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LASAL Scholars Tie Their Work with the Program into Internships

Students pursue internships tailored to their interests

Not everyone gets the chance to say they had meaningful internships that they were passionate about as third-year college students. But seven students at the Ogden Honors College now have that opportunity thanks to internships that allowed them to gain beneficial insight into their chosen career paths with each internship tailored to the issue that student is passionate about through the Louisiana Service and Leadership program (LASAL).

The LASAL Scholars program prepares Ogden Honors College students for leadership roles in Louisiana, particularly in the fields of public service, social justice, and environmental sustainability. 

Cindy Seghers, director of career development at the Ogden Honors College, helped the seven LASAL scholars secure the internships this past semester.

“The students’ internships were customized to focus on the purpose of LASAL, connecting the experience to their majors, and tailoring it to the issues they are interested in,” said Seghers.

Coastal Land Loss

Megan Guidry
Megan Guidry
LASAL Scholar Megan Guidry is a biological sciences major in her third year at LSU, doing research through her internship at The Water Institute this year.

Guidry researched the microbial ecology and environmental drivers of microbial diversity in the lower Mississippi River with Dr. Melissa Baustian. She’s learned about the structure of how a not-for-profit research organization operates, and she’s seen a different side of research and science. The Institute doesn't create policies, but provides data to inform decisions to be made in coastal Louisiana at the intersection of policy and science. 

She said that The Water Institute holds many of the same values as LASAL, such as stressing the importance of cooperation and collaboration across different disciplines.

“LASAL has provided me with an interdisciplinary view of climate change and land loss in Louisiana,” Guidry said. “At the WI, I get to work with people who are developing the new maps of land loss and researching new solutions.” 

Health Care

Aniko
Aniko Nowakowski

Third-year student Aniko Nowakowski is getting a chance to make a lasting impact on Baton Rouge community members with her work at the Baton Rouge Primary Care Collaborative, a company that runs a medical clinic attached to homeless shelters in two different locations. 

“I met with Ms. Cindy and she helped me find this unique internship opportunity that combines my passion for serving the homeless while gaining medical experience in a high-energy and compassionate environment,” Nowakowski said.  

Nowakowski said that as a biological sciences major, this kind of experience is incredibly valuable to her premedical career development. Not only does she get to work with patients by checking their vital signs, assisting the doctor with medical procedures and tests, or running samples in the lab, she gets to learn a lot about their diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. 

“My goal is to work in the nonprofit sector of medicine that focuses on bridging healthcare disparities,” Nowakowski said. “I also have a passion for educating the public on how to best take care of their bodies, which is something I have the joy of doing each day during my internship!”

While Nowakowski had the opportunity to learn about various medical procedures and diagnostic methods that will be beneficial for her career, she said the most rewarding part of her internship is her interactions with the patients. 

“The people I work with and the patients we serve are amazing, and I am truly inspired by their resilience and endurance,” Nowakowski said. “It is a joy and honor to meet the patients each day, to hear their stories, and to be a part of their care team.”

Another LASAL Scholar focusing on health care is Shaya Khorsandi. With a major in biological sciences and minors in political science and business administration, the perfect internship for Khorsandi is as a student assistant to policy director Jeanie Donovan at the Louisiana Department of Health.

Khorsandi said that the internship was beneficial in that it allowed him to learn about large government agencies and how they are run. His favorite part of his internship was feeling like he actually got to make a difference in the community.

“Being in the classroom for semester after semester is great because you can learn so much from your classes,” Khorsandi said. “But when you finally get to apply it to real-world issues and problems, you finally get to appreciate the things that you have learned.”

Khorsandi also said that the help from Ogden classes and staff have been crucial in his experience with this internship, and at LSU.

“The Ogden Honors College has been fundamental in my growth and has been so integral in my college experience. The LASAL program is so inspirational, because you look to your left and right and you see college students, just like you and me, impacting the community, and so you are inspired to do the same,” Khorsandi said. 

Adam Howe
Adam Howe

Poverty

Adam Howe, a third-year LASAL scholar spent time during his internship planting, growing, and educating community members on growing their own locally-sourced food. Baton Roots Urban Farm is part of the “Geaux Get Healthy” initiative through Mayor Sharon Weston Broome's office, as an effort to increase food security in the 70805 ZIP code by providing locally grown fresh food.

Howe is a biological engineering major focusing his studies on bioenvironmental engineering. He connects his work with his degree to the farm by using math, science, and problem-solving techniques in areas such as production modeling, soil amendment and fertilization calculations and recommendations, culminating to construction of a raised bed community garden.  

“This internship has shown me how to use agricultural practices to improve soil quality in addition to providing food,” Howe said.

LASAL focuses on finding a resolution to problems associated with poverty in order to make life in Louisiana better for all, and that’s exactly what Howe worked toward with this internship.

“Getting proximity to problems is the best way to learn the intricacies that would otherwise be unknowns in searching for their solution,” Howe said. “This internship has given me the chance to get closer to the issue of food insecurity that exists in the neighborhoods surrounding LSU, and to play a part in decreasing its effects on one of its most prevalent areas.”

Sarah Terraciano, a third-year international studies major at LSU, works as the Latino Community Coordinator for the Gardere Initiative – a nonprofit organization that provides housing and care to help children and families that have been adversely affected by substance abuse and other social ills.

Terraciano has been volunteering with the Gardere Initiative as an after-school tutor since her first year at LSU. She noticed the increase in Spanish-speaking immigrants in the Gardere area, and started working with the director to create a position where she could reach out and encourage families to take advantage of all the Initiative has to offer.

“As an international studies major, the internship has shown me how immigration affects my own community and the value of accessible English learning services,” Terraciano said.

Terraciano also said that working with the Initiative not only gave her the opportunity to connect her work with LASAL by being able to suggest different social services for the families that she worked with, but that she feels grateful to have the opportunity to work with them.

“I've learned to be humble about my Spanish skills when I don't understand, and that persistence is the key to success,” she said.

Education 

Alyssa Dobson
Alyssa Dobson

LASAL scholar and English major Alyssa Dobson has combined two of LASAL’s focuses with her internship at LSU Center for River Studies: educating children on the coastal environment in Louisiana.

Dobson says that one of her main interests with LASAL is combining components of education to the coastal environment, and that interest is why she and Seghers chose this particular internship for her.

“My favorite part of the internship is getting to do something in which I am essentially self-directed,” Dobson said. “I come up with projects and ideas and 

find ways to implement them. It is challenging, but it's something I’ve never done before.”

Business Development

Taylor Stirling
Taylor Stirling
As a business management student, Taylor Stirling focuses on learning as much as he can about how successful businesses operate, namely Baton Rouge businesses.

Through the Fair Share Program of the East Baton Rouge School Board, Stirling got to work exclusively with business owners who have experienced hardships or challenges by virtue of their race or gender. 

“I now have a better understanding of the Baton Rouge business scene and what it’s like to operate a business in the capital city,” Stirling said. “I have also learn

ed more about how businesses exist in and around other institutions like government and our own social structures.”

He credits his experience not only to Seghers but to his mentor at the program, John Smith.  

“He took a personal interest in my professional development and created many opportunities for me to meet influential policy makers and business people, attend various meetings, as well as sharing his wisdom from years of business experience,” Stirling said.

These internships have been impactful growing experiences for each of the students involved with them. LASAL, along with the Ogden Honors College, allowed each of them to find exactly what they needed to be successful in their concentrations.

“I would never have found this opportunity without the help of Ms. Cindy and the Ogden Honors College,” Stirling said. “They not only pushed me to find an internship, but did all the leg-work to secure me an opportunity for which I am very thankful.”

To learn more about LASAL or how you can get involved with these local, regional and state issues, visit honors.lsu.edu/LASAL