Students Experience MORE! Opportunities with Donor-Funded Internships

Emma Irving '18
Students Emma Lavin and Saleeth Ulloa Lasso talking in hallway of Kapelski Learning Center
Students Emma Lavin and Saleeth Ulloa Lasso discuss Experience MORE!

From healthcare to government, nonprofits to podcasts, students in this year’s Experience MORE! cohort took their internships to new industries and new heights.

The Experience MORE! program provides financial assistance to students and allows them to seize opportunities working in meaningful unpaid or underpaid internships. They are able to take advantage of invaluable career development support in the summer – a time of year when students often need to work to save for expenses. Instead, they get the internship experiences and are paid or supplemented by Experience MORE!, which is fully supported by generous university donors.

Nine students took part in the 2023 program to resounding success.

“Though this is a donor-funded opportunity, it’s not a matching program where internships are handed out,” Janet Long, executive director of Career Design & Development said at a post-internship celebratory luncheon. “The process is competitive, but all these students took the initiative with just a little coaching to find the experiences that aligned with their talents and interests.”

David Leaman, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, which partners with the careers team on Experience MORE!, emphasized the initiative of this cohort.

“You all seized opportunities and navigated around obstacles. You maintained a growth mindset throughout and did amazing things this summer,” he said.

These students represent an array of industries, talents, and passions, but they all benefitted from the chance to Experience MORE! with their internship.

Mia Podgorski ’24 Universal Health Services

Mia Podgorski's experience at Universal Health Systems is just getting started. Podgorski's internship success at the Fortune 500 hospital management and software solutions company has not only scored her an internship extension through the spring, but a post-graduation job offer, which she's already accepted.

Head shot of student Mia Podgorski
Mia Podgorski

A transfer student who began as a computer science major, Podgorski soon switched to a computer information systems major to expand her career possibilities.

“I thought that combining computer science and management information systems would make me a more versatile hiring candidate,” Podgorski said.

She was right. Podgorski’s internship had her working with the clinical development team to create and maintain a vital electronic medical record system.

“Knowing that I was directly supporting nurses and physicians and helping them do their jobs efficiently was a great feeling,” she reflected.

The feeling was mutual, and UHS offered Podgorski a full-time position as an associate software engineer. Until then, she’ll continue to use her skills to serve her Widener community as a computer science tutor and volunteer for the engineering mini camp for high school girls.

Thriving in your industry even before graduation is what Experience MORE! is all about.

Angelica Rivera ’25 Maryland Hunger Solutions

For Angelica Rivera, financial support from Experience MORE! was crucial to her success in an under-funded industry.

head shot of student Angelica Rivera
Angelica Rivera

Rivera interned remotely with Maryland Hunger Solutions (MHS), a nonprofit which seeks to improve public policy and provide direct solutions for those facing food insecurity in the state. Working with the outreach team, Rivera created and distributed resources to non-native English speakers on federal programs like SNAP, as well as general mental, physical, and sexual health resources.

The work was especially meaningful for Rivera, a native Spanish speaker.

“I was one of only two Spanish speakers at my internship, so we answered hundreds of calls each week from people needing information and help applying to SNAP. The process can be extremely complicated, especially if you don’t know the language well,” Rivera explained. Sometimes, she’d hear the cries of hungry children on the other end of the line as their caregivers worked with Rivera to access their next meal.

Providing resources for the local Spanish-speaking community, especially for vulnerable populations within that group including LGBTQ+ and undocumented people, became Rivera’s mission. She proved so important in that role that her internship was extended through the fall.
    
Funding from Experience MORE! gave Rivera much-needed financial support as she navigated the nonprofit sphere for the first time. A double major in psychology and gender & women’s studies with a minor in international relations, Rivera had been planning on pursuing her PhD, but this internship opened her eyes to a different calling.
    
“My time with MHS has made me consider getting my master’s in social work and doing even more for minority groups,” Rivera said. “I hope I’m able to inspire organizations to hire more Spanish and other non-English speakers to reach the communities that most need their help.”

Emma Lavin ’25 New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice

Experience MORE! also helped Emma Lavin clarify her career path.

A criminal justice major with minors in computer forensics and psychology—as well as a member of the Pride field hockey team—Lavin knew she wanted to use her internship to explore unique fields within the criminal justice umbrella.

Lavin landed her internship with the State of New Jersey’s Division of Criminal Justice and was then randomly assigned to the Prosecutors Supervision & Training Bureau. She assisted her supervisor—a deputy attorney general—with reading cases to determine if a crime was committed. Working on abuse and neglect cases involving elder and disability centers strengthened Lavin’s skills in an area she hadn’t worked in previously.

The highlight of her internship though was writing the section on Megan’s Law—which requires information about registered sex offenders be made publicly available—for the updated prosecutors manual. With research and editorial help from her supervisor, Lavin’s words will be sent to all New Jersey counties to outline procedures for those criminal violations.

That experience is truly invaluable to creating a fulfilling career, Lavin said. She also noted how the many valuable connections she made at the state level and within the fifteen different bureaus that make up the division give her a leg up.

“I’m now really considering law school after this internship,” Lavin said. “I was able to see so many new sides to the criminal justice field. “Reading over these cases and experiencing the legal side of criminal justice in real time was an experience unique to this internship, and it can’t exactly be taught in a classroom. I was able to recognize new strengths and realize how much I enjoyed what I was doing.”

Saleeth Ulloa Lasso ’26 Unreasonable podcast

Saleeth Ulloa Lasso set out to answer a big question during her Experience MORE!  internship: How do issues of church-state separation impact the ability to address important societal problems? Tackling broad social issues like these satisfies the sophomore’s curiosity about how the world works.

Ulloa Lasso’s Widener education has so far been defined by this curiosity. A triple major in French, political science, and international relations, Ulloa Lasso is also an international student from Ecuador.

“I didn’t have much knowledge about American politics, coming from another country,” Ulloa Lasso said, “but this internship helped me understand how the separation of church and state can lead to a more fair and inclusive society.”

She landed her summer internship at the podcast Unreasonable: Church, State, and the American Divide thanks to connections from Professor of French Stephanie Schechner. Lasso’s work at the podcast included researching guest interviewees, editing transcripts, and managing social media accounts. Meeting a variety of guests opened her eyes to different perspectives on how to encourage people from diverse belief systems to participate in civil society.

“Unreasonable seeks to educate listeners about American democracy and activate them to work to preserve the separation of church and state,” Ulloa Lasso said. “What I liked most about my internship was that they may be a podcast now, but the team is seeking to be a movement.”

Getting in on the ground floor of that movement in the early days of her college education is sure to set Lasso up to thrive, along with all the other students who got to Experience MORE! this summer.
 

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