Close Menu

Summer Snapshot

Many Whitworth undergrads continued their learning this summer through internships, jobs and research experiences. Some students worked right on campus and some traveled across the world, but all of them were moved by their experiences in some way. Here’s what a handful of students have to say about summer 2019.

Headshot of Ian RichieIan Ritchie '20

Major: Biology

Experience: Ministering in Scotland through the Whitworth Office of Church Engagement's Summer Fellowship Program

This summer I worked as a pastoral fellow in a church in Kintore, Scotland. This was a great opportunity to experience full-time ministry and learn about pastoral leadership. I had the joy and privilege of leading prayers and preaching sermons on Sunday mornings, visiting people in their homes and in the hospital, and other things. I was blessed with such a unique opportunity to not only learn about the ministry but also to serve Christ and participate in the Spirit's work in Kintore.

I do not really know what this experience means for me looking forward, and I do not think I can know. What I am sure about is that God knows what he is doing, and that where I am presently is where he has called me to be. I loved doing pastoral ministry this summer and I can certainly see myself doing it full time, but I have no plans on giving up my progress in studying plant biology. I love ministry and I love biology, and I would be happy to get the opportunity to work in either of these fields.

Close-up outdoor photo of Lauren BarryLauren Barry '20

Major: Computer Science

Experience: Internship at Amazon Web Services (AWS)

I had a great experience interning at AWS this summer! My project involved building an internal tool that would run standardized benchmarks, or performance tests, on our cloud storage services. This would allow internal teams to stay up to date on the latest capabilities of our services, so they could best advise our enterprise customers. In addition to this, I was able to network with others, learn about AWS, and experience the peculiar culture at Amazon. I spent time in Irvine, Calif., making friends with some fellow interns and Amazon's Seattle headquarters working with my project team.

One thing that surprised me about my experience was how it opened my eyes to different career paths. As a computer science major, one's mind usually goes straight to software engineering when thinking about jobs. However, a CS degree is actually extremely flexible and opens doors to many career paths. After getting hands-on experience and learning from others in the field, I was pleasantly surprised at how my technical knowledge can apply to other areas.

Emily Donnel sits in a forested area and smiles at the camera.

Emily Donnel '20

Major: Area of Concentration – Environmental Studies

Experience: Studying at the Au Sable Institute for Environmental Studies 

I spent 10 weeks as a student at the Au Sable Institute for Environmental Studies in Michigan. I took field-intensive courses in conservation biology, wetland delineation and determination, restoration ecology, and ArcGIS (mapping with computers and GPS).

I've been pleasantly surprised at how students from other parts of the country describe their colleges' approaches to environmentalism. So many people see their faith and ministry as including all of creation, not just humans. Even small schools with limited resources are prioritizing the environment on their campuses – from recycling and community gardening to replanting native forests around their residence halls! It has been so inspirational to see exactly what can be achieved when a community of believers are driven by a God-given passion for the world around them.

I can't wait to bring back all I have learned to Whitworth and hopefully aid in growing the environmental efforts that have begun on campus in recent years. Au Sable has given me a lot of confidence and energy that I will bring into my leadership roles this fall at Whitworth, including as president of the Kipos Club.

A student and instructor stand, smiling, near a high-tech machine in a lab.

James Gao '22

Major: Biochemistry

Experience: Research Assistantship in Whitworth Professor of Chemistry Kraig Wheeler's Lab

I investigated the way that crystals derived from molecules containing an amino acid group are put together. It's really exciting because the crystals I make are built from two molecules that aren't quite the same, so it's comparable to fitting a six-fingered hand with a five-fingered glove! My mentor, Dr. Wheeler, and my fellow researchers all have proved to be invaluable resources, showing me that with every challenge comes a unique approach. If that doesn't work, try different methods. Research is all about learning and keeping your eyes open and your mind focused. Each new day brings new knowledge!

While it may seem obvious, research is where current knowledge ends and new knowledge begins. Going into research, I was sometimes surprised at the unexpected scenarios, whether by an instrument reading that wasn't ideal, crystals that were hard to analyze on the molecular level when they looked fine on the outside, or even something as simple as trying to melt two substances together and finding that one substance sublimes before I can combine them. These moments were invaluable in teaching me to think outside the box and never give up, showing that while life isn't always a textbook, there's always a new angle to be read.

Chauncella Koulibali stands near a museum information booth wearing an apron and bunny hat, smiling.Chauncella Koulibali '22

Major: Psychology

Experience: Internship at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry

I interned with the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI), a family science museum in Portland. As an early childhood development intern, I worked in the Science Playground area, a place where kids ages 0-6 can play and also acquire basic experience with science. Each week I would teach a class about nutrition or simple machines, and every day I would lead at least one science-related demonstration, whether it was about our sense of smell, how pressure can affect marshmallows, or how we can make music with handbells. 

Because of this internship, I know now that I have to work with children in some way in the future. Beforehand, I knew that I liked medicine and psychology, but now I know that I have to find a way to integrate those interests with my passion for child development. I've held some of the most profound and honest conversations of my life with kids that were 5 years old because of this experience! Since I have learned that I connect well with children, I want to apply that ability to a career in child psychology. This makes me even more excited to delve into my psychology major! 

Two people in rain jackets smiling and posing in a garden; one is holding a shovel.Peyton Murphy '20

Major: Theology

Experience: Working in the Whitworth grounds department 

Working for grounds has been a favorite part of my Whitworth experience. It has helped me to grow as an employee but has also provided a caring community for me to be a part of. Having been trained specifically to repair and maintain the sprinkler systems, I take pride in keeping Whitworth green and beautiful. 

I was surprised to learn how self-sufficient the grounds department is when I first started working here. The wood chips we use in tree rings are generated from branches or trees that have been downed here on campus, and we are beginning to more frequently use compost we have generated to fertilize our plants.

Because of my time working irrigation under my supervisor, I will graduate from Whitworth with both an education and a useful trade. I am sure that I will make use of both in the future

Headshot of Makayla Long

Makayla Long '20

Majors: International Studies and Political Science 

Experience: Internship at World Vision International

Interning at World Vision International has been a vital opportunity for professional development and answering God's calling to serve. Each day I am met with a new opportunity to learn from my colleagues and broaden my understanding of sustainable development. Over the summer, I have worked with members of the WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) team in developing an online tutorial to orientate new members to the WASH Program. Qualitative coding, writing case study content and compiling survey results were also among my responsibilities. 

After graduation, I plan to find international development opportunities in Washington, D.C. Something I have taken away from this experience is that I have more to learn about the business side of nongovernmental organizational work. I hope to gain this knowledge by applying for other NGO positions and attending graduate school in the future.

Cannon Coats stands with arms crossed in front of the U.S. Capitol building on a sunny day.

Cannon Coats '21

Majors: Physics and Mathematics

Experience: Internship at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., through the Naval Research Enterprise Internship Program 

I wasn't really sure what to expect coming in; I knew that I would be doing some radiation modeling, experimentation and data collection for a high-energy particle physics group, but not much beyond that. When I got there, I became a research assistant for about eight people, bouncing between projects and working on a whole lot more than I originally thought. Consequently, I was able to learn a lot about a wide spread of physics, engineering and computing techniques, all of which will definitely help me later in life.

I didn't think I would like modeling as much as I do! I figured that building things on a computer would be important, but not super interesting. However, I guess I should have remembered how much I liked Lego as a kid. Seeing all of these complex pieces come together in a way that I have to critically think about, plan out, do all the math for, and then execute is actually really fun!