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Skidmore College

Exploring, learning go together during Skidmore summers

September 1, 2023
by Tory Abbott

“Summer break,” says who? For many Skidmore students, the learning doesn’t stop in the summer. As classes begin and we look forward to fall on Skidmore’s beautiful campus, we look back on some of the fascinating things students have been up to over the last few months. 
 
These five students were among nearly 100 students who took part in Skidmore’s Summer Experience Fund (SEF). The program provides stipends to support students completing unpaid summer experiences and is one of several Skidmore programs, including SEE-Beyond and Summer Faculty Student Research Program, that supply opportunities for students to pursue their academic or career-related interests over the summer. This year, Skidmore even hosted a pop-up research hub within NASA’s prestigious DEVELOP program, the first liberal arts college in the country to do so.  

Willa Flink ’25Willa Flink smiles at the camera.

North Star Underground Railroad History Museum 

Willa Flink is a history major and arts administration minor in their third year at Skidmore College. This summer, Flink used their talents as a graphic designer, editor, and researcher and contributed to our understanding of the past as an archival research and graphic design intern at North Star Underground Railroad Museum in Ausable Chasm, New York.  
   
During an internship this summer, Flink helped create logos and webpages in preparation for North Star's Juneteenth celebrations; they also helped to edit a book being written by the museum. Their efforts culminated in a 20-page Juneteenth celebration booklet containing historical background about the holiday, as well as archival document spotlights and various kid-orientated activity-sheets. The booklet was such a success that the Clinton County Historical Association expressed an intention to model future literature off Flink’s design.   

The experience supported Flink’s long-term goals of pursuing a career in the nonprofit sector or arts field.

Flink’s wide-ranging interests and passion for social justice was recently recognized on a national scale, when Flink received the news that they had been awarded a prestigious Obama-Chesky Scholarship for Public Service. Flink is the first Skidmore student to receive this scholarship, which is only in its second year. 
 Willa sits in front of a laptop, clearly working on something for their internship. We see them from the back of their head.“I feel so grateful that the Foundation appreciated my eclectic combination of service work contributing to art repatriation efforts, queer activism, border activism exhibits, and more,” Flink commented. “The scholarship will help alleviate the financial burden of college and support my hopes to work in the nonprofit social justice/arts world post-grad!”

Camilla Brown ’25 Camilla Brown '25 trims a bouquet at Native Farm Flowers.

Native Farm Flowers

Camilla Brown ’25 is a nature lover at heart. Growing up in Saratoga County (where Skidmore is located), she felt a deep connection to the local wildlife and has continued this passion as a biology major and environmental science minor. She spent the summer interning at Native Farm Flowers, a flower farm in nearby Greenfield Center that prides itself on its organic and sustainable approach to farming.  
  
At the farm, Brown was tasked with planting and watering seedlings, weeding, and picking and arranging flowers. Since Native Farm Flowers does not use chemical fertilizers, Brown had to learn natural remedies like fish emulsion to keep the farm thriving. She also saw firsthand the impact of organic farming: a protected environment where biodiversity flourishes.   
  
According to Brown, her internship extended and expanded her learning in the classroom.  

“Not only have I gained valuable knowledge about sustainable practices, but I now know that I want to continue to protect ecosystems and preserve biodiversity in my future career.”
Camilla Brown '25
Kevin Langyintuo stands in front of a snowy field.

Kevin Langyintuo ’24

Jamestown’s Boxers Documentary

Kevin Langyintuo, a philosophy major and media and film studies minor, has always loved telling stories through his art. He is an entrepreneur — the proud owner of Baby-Last, a small business that makes and sells clothing. This summer, he spent his time speaking to locals of Jamestown in Accra, Ghana, crafting a documentary about the city’s talented amateur boxers.   

Jamestown’s historical significance lies in its port —originally a place where many Africans were enslaved and shipped off to the Americas. Now, Jamestown is known as one of the poorest districts in the country. These factors drew him to the city. There he discovered that the area is also known for producing some of the country’s best boxers, many of whom planned to compete in the Olympic trials. Langyintuo’s film, "Amateur,” was born.   

A boxer from Jamestown sits wearing his gloves, head down.

Langyintuo spent much of the summer collaborating withlocals to record his experiences, working with a translator to bridge the language barrier, and examining footage to close any gaps in his storytelling. 

"I'm really happy that I got the opportunity to do something like this,”  Langyintuo said. “It's something I want to do again and again — I never found myself getting disillusioned with the work, and all the setbacks just became exciting problems for me to solve.”  

Langyintuo plans to submit his documentary to several film festivals in the future.  

Julia Blanck ’24Julia stands on an oyster boat in overalls and gloves, giving two thumbs up and smiling.

North Fork Oyster Company

Biology major and basketball star Julia Blanck ’24 interned at North Fork Oyster Company Inc. Her experience is an example of how Skidmore’s Summer Experience Fund can be used by students who are unsure of what they want to do in the future. 
 
“I took this job in hopes it would help me narrow down my options,” she explained. “I ended up learning all about sustainable oyster farming practices and gaining hands-on experience in a field that I was formerly uninformed about.”  

Spread across five acres in the Long Island Sound, the farm boasts a sustainable approach to farming and a low impact on surrounding sea and wildlife. At the North Fork Oyster Company, Blanck was responsible for building and repairing equipment, maintaining the farm’s infrastructure, employing techniques to nurture the oyster’s growth, and providing tutorials consumers on the proper ways to shuck and eat oysters. Part of the job also involved reporting records and data to the Department Environmental Conservation.   

Blanck, who has an interest in marine biology, said some of her favorite parts of the job were simply seeing the various types of aquatic life that populate the Sound. She recalled a particular day when the team found a skate egg case clinging to one of the oyster cages. 

A close-up of a bin of oysters.

“I held the translucent egg case up to the sunlight and could see the tiny baby skate swimming around inside. Afterwards, we returned it to the water where they would continue to grow for a few more months before hatching.”
Julia Blanck '24

Tzevi Aho ’24We look at Tzevi from behind. They have their arm outstretched to the side.

New York State Museum, Department of Invertebrate Paleontology

Tzevi Aho has been interested in paleontology for as long as they can remember; it simply made sense that they would dedicate the summer before their senior year to working with the Invertebrate Paleontology Department of the New York State Museum.  
 
The geosciences major devoted their time this summer to researching an understudied geological formation local to their home in Jonesport, Maine. This formation, called the Edmund Formation, is located on an island six miles out to sea. Aho was first able to explore it in the summer of 2022 and was immediately captivated by its brachiopod fossils. However, despite the large number of fossils, the formation had not been the subject of study for over a century. Aho reached out to Lisa Amati, lead curator of invertebrate paleontology, who agreed to oversee the project.   

Two fossils sit in a hand.

Throughout the summer, Aho examined changes in community structure following each eruption of the submarine volcano that created the Edmund formation and noticed significant differences in the fauna present at each site. They plan to continue their research, potentially in the form of a master’s project.

“In addition to the scientific experience I am gaining, one of my biggest takeaways from this project has been a deep appreciation for the story of life and all that it has gone through in the course of time,” Aho said.

 

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