Twenty-Four Local Students Work in Different Departments on Campus
|Watch the video to learn more about the high school summer internship program at Columbia. (3:26)|
Christian McArthur, a junior at Columbia Secondary School, often envisions his future at the University.
McArthur was one of 24 local high school students selected for five-week internships in schools and departments across the campus including the Business School, Miller Theatre, Facilities, Public Safety, Student Services and the Weatherhead East Asian Institute, to name just a few.
“I’ve been able to establish connections in a real office environment,” McArthur says. “It made me feel professional at a young age.”
University officials received more than 300 applications, and those who were accepted underwent a rigorous interview process.
From writing news articles to developing computer programs, the interns’ responsibilities were as varied as the places they worked. One student, for example, was asked to build a PowerPoint presentation to be shown to the New York City mayor’s office.
La-Verna Fountain, vice president for Construction Business Services and Communications in Facilities, said one of the goals of the 3-year-old program was to teach students that there isn’t just one path to a career. “These internships,” Fountain said, “are literally a ticket to envision the world.”
The internship program is one example of numerous activities the University coordinates to introduce young people to educational, cultural, health and civic programs that weave the university into the local community.
Columbia Secondary School principal Miriam Nightengale says some of the students come from families with no tradition of higher education. “This is a positive first experience that encourages courage and ambition,” she says.
Facilities’ program coordinator Radhy Miranda was impressed by the way the teenagers handled the real-world experience. “Each of these interns has shown a maturity and desire to learn in any situation,” he said.
According to Willie Bentley, employment operations manager in Human Resources, such internship opportunities are rare for local teenagers.
“We are able to reach out to these kids when they are young, ambitious and are actually able to help cultivate their young minds,” Bentley said.
At the end of the program, the interns heard from Robert Kasdin, senior executive vice president, and Kofi Boateng, executive director of the West Harlem Development Corporation, who urged the young people to make the most of their experience.
Nathan Mace of Millennium High School—who one day hopes to work in architecture and design—seemed to take the message to heart.
“I will look back on this experience and be glad that instead of going to the beach, I got to work at Columbia,” he said.
—by Cindy del Rosario-Tapan
Four Columbia faculty were awarded Sloan Research Fellowships by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. They are Mark Churchland, assistant professor of neuroscience; Wei Min, assistant professor of chemistry; Simha Sethumadhavan, associate professor of computer science; and Wei Zhang, assistant professor of mathematics.
Alondra Nelson, associate professor of sociology, won the 2012 book award from the Association for Humanist Sociology for Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight Against Medical Discrimination.