LLI Supports Student Interns


LLI received wonderful thank-you letters from students in the NYC Bard High School Early College Program (BHSEC). Every year, LLI provides financial help for expenses incurred during summer internships. 

The Bard Early Colleges are founded on the belief that many high-school-age students are eager and ready for the intellectual challenges of a college education. The Bard Early Colleges provide adolescents with a rigorous, credit-bearing, tuition-free college course of study in the liberal arts and sciences following the 9th and 10th grades.  

Image from the Bard Early Colleges website.

Girls Who Code Logo

Elizabeth Bitman at Girls Who Code

I am writing to thank you and the Bard Lifetime Learning Institute for the generous grant. I participated in a Summer Immersion Program at Girls Who Code and worked within WW (formerly known as Weight Watchers). The grant helped cover my expenses of transportation and allowed me to purchase professional attire. 

Girls Who Code was a wonderful experience that exposed me to a community of young girls and women dedicated to promoting gender equality in the technological field. I learned invaluable coding skills and made so many motivated and determined friends who hope to make a difference. Using my knowledge of Python, Java, and HTML, I even created a website informing animal lovers about adoption and fostering along with the numerous benefits of owning a pet and the detrimental impact of an increasing number of pet shops. My website is featured on my Github and has been shared with a variety of leading technological experts within WW. Following the completion of this project, I was added to an extensive network of jobs and internships offered to alumni of the wonderful Girls Who Code program. I am immensely grateful for the coding experience I gained through this program and have attained numerous leadership and communication skills. I enjoyed my time there and always laughed while collaborating with friends on a new project.

Furthermore, I visited a variety of tech companies and saw that even without amazing coding skills I can still work in a fast-paced environment that advances progress through technology. By learning about technological companies, I realized the benefits of working within one and the meaningful impact their work has on society. Women, who openly talked to me about their career, discussed the opportunities to learn while working in their field and increase their status in the company. Nearly, or even more, important than basic coding skills, I built a large network of connections that will allow me to access internships within companies dedicated to creating a fun and challenging experience. I loved being in WW and will apply there later in life for an internship related to technology and marketing. 

Participating in Girls Who Code was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had, and I am so grateful for your recognition and support. Thank you again for enabling me to see the opportunities within a tech-related field. 

Amelia Macsapia at Icahn School of Medicine

I greatly appreciate you and the Lifetime Learning Institute for selecting me as a recipient and generously supporting my summer internship with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and the NYCDOHMH. Over the course of summer, I worked closely with different researchers and project coordinators at Mount Sinai to expand the “My NYC Air” project, furthering my knowledge of different environmental problems front line communities face. In turn, I was also able to share what I had learned, developing new leadership qualities. 

The “My NYC Air” project uses community science to engage participants in collaborating on conducting and analyzing research to proactively identify sources of air pollution, and communicate data back to the community and policymakers. Just before summer holiday started, Mount Sinai, the Children’s Environmental Literacy Foundation, CUNY Center for Urban Environmental Reform, and the NYCDOHMH, held a citizen science symposium where middle school students and teachers presented on air pollution around their neighborhoods. After collecting air quality data outdoors throughout the school year, students developed innovative pollution prevention plans. Though I was primarily there to report on the event, I helped encourage students who were intimidated by the thought of speaking in front of such a large audience. After the presentations, I interviewed students and teachers from each of the schools. I was greatly inspired to see the passion students had for sharing and debating over creative and unique approaches for how to address such large, multi-faceted environmental issues. 

Throughout the rest of the summer, I participated in seminars and presentations held by PEHSU, the Pediatric Environmental Health Speciality Unit and NYSCEHC, the New York State Children’s Environmental Health Centers. PEHSUs are a network of meetings and consultations throughout the US and Canada which provide academic, medical information and advice on environmental hazards that influence reproductive and children’s health. During one meeting we addressed two community concerns on formaldehyde exposure in the Upper West Side, and VOCs from mattresses. Looking at reports of formaldehyde levels, we discussed the problems in the company only sampling a few rooms of the house, and not taking a control measurement outside to understand whether the levels were of concern or not. We responded to the case by explaining the limitations of the report and recommending they test levels again after moving in and additionally trying to source where readings were coming from. We compiled a list of common Phenol formaldehyde and Urea-formaldehyde resin sources including materials such as soft plywood, flake or oriented stained boards, particleboard, hardwood, and plywood paneling. For the case about VOC coating on mattresses, we discussed the plausibility of the most effective options such as ventilating new mattresses for several months, ultimately recommending to research mattress manufacturing online to safer options, and have some air ventilation whether that be a fan or open window in the room.

Another panel I had the opportunity to learn from was on communitology, a term created by Dr. Cappy Collins, an environmental health pediatrician, which refers to how the delegation of roles in each society regarding health and disease determines the efficacy of our efforts. Collins first outlined how healthcare providers invest money in the three main hospitals in NYC: NYC Langone, NYC Presbyterian, and Mount Sinai. He posed the question to us: if 96th street, dividing Harlem and the Upper East Side have access to these same hospitals, why is there an invisible line between the two neighborhoods where Harlem has disproportionate rates of chronic illness and disease? Discussing with other interns and researchers, we initially saw the problem as having the socio-economic capability to pay for primary care, that health problems be unchecked for and untreated until seriously manifesting, requiring hospitalization and tertiary or quaternary care. Collins expanded on our proposals, explaining how violence – perceived or actual – can alter genetics and interfere with organ development. 

He explained that an overarching issue is precisely the problem of lacking safe and structured positive reinforcement to combat problems such as obesity, behavioral issues, teen pregnancy, and other adverse health effects. Rather than investing money in competition between the hospitals, he argued, society needs to be addressing the roots of these health causes in the first place. What this means is that instead of placing an obligation on the individual to take care of their health, e.g. to not drink soda and to exercise every day, having access to community enforcement and engagement which provides alternative solutions and creates policy changes. Cyclopedia, for instance, is a bicycling program that combines physical activity with field science, empowering and educating youth. 

Throughout these and various other seminars, I interacted with other interns, developing meaningful relationships and connections not only between our interests but also between intersections in each of our projects. I learned from a visiting medical student summer research intern a lot about the chemistry of many pollutants in our modern-day ‘plasticine,’ and was able to connect how these chemicals not only affect environments like the ocean but how, for instance, they can connect to ambient air pollution as well. These sorts of connections prompted me to propose working on a noise pollution infographic to explain the health effects of being exposed to unwanted and harmful levels of sound. As I am wrapping up the infographic, I have also been completing training modules and surveys to provide teachers with help to learn more about and better teach subjects relating to air pollution clearly and concisely. I will also be helping organize a symposium to highlight different community science projects happening around NYC, related to air quality or not. 

I sincerely thank the Lifetime Learning Institute for graciously providing me with the opportunity to travel to and from work every week, and pick up lunches. I learned so much over the course of the summer interacting with different areas of environmental research and was greatly inspired to search for their connections and applications together.

Ichan School of Medicine
Brooklyn Birthing Center

Gaia Moisan at Brooklyn Birthing Center

I am writing to express my gratitude to you and the Bard Lifetime Learning Institute for the grant that allowed me to participate in an unpaid internship at the Brooklyn Birthing Center. My role as a birthing assistant gave me more hands-on experience than I could have ever imagined. I was on-call for births for 24-hour hour shifts twice a week. In that time, I was able to assist at over 20 labors. Being on-call is highly disruptive to the normal workweek and meant I had to work significantly fewer hours at my paid job, money that I have to save for college. Because of this, I would never have been able to take up the position without your sponsorship. 

During my long hours at the center, I gained skills and understanding that can only be achieved through hands-on experience. I was given the responsibility of taking vitals and filling out paperwork throughout the labor, very careful data has to be taken throughout the whole process. I became significantly more confident in taking fetal heartrate, locating the fetus by using specific maneuvers, as well as what questions to ask the mother in order to do this. I learned to take manual blood pressure, which you have to become good at very quickly in order to do it during the sometimes chaotic and loud process of birth. 

Every birth is different, they all have their own complications and joys. I was able to watch the midwives navigate these challenges, with each patient I gained an understanding of a new medical and personal situation that could come during labor. Some of the patients I worked with had to be transferred to the hospital for pain management or complications that could threaten the health of the fetus. Others had to be hooked up to the IV for antibiotics that could infect the newborn baby during birth. Sometimes the scenario to be dealt with was more personal or emotional, there were women that needed lots of support and encouragement because they doubted their ability to give birth. Other mothers had complete confidence in herself but doubted the professionals and needed to be given all the information clearly. Working with the patients, I learned so much about caring for people, how to figure out what the patients needed and how to give it to them. It was an incredibly rewarding summer. 

This unpaid internship also had the effect of giving me the experience and credibility to find more work. I was connected to a woman who has a prenatal health and birth class business and needed a paid intern to do research, organize schedules, design social media posts, and work on her website. Having unpaid experience at the birthing center helped me obtain another position. 

This summer, thanks to Bard LLI, I gained priceless experience in my intended profession and learned the importance of unpaid experience. This one position truly streamlined my involvement in the world of NYC birth professionals in a really shocking way. 

Again, thank you so much for your sponsorship of my summer internship. I would not have been able to participate in the opportunity of my position and it’s not an exaggeration to say that the experience changed my career and life.

Sinziana Stanciu at Sonia and Celina Sotomayor Judicial Internship Program

I would like to express my gratitude to the Lifetime Learning Institute, and you, for providing me with a grant this summer. For four weeks I participated in the Sonia and Celina Sotomayor Judicial Internship Program and worked in the Eastern District Court House alongside Judges, Law Clerks, and other Law Interns. I had the privilege to work with Magistrate Judge Bloom and her distinguished law clerks in chambers. 

Every morning I woke up happy, that I was going to court for another day of work. I got in early every day and stayed later than I was supposed to (often hours) simply because I loved the work I was doing. My actual daily consisted of desk and administrative work. I absolutely loved it, from working on bench memos to organizing the files in chambers, there was never a dull moment. I wrote orders and summarized cases for the Law clerks on fascinating pro se cases. My judge was responsible for dealing with the pro se cases, which are much more colorful than normal cases that have lawyers writing complaints. It showed me the value in our country’s beautiful judicial system where any person, regardless of financial ability to hire a lawyer, can bring a case to court. Closing and opening cases presented an opportunity to examine cases closely and understand the implementation of precedent into opinions. 

Moreover, during my time at the courthouse, I was able to see El Chapo get sentenced. It was absolutely energetic in the building that day as there was much speculation as to when he would get sentenced. Law students, high school students, and law clerks were all very interested in seeing history unfold. 

The highlight of the summer was by far meeting Justice Sotomayor in person. I even got to ask her a question about her time on the bench. I absolutely love her and being part of this program was very special to me. She is such a strong person and I admire her very much. 

Moreover, this summer I had the opportunity to network with many people from the legal community. We even got to spend a day at Bloomberg Headquarters in Manhattan meeting in house counsel and touring the building. It sparked an interest in me for corporate law because of their extensive pro bono work as well as their expansive global network. After reading Michael Bloomberg’s autobiography, I really came to understand the essence and philosophy behind the company. 

On most Fridays, we were able to go to the 2nd Circuit court in Manhattan. Some of the things we got to do included an architectural tour of the court, presentations by Federal and Circuit Court Judges as well as comprehensive presentations by the court’s own librarians. 

Thanks to the grant I was able to expand my legal library and do more research during my time in court. I was also able to get lunch with my colleagues every day and built meaningful relationships. I am very appreciative of all of the knowledge I have gained thanks to the books. 

Thank you again for everything,