Undeterred by this summer’s unique challenges, Park Scholars sought out opportunities to support their communities and stay on track with their professional goals. Below, seven students share how they made the most of this summer.
Alina Creamer ’20
This summer, Alina Creamer ’20 completed the second work tour of her Pathways internship at NASA Johnson Space Center. She learned about the training and testing done in the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility (SVMF), systems aboard the International Space Station, and simulation capabilities for Orion display units. She gained experience working with customers from start to finish on mockups and even gained some exposure to PTC Creo Parametric. Primarily teleworking this summer brought its challenges, but ultimately she says it strengthened her communication and presentation skills. She hosted her first-ever Critical Design Review this summer and learned simulation software and systems completely virtually.
Katelyn Glen ’22
An aspiring physician, Katelyn Glen ’22 used this summer to complete a nurse aide program, which included a six-week course, clinical training, and a state certification test. She applied for a Park Enrichment Grant to support this opportunity. She gained valuable clinical experience at Wake Forest Baptist Health Wilkes Medical Center, where she spent time in the emergency room, post-op, and intensive care settings. At the end of the program, she earned her state certification as a Nurse Aide I and will begin working in a local hospital.
Zack Jenio ’22
Zack Jenio ’22 continued research in two labs at the College of Veterinary Medicine. In the Jacob Lab of Clinical Microbiology and Molecular Diagnostics, he completed a prospective study on surgical site infections for equine colic surgeries. In the Schnabel Equine Sports Medicine Laboratory, he began a review chapter on the inflammatory pathways of osteoarthritis in equine joints and made it into the lab to conduct experiments using novel methods to decrease inflammation in osteoarthritic cells. He also had a two-month remote internship with AidsVu where he researched and collected national, state, and county-level data regarding HIV diagnosis, prevalence, viral suppression, mortality, and PrEP usage.
Nehemiah MacDonald ’23
When his plans to spend the summer studying in Spain were cancelled, Nehemiah MacDonald ’23 signed up for an online course and found a position in the Precision Engineering Consortium working on a multi-use device project under the direction of Dr. Mark Pankow. The project aims to create a set of surgical forceps with an integrated cauterizing device that will enable surgeons to perform multiple processes without needing to switch between tools. While this summer was nothing like he originally planned, MacDonald says he learned the importance of being flexible. “Even if things don’t go as planned, I can still make the situation a meaningful experience.”
Madison Mueller ’23
Madison Mueller ’23 found plenty of opportunities for growth this summer. As a volunteer at the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina’s community garden, she harvested more than 200 pounds of fresh produce that has been distributed to families in need in the region. She also received a Park Enrichment Grant to coordinate an international pen-pal program between students at Powell Elementary School in Raleigh and Mzenga Secondary School in Mzuzu, Malawi since both schools have gardens. Closer to home, she constructed raised garden beds in her family’s backyard and tried gardening firsthand.
Matt Traenkle ’21
Matt Traenkle ’21 spent the summer working remotely as a management engineer with the Duke University Health System. He completed two projects related to analyzing and improving the response of Duke Health to COVID-19. Traenkle created a report comparing the impact of COVID-19 on Duke University Hospital and twenty comparable hospitals across the nation, which helped quantify and qualify impact in North Carolina and provide insight into future objectives. He also developed a dashboard for staffing optimization across the three Duke hospitals, 42 primary care clinics, and 8 ancillary care areas. The tool helps health system leadership adapt to changes and ensure staff are able to provide care in the right place at the right time. Working behind the scenes on data analytics, reporting, and quality initiatives provided Traenkle insight into what it takes to improve patient outcomes while allowing him to develop skills that will be applicable wherever he goes next.
Daryn Wilkerson ’23
Daryn Wilkerson ’23 plans to work in a New York City fashion house after graduation. Naturally, she planned to intern in the city this summer. When the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted those plans, she turned her focus local. It was important to Wilkerson to learn and improve her craft this summer, so she sought out an internship with MyFab Closet, a luxury consignment store in Raleigh. She was able to take on a multitude of roles at the small business and handled everything from designing new promotional campaigns to managing photoshoots.