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Students Take Charge in Health Sciences Summer Internships

Explore Careers, Gain Professional Experience

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Kassie Pavlakos performs an experiment in clinical science laboratories as part of her summer internship.

By Karen Angelo

Medical Laboratory Sciences major Kassie Pavlakos doesn’t need to work in a lab during the dog days of summer. She wants to. 

“For the past two summers, I’ve interned in the laboratories in Weed Hall where I’ve learned so much,” says Pavlakos, who is performing experiments on new high-tech instruments in the Clinical Sciences Laboratories with student Kelcey Harper. 

While most Health Sciences students gain work experience as a requirement of their majors, summer internships give them an added boost, helping them try different roles related to their field and stand out once they graduate. 

“This internship experience has increased my critical thinking and troubleshooting skills thanks to some of the challenges we have faced working with the instruments,” says Pavlakos. 

A challenge is exactly what Exercise Physiology senior Cody Munoz had in mind as he took on not one, but two internships this summer. 

At fitness equipment manufacturer Cybex in Medway, he lends his expertise on how to prevent injuries to a team of engineering, research and marketing executives that’s designing new exercise equipment. At the Micheli Center for Sports Injury Prevention in Waltham, he tests strength and flexibility in clients and recommends strength training techniques to prevent injuries. 

“I’m having so much fun trying different jobs in the field of exercise physiology,” says Munoz who hopes to continue on to the Doctor of Physical Therapy program when he graduates. “I’m so busy, but I really wish the internships weren’t ending. I get to find out what’s most important to me and how I can make an impact on someone’s life.” 

Environmental Health major Samantha Couture was also looking to make an impact when her adviser, Assoc. Prof. Joel Tickner, suggested that she apply for an internship at the University of Montana Center for Environmental Health Sciences. She’s been running lab experiments to learn about the immune system and the roles of specific cells. Working in a lab has given her insight into what to expect in graduate school. 

“My internship is an amazing opportunity. I’ve developed better techniques, I communicate more effectively with other lab researchers and I can better manage problems that arise during research,” says Couture. 

In Good Company 

Senior nursing student Adeyemi Adeniyi volunteers at D’Youville Life and Wellness Community in Lowell because she loves spending time with older adults.

“The elderly are understanding and filled with wisdom,” she says. “I've been talking and listening to the patients and keeping them company. It’s such a great opportunity to prepare myself for my future career as a medical surgical nurse.” 

The experience confirmed that she wants to work with older adults once she is a nurse. 

Eye on the Prize 

Harper, who is on track to graduate in 2016, plans to begin a Ph.D. program in Biomedical Sciences and Pathology. 

“The clinical lab internship is giving me experiences I can use in my resumes and applications for graduate school,” she says. “My goal is to help find safer, economically effective, greener alternatives to traditional chemical pesticides used on food crops,” says Couture. “UMass Lowell has helped guide me during my academic journey by providing me with an education that allows me to help others. I have loved my experiences here, and am thankful to have professors who care about the future careers of their students.”