By Bridget Andree, Layout Editor
Adding to the ever-growing list of new traditions at Trinity Hall, the internship program Beyond the Hall was introduced this spring. The program is designed to encourage students to explore fields of interest and prepare them for college and the workforce.
Over the last four years, students have been engaged in a challenging curriculum and rigorous learning environment, including final experiences in each course to tap into the their skills of leadership, creativity, adaptability, and collaboration. Beyond the Hall is the ultimate, professional experience designed for the first-ever graduating class at Trinity Hall, giving the anticipated graduates the opportunity to embrace the world of work and service, all while carrying the knowledge and skills accumulated in the classroom over the past four years.
The four faculty facilitators of the program–Alyssa Anderson, Kevin Polke, James Palmieri and Melissa Whelan–divided the 32 seniors into four groups and proceeded to support their respective students in securing their internships.
“I would say most of the students got their internships for themselves without getting any help” said Palmieri, assistant head of school and lead faculty facilitator. “They may have done so by reaching out to individuals on their own, calling organizations or receiving help from a parent or family friend.”
After submitting a proposal and getting approval from the faculty facilitators, seniors spent a minimum of 45 hours of either an in-depth academic research project in collaboration with a college professor or specialist, an on-site professional internship, an internship or field work with a non-profit organization or a project developed to address a local community issue. In the midst of their experience, each student wrote and submitted a daily log to document her personal experiences. The experience concluded with an oral presentation from each student given before the faculty, facilitators and student peers during the last week of classes.
Each and every experience was unique and gave a taste of the challenges sure to come as they enter the workforce.
“Mrs. Sciarrillo and I had a vision for starting an internship program for seniors from the very beginning with the idea of getting our students out in the community…Beyond the Hall will leave them with a professional experience–it’s not your typical summer job,” Palmieri said.
Senior Pallavi Kawatra immersed herself in the medical field by shadowing doctors and others who work in the administrative or pharmaceutical industries. In particular, she enjoyed viewing medical procedures and doing rounds with the doctor. Kawatra’s Beyond the Hall experience has opened her eyes to the reality of what it takes to be a doctor and the complexity of research the job entails.
“My experience has helped me realize the components of medicine and how much I need to do and learn in the coming years,” Kawatra said.
In addition to the various internships, some decided to reach out to the community through service projects. Senior Katie Valsamedis, grasping her passion for chemical engineering, and senior Kyla Whitlock, fulfilling her love for architecture, took their understanding for the design process and problem-solving skills to the next level. Whitlock put her skills to the test by designing a greenhouse for Trinity Hall after consulting with the SCOPE team and Gardening Gurus club.
“The Beyond the Hall program has given me perspective on what it is going to be like in the real world because you have to think of a lot of variables when going into such a detailed project. For me, I had to consider not only the way the greenhouse is going to look now, but how it is going to last for the years to come,” said Whitlock.
Inspired by Whitlock’s greenhouse idea and her own love for the environment, Valsamedis took on an irrigation aspect of the project by using timers and drip irrigation hoses to create a system that would supply Whitlock’s greenhouse with water, rather than having volunteers come in over the summer to water the plants. In addition to time and money constraints, Whitlock and Valsamedis faced obstacles including bad weather and lack of stores supplying their needed materials for the project.
“We have always had to be used to being adaptable and being able to change components of our projects quickly. The many problems we have run into during our Engineering classes have only served us well because whenever I ran into a problem with this project, I knew to just keep on brainstorming different ideas and it would work out,” said Valsamedis on her project.
Drawing from her freshman year final experience of making a small-scale irrigation system, Valsamedis’ project is a prime example of bringing her passion discovered in the classroom to life and using it to foster change in her community, which is what the Beyond the Hall program was designed to ignite.
The Beyond the Hall experiences prove that the first graduating class is equipped with the proper tools to succeed in their future career endeavors, and due to the success of the inaugural year of the program, the school plans to continue it for years to come.