Justin Zeigler ’16, Department of Education

Justin-ZeglerMy Princeternship with the Department of Education (ED) was an extremely rewarding and worthwhile experience. My host was Massie Ritsch ’98, the Acting Assistant Secretary for Communications and Outreach. Ritsch is one of eight assistants that oversee a division in the Department of Education, and he reports to Secretary Arne Duncan. I was fortunate enough to be in the office during one of the busiest weeks of the year – the week of President Obama’s State of the Union Address. As the Office of Communications and Outreach, Massie’s department was in charge of highlighting and publicizing the education aspects of the President’s Speech.

During my three days at ED, I was involved in several fascinating projects that were both challenging and rewarding. Through one of the Teacher Ambassador Fellows, I helped coordinate a roundtable of elementary school principals by contacting relevant school districts throughout the state of Tennessee and inviting them to participate. After that project, I worked on a presentation designed to demonstrate how the ED’s priorities align with the concerns of national education organizations.

Most interestingly, I had the opportunity to work with Karen Stratman, Director of National Public Engagement for ED, on a report for the White House. The White House wanted to know the different education organizations’ reactions to the President’s State of the Union speech, which placed a lot of emphasis on the importance of education and its capability of building a middle class. Karen provided me with a list of influential education organizations throughout the country, and it was my job to research and compile a report on these reactions. I was able to gain a deeper understanding of different national education organizations, it was also gratifying to know that the work I had done was useful to the White House.

Meeting and speaking with people who are making a difference in education was one of my favorite aspects of this Princeternship. On the second day, I had an opportunity to talk with one of Arne Duncan’s speechwriters, Melissa Apostolides. She is entrusted to write speeches that are both compelling and inspirational for Secretary Duncan to give. She walked me through the process of how she attempts to emulate the Secretary’s voice while writing a speech, showed me some of her favorite speeches, and gave me copies of speeches she had written in the past.

Another fascinating person I had the opportunity to meet was John McLaughlin, head of the Neglected or Delinquent Education Programs for ED. He administers two of the nation’s most successful correctional education programs. He is clearly passionate about his work, and I find it really admirable that he makes a positive difference in the world with his professional career. I also spoke on the phone with John Linton, Director of the Office of Correctional Education for ED. Mr. Linton is incredibly inspiring; he has dedicated his professional career to tackling a social justice issue. We talked for an hour, and afterwards, all I wanted to do was learn more about the problems of our prison system and how education can serve as a remedy. Mr. Linton and Mr. McLaughlin motivated me to spend the entire bus ride home from DC to New York researching correctional education. Our nation has the largest prison population in the world, and education is one of the most important keys to changing that. This is an issue that I want to learn much more about, and I’m going to make sure that I do so.

Education is relevant to a myriad of pressing social issues. I have come to realize how important education policy is for the future of this country. Recently, on a University-sponsored Breakout Trip, I explored urban health care – a topic which seems unrelated to education on the surface. However, as we talked to community partners about urban health, it became clear that poor health is frequently a manifestation of social issues. From poor housing to addiction, these social issues are all tied to a unifying factor: a lack of access to a good education. Education has the capacity to facilitate social movement, transform urban areas, and maintain our nation’s standing as one of the greatest in the world. I see education as the most important component of our country’s future.

Doing a Princeternship at ED was an incredible experience, and I feel very fortunate to have been able to spend Intersession learning about an important topic from such inspiring people.

Julie Kwong ’16, Yinghua International School

Julie-KwongThe Princeternship experience proved to me that life after Princeton really is unpredictable. My host, Kristin Epstein ’97, studied environmental engineering as an undergraduate, worked in the field for ten years, then ended up co-directing a Chinese immersion school just down the road. I went into the experience hoping to discover whether school administration would be something I would be interested in pursuing. After shadowing Mrs. Epstein for two days, I got a chance to not only learn about what administration entails, but also what the policies and curriculums are like in private schools. I was in the public school system for all my life, so I have always been used to and perhaps took for granted the standardization of procedures and curriculums across my county school system in Maryland. I learned that private schools, like Yinghua, can use their own discretion in what they do during the academic year as long as they meet the core state curriculum. I never knew how little oversight there is over private schools! As I toured the school and watched little children of all ethnicities engaging with one another in Chinese, I grew more and more amazed at the success of their language immersion program. All of the core classes were taught in Chinese and all I could think about was how little I could understand even after taking a semester of Chinese here at Princeton. Although the curriculum is less rigid than I am used to, their focus on making learning interesting and relevant to the students’ lives really inspired me. On top of the flexible system, the school community is also very tight knit. On the first day, we were able to sit in on a parent meeting for kwongone of the grade levels and considering that the number of students in that grade level is small and that there were enough parents and administrators to fill the table, I thought that there was a pretty good turnout! All of the parents were actively engaged and wanted to help in the best way they could. One mother was particularly concerned about her child retaining Chinese once he leaves the school so she talked a lot about maintaining an English-free environment in the classroom and providing summer programs to keep the children actively learning and practicing Chinese. I found this particularly interesting because I always thought that most immigrant parents, including my own, would be concerned about their child learning and mastering the English language, especially here in the U.S. Although my parents didn’t force Chinese upon me, I wish they had and it was really heartwarming to learn about this parent’s concern because I too believe that retaining one’s heritage and roots especially through language is important.

kwong 2The school also bases its curriculum on the IB curriculum at the elementary level. This is where most of the love for learning comes in. One fascinating project Ms. Epstein told us about was the Berlin Wall simulation during one of the history classes. Elementary school students, not yet ten years old, were already learning about some of the most important events that happened in our nation’s history. In this activity, the students were separated by a constructed wall and the students on one side of the wall were loud and celebratory while the students on the other experienced quite the opposite and could hear the excitement on the other side. Though a simplified explanation of the Berlin Wall, this exercise was one of many projects that the school incorporates in its curriculum to encourage students to enjoy learning. This Princeternship was an eye-opening experience into education in the private school system as well as education administration. I would like to thank Ms. Epstein and the staff at Yinghua for being so welcoming and supportive during my time at the school!

Abraham Kielar ’15, University Heights Charter School

During Reading Period this year, I had the opportunity to spend three days at University Heights Charter School in Newark shadowing the school’s executive director, Misha Simmonds ’97. This was an excellent way to see the inner workings of an up-and-coming nonprofit, specifically in the educational field. This school primarily serves underprivileged minority students from the surrounding schools. Mr. Simmonds was a very welcoming, friendly host, even picking me up from Newark Penn Station on the first day due to the frigid temperatures outside. At UCHS, he introduced me to other staff members at the school as soon as we arrived, putting me at ease in the place I would be working for the next three days.

The first order of business was a comprehensive tour of the school, which is actually comprised of two buildings. One contains grades pre-kindergarten through 2, and the other across the street houses grades 3 through 7. I also got an overview of the ongoing construction work, which will add a gymnasium and connect to the existing building, allowing for UHCS to expand and add an eighth grade next year. Back in Mr. Simmonds’ office, I learned about New Classrooms and their innovative Teach To One program, which is currently being utilized to teach math at about 15 trial schools around the country, including UHCS. My next main assignment for the day was to comb over the school website to check for any errors or outdated information and make a list of recommended changes for Mr. Simmonds to follow up on. Later in the afternoon I was able to listen in on a phone conversation on special education programming in the district; it spanned a wide variety of topics, such as developing a plan for greater equality and access for special needs students in Newark, and how UHCS fits into that plan. The final project for the day was to analyze Excel spreadsheets of assessment results for kindergarten to grade 2. I created a series of summaries to identify problem areas (standards that are particularly tough to reach) and which classrooms within a single grade are learning a particular standard best.

On day two I took the light rail to the school and continued working on the Excel sheets of K-2 assessment results. I then had the chance to sit in on another phone conversation regarding financing for the new building construction for the new addition across the street. The financial terminology was all new to me, but it was a great opportunity to learn more about the process of managing UHCS. Later in the afternoon I observed a second grade English class and a third grade math class.

For the third and final day, I spent the majority of my time labeling envelopes to be sent out to prospective students and their families, inviting them to apply to the UHCS in the coming months. As my last project, I crunched more numbers on Excel spreadsheets of enrollment data, taking the raw data and sorting it into the necessary categories, organizing the students by grade level, gender, and race/ethnicity.

This Princeternship provided a great look into how a charter school functions on a daily basis and offered the perspective of a supervisor who has spent his entire career in various aspects of the educational field. It was very interesting to hear about the path Mr. Simmonds took after his time as an undergraduate history major at Princeton, culminating in his position as executive director of UHCS. The best part of this experience was seeing how he efficiently handled all the responsibilities of executive director and dealt with a variety of situations as they arose. I would absolutely recommend this Princeternship for anyone interested in Education or nonprofit work.

Anna Kamen ’15, U.S. Department of Education

Anna-KamenAs a WWS student concentrating in education policy, I was thrilled for the opportunity to spend Reading Period shadowing Massie Ritsch ‘98, the Acting Assistant Secretary of Communications and Outreach at the United States Department of Education.  After spending last summer interning on the Hill and gaining a better understanding of our nation’s legislative branch, I was excited to learn about the ins and outs of working for a federal agency and specifically the responsibilities of a communications staff.

One of the best parts of the Princeternship was how accommodating Massie and his staff were about allowing me to sit in on meetings and talk to people whose careers matched my interests.  Kamen 1After arriving my first day, I had not even settled into the office for an hour when Massie asked me if I wanted to observe a meeting with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and the rest of the communication staff.  It was such a privilege to sit in on a meeting with the most powerful man in the realm of education and listen to his long-term vision for the Department.   Later that day, I went to lunch with Massie where he gave me a run through of the structure of the communications and outreach department and explained more about various types of careers in education.  On another day, I met with Steven Hicks, a senior policy analyst that specializes in Early Childhood Education, a topic I have taken an interest to in my studies in education.  I learned about some of the administration’s new initiatives for universal early childhood learning, particularly for low income families.  As a strong advocate for this policy, I enjoyed hearing the various steps the Department of Education is taking toward improving early learning, and it was inspiring to meet someone so passionate about his job.

I also had the opportunity to work on interesting projects throughout the three days of my Princeternship.  The first project I worked on involved taking the pulse of what various media outlets were saying about Obama’s new college ratings and college affordability initiative.  The overwhelmingly negative press surrounding the initiative got me thinking about how the new program could negatively affect some of the more unconventional institutions of higher education, particularly if the ratings were to be linked to federal aid.  At the end of the Princeternship, I articulated the concerns I had read to Massie, and he graciously answered my questions and explained to me why the department supported the initiative, alleviating many of my doubts.  I also conducted research for a couple of Secretary Duncan’s speeches.  The most exciting of these for me was researching for Secretary Duncan’s appearance in Nicholas Kristof’s documentary version of Half the Sky, one of the most inspiring books for the movement promoting better education for girls in the developing world, a cause very near to me.  Lastly, I had the opportunity to help edit the teacher newsletter that the Department of Education sends out to tens of thousands of teachers each week nationwide.  It was interesting to learn more about the editing process for the Department’s communications and see how much time is put into outreach with education stakeholders.

Kamen 2The last day of my Princeternship was by far the highlight.  I was lucky enough to attend an event co-hosted by Secretary Duncan and Attorney General Eric Holder at Frederic Douglas High School where they announced new guidelines for school discipline that only employ exclusionary discipline, such as suspensions and expulsions, as a last resort or when the student poses a safety threat. The school where the event was hosted has witnessed profound improvements in the last few years, much of which can be attributed to its undertaking of alternative forms of school discipline that involve peer mediation and receiving School Improvement Grants from the federal government, another one of the Department’s initiatives.  I got to sit in on a roundtable discussion with Secretary Duncan, Attorney General Holder and 20 Frederic Douglas students where they talked about how these new disciplinary tactics have transformed their school.  The discussion was uplifting and gave me hope that these new guidelines could have a major effect on keeping students on track to obtain their diplomas.

Overall, I could not have imagined a better Princeternship experience, and I am so grateful to Massie and the rest of the Communications and Outreach staff for enabling me to learn so much about the agency and contribute to its exciting initiatives.Kamen 3

Zixuan Deng ’17, YingHua International School

Zixuan-DengDuring Intersession of my freshman fall semester, I participated in a Princeternship hosted by Ms. Kristin Epstein ‘97, the executive director of YingHua International School, with Julie, a sophomore. At first I was a little nervous about shadowing an alumna, but Ms. Epstein’s friendly demeanor immediately put me at ease. Without reservation, she told me about the school and gave me a tour, during which she introduced me to all of her co-workers. Afterwards, she took me out to lunch and told me her story from the time at Princeton to her transition from an environmental engineer to an education administrator. As an executive director in a full time Chinese Immersion School, she handles jobs that really run the gamut: from running parent’s meetings to drafting employee’s handbook, from negotiating contracts for a new location to leading tours for prospective parents, she does it all because she believes in the cause of the school.

On the second day she invited usDeng _Princeternship 2013 Fall Picture_Yinghua to a parents’ meeting, after which she shared with us what she thought about the parents’ attitude. I found her insights to be extremely helpful in understanding a situation from an administrator’s point of view and making assumptions based on what I observed.

My original goal was to learn about education administration, but from this Princeternship experience I learned much more. It exposed me not only to the educational sector but also to aspects of running a nonprofit organization. In the three days I was there, I got the chance to understand, not only by observing but also by helping out, the many challenges of running a private school. However, the struggles only made me more eager to work in the nonprofit sector and contribute to the society in a powerful way.

Edward Leung ’16, Teach for America

Edward-LeungHaving grown up surrounded by socioeconomic and educational disparities, I have always been drawn to Teach for America’s mission – recruiting the best and the brightest to inspire the minds of the next generation, particularly from low-income communities. As a result, I had such an incredible experience at my Princternship with Teach for America’s National Office in New York City.

Day 1

I stood in front of a nondescript building, unsure of what the national headquarters would be like. When I got off the elevator, bursts of loud colors, open spaces and bustling activity hit me. I met my enthusiastic host, Alex Krupp ’10, Manager of Strategic Initiatives and Partnerships, who took me for an office tour before heading over to a lounge – passing an in-office treadmill, comfortable sofas, and other creative arrangements of chairs and tables – to chat. She briefly introduced me to the two Princeton Recruiters for Teach for America (TFA) – Sean Healey and Kate Varnum, with whom I would be working closely later. I also met Recruitment Manager Alexander Donovan, and we conversed a lot about TFA’s missions, our backgrounds, and urban charter schools like Uncommon Schools.

After lunch, Sean and Kate assigned me a recruitment project that revolved around the following premise: Princeton students may regard a recruitment email from Sean or Kate as just spam, but if they received a personal email from a Princeton alum, possibly in their field, who was a TFA alum, that explained why the student should apply to TFA, this recruitment method would be much more successful. I was given a list of Princeton alumnae, mostly current and recent TFA corps members, and I had to choose ten alumnae who would be the best candidates for this recruitment process. I could also see what kind of experiences the alumnae had (the alumni had to rank their experiences at TFA on a scale from 1 to 10, 10 being best, and they had to rank twice, one or two years apart), which aided in my selection process.

Day 2

On the second day, I met Kate at The Leadership and Community Service Academy, a middle school in Bronx, NY, where we observed a current TFA corps member in the classroom. After visiting another class, Kate and I left to head back to the TFA Headquarters, where I met two more people: Natasha Husein and Marquis Brown *09. Natasha, the Marketing Director, showed me TFA’s current marketing campaigns compared to former campaigns, and how they have changed throughout the years. We also discussed criticisms of TFA and how TFA has been re-branding and evolving to continually improve. Then I met Marquis Brown, Chief of Staff to the Chief Administrative Officer, who had attended the Woodrow Wilson School. Marquis essentially oversaw the infrastructure of the company (e.g., IT, Finance & Administration and Legal Affairs) and we had an inspiring chat about our backgrounds and making a difference.

Afterwards, I completed the project, and presented my ten alumnae picks to Sean, and I also explained why I thought these alumnae would be ideal candidates for the recruitment project, and possible questions we can ask them.

I was particularly struck by the creative and young nature of TFA. A lot of people I met, including Alex, Sean, and Kate had just graduated from college, and the energy in the offices was buzzing. I am also awed by the community sense of TFA – the idea that once a TFA corps member, always a TFA corps member (Natasha and I discussed current outreach strategies toward alumnae on continuing their involvement with TFA). Indeed, after this Princeternship, I am thoroughly convinced about TFA’s mission, and I definitely recommend this Princeternship to anyone interested in education. I am so grateful to Alex Krupp, Sean Healey and Kate Varnum for hosting me!

Jason Choe ’17, USC Financial Aid

Jason-ChoeOver spring break, I spent three days in the Office of Financial Aid at the University of Southern California. Since this week preceded the week of acceptance decisions, it was a fairly hectic time as everyone in the office was working to ensure that the final roll-out would be flawless! However, that made the experience so much more interesting since I got to sit in the midst of a veritable firestorm of activity.

The first day, the alumni hosting me,, Ms. Noemi Tagorda ’00, invited me into her office and gave me a run down of the financial aid office’s responsibilities. She also gave me a tour of the office, and then assigned me the task of trying to forecast the potential impact that changes to the Cal Grant (which is the financial aid service operated by the state for needy students) might have on USC. This work was quite fascinating – it really gave me a chance to see how statistical models can be applied to real-world scenarios, and more broadly, it showed me the nuances behind policy making. Throughout the day, she also allowed me to sit in on a variety of meetings she attended or led, which involved discussions between the many members of the financial aid office, including the dean, the communications director, and many others. It really gave me a feel for the degree of interconnectivity between different departments, and also highlighted, for me, how crucial polished interpersonal skills and the ability to work well as a team are for certain jobs.

The next day, I continued with my task (which made me realize how different real world application of skills is from pure problem sets), and also got to attend a couple more meetings with Ms. Tagorda. She also allocated part of the morning to familiarizing me with financial aid allocation policy formulation by running me through a couple case examples of fictitious students who “applied” to USC and who had very different (and oftentimes extenuating) circumstances that had to be taken into consideration when trying to figure out if and how much aid USC should and could offer. It was a fascinating, multifaceted process that definitely gave me a newfound respect for the range of concerns that have to be addressed in any field involving policy implementation. Additionally, I learned about the involvement of many schools, USC included, in spearheading lobbying efforts in Sacramento to encourage the state to sustain, if not increase, its aid for nonprofit higher education institutions, but above all, to hopefully prevent cuts that may threaten the ability of such schools to continue to be needs-blind in their admissions decisions.

The final day, I continuedChoe 1 with the predictions and also got the chance to see how the online rollout process works, especially the portals that parents and students could use to view their financial aid awards. I ended the Princeternship by talking with Ms. Tagorda about paths to financial aid professions and other policy-oriented fields, as well as general impressions from the experience. I was truly impressed by the amount of friendliness shown by all the staff in the financial aid office, and even more impressed by their dedication to using limited resources in as efficiently as possible to allow as many admitted students to attend USC as possible, and it gave me a much greater appreciation for the processes that must have allowed me to receive financial aid from Princeton. The total experience was a great learning opportunity, and a highly productive way to spend Spring Break!

Julie Chen ’17, Education Outside

Julie-ChenEducation Outside is a nonprofit organization that facilitates outdoor classroom programs at public elementary schools in San Francisco. Not only does the organization help build school gardens, but it also trains members of the Education Outside Corps program, who maintain these gardens and teach students science in an outdoor, hands-on environment. I had such a great time shadowing my alumni contact Joyce Lin-Conrad ‘02, the organization’s Director of Learning, as well as the other employees I met in my time there.

On the first day of my Princeternship, I arrived in the office at 9:30 am to attend a staff meeting. The office had a casual vibe to it – it was populated by only six employees, who all welcomed me with friendly smiles and punctuated the meeting with updates on birthdays and personal matters. The business side of the meeting encompassed hiring high school volunteers at their new summer camp, remodeling the website, getting technology for a new hire, and planning a new “boot camp” for the Corps members. I was amazed by how young the organization was (the Corps program is only three years old!) and how quickly it evolved.It seemed that the changes they were implementing all resulted from issues they faced only recently.

In the afternoon, I followed Rachel, Director of Programs, to two elementary schools in the area, where she met withChen 1 the Corps members working there to discuss progress so far and needed supplies. It was a great chance for me to see what the gardens looked like. At the first school we visited, I was surprised to find that not only did Carson, the Corps member stationed there, run the garden, but he also helped the school’s compost program and organized carpools to school. Through the garden program, students were learning how to be environmentally conscious in addition to learning about science. In contrast, the second elementary school was located in a poorer neighborhood. As the program had only just been started, Danielle, the Corps member there, was having trouble getting teachers to bring their classes out at the scheduled time. As I observed one of her classes, I saw that she also experienced more behavioral issues, which seemed to be exacerbated by the newness of the program. The garden was also much smaller – there were only several beds, as well as a segment above the school that had only recently been constructed.

Chen 3On my second day, I went straight to the San Francisco Botanical Garden for a Corps member training session. It was a beautiful, sunny day, which, as we learned, was extremely unusual for January in San Francisco. The training session focused on the climate of San Francisco, because many of the Corps members were from different parts of the country and were unfamiliar with the environment in which their students grew up.. As Corps members, not only would they teach their students about San Francisco’s climate, but they also needed to know which plants could grow at which times of the year in San Francisco’s generally foggy, breezy climate. Not only did I have a great time meeting the Corps members and finding out what brought them to Education Outside, but I also learned many surprising facts about San Francisco’s environment. For example, before human involvement, the city was made up of sand dunes, not the trees and grass we see today.

On my last day of shadowing I headed to ER Taylor Elementary School to shadow Elizabeth, one of the first Corps members of the organization, which was a fantastic conclusion to my Princeternship. I helped her set up for her two fourth grade classes that day. The first class played games in the garden to simulate the rock cycle; the second class learned about erosion by observing the effect of “rain” (hose water) and “wind” (their own breaths) on soil. I supervised an activity where after building soil “mountains” with dead plants and sticks inserted throughout, they poured water on top to see how the “mountain” eroded differently depending on where the “trees” and “buildings” were. As nine- and ten-year-olds, they were predictably hyperactive, but they were also so excited to be outside and building things with their own hands.

Later, I met up with Elizabeth and her group of first and second graders for her afterschool program. We played a couple of games in the garden as a prequel for the main event – cooking a stir-fry from school-grown, organic veggies that the participants harvested and cut themselves. It was amazing to see the children get so excited about eating broccoli! After finishing the meal, everybody carefully composted their leftovers and the biodegradable plates.

Thank you so much, Education Outside, for letting me come by this Intersession! I had an amazing time learning about how nonprofit organizations operate on a daily basis and seeing firsthand Education Outside’s great impact on San Francisco science education. Though I came into Princeton as a Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering major, after my Princeternship, I’m interested in learning more about how science and technology can be used to improve education. It has also led me to realize that providing a seemingly small service – a weekly class in an outdoor garden – can be deeply impactful on a community, not only by educating kids about science but also by getting more families to think about their environmental impact. Seeing kids have so much fun learning sciencewas an inspiring experience, and I look forward to seeing how project-based education will become more prominent in the future.

Alexander Bi ’17, Pennsylvania State University Department of Meteorology

Alex-BiA pristine snowscape, dazzling and delicate, untouched by mankind but for a variety of meteorological instruments peppering the forest floor, the periodic thunk-thunk of a woodpecker the only sound wafting through the still air. I studied with renowned professor Kenneth Davis ‘87 at the Pennsylvania State University Department of Meteorology, and as no experience in the natural sciences would be complete without fieldwork, I found myself spending part of my time during my Princeternship on-site, admiring the beauty of the natural world that climate and environmental scientists seek to preserve while gaining valuable hands-on experience and getting a taste of conducting research in the world of academia.

I’d like to preface my account by noting that unlike the majority of Princeternships, the one I participated in took place in academia. Furthermore, the term “meteorology” often evokes misconceptions of weather forecasters and little more; in reality, the department featured the gamut of researchers who study the natural world: climate scientists, oceanographers, boundary layer and uncertainty researchers, and even some who study the philosophy and ethics of climate change research. The field is a diverse one, and anyone with any level of interest in this general direction would be well served to partake in this amazing experience.

Our time at Penn State was brief but fruitful, informative, inspiring, and most of all, very busy. The entire department was friendly and approachable, and went out of their way to talk with us, describe their research, and share with us their experiences in academia. The first day began with a visit to the department’s weather central, an awe-inspiring room featuring a checkerboard of monitors that spanned one entire wall with shifting displays, at times depicting a map of the entire world with temperatures in the major cities, at times shifting to a view of the continental U.S. and the various fronts sweeping across the country, and even once displaying a magnified view of the sun.

Afterwards, we talked with a number of Professor Davis’ colleagues and research team members. Our conversations ranged from topics such as the experience of conducting research to one of the professors’ own research studying the long-term variability of temperature data. In short, temperatures can fluctuate wildly in a small area for a short period of time—say, a day of 20 below in Princeton—yet all these localized fluctuations always cancel each other out in the long term.

In addition, we learned about the dynamic between conducting research and presenting it to the general populace through the media, and the challenges in this regard, the lifestyle of a grad student and what it takes to continue research in academia, the ever-present uncertainty and how we deal with it in climate models, the nature of hurricanes and how some can brave the colder waters in the north Atlantic and batter the east coast while many others dissipate, among many other things. We also attended a cloud physics class and listened to a talk by renowned professor Michael Mann, a central figure in “Climategate.”

The second day, we went out to a field site, an amazing and inspiring experience that above all really illuminated our reasons for studying the climate and environment: to preserve the beauty of the natural world we sometimes take for granted. Furthermore, we also sat in on a graduate student’s thesis research discussion with Professor Davis, which revealed more about a grad student’s lifestyle, as well as participated in a research team weekly meeting with the professor, during which we observed the dynamic between a professor and the different grad students as a cohesive unit and understood more about how the different roles fit together.

All in all, this was an amazing and worthwhile experience. I can say with certainty that it has given me a greater awareness of the consequences my actions may have on the environment around me and has made me more ecologically conscious. I would highly recommend it to everyone.