Whitman Internship Stories – Annie Boyenneh ’16

Annie Boyenneh-Internship

One of the children who is receiving rehabilitation services from Mobility Outreach.

Interning at Mobility Outreach International (MOi) this summer has opened my eyes to many opportunities, and has allowed me to expand my skills. I also had the opportunity to experience and pick up other valuable skills in the fields of global health, computer science, and monitoring and evaluation. MOi is a nonprofit organization that focuses on providing high quality orthopedic and physical rehabilitation services to children and adults with limb loss or limb deformities in developing countries, and I have had the opportunity to work with hospitals internationally, that are providing clubfoot services to children.

I had the opportunity to work at MOi last summer, and this summer is drastically different. Last year, I worked primary on web development and graphic design, while this year, I am focusing on monitor and evaluation, using SMS systems such as CommCare and Telerivet to monitor health care workers and patients. I have been working closely with the monitor and evolution officer, and a PhD computer science student from UW to build an effective SMS system that will automatically send messages to parents about their child clubfoot treatment. I am also building an SMS survey that will allow the organization to efficiently monitor the quality of services being provided to patients. For this project, I am writing rules and conditions that will automatically trigger CommCare to send out SMS messages to patients. The complicity of this project is figuring out not only how to send compact SMS messages automatically using different triggers, but also figuring out how  patients and doctors can interact with this system by responding to these messages. Although my main project is figuring out how to deploy the SMS system in Vietnam, I have also been working on other projects that are rewarding and I am learning new skills.

Every day at the office brings about different opportunities. A few weeks ago, I was assisting my program officer with her trip to Senegal, where the organization is looking to expand, and also her trip to Sierra Leone where the organization is trying to expand its SMS program to this region. My primary duties for the Sierra Leone trip were setting up over 30 new phones with CommCare, in order for healthcare workers in Sierra Leone to enter in patient data. The purpose of expanding CommCare to Sierra Leone is to allow doctors to start collecting information digitally, instead of on papers, which will allow the organization to collect quality data and improve patient services. I have also been working on entering data that I receive from healthcare workers in Vietnam, Haiti and Sierra Leone, and using this data to create visual analytics. I have been working closely with another intern from UW and assisting with a translation project for an animation about clubfoot in Krio.

Interning at MOi has allowed me to explore other career options, such as global health and has allowed me to think about how my major can be used in a completely different profession. I have built my professional network and started to plan for life after Whitman. The organization and its members have really helped me grow as a young professional, and I am very grateful for the opportunity to work with Mobility Outreach International. I am excited for what the future holds, and my growth as an individual and a young professional.

Whitman Internship Stories – Ali Holmes ’16


Ali’s poster.

Hello! My name is Ali Holmes and this summer I am interning at SOS Health Services. As a Sociology and Studio Art double major who is not pre-med, some people have been confused as to why I would be interning at a free clinic. My internship includes a lot web design, graphic design, and coding different demographics of people we see at the clinic to create statistical models—with my main focus being marketing. There are two groups that SOS Health Services is marketing to—those who use our services and those who can give money/time to help keep the clinic running. From this perspective, I am creating two sets of marketing materials for the different groups of people that we work on targeting. What has been the most effective this summer is working as a team with the two other Whitman interns, Paige Organick and Sarah Blacher. We all have different tasks at the clinic but, more often than not we use each others’ skills. Paige has been doing a lot of research on preventative care. I take her information and put it into an easily accessible graphic format to be printed for our patients or transferred to our website. Right now I am creating a booklet on diabetes. Sarah is fluent Spanish so she translated the entire SOS website and then I put the translation onto the website. 60% of the people we see speak Spanish and our website was only in English when I started this summer. Sarah has also been working on translating all of the promotional materials I create for SOS.

A big project that I am currently working on is using both sociology and art skills, which I am thrilled about. Paige and I are working on collecting data from all the patients that our clinic saw in 2014. Once we are done collecting the data, I will code it and use SPSS (a software program) to analyze the data. Hopefully, it will reveal some key statistics about the group of people that we work with at SOS Health Services. For example, what language(s) do they primarily speak? What is the average level of education? And, how did they hear about SOS Health Services? From this data, I am hoping to generate the approximate amount of money that SOS Health Services saved the state government in 2014. We know that SOS Health Services saved the state government around $28,000 in 2012, but have no updated statistics since then. Then, I will take all of this information and put it on the web page I am creating called Impact! Right now, our website doesn’t have any information for donors about specifically what group of people are benefiting from their donations or where their money is going.


Ali’s brochure for the SOS clinic.

For my images, I have included a poster and brochure I created as marketing materials for SOS Health Services. (Also feel free to check out the website I have been working on with this link http://www.soshealthservices.com/.) By the end of the summer, the other interns and I hope to have these materials out in key areas of the community (Helpline, Blue Mountain Action Council, Blue Mountain Heart to Heart) where people who need our services will learn about us. We want to encourage people to come see us if they are injured or sick but also to get an annual exam with SOS as a form of preventative care. I have done an incredible amount of learning this summer with new software such as InDesign and Squarespace. Working at SOS Health Services has also revealed to me the importance of health insurance that we at Whitman are so lucky to have and the value of having a free clinic in the Walla Walla Valley for those for are uninsured, under-insured, or undocumented citizens.

Whitman Internship Stories – Alexandra Smith ’16

imageThis summer I am interning with the Council on Foreign Relations, a foreign policy think tank in DC. I am working with the Independent Task Force Program, which convenes experts on topics of critical foreign policy to provide findings and recommendations to U.S. policy makers in the form of a comprehensive final report.

My first take away so far, outside of the internship, is that I absolutely love living and working in D.C. The energy and ambition, the sense of things getting done, the headquarters of important organizations on every block, and the constant buzz and chatter about the latest political activity inspires me every day to chase a career in international affairs and foreign policy.

When I first came to the Council on Foreign Relations I knew they were influential in the foreign policy arena however I had less of an idea of what a think tank actually does, how they work, and how they influence policy makers. What I’ve found is that CFR and think tanks more broadly are the middle point between academia and policy making. They churn out ideas, debate and critique policy, and offer advice on literally everything important in foreign policy. The fellows are some of the most intelligent people I have ever been in the same room with and have careers that span academia, the State Department, direct advisors to government officials in the Executive Branch, the DOD, etc. I love being surrounded by the intellectual energy and creativity that characterizes CFR. For the first month I was able to attend a CFR member meeting almost every day that hosted officials and leaders on certain policy topics to debate and inform. I learned about an incredible array of foreign policy issues including: the crisis with Greece and the EU, economic growth in China, cyber-intelligence, political stability in Venezuela, economic development and investment in Africa, Scotland’s independence movement etc.

The Independent Task Force Program is currently producing a report on U.S.-India bilateral relations. With little background on the topic I have loved becoming a mini-expert on a topic I probably wouldn’t have stumbled across myself. For this Task Force my work involves researching and selecting recipients for final report distribution, helping to coordinate logistics for the upcoming trip to India where the report will be discussed with government leaders and policy makers, and attending meetings on India at other think tanks in the DC area and reporting back to my supervisors. The most exciting day of my internship was last week when I got to attend one of the three Task Force Meetings in which all task force members (experts on U.S.- India policy) meet to debate and reach a consensus on what to include in the report and what recommendations to make to U.S. policy makers. I was able to meet two former ambassadors to India and hear how individuals from a variety of perspectives and expertise come together to debate issues surrounding the economy, national security, democracy, women, climate change etc. through the lens of U.S. foreign policy. I am also helping to prepare for a new upcoming Task Force (the topic will be publicly announced later this summer) by identifying experts to contribute to the Task Force, providing background on possible Task Force directors etc.

This job is primarily a desk job but it never ceases to hold my attention. I geek out when making excel spreadsheets and contact distribution lists when I see the names of my international affairs idols and organizations I aspire to work for, filling the page. The most exciting part of my experience has been my interaction with people at CFR who have backgrounds and career trajectories I hope to follow. I have also loved attending meetings and conversations that are at the forefront of U.S. foreign policy and being a part of an organization that is progressively seeking to inform U.S. foreign policy and the larger conversation here in Washington. The exposure to a variety of foreign affairs issues has allowed me to identify more specifically my interests in the field and my conversation with many professionals has allowed me to better envision what a career could look like in this world and which sector I would like to pursue in the future.



Whitman Internship Stories – Haley Momany ’18

parrotWhile most people start the day off with the smell of brewing coffee, I begin mine with the smell of cauterizing flesh. There’s nothing quite like it. Although you might be wondering why I would ever have to smell burning skin on a daily basis, it’s quite a useful and common procedure that is carried out at the Hunter Veterinarian Clinic.

Along with the removal of small skin tags or tumors through cauterization, I’m exposed to new surgeries and procedures every morning at the clinic. Throughout these surgeries, I am constantly being quizzed on the body systems, the functions of organs, and how certain diseases affect the body. Many times, the veterinarian’s goal is to make the complexity of the question high enough so that I have to “MacGyver” my way to an answer which is a technique that veterinarians have to use every day in order to solve cases.

puppiesAfter the morning surgeries are over, the walk-in clinic begins. We see a variety of animals from parrots, ferrets, cats and dogs to even an albino coati. Due to the variety of cases, we treat many different things on a daily basis. I have learned how to preform blood tests and begin to analyze the results, run fecal tests, prepare vaccines and take x-rays. Every day I learn new things and I look forward to what the next couple weeks have in store!

Whitman Internship Stories – Alex Honeyman ’16

IMG_1518Since the beginning of the summer, I have been working in a lab at the Stanford University School of Medicine (supported by the Whitman Internship Grant); specifically, the lab that I’m working in is part of the Center for Clinical Sciences Research. Our project is focused on how fluid forces affect cardiovascular disease. The research draws on several disciplines as part of a collaborative endeavor to generate a more complete picture of how pathology develops. As a BBMB (’16) major, our curriculum has prepared us well for cross-field studies where a ‘biological intuition’ is helpful in un-dusting complex physiological processes. From using mechanical pumps to generate fluid forces to cultivating and manipulating cells for studying the effects of perturbation, physics, biochemistry, biophysics and bioinformatics play important roles in the lab’s holistic approach to pathological and developmental characterization.

Throughout the day, I get to spend my time working on various aspects of our project. Growing cells, infecting cells, harvesting cells, troubleshooting mechanical pump systems, and applying statistical mathematics to interpret data are just some of the events in my typical day. Witnessing the scientific process from idea inception to experimentation and finally to discussion has been truly wonderful.

In addition to participating—and being mentored—in scientific study, I also have had the chance to attend seminars by visiting lecturers on campus. Lectures I’ve attended have ranged from the mechanisms by which allergy begins in children to the neurological processes of synapse networks in learning and memory. Members of the lab that I work with—a.k.a. my teammates and, more recently, my family away from home—have been the most welcoming and friendly group that I could have hoped for in a summer internship. Working here this summer has been truly inspiring, not only from a scientific perspective, but also from a humanist one.