors Program Summer Fellowship Grant that made my work possible. I had the opportunity to intern with Autism Community Network, a nonprofit in San Antonio that serves children by providing autism diagnostic services, occupational and speech therapy, and classes for parents and caretakers of kids diagnosed with ASD (autism spectrum disorder). Because I began working with ACN at the same time that they started transitioning to telehealth, I witnessed a historic shift in the way autism diagnoses are performed and, alongside my coworkers, learned how to make remote services successful.

Amalia at the Rose Hill Campus.

Some of my roles included observing diagnostic and therapy appointments, administering the social media platforms, serving as a translator for Spanish-speaking families, and conducting research to assist with the grant-writing process. By working alongside clinical professionals, I learned a lot about careers in healthcare. I was reminded of the Honors Program’s interdisciplinary curriculum while observing how the diagnostic team came to a decision: each clinician specialized in a different field, but their collaboration and input ensured a more accurate autism diagnosis for the child. I also worked on finding research to support several grants; this was really exciting because I learned more about the real-world applications of neuroscience (my intended major). I was even able to give a presentation to parents about my own experiences growing up with a sibling with ASD. 

Throughout my internship, I reflected on the Honors Program’s idea of being scholars for justice and how it connected to my work. Prior to the pandemic, autism diagnoses were difficult to obtain due to long waitlists, shortages of trained professionals, and geographic barriers. I thought the pandemic would exacerbate these issues; however, I found that the transition to telehealth was a step towards ensuring accessibility for all families by helping them overcome geographic or financial barriers. ACN also developed a new program for parents struggling with mental health issues, supporting the Jesuit tradition of cura personalis. Through this internship, I’ve had the chance to explore different career paths and observe concrete examples of the role that the tradition of homines pro aliis (men and women for others) plays in nonprofit organizations. Despite working fully remotely, I was able to do really meaningful work this summer, all made possible with the Honors Program’s support.