Department of Political Science

Navigation + Search
Home / wellman-hill / THE WELLMAN HILL POLITICAL SCIENCE INTERNSHIP GRANTS PROGRAM: THE SELECTION COMMITTEE’S REPORT ON THE FIRST YEAR (2007-08)

THE WELLMAN HILL POLITICAL SCIENCE INTERNSHIP GRANTS PROGRAM: THE SELECTION COMMITTEE’S REPORT ON THE FIRST YEAR (2007-08)

Posted on October 1, 2008

October 2008

Selection Committee Members:
Karen Beckwith
Ken Grundy (Non-Voting)
Yuri Linetsky
Andrew Lucker
Elliot Posner (Chair)

This document reports on the first year of the Wellman Hill Political Science Internship Grants Program. The grants were made possible by a generous gift from Elizabeth Hill (B.A., M.A., 1997) to honor her grandfather, Wellman Hill. The program enables Political Science majors to accept public service summer internships that financial limitations might otherwise force them to decline.

The Selection Process
In accordance with the resolution of the program’s endowment and after a preliminary discussion based on recommendations by a previously assembled group of faculty, Department of Political Science Chair Joe White established the Wellman Hill Selection Committee and appointed Assistant Professor Elliot Posner to serve as its chair. The other members were Professor Karen Beckwith, Visiting Assistant Professor Yuri Linetsky of the School of Law (a close friend of Liz Hill from her days at CWRU), Adjunct Assistant Professor Andrew Lucker (the Associate Director of the Center for Policy Studies) and Professor Emeritus Ken Grundy. In early November of 2007 we began our work by devising the program’s rules, setting up an on-line application form and posting guidelines for reference writers. On November 15 the committee announced the opening of the grants competition.

The formal requirements of eligibility included: 1) a major in political science; 2) two semesters of coursework at CWRU; 3) a 3.0 grade point average in political science; 4) a graduation date no earlier than December following the internship summer; and 5) a commitment to public service. Beyond the application itself, students were also required to provide one letter of reference from a CWRU faculty member.

We sought to make the application as easy as possible. The main criterion for selecting grant recipients was the extent to which applicants’ personal stories and their selected internships were consistent with the public service goals of the program. The committee did not take into account financial need in identifying internship candidates for two reasons: we were uncertain about how we might do this, and the internship mandate already encouraged students to accept public service internships, which might pay nothing or little in comparison to typical paid summer employment.

Members of the department and the committee publicized the grants opportunity. We set an application deadline of February 15; attracted fourteen applications; identified eleven students to interview;(1) and selected five recipients who were awarded $4000 each and three alternate candidates. All the winners secured internships by the May 15 deadline, and the department dispersed the funds soon after receiving confirmation.

1 One applicant withdrew his application upon accepting a paid summer internship in a private law firm.

As part of our review process, the committee interviewed a large number of the applicants, not only to determine likely finalists but also to provide interview experience to students who would be eligible to apply again. We selected an outstanding group of five recipients who landed prestigious internships and represented the department and the University well.

At her initiative, Liz Hill hosted a celebratory dinner at Lolita for the finalists and alternates. The guests included her parents and her grandmother (widow of Wellman Hill), her college friends, and Dean Cyrus Taylor and his wife, Elizabeth, among others. The dinner was a great success, and the students were lively and very happy to be so honored (and, again, represented us very well).

This Fall’s Grants Competition
All selection committee members enthusiastically accepted Joe White’s invitation to serve a second year. We are currently discussing changes and welcome suggestions. The list of already agreed adjustments include: 1) clarifying on our website that Wellman Hill grants will not be given to students for the purpose of participating in the Washington Program summer term; 2) making known on our website that grant recipients must write a final report to the committee; 3) making better use of the Career Services office by having Elliot Posner give an in-person overview of our program; and 4) holding a recruiting and informational meeting early in the fall semester. The latter will be held on October 22 and will include presentations by last year’s recipients.

The 2007-08 Wellman Hill Political Science Internship Grants Winners and Alternates

 

Winners:
  • Jane Kaminski (Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington, D.C.)

 

Alternative Candidates:
  • Julia Chwasz
  • David Mattern
  • Lauren Yessenow

 

Reports by Grant Recipients on Their Internship Experiences

Jane Kaminski (Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington, D.C.)

      I just finished up the best summer I’ve had since I was twelve (and I spent that one riding my bike everydaynot bad at all). This summer I was in Washington, DC doing defense research at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. I was fortunate to get this internship that apparently 800 other applicants were vying for, and I was even more fortunate to be able to accept it. CSIS internships, like most DC internships, are unpaid. My summers are traditionally spent working and saving money but I knew that this summer, the last one before I graduate, was my opportunity to get some real work experience in Washington, DC. I applied for the Wellman Hill Political Science Internship Grant to help support me. I’m so grateful that I was among the recipients of the grant. Thanks to the Wellman Hill Grant, I gladly took the CSIS internship.

      CSIS is one of the most reputable think tanks. It prides itself in being nonpartisan and its experts are some of the top political minds. Needless to say, I was excited to be among such esteemed company. My boss was Kathleen Hicks, a defense strategist who worked her way up in the Pentagon before joining CSIS to focus on her research. This summer, I assisted her on several projects. I compiled research on defense transformation and RMA, basically where modern defense policy started and trying to understand where it’s going. I also studied the inefficiencies in defense budgeting, AFRICOM and peacekeeping policy, and post-surge Iraq. My work contributed to congressional testimony that I was able to attend. Since CSIS recognizes that being an unpaid intern can be hard, they try to give us as many perks as possible. They have a leadership series set up for the summer interns where at least once a week we would have luncheons where we would be instructed by the young professionals, senior fellows and experts on a range of issues, from applying to graduate schools to the terrorist organizations in South East Asia. This program is called AILA, or Abshire-Inamori Leadership Academy. That’s the same Dr. Inamori after whom the Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence was named here at Case Western. Similarly, the interns are encouraged to attend as many events as possible, even when they aren’t necessarily in our field of research. The speakers were incredible. I was at a discussion among Brent Scowcroft, Zbigniew Brzezinski, David Ignatius and Bob Schieffer. The President and Prime Minister of Kosovo gave a briefing to CSIS on their government’s development. It was really incredible to hear authors explaining their works that I read in classes here at Case Western.

      I gained so much from this summer. An amazing internship, real work experience, new friends, and last but not least, three months in Washington, DC. I can’t wait to go back and continue my work, studying defense and international security. These experiences just would not have been possible without the Wellman Hill Political Science Internship Grant.

 

Hema Krishna (Genetic Alliance, Washington, D.C.)

     As a Wellman Hill Grant recipient, I had the opportunity to intern with Genetic Alliance, an organization which advocates on issues related to genetic conditions and health policy. In my position as a policy intern at Genetic Alliance, I learned a great deal about how nonprofits operate in Washington, D.C.

     During the first half of the summer, I organized Genetic Alliance’s annual advocacy Day on the Hill. I set up meetings with health legislative aides of nearly all the senators and many representatives and managed the logistics behind bringing over one hundred and fifty members of the genetics community to the Hill. Additionally, I worked with the policy team to determine the goals of our advocacy event and to create briefing materials on the issues for the Congressional offices and the doctors, researchers, patients, and advocates who would be participating. On the day of the event, I was a group leader; in this position, it was my duty to ensure that the meetings my group attended were focused and played to the strengths of each member. I coordinated the expertise of a genetic counselor and biotechnology company CEO to create a coherent message on issues ranging from the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act and newborn screening to health information technology and genetic testing oversight. My group and I visited the offices of numerous senators and representatives (including both Senators Brown and Voinovich) and were able to bring attention to issues relating to genetic illness. One of the most powerful lessons I learned from this event was that in America, government truly is accessible to the people. I saw grassroots advocacy in action and realized that it is the duty of citizens to express their concerns to representatives if they want change.

     Following the Day on the Hill, much of my work focused on the issue of health information technology (HIT). Because Genetic Alliance had just begun to be involved with HIT, I was asked to do background research on Congress’s position on the issue. I wrote reports on the actions of various HIT-focused coalitions and made a recommendation as to which one Genetic Alliance ought to join. Through this process, I worked with the CEO of Genetic Alliance and gained valuable insight into the world of Washington politics; I did not realize how much of getting things done in D.C. is about knowing the right people. In the process of seeing Genetic Alliance’s CEO calculate the costs and benefits of following my recommendation, I saw how a political network is formed and maintained.

     Beyond the internship, living in Washington, D.C. was a truly amazing experience. The cultural and intellectual opportunities are endless; I attended everything from an African drum circle in northeast DC to conferences on disparities in healthcare. I even tried Ethiopian food for the first time! Working at a nonprofit in a city like Washington exposed me to people who are genuinely passionate about their work and even if seeing such passion was all I gained, my summer in D.C. would have been worthwhile.

     My internship experience has cemented my desire to work in health policy in the future. I am currently applying to MD/Masters in Public Health dual degree programs for the fall of 2009 and I will be completing an honors senior thesis on health policy this semester. Additionally, I plan to begin work with the Better Health Greater Cleveland initiative, an organization which seeks to improve the management of chronic disease in the Cleveland area. I was also offered a fellowship with Genetic Alliance to continue the work I did this summer. For this upcoming spring, I have applied to study political science with a focus on health policy at Cambridge University in England. As a Wellman Hill Grant recipient, I saw the effect policies have on ordinary Americans. Every person is touched by health policy and through my work in public health, I will positively impact the lives of people across the country.

 

Komal Patel (Unite for Sight, Dhenkanal, India)

     It’s been almost three months since I got back from Orissa, a state on the eastern side of India, and I can’t believe how much I miss it. First and foremost, before discussing the profound impact that this experience has had on me, I want to thank everyone in the staff from the administration to the physicians to the paramedics and everyone else whom I have met here. It is with their guidance and support that this volunteering trip of mine has been such a success. They have been truly wonderful and have made this experience one that I will cherish for a long time to come. Perhaps most importantly, this life-changing experience would not have been possible at all without the help of the Wellman Hill Political Science Grant.

     I went abroad with the non-profit Unite for Sight to Dhenkanal, India to work at the Kalinga Eye Hospital and Research Center. KEHRC sets up free eye clinics in the most rural parts of the state. KEHRC would have volunteers go to remote areas of Orissa and set up clinics in abandoned warehouses, empty schools, and any shaded area that had a fan. As a volunteer, I would be in charge of helping run tests from blood pressure, to intraocular pressure, to blood glucose levels. For those patients who were diagnosed to have cataracts, they were brought back to the base hospital and provided free pre-op, post- op, lodging, food, and surgeries. I was able to scrub in on the surgeries and was also allowed to be in charge of the pre-op and post-op vitals. Aside from the surgical procedures, I helped distribute eye glasses by providing free eye exams using a Snell chart. While these were the duties of the volunteers, I started some different initiatives; given that the Wellman Hill Grant is given for social change for those underserved, there was much work to be done. I started an English class for the paramedic staff so that they would better be able to communicate with other health care professionals who would be coming from the United States. Given that English is the language of health care, it is important for the paramedics to be able to communicate the cultural barriers that might stand in the way of implementing health care policies changes. The second thing that I saw was that the patients were detached from the process. While here in the US, we often take responsibility for our health and take the initiative to see physicians as a result of our education and public health initiatives that keep us informed, in developing nations education and public health are sectors that are virtually non-existent. To that end, I designed a public health project for the children who are screened. KEHRC sees something close to 75,000 children each year. I created a care package which contained educational coloring pamphlets (with messages like read with proper light, see a physician, avoid rubbing eyes if exposed to chemicals, etc), crayons, eye patches, plastic eyeballs, and a flashlight. While most of these are supposed to be for fun, I believe that educationally, these tools are viable for spurring discussions in the local villages, which may be the only way to educate the population. For elders, I created a poster on safety and nutritional actions that can be taken by the patients to help themselves. While the patients are waiting for the bus to take them from the eye camp back to the base hospital, they would be given a quick five minute lecture by the paramedics in the native language to educate the patients. In order to test for competency, the patients were required put a thump-print next to their name on the registration table because nearly all of them didn’t know what their last name was or how to write.

     With close 60% of the population below the poverty line, I saw a whole new side to health care that most only get to read about. While there was no running water, electricity, and close to 110 degree heat waves for the entire time I was in India, I can unequivocally say that this was the most impactful experience of my life. While helping the physicians screen the patients and helping diagnose the various eye diseases from conjunctivitis, amblyopia, cataracts, and glaucoma, I saw the vast differences between the US health care system and international health care systems in access to care and education of populations. Here it would be considered out of the norm to have never seen an eye doctor in 60 years, yet there physicians are often seen as part of a witch craft like culture that only serves to take eyes out of the patients and sell them. The lack of comprehensive policies in combination with structural, cultural, and infrastructural barriers, makes the situation there bleak. With the help of organizations like Unite for Sight, ORBIS International, and funding by specialized UN projects, Orissa is starting to see some changes in health care. While paying patients are given the same care, it is the non-profit work that this hospital does that has left an impression. There are no words to describe how it feels to see the first patient go through the process and have his or her sight restored. Yet, that indescribable feeling still remains with me even as I write this. It goes without saying that I am eternally grateful to the KEHRC, Unite for Sight, and Elizabeth Hill for giving me such a wonderful opportunity, which I would have normally not had. Performing over 5,000 cataract surgeries a year, this hospital is the first to make outreach and eliminating needless blindness a priority and for that we are inspired by their vision and dedication to the public. I have seen firsthand that every person has the ability to impact and change the lives of many, as each of the people here are doing daily. Yet, they have such a sense of humility and sincerity. It’s truly refreshing to see altruism at its best.

     I believe that service is good for the soul. The work done by both Unite for Sight and KEHRC is remarkable and I hope will continue for a long time to come. I left with a new faith in humanity because of how everyone on every level has cared for each patient. No one single person was more important than any other and everyone took responsibility for even the slightest tasks that were to be completed. The work done by the organization is truly visionary and I am honored to have been part of it. As far as my future goals, this experience has led me to believe that health policies and public health education is the field that I would love to make contributions to. Until this summer, I was really not sure what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go. I cannot thank Ms. Hill enough for opening my eyes to the plight of access to health care and equality in health care distribution in developing nations. Even after coming back from Orissa, I am still working to continue implementing my projects and get funding for creating future projects as well. As a result of the opportunity this grant gave me, I filmed for CNN International as part of the segment “Be The Change,” which will be aired sometime next month and am presenting at the 2008 Global Health Conference at Yale on entrepreneurial volunteering. Needless to say, I never knew that I would have such an incredibly revolutionary summer that would open multiple doors for me when I applied. I can saw without a doubt that this grant has been the first stepping stone to what I hope will be a bright future for me in health politics.

 

Nicholas Sachanda (Cook County State’s Attorney Office, Chicago)

     Thirteen weeks in a summer. That’s thirteen weeks of dragging myself out of bed to make the forty-minute commute, thirteen weeks of putting on a suit every morning to slog through the Chicago summer heat, thirteen weeks of exposure to the gritty underbelly of society. Thirteen weeks working for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. Thirteen weeks I wouldn’t trade for anything.

     Spending the summer as a law clerk, working in a felony trial courtroom, was without a doubt the most life-defining experience I’ve had so far. Every morning, I had the chance to see a new facet of the criminal justice system. I was intimately involved in the system. Most legal internships, especially those for undergraduates, will find the intern stuck in a records room or behind a desk doing research. I worked with the three attorneys assigned to courtroom 302. They handle almost every case that comes into the courtroom, in descending order of seniority based on the severity of the case – the “first chair,” or most senior, tries murders, the “second chair” tries most of the middle range of felonies (armed robbery to attempted murder and similar classes of felony), and the “third chair” tries assaults, burglaries, and everything else. A senior law student clerk would be given the opportunity to try gun and drug cases, under supervision.

     Of course, I spent most of my time working on the tasks one might think of as “classic” for an intern. I would copy packets of discovery, pull and re-file the day’s cases, fax requests to crime labs and police stations, and occasionally proofread motions and other documents. These were the tasks of every law clerk. A strict description of my job requirements, however, fails to adequately describe the experiences I was afforded. One day, I got to do a crime scene visit – we needed more pictures of the scene of a double shooting, so I jumped in a Crown Vic with one of the investigators and went out with a camera. The pictures we took were used about a month and a half later to convict the shooter. When we were on trial, I was tasked with “babysitting” the witnesses – some are uncomfortable with sitting in the hallway with the other side’s witnesses, some are just confused as to where they are, and some will try to duck out to smoke right before they go on the stand. While I was working there, R. Kelly’s trial was happening. I got to watch, from in the courtroom, closing arguments in the trial.

     Without a doubt, the most important thing I was there to do, however, was learn. Going into the experience, my goal was to learn as much as I could about the career of a prosecutor. I absolutely met this goal. I learned about what the job entails, from the career path of an Assistant State’s Attorney to what the job entails on a day-to-day basis. I got to see the issues that prosecutors face every day, see the situations where the judgment call a prosecutor makes has a long-term impact on someone else’s life. In fact, the one thing that sticks out in my mind about the experience is how much the career is based on having good personal judgment. Each case brings a new challenge, a new balance to strike. How does one balance harm done with the impact of incarceration when pleading out one of the 90% of cases that don’t go to trial?

     The career of a prosecutor is rich with such challenges, with puzzles to solve. The responsibility of a prosecuting attorney is to present, in any given case, what happened, to a jury. The attorney must determine the fact pattern from police reports and witness statements, find ways to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt, and explain to twelve independent citizens the case. It’s a complex, difficult job, especially when one considers that the stories that must be told are the ones that don’t end happily. If a case makes it to felony trial court, it’s because someone has ended up a victim. Despite the challenges, this summer made me realize that the career of a prosecutor is the career I want to pursue. Having seen the impact that the State’s Attorneys are able to make on families and on the community, I want to devote my career to doing the same work. Ultimately, I think I’d like to work for the federal government, but in one capacity or another, I fully anticipate taking a role on the side of justice, on the side of the victims of crime, after I finish law school. I’m happy to say that my experience this summer, with the assistance of the Wellman Hill grant, cemented that in my mind.

 

Sarah Tolbert (Carter Center, Atlanta)

     When I answered my phone in South Africa, I was surprised to hear an American accent on the other end ask “Is this Sarah?” The call was from The Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia and they wanted to offer me an internship in their democracy program. Although overjoyed to be offered such a wonderful internship, I promptly asked how long I had to make a decision. When the voice answered tomorrow, I began to panic. Sure, this was an opportunity of a lifetime, but financially, how would I be able to take an unpaid internship? After logging online to send my dad an email to ask his opinion, I saw in my inbox an email from the Wellman Hill grant committee. Nervously, I opened the e-mail and after reading the first line, realized what it meant. I could take the Carter Center internship!

     Without the Wellman Hill grant, I would not have been able to embark on one of the greatest learning experiences of my life. The Carter Center is one of the few NGOs that is regularly invited to observe elections around the globe. The Democracy Program conducts research on elections that the Carter Center could observe in the future. Beyond that, the Democracy Program works with governments to create or improve on current election laws as well. I was assigned to monitor political developments in Angola, Malawi, and Nigeria. News updates were only a small portion of my daily tasks. I also monitored the election reform in Nigeria and worked closely with my supervisors to draft memos to the Nigerian Election Commission to make recommendations to improve their election system. Writing political updates on Malaysia, Bangladesh and Nepal taught me about a part of the world I had no previous knowledge of. One of the most rewarding moments was to see the Memorandum of Understanding that I helped draft, signed by the African Union.

     Despite learning in depth information about a plethora of countries, one of the greatest parts of my internship was the knowledge that what I did was actually useful. I was amazed by the hospitality President Carter gave to the interns, inviting us to spend the weekend with him on his farm even! Since the staff is so small, they rely heavily on the interns for most of their information. As an intern I was invited to attend weekly planning meetings and part of my internship was updating the staff on the political updates. Also, I had weekly meetings with the Democracy Program director in which the interns were allowed to ask any question about the Center and its work. Even eating lunch and speaking with interns increased my awareness of what I wanted to do with my life. Ninety percent of the interns either spoke a different language or were from different countries providing different outlooks and very interesting debates.

     One of the most valuable experiences was learning that things are not black and white as often taught in the classroom. For example, even if elections were not perfect, the Carter Center judges them based on progress. Countries cannot be expected to have fair elections immediately. The Carter Center practically understands that and praises those countries that, although not perfect, are making improvements. Previously, I had the inclination to judge things as one way or another, so this aspect has been particularly valuable. Without the Wellman Hill grant, this opportunity would not have been possible and I am forever grateful for this endeavor.

Case Daily Article on the Wellman Hill Program

September 10, 2008

First Wellman Hill Interns Try Out Future Professions

Thanks to a recent gift from Elizabeth Michelle Hill, a 1997 joint bachelor’s and master’s political science graduate, five political science undergraduates explored potential public service careers during the summer.

“This year’s recipients are extraordinary individuals,” said Elliot Posner, assistant professor of political science and director of the internship program. “Their files rose to the top of a very competitive pile of applications. The winners first distinguished themselves with applications that spelled out thoughtful summer plans. They then gave well articulated responses to the selection committee’s questions during interviews. Lastly, they received impre

The first group of Wellman Hill Political Science Interns engaged in a wide range of opportunities, such as studying global elections and human rights violations at the Carter Center in Atlanta; observing the criminal justice system at the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office in Chicago; working for the defense team at the Center for Strategic and International Studies; interning with Unite For Sight in India; and doing genetic disease advocacy at Washington, D.C.’s Genetic Alliance.

Several Wellman Hill interns discussed their plans prior to the start of their summer internships, while others shared their stories after completing their programs:

Wellman Hill Funds Allowed Jane Kaminski to Pursue Her Passion in Defense Policy

Jane Kaminski plans to head to Washington, D.C., upon graduation, and thanks to her summer internship in defense policy, she already has a start on her future plans.

Kaminski, a fourth-year student majoring in political science and international studies, spent the summer working for the defense team at the Center for Strategic and International Studies(CSIS). “CSIS works very hard to be respected as a non-partisan institution, so the publications are recognized as being unbiased and substantial. The work I’m contributing to is unique because the government looks closely at our recommendations, and policy is developed based off these reports,” she explained. Kaminski said the Wellman Hill award afforded her the opportunity to spend 12 weeks doing something she loves. “I’ve been vying for an internship here for the past few years. I feel so lucky that I didn’t have to forgo this fantastic opportunity for a paying internship (which is elusive), or figure out how to work an extra 20 hours a week on top of an internship.”

She said defense policy interests her “because it strikes me as one of the most vital parts of American politics; it directly affects the lives of so many Americans in such a real way.” Kaminski worked on major defense issues facing the future administration in the report Project Iceberg.

The La Porte, Ind., native said her professors and classes aided in her preparation for the internship. “Last semester, I took several classes that I’ve pulled knowledge from to contribute to my internship, from understanding international security organizations to the nature of political economics. I submitted a research paper I wrote on international arms trading inefficiencies for Professor Joseph White’s U.S. Bureaucracy class as a secondary writing sample for CSIS, and I’m pretty sure it secured my internship.”

A member of Phi Mu and the University Program Board, Kaminski said the internship will probably influence what she plans to do for her senior project.

Hema Krishna Plans to Combine Love of Political Science, Medicine to Advocate for Better Health Care Policies

Hema Krishna, a third-year student with a double major in biochemistry and political science, recently found a way to combine both of her academic interests. “As a premedical student with a major in political science, I have always tried to find a way to combine my interest in providing health care with my interest in policy work. I realized that public health was the intersection of those two interests. It gives me the opportunity to help people on a larger scale than the individual patient,” she explained.

Thinking of her newfound interest, Krishna searched online for internship opportunities in the public health field. Several of her professors mentioned the Wellman Hill grant upon learning of her summer plans to work for Genetic Alliance, a nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C., that focuses on genetic disease advocacy work. The position involved doing background research for policy initiatives, writing policy bulletins, and attending meetings on Capitol Hill.

Out of all of the internship opportunities she learned of, Krishna said Genetic Alliance stood out. “I was especially impressed by their internship program because their advocacy work is rooted more in actual science than most of the other organizations.” She believes her undergraduate coursework prepared her for the internship. “I have both the scientific background to understand the sorts of issues the Genetic Alliance is advocating for, as well as an understanding of the political world from my political science classes. I believe my understanding of the government and of health sciences will be very beneficial.”

On campus, the Sylvania, Ohio, native is a member of Delta Gamma Sorority, the Mortar Board Honor Society and the Student Turning Point Society, and is a mentor in the Emerging Leaders Program.

The 10-week internship might provide her with information for a future project. “I do not have concrete plans yet, but I may be writing my senior thesis based on the work I will be doing this summer.”

Komal Patel’s Internship Abroad Changed Her Views about Health Care

A Wellman Hill Political Science award allowed Komal Patel the opportunity to work for Unite For Sight, a nonprofit organization that empowers communities worldwideimprove eye health and eliminate preventable blindness.

Patel spent two and a half weeks in Kalinga, India providing follow up care to patients who’d received treatment. The experience, she said, allowed her to see a different aspect of health care.

“Over there it’s not common to go to the eye doctor. Some of these issues are easily preventable and treatable,” said Patel, a fourth-year pre-med and political science major. She estimated that about 60 percent of the patients in poorer areas of the country have cataracts. Unite For Sight volunteers brought a mobile bus to specific areas to provide education and take people to their appointments. Patel said during her internship, she learned about eye anatomy, did vision acuity tests, observed surgeries, and provided post-op care to make sure patients’ eyes were healing properly.

Back in the United States, Patel worked with hospitals and Unite For Sight on assembling preventative health packets, which included plastic eyeballs to teach patients about good eye heath, along with educational pamphlets.

“This trip completely revolutionized the way I look at health care. It was one of those light bulb moments for me. You really don’t understand the lack of support on an international level until you are there. I am now looking toward international health policy,” said the Newburgh, N.Y., native.

Patel, a member of the university’s pre-medical American Medical Student Association and the , Undergraduate Indian Student Association, found out about the Wellman Hill opportunity from her pre-medical adviser, and said the grant was the only way she could have funded her internship. “I feel fortunate, and I can’t thank Elizabeth Hill enough for this.”

Nicholas Sachanda Gets Head Start on Road to Becoming a Prosecutor

Nicholas Sachanda’s future plans include going after criminals who break the law in his hometown county, and he was able to observe how the system works up close and personal during his summer internship.

The Chicago native earned a spot in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. “I’m actually working in the office I’d want to work in later on down the road. I’ll be doing everything from making copies to doing research,” said Sachanda, who began his internship a week after spring classes ended.

After a couple of professors told him about the Wellman Hill opportunity, Sachanda decided to apply. He’s glad he did, because he used the award money for living expenses while working as a clerk in the special litigation unit section assigned to the state prosecutor.

Sachanda, a member of Sigma Nu Fraternity and the Pre-law chapter of Phi Alpha Delta, enjoyed talking with Elizabeth Hill during the awards ceremony. “She’s really nice. I plan on staying in touch, because I want to follow a similar career path.”

As president of the university’s Mock Trial team studying political science and economics, Sachanda already has a basic understanding of legal principles. However, he expected the internship to provide an education he won’t get by reading case studies. “Not a lot of undergraduates get to do something like this,” he said of his spot in the competitive program. The third-year student hopes to make strong contacts and do memorable work so that he has a shot at returning to the office upon his graduation from law school.

Sachanda said his reasons for wanting to become a prosecutor are pretty easy to sum up. “I think it would be a good experience, and it’s a chance to make sure justice gets done.”

Sarah Tolbert Plans to Study Global Elections, Human Rights Violations to Advocate for Democracy

Sarah Tolbert had already planned on spending her summer advocating for democracy, and the Wellman Hill Political Science Internship helped her affirm the academic path she has been on all along.

“Public service is the reason why I wanted to be a political science major. I think public service is one of the best ways to put your education to use,” said Tolbert, a fourth-year student who spent 10 weeks interning at the Carter Center in Atlanta. “Since I have been privileged enough to go to a great school whereas others have not, I need to put that to use for the greater good.”

Tolbert worked in the organization’s democracy program, which monitors elections to ensure fairness. “I will be monitoring different elections in various countries and extensive research on conflicts. I also get to work on public awareness about human rights violations. I will be in charge of monitoring a specific country, conduct research projects, and work directly on project planning and implementation.”

Tolbert was already knowledgeable about some of these areas, and found out about the Wellman Hill opportunity through Laura Ymayo Tartakoff, an adjunct associate professor of political science. “Most of my classes have dealt with international relationships or democracy to some extent.”

In addition to her interest in political science, Tolbert is an environmental studies and geology major. Outside of her academic research, she is a member of the university’s varsity tennis team and STAND, the student anti-genocide coalition.

A native of Canton, Ohio, Tolbert plans to document her internship experience, and said she would probably blog about her experience. “I may even focus my SAGES Capstone Project around what I learned at the Carter Center.”

For more information contact Kimyette Finley, 216.368.0521.

Posted by: Kimyette Finley, September 10, 2008 10:42 AM

Page last modified: January 23, 2015