Joey Ballard ’20: Perú GHI Internship

Joey Ballard – GHI Internship

Joey Ballard ’20 — Oddly enough, seeing a chicken has been one of the most thought-provoking experiences I’ve had in Perú. As we drove through the countryside, I was in awe of the sights provided by the mountain ranges. Eventually, I began to pay more attention to the sights right in front of me – people’s homes, street vendors, and stray animals. We had been stopped for a decent amount of time, and I remember watching a chicken. It carried on with its strange and frantic foraging behavior, crowing at the top of its lungs from time to time. It was oddly comforting to realize that the chicken didn’t know that it was a Peruvian chicken; it just knew that it was a chicken. That chicken would act the same regardless of the country it happened to be in. Seeing it in its natural habitat reinforced how socially constructed our national identities truly are. Fundamentally, we are all the same, but our social identities can make it seem otherwise.

This experience made national identities seem so superficial to me, and while that might be the case, they are not without consequence. The Venezuelan Crisis has been going on for several years now. The new stories covering it tend to stay at the national level, focusing on governmental action (or inaction) and large-scale trends. However, my time in Perú has showed me how these storylines translate into the lives of real people.

“Creciendo Juntos” (Growing Together)

Wabash’s Global Health Initiative offers several weekend workshops run by local community leaders in Perú. One of these programs is called “Creciendo Juntos” (Growing Together) and focuses on public health topics for children. The idea is to teach them how to live healthier lives and have them teach others to do the same. At my first workshop, we had a Q&A session so that the kids could ask questions about the United States. Many were curious what American currency looked like, and they collectively let out an “oooohhhhhhh,” as I showed them a $1 bill. Shortly after, a girl showed me a few Venezuelan bills that she had. She told me that her family immigrated to Perú two years ago and that it has been “difícil” (hard). I asked her if she was going to exchange her money for soles (the currency used in Perú). In response, she clutched those bills close to her chest and shook her head to say no. To her, the value of those bills is not just monetary – they provide a connection and reminder of her home and help her maintain her identity.

Today, people are literally fleeing Venezuela to find refuge in other countries. To many, anything is better than remaining in Venezuela, so they accept being paid less than a native citizen would. This has resulted in a significant job displacement creating tension for Venezuelan migrants in their new homes, and I imagine this has contributed to making that little girl’s journey “difícil.” In addition to the public health education from “Creciendo Juntos,” the human connection and sense of community it provides are so important. That girl had friends that made her feel welcome because they rejected the stereotypes that can arise from socially constructed national identities. I hope that we can all learn from them.



Michael Zubeck ’21 – Sales and Marketing Intern, The Headshot Truck

My first weeks on the west coast were a completely new experience, to say the least.  When agreeing to my internship in Los Angeles this summer my boss, Brian, told me that this was my internship and I would only get out of it what was put in.  To make sure that I would get the most out of the internship, I tried to do any and every task that was available, even if was not mine.

On my third day there was a photoshoot in the office and instead of doing normal work I was the photographer’s assistant, which gave me a new perspective of how the other side of the business was ran.  This helped me better understand the logistics of a shoot later when I would talk to prospective clients about how the shoot functions.  Besides the photoshoot, my work was normally consistent, with my first task being to gather and then contact property managers throughout Southern California.  To do this I began by researching the different firms and before long there was a list of close to 500 potential clients.  Having the experience of cold calling before had helped me, but this was still not one of my strengths.  Noticing this Brian decided to have me switch my focus from targeting new clients to client retention.  To do this I began by researching the different ways that this is done.  After talking with him we decided that my new task would be to build a software that he could use to more effectively manage his clients.  This software is known as customer relationship management (CRM), would allow The Headshot Truck to communicate with customers, record information, send and receive quotes and contracts, and accept invoices all on one platform.

The benefits of having a CRM are organization and convenience, and this translates to hours that are saved from the workday.  Unfortunately working with the software from the very beginning was similar to looking at puzzle pieces without the final picture.  Drawing from different tasks that I had previously done, I was able to start assembling this puzzle.  Before long, it was up and functioning and it was even running.  This experience had made the largest impact on me.  This process allowed me to see and understand the learning curve and how learning one thing, such as a photography assistant, can help with another later, like building a CRM.  This experience reinforces the importance of being involved and doing as many tasks as possible.  I am very thankful to the Small Business Internship Fund for providing me with this opportunity.

Khan ’19 Summer Internship With Louisville Legal Aid Society

Ahad Khan ’19 Louisville Legal Aid Society – As a political science major on the pre-law track, this summer I was fortunate to avail an internship that many consider as the perfect opportunity for students considering a legal profession. I worked at the Legal Aid Society of Louisville as the Jeffrey Been Intern. The internship is named after Mr. Jeffrey Been, former executive director of the Legal Aid Society and a member of Wabash College class of ’81. Now in its eleventh year, the internship has hosted a Wabash student every year since 2007. Since the internship program’s inception, Mr. Been has generously hosted students at his Louisville home, which nestles in the bustling Highlands neighborhood of the city. I was no exception to Mr. Been’s, his partner Eric’s, or their two dogs Gideon’s and Jodi’s generosity, and stayed with them for the entire seven-week duration of my internship. Staying with two attorneys while working at the Legal Aid Society for nearly two months reinforced my passion to study the law.

At the Legal Aid Society, I worked closely with the Development and Communications team and assisted several attorneys with their legal work. Legal Aid provides all services at zero cost to its clients; proactive fundraising, thus, forms an integral part of its sustainability. The organization receives annual federal funding to continue its operations and covers the remainder of its expenses from the donations it receives from multiple small to big law firms throughout the Commonwealth of Kentucky. In my capacity, I worked with the Development and Communications director to raise money for the organization. I assisted in writing grant proposals and attended meetings with the law firms to request funding for the numerous needs of the Legal Aid Society. I also identified and sorted active donors from inactive ones, which helped to streamline the fundraising efforts of Legal Aid. That also helped the organization to work efficiently with some of its strongest allies and donors, some of whom donated more than what we requested them. Such donations not only helped Legal Aid stay far ahead of its quarterly fundraising goal but also allowed the director to secure funding for a second annual fundraising event. Working on fundraising projects also enabled me to meet attorneys from the private sector and get a glimpse into their daily work and how it differs from those working in the public sector.

The internship’s most profound impact on me came about when I began working with attorneys in the various departments of Legal Aid. I assisted in several expungement filings for our clients who struggled to find jobs and rent homes even years after remaining clean from their criminal activity, only because they could not afford proper legal counsel. I tracked records of the clients’ history and then determined, per the state’s laws, those who qualified and those who did not for an expungement. I also helped to set up weekly law clinics for our clients to enable them to understand the legal procedures and work independently on filing their cases. These included pro-se (meaning on one’s own behalf) divorce clinics, small claims clinics, domestic violence clinics, and bankruptcy clinics. At the end of each of those clinics, the immense gratitude and appreciation from the clients made me recognize the positive impact of the efforts of our team in the lives of those citizens. Through these experiences, I interacted with the indigent and weak of our society, which led me to realize that one’s financial ability must not be a hindrance in one’s pursuit to seek justice. There remains a staggering disparity between the rich and the poor’s struggle to obtain justice and only through more selfless lawyers and individuals can we overcome this inequality. Legal Aid strives each day to provide services to the disenfranchised; as a lawyer, I hope to do the same for my community one day.

As I conclude my internship, the following verse from the Noble Qur’an resonates more strongly than ever in my mind:

“Verily, Allah (God) enjoins justice, and the doing of good to others; and giving like kindred; and forbids indecency, and manifest evil, and wrongful transgression. He admonished you that you may take heed.” (Qur’an 16:91).

Esterline ’21 Acquires New Skills In Sales And Technology

This summer I had the incredible opportunity to do a paid internship with the Adorant Group. Through the help of the Center for Innovation, Business, and Entrepreneurship (CIBE) I was given the opportunity of first working with the Adorant Group on a Professional Immersion Experience or better known as a PIE trip. On this trip I was soon introduced to Brian Mantel, the Chief Executive Officer of the Adorant Group and an alumnus of Wabash College. Then I was tasked with a variety of different projects for my two-day externship. After this externship ended, I walked away with a multitude of skills and a great alumni connection. Later that spring, Brian Mantel contacted my supervisor and asked if I was available after I concluded the Liberal Arts Bridges to Business program (LABB Program). After my LABB internship concluded I soon started my internship with the Adorant Group. I was interning as a Business Analyst. My role was to design ten sales training modules for young financial advisors. During this internship I also had the opportunity to learn how to use a content management system, create Json files (Java Script files), learned how to use Amazon’s S3 platform, and had the opportunity to see my work go straight into production by the end of my six-week internship. By creating fourteen new Json files and the ten sales training modules I had the opportunity to be immersed in an environment which I had no background or prior experience in. Going forward from this internship I walk away with newly acquired skills in sales and technology. These skills are very valuable in our ever-changing world and economy. I would like to give a special thanks to the Adorant Group, Brian Mantel, the CIBE, and Wabash College for these incredible opportunities. I cannot wait to see what other opportunities are around the corner as I approach my sophomore year.

Hayhurst ’21: EMT for the Crawfordsville Fire Department

Neal Hayhurst ’21 — This summer, I had the opportunity to work as an EMT for the Crawfordsville Fire Department. First, I would like to thank Jill Rogers for organizing this for me and the Global Health Initiative for covering my housing costs. The time, effort, and money they have dedicated to me embodies the Wabash spirit and reminds me why I chose to attend this special college.

As an EMT, you meet people where they are. Patients don’t shower, dress up, and drive over to the clinic to receive the treatment we give. Patients sometimes need treatment in the middle of the road, in their car in a parking lot, or on the floor of a bathroom. These are all situations that I encountered this summer which required me to meet patients where they were. I guess you could say that our goal was to meet every patient at the starting point—whatever state of need they are in–and get them to our end point- the hospital in a stable or improved condition. The complicating part—the emergency part of emergency medicine–is that the EMT never knows what the starting point may be, which means it may be harder or take longer to get some patients to the end point and easier and more straightforward for others. Whether the patient is a man bleeding and in pain in the road, a man seizing in his car, or a lady who has fallen in her bathroom, we see each and every patient as deserving of our best work and our best effort to get them to the same endpoint. EMTs meet these people at their worst, their most vulnerable, and do what they can to heal.

The interpersonal connection between an EMT or paramedic and their patient is often just as important as a well-developed knowledge of emergency care. One of the paramedics that I worked with this summer told me that if you talk to a patient long enough and are truly interested in their story, they will tell you exactly what is wrong with them. I found that to be especially true in the context of older patients who can quickly become annoyed with poking and prodding and tests. It is so easy to become obsessed with data and the cold hard numbers and to consequently miss the easiest way, both for the patient and the care provider, to uncover the problem. It was fun to put the EMT skills I had learned into practice, but I think interacting with patients and learning how to connect with them and earn their trust was the most beneficial part of the whole experience for me as an aspiring physician.

White ’21 Sees Another Potential Career Path Unfold Through Internship

Sedgrick White ’21 Wabash College IT Intern – Since I have arrived at Wabash, It has been difficult to decide what profession I would like to go into in the future. Throughout this summer, I would like to think my time with the Wabash IT Department as an intern has helped ease my mind on this very important decision. 
My internship at the Wabash IT Department lead me to meeting many faculty in different departments that I more than likely would not have met if I was not a part of this internship. My internship consisted of installing computer systems for faculty. Furthermore, I would set up their systems, move their files, and set up personalized requests that were specific to their systems. In addition, I also answered tickets request for faculty that may not have computer installations, but they were in need of assistance with their computer systems. A part of my internship was very helpful to me as a person who may not have as much knowledge of technology that goes beyond the basics. For example, an external drive for Wabash students is available on MyBash called BOX and I never used it and I didn’t know about it. However, through my experience with it this summer, I am certain that I will use it for my classwork from now on. I learned that Wabash equips us with so many systems on their computers that makes it possible to get the most out of your education.  
As an intern for the IT department, my computer installations for faculty came with many different requests. During one installation, I had to install a laptop and dock with a monitor. Additionally, there was a request for the person to keep their old monitor and have to monitors at their desk. A request like that is actually quite frequent. The difference between this installation and others is that I had to install the monitor vertically. This is the type of technological information I gained through my internship.  
Overall, my internship with the Wabash IT department was very positive. I’m still uncertain of what I will major in or the career I would like to be in for the rest of my life, but I do believe this experience has opened my eyes to a career that I didn’t particularly think about before. I think I will keep IT as a career choice that might be the right fit. 

Lakomek ’21 Gains A Different Perspective on the Mental Health Crisis

Eric Lakomek ’21– This summer I have had the pleasure to participate in an Immersive Learning experience funded by the Wabash Global Health Initiative with alumnus Dr. Sean Sharma ’98 and the staff at the Fountain and Warren County health departments. I was given the opportunity to experience the outreach of public health in the only bi-county health department in the state of Indiana.

Dr. Sharma and Eric Lakomek

Dr. Sharma, left, and Eric Lakomek

The principal task I spent most of my time on this summer was developing an open-ended project that addressed a major health care need in the community that would have a lasting impact on the residents for years to come. After searching through many recent demographics of the area, I decided to develop a project to combat the mental health crisis facing both Fountain and Warren counties.

Nearly one in five people in both counties are affected by depression and anxiety. In Fountain County, 15 methamphetamine labs were seized in 2013, and both counties have an extremely high drug overdose rate. However, the ratio of mental health and addiction care providers in Fountain County was 2,082:1. These statistics helped demonstrate a serious problem that desperately needed to be addressed in this extremely underserved area.

For the little help residents do receive, the rapid ascent of mental health illness and substance abuse diagnoses is not coupled with an accelerated awareness of resources available to the community. In addition, the stigma surrounding mental health must be reduced so that those who need help are more willing to seek it.

I created a series of posts and articles detailing the many different disorders, common symptoms, and where to seek treatment, as well as a list of around 50 immediate and professional resources within 50 miles of the health department. I also called different locations of treatment facilities and attempted to find out the average wait times and what to expect to make things more transparent. This made me realize the difficulties an individual goes through just to get in the door of these treatment facilities.

Often times, individuals can not receive the proper treatment they need because of the lack of access to care and governmental funding. What I observed this summer has allowed me to put my liberal arts education to use and apply it to addressing the behavioral needs of the community. Mental health is not a clear-cut subject. Each person has a different story and viewing it from different perspectives has allowed me to understand a completely diverse side of this growing topic.

I am excited to use what I have learned and look forward to using it to make the mental health process easier to navigate in the future. There is a growing crisis in America today, but as I have learned, there still a reason to keep on fighting the stigma. Many groups today are working on moving mental health to the forefront of healthcare problems that must be addressed. Thank you to all who have made this internship possible!

Doster ’20 Makes Empathy His Example

Owen Doster ’20 – Like many of the employees of the Health Department in Montgomery County, I do multiple things. For the most part, my classmates Matt Hodges ’19 and Hunter Jones ’20 are here for very specific opportunities, but I am getting more of the all-encompassing experience. Primarily, I work as a member of the Surveillance of Water and Airborne Transmitters, or SWAT team, for the health department. We are the vector control experts. That means we trap, determine the species, and send the mosquitos off to the state health department to check for carriers of West Nile virus.

Sam Marksberry and Owen Doster

Sam Marksberry ’21, left, and Owen Doster ’20

I have also experienced almost every other facet of the department: home inspections, restaurant inspections, septic inspections, county meetings, nursing procedures, and vital records. It is incredible to see how people whose families have been ravaged by drug abuse, prison time, health issues, or just overall family troubles can bounce back and continue to try and live. These powerful moments really make me stop and think about not only the people but the circumstances revolving around how they got to this point of intervention. This summer has been humbling and a true test of how I think about people and the hardships they face.

To me, the ability to be serious, professional, yet empathetic is essential to being a great physician, a medical professional, or just human. This summer has been a constant test to my empathy. I came from an upper-middle class family where I’ve never had to worry where my next meal was coming from, if I was able to shower or brush my teeth safely, or any other circumstance revolving around safe living. I don’t know what that feels like and don’t profess to. However, this is where my empathy comes in. I have challenged myself to try and understand and think more deeply about those situations involving the people we are helping and working with. I may never see that person ever again, but how will they remember our interaction? And if we do ever cross paths again, how will they remember how I treated them last time? I have two choices. I can be selfish and lack the ability to take the time out of my day to care and understand where they are coming from. Or, my second choice is to act like the human we are created as and show care, empathy, and love. Without that approach we will continue down a path of selfishness without ever making a positive difference in the community or potential the world around us.

Jones ’20 Learned the Importance of Versatility in Healthcare

Hunter Jones ’20 – I was hired by the Montgomery County Health Department through a grant specifically to create materials aimed at helping those who had recently experienced an overdose due to opioids. In this capacity, I began by creating an updated list of substance abuse treatment centers and resources in the area. However, in doing this, I was shocked to find how disorganized and incomplete current local and national resources were. This led me down the path of creating a new website for Montgomery County to create a centralized and inclusive resource for substance abuse treatment, prevention, and information in our community. I am currently working with the health department to submit a grant to fund this website and thrilled when thinking about how much potential this resource has.

Owen Doster, Hunter Jones, Sam Marksberry, and Matt Hodges

Owen Doster, Hunter Jones, Sam Marksberry, and Matt Hodges at the local health department.

I attribute a lot of my success in my role at the health department to my time spent in a liberal arts environment because it has taught me to not only identify a problem but also take the steps needed to establish a solution. Wabash has equipped me with the tools to view a problem through a critical lens and walk my way around a problem in order to create a well-rounded response. My liberal arts education has also been critical when observing discussions from different community members and other organizational efforts to combat the opioid epidemic. As with all issues of this magnitude, there will always be differing opinions on what the best answer is. The most important tool Wabash has given me regarding these discussions and plans is the ability to take a step back and see a problem through a bigger lens than my own experiences to help establish a versatile solution.

Hodges ’19 Meets the People Behind Prevention

Matthew Hodges ’19 – As a pre-med student with a primary care focus, I tend to frame preventive care at an individual level. When I think of preventive health measures, I generally think of proper diet, adequate physical exercise, reducing high-risk behaviors, and receiving routine checkups, vaccinations, and examinations. While these factors are undoubtedly important and play a key role in public health, there are so many preventive measures beyond the scope of individual lifestyle choices that are absolutely vital to a healthy community. Working at the Montgomery County Health Department this summer, I’ve had the opportunity to see a small fraction of the work that goes on behind the scenes to keep our community healthy.

Matt Hodges ’19 laughs during a day of picking up mosquitos.

Many of the health department’s responsibilities are things that we don’t think about; we simply take them for granted because they have been done so well for such a long time. Food inspection and sanitation specifically come to mind. When we sit down at a local restaurant and order our favorite menu item, we assume the food is clean and won’t make us sick. When we look down at our plate, we generally don’t ask ourselves at what temperature the meat was cooked, whether or not there was cross-contamination in the kitchen, if everyone was wearing a hairnet, or if the freezer was cold enough. Fortunately, Adrianne Northcutt has already asked all of these questions so we don’t have to. Similarly, the whole appeal of indoor plumbing is that we don’t have to think about what happens after we flush. That isn’t magic – it’s a man named Don Orr. Don personally inspects every septic system in the county to make sure they meet standards that prevent a whole host of unpleasant sewage-related problems.

Without people like Adrianne and Don, it would only be a matter of time before diseases and health issues that primarily exist in history books and developing countries come back to bite us. Working at the health department, I’ve learned the importance of a sound, well-regulated infrastructure. Many of the societal comforts we take for granted are in fact substantial victories for public health.

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