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Skidmore College

Pursuing passions and building careers

August 4, 2021
by James Helicke

This summer, Skidmore students have helped to make the world more accessible for those with special needs, worked with medical professionals to improve healthcare for recent immigrants, honed the research skills they have gained at the College, and prepared themselves for careers in industries ranging from the performing arts to real estate.  

With support from the Summer Experience Fund, more than 100 students have pursued their passions through internships, volunteer opportunities, research projects, community service initiatives, artistic residencies, and other experiences that are as unique as the students pursuing them.  

SEF provides stipends to students so they can gain skills, knowledge, connections, and experience without the burden of having to support themselves as they participate in unpaid summer experiences. 

Sociology major Sten Leinasaar ’23, for instance, interned with the Union of Women with Disabilities of Estonia, where he supported a program that helps those with special needs to participate in a pursuit that Leinasaar enjoys — sailing.  

“If somebody asks you to imagine what it might feel like to have peace of mind and be free, then I, for one, think of sailing,” he said. 

Sten Leinasaar ’23 washes as boat as part of his internship with the Union of Women with Disabilities of Estonia.

Sten Leinasaar ’23 washes as boat as part of his internship with the Union of Women with Disabilities of Estonia.

Over the summer, Leinasaar’s responsibilities have included planning programming, lifting program participants onto the boat, and scrubbing the vessel. All the while, he has developed a greater understanding of the range of needs that those with differing abilities face every day.  

“There is so much work yet to do about disability and making society truly inclusive. I am only starting to see the extent to which work needs to be done, but I am feeling the gratitude and accomplishment with every smile I see, knowing that I help to put it there,” he said. “The personal experience is something I would have never gotten if not for this SEF award that made it all possible.” 

The program is administered by Skidmore’s Career Development Center and includes multiple awards, such as the SEF awards; Summer Educational Experiences – Beyond the Campus (SEE-Beyond Awards), which involve academic departments at the College; and other grants for students in specific majors. The awards are supported entirely through the generosity of donors.  

“Our goal is to enable recipients to gain skills, knowledge, connections, and experience within their chosen field without the burden of having to support themselves while engaging in unpaid work,” said SEF Coordinator Amy Mangiaracina. “We strive to ensure that all students can take advantage of the best opportunities available to them.” 

Political science major Cecilia Martinez ’22 has been serving as an intern for state Rep. Roger Montoya in New Mexico, where she supports community outreach efforts in a largely rural district that spans four counties and includes tribal land.  

Cecilia Martinez ’22 attends a Santa Fe Pride parade as part of an internship with state Rep. Roger Montoya.

Cecilia Martinez ’22 attends a Santa Fe Pride parade as part of an internship with state Rep. Roger Montoya.

“So much of my time has been spent driving across rural northern New Mexico to hear these underserved people and their needs at both local events and at our town halls,” she said. “I have enjoyed every minute working with the representative.”  

The summer program cuts across the country, the world, and a range of Skidmore majors – from the sciences to the arts.  

Biology major Libby Danielson ’23, an intern at Maine Medical Center, has been supporting a project to improve the quality of care given to newly arriving adult immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers in the International Clinic of Maine Medical Center.  

The project seeks to understand why required testing of the new arrivals for tuberculosis, sexually transmitted infections, and other conditions sometimes leads to incomplete screening and treatment.  

Libby Danielson ’23 has been conducting research as an intern at Maine Medical Center.

Libby Danielson ’23 has been conducting research as an intern at Maine Medical Center.

Danielson has been reviewing medical records and other information to pinpoint any underlying themes and help a team of researchers to develop possible solutions. She called the internship “exciting and inspiring.” 

“Not only am I extremely passionate about the type of research I am doing, but it has also been such a privilege to simply be in person, shadowing doctors at a hospital,” she said. “Observing how each doctor interacts with patients and performs physical exams is so interesting and truly inspires me to go into healthcare one day.” 

Julian Tushabe ’22, a theater and business double major who is “extremely passionate about acting,” received summer support for the second time. Last summer, he turned a screenplay he wrote into a full-length feature film. This year, he saw the funding as an opportunity to explore his identities while advancing his acting career. 

“This is why I was extremely excited to get SEF funding, which I have been using to pay for Black-centered acting training in workshops, one-on-one sessions, and books,” he said.  

In addition to participating in workshops, Tushabe has been training with a professional actress.  

“She will be helping me prepare for graduate school and professional auditions with a specific focus on Black-centered methods and ideologies,” Tushabe said.  

 Julian Tushabe ’22 is preparing for graduate school and professional auditions.

Julian Tushabe ’22 is preparing for graduate school and professional auditions.

The opportunity to nurture budding interests into career opportunities in every field at the College is what SEF is all about.

Henry Meade ’24 has not declared his major yet but is interested in management and business. This summer, he is participating in a remote internship with Real Estate Roundup, a commercial real estate startup in New York.  

“Marketing has been the area of the company that I have been the most involved in, and I have noticed that the skills that I have learned at Skidmore have directly applied to most of the operations that I am tasked with doing,” he said. “Although I am not set on what area of business I want to go into after graduation, working at a startup has allowed me to truly explore my options and gain experience and insight into what I enjoy doing.” 

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