Koy ’20 Acquires New Perspectives Of Healthcare In Cambodia

Sopheara Koy ’20

Sopheara Koy ’20 — Among human rights, the right to life is regarded as one of the most fundamental rights that every human automatically inherited. Sadly enough, this right is continuously bombarded by various health issues presented within different parts of the world. For decades, Cambodia has been pounded by a copious amount of healthcare crises that have led to terrible consequences such as high mortality rate and low life expectancy to name a few. The health issues concerning this country have channeled my desire to become one of its future healthcare resources.

Within the summer of 2019, I was given a fantastic opportunity of interning at Angkor Hospital for Children (AHC) and its microbiology research unit (COMRU). AHC is a children’s hospital located within the center of Siem Reap province in Cambodia. It was first established in 1999 by a renowned Japanese photographer, and since then, this non-profit pediatric facility is running through national and international donations. I was very enthusiastic about having my 2019 summer internship placed within a hospital where I used to be one of its patients back during the early 2000s. I would like to give my greatest thanks to the funding provided by the Dill Fund program for making this opportunity possible.

The internship at AHC had provided me a unique set of healthcare experiences within the realm of medical research and clinical processing. I have received numerous clinical experiences by working closely with doctors stationed in different departments of the hospital. Such experiences include shadowing the doctors in different wards which include Inpatient Department (IPD), Outpatient Department (OPD), Intensive Care Unit (ICU), Emergency Room (ER), and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Within each department, I have observed closely the way in which doctors determined diagnoses of diseases through verbal and physical examinations with patients. In addition to observations, I also had a chance to chat with doctors about the underlying principles of the diseases as well as discussing the overall medical and health status of patients through examination over medication history and other relevant recorded vital signs. For instance, we scrutinized over the type of antibiotic used with patients while being critical about the excessive use of an antibiotic like Meropenem.

Meanwhile, the most rewarding experience perhaps came from another type of clinical activity that I participated in along with medical residencies in IPD, ICU/ER, and NICU. This aspect of clinical experience was comprised of critical education that a health practitioner should have regarding clinical and laboratory processes of making the right diagnoses from briefing over medical status to prescribing drugs. These medical board rounds gave me a holistic outlook on how doctors tackle health issues in addition to the psychology of treating patients.

Asides from clinical exposure, I was also involved with the microbiology medical lab unit that performed extensive research such as testing and identifying the key pathogens responsible for causing different health issue cases. As a team, I got a few hands-on experiences in identifying the names of the several bacteria and fungi of different diseases through blood culturing, stools, and so on. Each day, the results were then communicated through afternoon board rounds presented by lab technicians to a group of doctors. The discussion taught me the importance of communication in the science of treating healthcare issues.

From clinical and medical lab involvement, the summer internship with AHC has provided me with countless clinical experiences as a healthcare provider. In a bigger picture, the experiences gave me a deeper view of the healthcare situation in one of the poorest countries in the world. Although these point of views are taken from witnessing the clinical and healthcare status of only a tiny part of the population, they continue to add more inspiration, passion, and give me a chance to truly comprehend the need of a good healthcare service in a place where I hope that one day, I could be one of its effective human resources.

Haesemeyer ’21 Gains Valuable Experience In Costume Design

Paul Haesemeyer ’21

Paul Haesemeyer ’21 — As I sit writing this, I have started my third week as a Costume Tech Intern at the Williamstown Theatre Festival at Williams College, amidst the pines of the Berkshire Mountains.  I would not be working here if it was not for the generosity of the Dill Fund.  Thank you for supporting an aspiring costume designer!

First, you (the reader) are probably wondering what a Costume Tech Intern does.  Essentially, I alter and build costumes for WTF’s summer season.  This season, WTF is producing seven shows—five of which are world premieres—, as well as intern and fellowship productions.  Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun is currently in tech and opens later this week.  A Human Being of a Sort by Jonathan Payne, starring André Braugher (Brooklyn 99) runs June 26th – July 7th.   Grand Horizons by Bess Wohl, stars Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family) opens July 17th, Selling Kabul opens July 10th, Tell Me I’m Not Crazy opens July 24th, and Ghosts by Henrik Ibsen starring Uma Thurman (Pulp Fiction) runs July 31-August 18th.

For Raisin, I have altered many shorts, pants, and cuffs, ensuring that the costumes fit the actor correctly.  And some are to make the costume fit poorly: one pair of pants I altered was to let out the waistband; the pants fit the actor too well!  Essentially, I am an unpaid stitcher (alters and builds costumes); there are three other stitchers, and one first-hand in the shop.  There are nine costume design interns and two wig-and-makeup interns who help us as needed.  There are twelve interns total; twenty-six people work together at any given time.  They include shop management, assistant designers, a wardrobe supervisor, a craft supervisor, and a wig-and-makeup supervisor.  Working ten-hours a day, six days a week provides a pressure cooker guaranteed to produce close friendships.  Many of us felt like we had known each far longer than the first week.  Living on the same floor with the other interns also strengthens these friendships.

As a technician, I do not have as many design opportunities as the costume design interns do.  Thankfully, during an interview with one of my supervisors, she asked if I was interested in designing at all. I said yes!  So, I will be the second assistant for one of the fellowship productions and will be designing a Directing Intern production that lasts ten minutes.  As an assistant designer, I will learn how to process receipts and returns for the designer.  Sourcing costume items will be an important task as well.

This summer, I will be connecting with Fadia and Ted Williamson ’67.  They are Williamstown Theatre Festival members, and Ted happens to be pledge brothers with my grandfather Paul “Robbie” Robinson ’67.  I look forward to meeting them and learning their stories.

This summer continues the adventure Wabash has provided so far.  Wabash has taken me to Boston, Prague, New York, and now Williamstown.  I am excited to see where Wabash will take me next.

Wood ’21: Mental Health & Hope For The Day

Kaleb Wood ’21 (right)

Kaleb Wood ’21 — This summer, I am fortunate to serve as an intern at Hope For The Day in Chicago, Illinois, thanks to the generous support of the G. Michael Dill Fund. Hope For The Day (HFTD) is a non-profit focusing on proactive suicide prevention by providing outreach and mental health education. They spread the message that “It’s Ok Not To Be Ok” in order to break the stigma surrounding mental health.

By focusing on proactive prevention, Hope For The Day takes a unique approach to mental health. If you sprain your ankle, for example, you know to apply ice and rest so that no more significant injury develops. This is the same approach we want to take with our mental health. We want to raise the visibility of resources and start the conversation to disrupt the highest risk factors for suicide.

So far this summer, I have been focused on helping structure and grow HFTD’s Agents of Impact program, the sustainable, grass-roots initiative for proactive suicide prevention. This initiative gives others the knowledge and resources to spread HFTD’s mission and education programs throughout the world, currently spanning all 50 states, 26 countries, and 17 languages.

In addition to my work with the Agents of Impact program, I help serve as a volunteer throughout Chicago at our Outreach actions. This has allowed me to get involved outside of the office and have a direct impact on the community. I have had conversations with people of all ages and walks of life about how mental health challenges have impacted them. I have heard some stories of heartache, and some stories of hope. It has opened my eyes to the widespread impact of mental illness, and how just one conversation can help discard the shroud of stigma.

This opportunity has been a greater experience than I could have ever asked for. It has completely reshaped how I approach mental health, both for myself and those around me. I have even had to confront my own stigmas and am a more empathetic person because of my experience with Hope For The Day. I have learned how to have conversations about mental health in a more thoughtful and effective way, and most importantly, I’ve learned that It’s Ok Not To Be Ok.

Jones ’20 Continues His Passion In Oslo, Norway

Hunter Jones ’20

Hunter Jones ’20 — This summer, I am working in a research lab at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) in Oslo, Norway. The ability to travel to Oslo in the first place was only possible thanks to the generosity of the G. Michael Dill Fund, NMBU, and Dr. Alex Crawford (son of Ken Crawford, Wabash Class of 1969). I cannot put into words the gratitude I feel to have been given such an incredible opportunity to work on a fascinating project while simultaneously experiencing a brand-new culture. On a broad scale, Dr. Crawford’s lab at NMBU utilizes zebrafish to model rare epileptic conditions and identify potential treatments typically through drug repurposing or biodiscovery of natural products. The goal of my research here is to develop a bioassay using a zebrafish model of a rare genetic epileptic condition, DHPS deficiency syndrome, to carry out a large-scale drug repurposing screen for this disease. Any approved drugs identified by this screen will be attractive drug candidates for immediate clinical evaluation in the small number of pediatric patients with DHPS mutations, who currently have no other treatment options.

The biggest, and most comforting, lesson I have learned in my time in Norway is that most experimental procedures transcend international boundaries. Many of the same molecular biology techniques I have learned at Wabash College, specifically in the Sorensen-Kamakian lab, are also used here (despite a couple of instruction manuals in Norwegian). I was initially very intimidated about the idea of researching in a place that wasn’t familiar like Wabash, but this experience has been incredibly beneficial to bolstering my confidence in a laboratory setting. It’s hard to know how prepared you are for something until you are really tested and working on an entirely different continent has helped to show how much Wabash has really prepared me in the last three years.

Outside of the lab, Oslo has been an incredible place to explore in my (very limited) free time. Norway is known as the “land of the midnight sun” because there is no point in time during the summer that is really dark. The sun “sets” at around 11 pm and “rises” at 3 am, but even when the sun is down it never really gets that dark here. This has honestly been a blessing in disguise because I feel productive all the time. I’ll leave the lab at 10:30-11 pm and still feel full of energy because it looks like it is just now starting to get dark. The scenery here is gorgeous, and I have tried to get out and enjoy as much of it as possible, especially when it quits raining! Working in Oslo has been an absolutely incredible experience, and I am so thankful for the G. Michael Dill Fund, NMBU, Dr. Crawford, and the entire Wabash community for helping to make this experience possible.