Enrichment Award Reports
Passport to Google Event in Washington D.C. – Addison Kuykendall and Gia Bugieda
In February, Addison and Gia had the chance to attend the Passport to Google D.C. event, thanks to their Honors Enrichment Awards, where they visited the Google D.C. headquarters to learn more about what a career with Google entails. Each Google staff member at the event talked with the students and discussed the specific path they took that helped them get a job offer from the company. Then, they gave presentations on important topics such as building an effective resume, the basics of technical interviews, personal branding, and more. Through these presentations, Addison and Gia gained valuable insight into preparing for both interviews and job/internship opportunities. Finally, Addison and Gia participated in Google’s Design Thinking Innovation Challenge. This challenge was an interactive experience that showed all participants of the program the process Google uses to turn an idea into a real life app, program, or creation. Addison and Gia were each put into separate teams with students from universities across the region. They were then challenged to collaborate with their team members and create a unique and innovative product to pitch to the judges. Overall, this experience allowed Addison and Gia to make professional connections as well as learn tips to build their career. This will be useful to them as they work on earning their computer science degrees and continue gaining experience in their field.
Volunteering with the YMCA in Spain – Nicole Kennedy
Thanks to her Honors Enrichment Award, Nicole traveled internationally for the first time on a two-week trip around Spain to better understand nonprofit operations abroad. She partnered with the YMCA and visited nine facilities all over the country, connecting with both YMCA participants and staff, to learn about the field in which she wishes to pursue a career. She began her travels in Madrid where she spoke with administrative staff about their roles and learned more about the YMCA of Spain’s mission to develop the potential of children and young people. She also observed an after-school program for children aged three to twelve and was touched by the caring nature of the staff. Then she visited one of the Y’s camp locations in rural Priego which is part of the national program that offers local and international English immersion camps for children of all ages. She spent her second week in Barcelona, Valencia, and Zaragoza getting involved with after school programs where she helped children with their English homework and also observed a Spanish class for adults who had recently immigrated to Spain. She then returned to Madrid and visited an apartment owned by the YMCA for youth who have aged out of government child protective services or are pursuing emancipation. In two short weeks she learned a great deal about nonprofit practices and was able to experience the food, architecture, language, and culture of Spain. In the end, she values the relationships that she formed so much that she considers the trip life-changing.
Exploring Technology and Art in Europe – Ariel Hannum
Ariel always dreamed of experiencing the art of Johannes Vermeer, a 17th century Dutch artist, in his home country of the Netherlands. She finally had that opportunity thanks to her Honors Enrichment Award. Throughout her week in Europe she visited the Netherlands and Belgium to see Vermeer’s paintings and meet with artists, researchers, and conservators to learn how he created his art. First, she met with Geert Van der Snickt at the University of Antwerp. His team conducts research using x-ray fluorescence to identify the composition of pigments in paintings. Then she met with Ige Verslype, a paintings conservator at the Rijksmuseum who treated Vermeer’s Woman in Blue. Then it was on to Delft, Vermeer’s hometown. This is where she met with Willemijn Elkhuizen, a PhD student who imaged Girl with a Pearl Earring to create 3D models, with whom Ariel had the chance to discuss the future applications of 3D printing in art. Lastly, she met with Abbie Vandivere, the paintings conservator at the Mauritshuis Museum who led a team of researchers studying Girl with a Pearl Earring. Abbie demonstrated how art is a collaborative field requiring individuals across many different specializations to come together to truly discover an image. Ariel comes away from her trip excited to see how technological innovation will continue to drive advancements in the research of art and engineering. “Next time I am at a museum I will have a new perspective of, and appreciation for, the paintings within the context of the talented people working behind the scenes to maintain the artist’s original visual genius.”
Sea Turtle Conservation Project in Costa Rica – Taylor Key
Taylor used her Honors Enrichment Award to travel to Costa Rica to participate in in a sea turtle conservation project at the National Wildlife Refuge in Ostional. During the daytime, she would wake up at sunrise to dig holes looking for old sea turtle nests that would end up contaminating new nests if left in the sand. They would open any eggs they found to take data on their stage of development. She would then alternate between cleaning up trash on the beach and collecting sticks and logs to ensure that the baby turtles would have a clear path to the ocean once they hatched. The night patrols consisted of four hour shifts of looking for tracks of the various turtle species near the tide line. When they found an Olive Ridley sea turtle they measured the shell and flipper, counted eggs, how long it took her to lay, and tagged any new turtles. When a green sea turtle or a leatherback sea turtle was spotted she would place a bag in the hole that was dug to lay the eggs in order to collect them and put them in a hatchery. This ensures that the eggs aren’t contaminated by the sand and gives the nest the highest percentage of hatching healthy babies. On one of her night patrols she was lucky enough to work with a leatherback sea turtle whose shell measured 58 inches in length. She also witnessed baby sea turtles emerging from their nests to follow the moon home to the ocean! During her downtime she was able to watch the sunrise and sunset, go ziplining, and make friends from all around the world. Taylor described this trip as “a life changing experience that I will never forget.”
Volunteering in Israel – Olivia Rogal
This winter, Olivia wanted to further her international experience in engaging with women suffering from gender-based violence. Her Honors Enrichment Award helped provide that opportunity when she chose to volunteer with the Eritrean Women’s Community Center in Tel-Aviv, Israel. The EWCC is making a commitment to be led by asylum-seekers with the goal of being a service for the community by the community. Many of those that the EWCC help are women who experience violence from within their own community. Of the 35,000 refugees in the country only 13 individuals have been given official refugee status by the government. This government policy, among many others, spirals down to impact every aspect of the life of the refugee. Olivia learned that without a legal status, they are unable to get driver’s licenses, access to public schooling and national healthcare services, and are limited to working roughly 8-10 hours per week in low-paying jobs. The organization was also working through a funding crisis during her time there which taught Olivia about the bureaucratic difficulties in positive change-making in the non-profit space. There were times when volunteers outnumbered the community members at the center which called to question her role and how much she was truly contributing to the community. This helped shape her perspective on not whether volunteering is meaningful, but how the meaning of what it means to be a volunteer can be changed. Since her return, Olivia has allowed this experience to shape her priorities and interaction with her community, non-profits, and policy advocacy. She has learned to listen intentionally, to understand historical contexts, and how to be an ally, volunteer, and friend. This experience both affirmed and shed light on the combination of direct service and policy in women’s issues, a framework she is certain to take with her in her future career and personal development.
Attending the Engineers Without Borders 2018 National Conference in San Francisco – Alexia Stock, Rebecca Huber, and Noah Kennedy
Honors students Alexia Stock, Rebecca Huber, and Noah Kennedy represented UD at the Engineers Without Borders 2018 National Conference in San Francisco, CA thanks to their Honors Enrichment Awards. It was a fantastic team building experience as well as a great way to communicate with other chapters across the nation. Alexia described it as “one of the most valuable experiences I pursued this semester.” She learned about post-disaster response and screening of structural safety, contextual engineering, and human-centered design thinking. Rebecca and Noah spent a day learning about solar pump technology application and considered how it can be used in Malawi which is a partner community to the UD chapter. Noah also had the chance to speak with students from Cal Poly and Harvard about similar projects they were working on with their communities and how to overcome cultural barriers in doing so. Rebecca appreciated the opportunity she had in gaining experience with the national organization’s new database which she hopes will lead to better networking opportunities for the chapter. She also learned about new strategies to enhance membership retention that she is excited to implement in the near future. Overall, the experience left the group inspired and feeling ready to bring about meaningful and positive change to their organization.
Competing in the Malta Hackathon and Conference – Mark Seda and Jonathan Wood
Mark Seda and Jonathan Wood attended and competed in a week-long blockchain conference and hackathon in Malta with the help of their Honors Enrichment Awards. Jonathan is interested in blockchain technology because he sees it as a way to reshape the internet by bringing more control to individuals while Mark was excited for the chance to work on a technical project while being around others working towards that same goal. At the conference they had the chance to meet with businesses, engineers, investors, and leading blockchain thinkers from around the world. Their hackathon project, entitled “Gaming for Good”, involved creating an online casino where all losses are donated to charity. They made a 3D virtual slots game and used blockchain technology to enable public verification of the winner while allowing the losses to automatically be sent to charity. In classic hackathon spirit, they stayed up all night on the last day working on the project. Although they were among the top contenders they ultimately did not place, but they still learned a lot from the experience. Jonathan appreciated getting to dig into a large platform’s technology and exchange feedback with the lead developer team, speaking with internet veterans about their latest research, and meeting venture capitalists to hear the latest trends they are investing in. Mark was grateful for the chance to meet and work with people from all over the world who are passionate about blockchain and he brings back with him connections, new skills, and perhaps most importantly, memories that will last a lifetime.
Interning with the Fund for Animals Wildlife Center in California – Lillie Binder
This past winter, Lillie participated in an internship with the Fund for Animals Wildlife Center in Ramona, California thanks to her Honors Enrichment Award. The center operates as a rehabilitation and release facility as well as an animal sanctuary for animals that couldn’t be released back into the wild. During her time there she was introduced to the daily operations of a wildlife center. This included the husbandry duties and getting the opportunity to shadow both a Registered Veterinary Technician and a wildlife veterinarian where she was able to observe and learn from a variety of examinations and procedures. She also helped with preparing diets for many different species which broadened her understanding of what animal husbandry and wildlife care in general entails since the center only handles carnivorous species, differentiating this experience from her past experiences at wildlife centers. She also completed an independent project and chose to build enrichment elements for some of the sanctuary bobcats. Through this project she was able to learn which forms of enrichment are better suited to different species of animals based on their natural behaviors. Lillie hopes to use this up-close and personal experience with wildlife in the future as she moves closer to her goal of becoming a veterinarian!
Aero SAE Annual Design Competition in Texas – Lauren Icarangal, Andrew Kacmarcik, Kristen Reilly, and Emily Thompson
Honors students Lauren Icarangal, Andrew Kacmarcik, Kristen Reilly, and Emily Thompson had the opportunity to represent UD at the Aero Society of Automotive Engineers annual design competition in Fort Worth, TX with the help of their Honors Enrichment Awards. They designed, manufactured, and tested a remote-controlled aircraft capable of releasing payloads which had an impressive showing in the competition’s advanced class. The aircraft had to be transported by car so the students made the 24-hour drive with only one stop in Nashville, TN! The Aero SAE competition took place over three days, involved 80 international schools, and was composed of oral presentations, technical inspections, and flight rounds. The team faced several challenges throughout the competition but remainedpersistent and were able to complete a successful flight. As a first year competition team, they learned about building a remote-controlled aircraft in compliance with the competition’s mission and technical requirements. There were several nuances about the competition that they had not expected and the team learned to be decisive and work together under pressure. Keeping an open mind and remaining persistent are important during the design process and competition as they encountered numerous setbacks due to individual component failures on flight days, but ultimately they were able to identify the causes and complete successful flights. With this experience, they hope to better guide and instruct future students that plan on taking part in this competition and will look to encourage future teams to further relationships and network with experienced schools to enhance UD’s program.
Presenting at the Italian Cinema Symposium at Indiana University – Allison DeNicola
Thanks to her Honors Enrichment Award, Allison attended the New Trends in Modern and Contemporary Italian Cinema Symposium where she presented an analysis on the films The Night Porter and The Garden of the Finzi-Continis. She was the only undergraduate speaker at the symposium and feels like she benefitted greatly from interacting with various directors, professors, and graduate students. Although there was a bit of a language barrier with many attendees speaking in Italian, Allison found much of the material enlightening and helpful for the preparation of her own analysis. She was a bit intimidated at the prospect of speaking in front of experts, but she was reminded of one of the theses for her presentation: we are all human and more alike than we are different. This helped her remain calm and focused while she was talking and it allowed her to feel like she was on a level playing field despite her significantly younger age. At first she was unsure of her approach but by the time she had finished she felt confident that she met her goals. One attendee approached her afterwards to comment on how refreshing it was to hear such insight from an undergraduate which is a rare occasion at the conference. Although the overall attendance was fairly low she still felt like it was a huge honor to have her work highly regarded by even one person at the conference. Allison also wanted to give a substantial amount of credit to Professor Winkler as a presenter, a professor, and an individual. “I owe every ounce of accomplishment and experience related to my speaking at this symposium to him.”
Interning at Best Friends Animal Society in Utah – Alisa Rubenstein
Over the winter session, Alisa spent 5 weeks interning with the Best Friends Animal Society thanks to her Honors Enrichment Award. Located among Utah’s Vermillion Cliffs of the Grand Staircase Escalante, the society is home to 1,600 animals. The internship consisted of one week in each of the five animal care areas, as well as educational workshops and presentations where she learned about sanctuary operations, sanctuary history, and animal behavior. She even got to have lunch with some of the founders, ask questions, and learn about their experiences in starting and growing the organization! One of the highlights of the animal care portion of the internship was having the opportunity to work with kittens and puppies. She realized that it is very different from working with adult animals and it taught her a lot about common diseases that affect these animals. The workshops were also an amazing opportunity to learn from experts in the field. She learned about the science of animal happiness, went on a tour of their state-of-the-art clinic, and learned about how Best Friends pushes the envelope in terms of shelter management. They are the largest no-kill shelter in the U.S. and partner with smaller shelters across the country with the goal of creating a no-kill United States by 2025. They also have an open adoptions policy which Alisa took advantage of and brought home her own kitten! She hopes to stay involved with the sanctuary’s Canines with Careers program through which homeless dogs are trained for service careers.
Unraveling Martinique – Sarah Reynolds
This winter, Sarah Reynolds used her Honors Enrichment Award to travel to Martinique to study its history. Her goal was to have a strong starting point to conduct her research for a senior thesis by learning as much as possible about the decision in 1946 to departmentalize making the colony of Martinique part of France, rather than leaving it as a colony or becoming an independent nation. As she wandered through bookstores, libraries, and art galleries she could see a strong focus and notable pride on that era of their history. The most important part of this trip for her was the reminder of how much this moment in history matters in daily life. The departmentalization movement was not only to secure the rights of French citizens, but it was about feeling fully French, and many of her conversations revolved around this idea within the context of race and national identity. As she visited museums, universities, and government archives she learned a lot about the historical memory of Martinique whose growth and development as a culture is one of the Caribbean, but is equally one of France. This was visible even in the grocery stores where she could find baguettes just as easily as a delicious spicy Caribbean sauce that her host mom loved. In Sarah’s own words, “History is always told from someone’s perspective, and that bias is an important thing to keep in mind when writing about a culture that isn’t your own. This trip reminded me and taught me different ways to approach the things I learn to get a fuller picture.”
Presenting at the Biomedical Engineering Society Conference in Atlanta – Sejal Shah
Thanks to her Honors Enrichment Award, Sejal had the opportunity to attend the Biomedical Engineering Society conference in Atlanta, Georgia. She presented a poster on her research at the National Institute of Standards and Technology involving the applications of shear thickening fluids and their potential role in medical devices and sports equipment. She had the chance to explore all the modern biomedical engineering buildings and to see the labs with high quality equipment used for experiments. She networked with representatives from graduate schools, attended seminars to learn more on how to market herself, and also learned about the current jobs available to biomedical engineers in industry and academia. Sejal had one-on-one time with specific professors related to her field of interest which she considered “another test of my networking skills and I really believe the professors I spoke to would consider me for a position in their lab.” She was excited to draw some special attention from a professor from Northwestern University in particular. Way to go Sejal! In her downtime she went sightseeing at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the Coca-Cola factory, and Centennial Park – site of the 1996 Olympic Summer Games. Sejal was so grateful to have been given this opportunity where she gained networking skills, graduate school connections, and advice for her potential paths for the future.
Presenting at the Biomedical Engineering Society Conference in Atlanta – Laurel Schappell
With the funding provided by the Honors Enrichment Award, Laurel was given the opportunity to travel to Atlanta, GA this October for the annual Biomedical Engineering Society Conference meeting. The conference consisted of three days of podium talks, poster sessions, specialized career talks, and graduate school fairs. Based on the research that she hopes to pursue in the future, and her current research background, she attended sessions primarily focused on the advances occurring in cardiovascular and pulmonary engineering. There were entire labs focused on areas of research within this area that she had never encountered before which will help to shape her goals for the future. The research she presented was on developing a microfluidic device capable of quantifying lung mechanics during neonatal development in response to changes in lung structure with the goal of informing the development of more specific therapeutic targets. The opportunity to present this on such a large scale was advantageous for the advancement of her research, as well as for her ability to effectively communicate her work to others. Through discussions with professors and graduate students who approached her, she was able to receive feedback on the limitations of her research prompting further planning with her lab mentor to determine the future direction of the project so that her work can be published. The opportunities afforded to her through attending BMES has significantly influenced her future direction and helped to cultivate the skills of a great researcher, neither of which would have occurred without the Honors Enrichment Award.
Russian Opera Workshop in Philadelphia – Cassidy Dixon
Cassidy Dixon had a summer at the opera, thanks to her Honors Enrichment Award. For four weeks this summer, Cassidy attended a Russian Opera Workshop in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her average day consisted of Russian language class, opera coachings, song recitals, and two master classes. When not trying to decipher the Cyrillic alphabet or singing for world-renowned figures in the opera community, Cassidy was observing other students working with the coaches. During her time at the opera workshop, Cassidy was given the opportunity to sing in two master classes. The first was with a faculty member from the Academy of Vocal Arts, one of the top opera training programs in the US. In this class, Cassidy learned about audition techniques. In the other master class, Cassidy sang with retired Metropolitan Opera Singer Benita Valente, and was able to practice some of her repertoire. In the final week of the program, Cassidy applied all that she had learned to her performances in the Russian Romances Recital and the Russian opera Prince Igor, by Alexander Borodin. Her time at the Russian Opera Workshop not only gave Cassidy some much-needed Russian language training (she can now ask questions and tell people how she feels in Russian), but it provided her invaluable connections to key figures in the classical music world.
Presenting Research in Portugal – Matt Schmittle
Last April, Matt Schmittle embarked on a flight to the beautiful Porto, Portugal to present his research at the International Conference of Cyber Physical Systems (ICCPS) thanks to his Honors Enrichment Award. The conference was hosted in a huge palace built in the 1800s called el Palacio de Bolsa. During the conference, Schmittle presented his research on the OpeUAV Project, an online drone simulator for research and education. There were many people who were interested in Matt’s work, and he was one of the only undergraduates to present at the conference! Matt later presented a second time on a colleague’s abstract and had to prepare for the whole talk only 45 minutes before speaking. His impromptu presentation luckily went very well. Matt’s trip to Porto was not only a well-deserved reward for months of hard work on his research project, but an amazing learning opportunity. This trip inspired Matt to continue research as he pursues a PhD in graduate school and allowed him to learn a lot about Portuguese culture. When not in conferences, Matt explored the riverfront, churches, and beaches of Porto, tried some traditional Portuguese cuisine, and met other students from all over the world. Matt learned how to present at a conference and network, but also about how stepping out of his comfort zone and opening up to new people can lead to amazing opportunities.
Fashion Internship in NYC – Jillian Luetje
This summer, Jillian Luetje moved to the big city after living in a rural area her whole life, thanks to her Honors Enrichment Award. Jillian was working in New York City as an intern at Haddad Brands, a licensing company that makes children’s wear for Nike and Levi’s brands. Jillian helped to make the brands that she worked with more sustainable and environmentally friendly, allowing her to connect her studies to the real world. Jillian’s daily work included evaluating sustainability in the company, helping the company to make improvements, and helping her team evaluate new factories. Through living in New York and working at her internship, Jillian learned a lot about the field she is interested in and living on her own, and made a ton of new friends and business contacts. Jillian’s summer internship experience helped her secure a fall internship at QVC, which will allow her to learn even more about the industry and give her additional opportunities to network! In the words of Jillian, “It is crazy how one decision, such as accepting a summer internship, can change the whole course of your career and outlook on life.”
Archival Research in Virginia – Jack Ausmus
Early in the morning on Monday, June 4th, Jack Ausmus woke up early to begin his trip to the University of Virginia. Thanks to his Honors Enrichment Award, Jack was able to pursue archival research on the Carter family of Oatlands, Virginia this summer. The Carters were a family of slave owners, and Jack wanted to find information about the people enslaved by them over the years. While researching the Carters, Jack took trips to Montpelier and Monticello to visit the former homes of James Madison and Thomas Jefferson. On these trips he was able to visit the “Mere Distinction of Color” exhibit as well as the Sally Hemmings exhibit. Jack was able to apply what he learned from these trips to his research in UVA’s archives. Through his research, Jack gained a lot of knowledge about slavery as well as the difficulties of interpreting slavery. He was unable to find any direct information about the people enslaved by the Carters, but as he learned on his trips to Montpelier and Monticello, there is often not much of a trail to follow when researching enslaved peoples. Jack’s experience reinforced the idea that when doing research, you can not go in hoping for a specific set of answers, because there are always questions that you never thought to ask along the way. Hopefully, Jack can apply his newfound skills to another research opportunity in the future!
Panpapanpalya Dance Congress in Australia – April Singleton
This summer, April Singleton flew down under by attending the Panpapanpalya dance congress in Australia, thanks to her Honors Enrichment Award. April was invited along with her dance group to perform their production of Women of Consequence at this week-long event hosted by the University of Australia. This congress had four themes that were present throughout the week: dance, gathering, generations, and learning. Every morning, there were different dance flavor workshops that anyone could attend, including Ugandan dance, traditional Māori dance, breaking, and more. There were also multiple dance performances throughout the week. To represent the theme of gathering, there were scheduled gatherings every hour. April’s group collaborated with the University of Cape Town, and by the end of the week they discovered and discussed some common characteristics of influential female activists. Panpapanpalya’s featured keynote, Make Your Move: Bodies Creating Change, talked about how dancers can influence the next generation to create social, educational, and personal change with their bodies. They incorporated this idea into their project by ending their piece by reaching towards their youngest dancer. The last theme, learning, was celebrated with a variety of workshops, where April learned a lot about integrating mathematics with dance, using dance to develop social and emotional competencies, and representing science with different dance elements. April will be able to use what she learned in Australia towards her work at UD. She plans to take the new ideas of interdisciplinary dance to her entrepreneurship major and some of the tips she learned in her workshops to her work as a facilitator for dance workshops in local schools. In the words of April, her trip to Australia “will continue to provide value to my career at the University of Delaware and beyond.”
Archaeological Excavation in Peru – Amy Ciminnisi
This July, Amy Ciminnisi set out for the summer adventure of a lifetime in the beautiful country of Peru. Thanks to her Honors Enrichment Award, Amy, who dreams of one day becoming an archaeologist, volunteered for PIAPAN, an archaeological project in the Nepeña District of Peru. This site is the former home of the Casma, a local indigenous group that this project is striving to uncover more information about. On her first day of excavations, Amy participated in a ritual to thank the Earth Mother for allowing the project and to pray for their safety throughout the season. For her first two weeks, Amy was working directly on the excavation sites, digging up an array of different artifacts. These were long yet rewarding days, with Amy waking up at 5:30am and not finishing work until 7pm every day! During her last two weeks in Peru, Amy worked in the lab analyzing ceramic shards and discovered her passion for ceramics. Now, Amy thinks that she wants to specialize in ceramics when she becomes an archaeologist. Amy’s trip not only taught her a great deal of new information and techniques that she can utilize in her future career, but about the culture of Peru as well. When not busy digging up artifacts or working in the lab, Amy danced salsa, went to cock fights, and even tried guinea pig with her fellow volunteers. Amy’s month in Peru truly transformed her as a person. She made incredible friendships and amazing memories, and learned so much about not only archaeology, but herself. She can not wait until the day comes when she can go back to Peru!
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