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Persistence in a pandemic: College of Arts and Science students complete summer internships with innovative businesses

Posted by on Friday, October 23, 2020 in Profiles.

Though the COVID-19 pandemic scuttled many students’ original summer 2020 plans, College of Arts and Science students adapted quickly. Through technology, creativity, and determination, they found ways to expand their horizons and continue preparing for life after Vanderbilt.

Students Emery Little, Lucas Ludgate, Brooke Ellis, and Jaime Perez all used their summers to complete internships with businesses that are pushing the boundaries of innovation in their fields.

Emery Little ‘22
Emery Little standing outside with trees and grass in background
Emery Little ’22

Communication of Science & Technology and Spanish double major

Hometown: Birmingham, AL

Emery was a virtual corporate communications intern with SAP, the third-largest software company in the world. Over ten weeks, she wrote external news items and stories, interviewed executives, and hosted a coffee chat with the president of SAP Ariba.

Q: What’s the most interesting thing you learned from your summer experience?

A: I learned a lot about supply chains and logistics and how to communicate technical concepts to a more general audience in order to drive SAP’s goals. I learned what a resilient supply chain looks like and how companies and communities are bouncing back from COVID-19.

Q: What was the biggest challenge you faced this summer, and how did you overcome it?

A: Pushing aside my fear when talking to global-level company leaders. I learned to relax and really listen to what they were saying, and they were always happy to be interacting with an intern. Now, virtual public speaking doesn’t cause me stress.

Q: What is the most important insight you’ve gained about yourself and your post-college plans through your studies?

A: I actually came in wanting to study psychology. When I took a course about computers and ethics on a whim, it opened my eyes to the world of science communication. A&S has provided me the flexibility to study both science and the art of communication. I discovered my passion for communications through all the awesome options that A&S has to offer.

Lucas Ludgate ‘22
Lucas Ludgate standing outside with trees, grass, and a brick building in the background
Lucas Ludgate ’22

Economics and Spanish double major

Hometown: Bronx, NY
Lucas spent the summer as a remote intern for Halvatzis Consulting. His primary project was a market insights report to help the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce understand how COVID has disproportionately affected Colorado’s Latinx population.

Q: What’s the most interesting thing you learned from your summer experience?

A: Even upwardly-mobile or higher-income Latinx individuals still face disproportionate adversity. For example, 13.5% of prospective Latinx homeowners with excellent credit receive high-cost loans, compared to just 2.6% of white borrowers in the same credit bracket.

Q: What did you enjoy most about your summer experience?

A: I loved working on a project that aligned so closely with my background and my academic and professional interests. As a half-Dominican, second-generation American majoring in Economics and Spanish, I could not imagine a project better suited for my interests than this one.

Q: What advice would you give students who are thinking about their plans for next summer?
Send a lot of applications, and don’t get too set on any one option. I had originally secured a different internship that was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, and I was working a manual-labor job before finding this opportunity. The new internship was ultimately much more aligned with my career goals, so everything worked out for the best.

Brooke Ellis ‘21
Brooke Ellis against a white background
Brooke Ellis ’21

Communication of Science and Technology major, Environmental and Sustainability Studies and Business double minor

Hometown: Miami, FL

Brooke worked as a research and development fellow at Clearloop Corporation, a Nashville startup working to accelerate the “greening” of the U.S. electricity grid. Her internship focused on corporate carbon footprints and how to offset environmental impact with new solar energy projects.

Q: Why did you decide to come to Vanderbilt?

A: I am a very indecisive person, but choosing Vanderbilt was a no-brainer. I swim for the women’s varsity team, and I found that Vandy offered the all-around best athletic program, academic environment, and city to live in. To this day, I could not see myself anywhere else.

Q: What’s the most interesting thing you learned from your summer experience?

A: In speaking with individuals across industries, I found that many were looking for a way to recover following this global emergency. I’m proud to have worked alongside people who were willing to find light at the end of a very dark tunnel and focus on making clean power accessible for every community in the country.

Q: What advice would you give students who are thinking about their plans for next summer?

A: Stay calm! Students should start to think about their following summer in the fall, but keep in mind that plans may not fall into place until the spring.

Jaime Perez ‘22
Jaime Perez standing in a breezeway with brick wall and cement arches in background
Jaime Perez ’22

Medicine, Health, and Society major, Business minor

Hometown: Guaynabo, Puerto Rico

Jaime completed a hybrid (in-person and virtual) internship at MCS Puerto Rico, a health insurance company based near his hometown. Serving as a special project intern in the Pharmacy department, he completed projects covering benefits manager-pharmaceutical relations, health care legislation, and health data.

Q: Why did you decide to come to Vanderbilt?

A: Once I set foot on Vanderbilt’s campus, I immediately knew that this was where I wanted to spend my next four years. Vanderbilt and the city of Nashville also felt like the best opportunity to break the mold and have a different experience than that of my peers back home.

Q: What’s the most interesting thing you learned from your summer experience?

A: I learned a lot more about Puerto Rico’s health system and how it significantly differs from the U.S. model.

Q: How are your studies in A&S preparing you for post-college success?

A: In A&S, I’ve been able to experience a wide variety of classes that have expanded my interests. This academic diversity, plus the opportunity to learn from some outstanding professors, has helped prepare me for the areas of health care I plan on exploring.

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