August 06, 2013

Anissa Corser '14
Anissa Corser '14, a music performance major at Bucknell, is exploring music education through her internship with an opera company in Chicago.

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By Christina Masciere Wallace
How are you spending your summer vacation?

Alexander Morris '15 is working as a medical physicist and calculates radiation dosage for cancer patients. Anissa Corser '14 is introducing inner-city schoolchildren to opera. And Buck Doyle '15 is learning how the federal government encourages private, public and nonprofit organizations to use renewable energy.

The trio and 23 of their peers are exploring careers in the nonprofit, public-interest and public-services sectors with the help of the Bucknell Public Interest Program (BPIP). Part of the Career Development Center, BPIP awards $3,000 stipends to Bucknell undergraduates who have independently secured full-time summer internships at public interest organizations, which often cannot afford to pay interns.

Because many of these organizations are located in major urban centers, or even overseas, the awards are critical to students' ability to afford these valuable work experiences. Since 2004, BPIP has awarded $725,000 in funding to 280 students, according to Marilyn Shull, program director.

Affordability is key
"I was involved in opera education in the Lewisburg schools," says Corser, a music performance major who interns with the Chicago Opera Theater and Chicago Opera Playhouse. "I wanted an internship that would help me figure out if I want to pursue music education full time." She works with Opera for All, a program that operates in seven underprivileged schools in Chicago. Corser's stipend, funded by an anonymous donor, pays for her apartment and travel and allowed her to attend two arts-education conferences. "It's expensive here," says the Colorado resident. "Without the funding, I would have had to find something closer to home."

Morris, a physics major who aims for a medical career in radiation oncology, received his stipend through the Jared Rosner '02 Memorial BPIP Internship Fund. His position at the Bodine Center for Radiation Therapy at the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia allows him to work directly with medical physicists. "These are the people who make sure treatment machines work properly," he explains. Morris uses software that monitors delivery of radiation and ensures correct dosage for the 120 patients the center treats daily. He is the first undergraduate intern hired by the center in six years.

Although Morris commutes from his family's home in greater Philadelphia, the BPIP stipend is crucial in paying for travel costs as well as for a summer chemistry class at a local university to help him prepare to take the MCAT. "I think BPIP is an absolutely brilliant program," he says. "Without the funding, the internship would have been very, very difficult to maintain."

Connections and career goals
Doyle is in his second BPIP-funded position. Last summer, he interned in Sacramento, Calif., where he worked as a legislative intern for Environment California, a grassroots lobbying group. This summer he is in Washington, D.C., working for the director of the Green Power Partnership. Part of the EPA, the partnership motivates and facilitates voluntary demand for renewable energy. The recipient of the Damien and Drew Greenwood BPIP Internship Fund, Doyle researches subcontractors and supply chains as well as the American College and University Presidents' Climate Committee, of which Bucknell is a member.

Doyle says both internships have helped him sharpen his career focus and map out a detailed plan to achieve his goals. "I know in the end I want to go into business, but this internship is perfect for me because it gives me an outside-in perspective," says the managing for sustainability major. "My internships gave me the perspective and practical experience that fueled my interest in sustainability," Doyle says. "I've learned that I'm very passionate about renewable energy. This is the perfect field for me."