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How I Spent My Summer Vacation, By Sabrina Marshall

Aug 28, 2017 09:47AM ● By Elena Hutslar

How I Spent My Summer Vacation


College Students Gain Real Life Experience In Internships

Pleasant Hill resident and Whittier College English major, Sabrina Marshall, spent her summer as 

 an intern for the Community Focus, where she has written several articles and gave us a jumpstart on multiple projects.  Before she headed back to school, Sabrina caught up with a few of her college-age friends who also spent their summers hard at work at internships in their fields of study.


Laura Furtado: marine biology major at UCSD

 An incoming senior at the University of California, San Diego, Laura Furtado studies marine biology along the coast of California. This summer, Furtado worked as a lab assistant at Burton Lab at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. As part of a team assisting a PhD student with a thesis project, she studied small crustaceans called copepods. “I was creating hybrid crosses between different populations,” said Furtado. “We had samples from eight different locations down the Pacific coast. The northern populations have less heat tolerance than the southern ones, so we were trying to see if their children would have a higher heat tolerance if we crossed them together.”

Getting involved in the lab was easy for Furtado because she knew the professor who ran the lab and a friend working in the lab gave a recommendation. She learned a lot that could easily be taken to other types of research; however, she particularly enjoyed using all the special equipment, especially the NanoDrop, used to measure the quality of a DNA sample. The team got to see up close the DNA they were extracting, creating, and sequencing.

Along with the multitude of research experiences, the lab was a great place to network among colleagues and mentors. “The people I met there were all very helpful and said, ‘Hey, if you ever need a recommendation letter, I’d be happy to help,’ or ‘If you’re interested in something else and if I know someone else at Scripps, we can set you up with them.’ It’s a lot of really helpful connections.”

Furtado will be returning to the lab to hopefully continue the copepod hybrid research after spending a quarter abroad in Brisbane, Australia, to broaden her marine familiarity. 


Derrick Lewald: mechanical engineer at UC Davis


Despite balancing a heavy course load as a mechanical engineer at UC Davis and working as a shop assistant with Unitrans, Derrick Lewald took on a new opportunity this past spring and summer at an engineering student co-op. Working out of the Contra Costa County Sanitary District (Central San) in Martinez, Lewald was particularly involved with the Capital Projects Division of the district, helping improve the performance of the plant overall.

Learning about the opening wasn’t difficult for Lewald, who came across Central San at UC Davis’ Engineering Job Fair last year. He was not accepted then, but reapplied this year and was brought on. Although he started in January, the summer months were significantly more exciting. “When we had more summertime employees, we went out with them and explored the plant, which had a large underground network of tunnels. The older and obsolete parts of the plant are still labeled and everything’s still mapped out, so you can see how the older parts used to work.”

Lewald, who is determined to graduate from Davis early, is glad he took the time away from school and the Unitrans shop to experience a different side of engineering, even if it meant staying in college longer than anticipated. Being “more excited about sewage than most” and with a reaffirmed need for an Engineer-In-Training (EIT) License, Lewald surmised, “Working a job helped me learn more about what I’m going to do in college and what I’m going to study and specialize in. It gives you a taste of what you’re in for.“



Gina Quinlan: dance major at Drexel University in Pennsylvania


When not choreographing new dance sequences across the country as a senior dance major at Drexel University in Pennsylvania, Gina Quinlan spends her summers back in the Bay Area teaching dance to adults with disabilities. At the College of Adaptive Arts (CAA) in San Jose, Quinlan worked as a dance professor in their School of Dance, helping the college “prove that everyone is capable despite their differences.” She taught a variety of dance styles such as jazz, ballet, and contemporary, and she stepped in as a coach assistant for latizmo hip-hop. “While my goal is to work in a clinical setting with children,” said Quinlan,“teaching dance to these adults has been one of the greatest factors in cultivating my philosophy on art and ability.” Along with teaching, she got the chance to choreograph as well, crafting contemporary pieces to music as well as assisting with theatre choreography for the college’s many productions.

Quinlan got acquainted with CAA through sjDANCEco’s National Dance Week Festival, where she and others were invited to perform. “I took this position two years ago for the summer quarter,” said Quinlan, “and came back in 2017 as part of my cooperative learning experience for Drexel University.” Quinlan will complete her Bachelor of Science in Dance this coming year and will continue on at Drexel to pursue her Master of Science in Dance/Movement Therapy. “These students’ successes inspire me every day,” said Quinlan. “They accomplish learning new dances, staying active, and developing physical and cognitive strength.”


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