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Elsa Haag '14, left, and Kirsten Leloudis '14, are working with the Center for Integrated Learning to create a sustainable funded internship program at the Environmental Protection Agency. Both students completed internships with the EPA in recent years.

EPA internship leads to opportunities for others

October 24, 2013

As an intern at the Environmental Protection Agency’s headquarters in Washington D.C., Elsa Haag ’14 worked alongside experts whose job is to protect children’s health from environmental risks.

Back on Earlham College’s campus, Haag’s experiences at the agency and her passion for public health inspired her to establish similar experiences for her peers.

“Earlham is a place where you can let your passion lead you,” says Haag, a senior neuroscience major from Silver Spring, Md. “If there is something you care about, you can create opportunities around it and make things happen because this is a small, intimate place. There are people who will hear your ideas, and incredible professors and staff willing to lend support and advice.”

This year, Haag acquired funding to develop the funded summer internship program that was awarded to Kirsten Leloudis ‘14 and Vesta Davis ’15. She also applied for a grant and completed a separate summer internship of her own at the Institute for Public Health Innovation.

Earlham has committed funding for internships at the EPA this summer and will seek to create sustainable funding for the future.

“We are moving quickly to establish more opportunities for our students working with our faculty, alumni and other institutional partners,” says Jay Roberts, the director of the Center for Integrated Learning. “Studies clearly show that participation in a well-designed and supported internship as part of an undergraduate career increases the likelihood of employment after graduation.

“In addition, internships and other forums of high-impact learning such as civic engagement, faculty-student collaborative research, and applied, project-based learning initiatives increase student engagement,” he says. “These are exactly the kinds of initiatives Earlham’s new Center for Integrated Learning will development and support.”

‘Transformative experiences’

Both Haag and Leloudis say their internships were “transformative experiences.”

“My work this summer at the Institute for Public Health Innovation exposed me to community public health and connected to my work at the EPA in the emphasis on health disparities,” Haag says. “Together, the experiences helped me realize that my interest and future goals really lie in environmental public health, health equity, and the effect of chemicals on people’s development and health.”

“I was given the opportunity to observe how decisions at the federal level are made and how government tries to map out national policy that can successfully meet the needs of people at the local level,” added Leloudis, a women’s studies and history major from Chapel Hill, N.C. “It was inspiring.”

Both students’ internships paid off in other ways, too. Haag has been asked to work for the Institute for Public Health Innovation in a part-time consulting role through the academic year. Leloudis has been invited back for a winter and summer internship at the EPA.

Recruiting and placements for this year’s EPA internships were made in partnership with Peter Grevatt ‘83, who now is director of the agency’s Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water. Haag met Grevatt when he came to speak on campus, and followed up with him to arrange an internship in the agency’s Office of Children’s Health Protection, which he directed at the time.

“I have been pleased to be able to recruit Earlham students for internships at the EPA and I plan to continue doing so in the future,” Grevatt says. “I understand from Elsa, Kirsten and others that they found these experiences to be exciting and helpful from a growth standpoint. In my experience, the students have been intelligent, inquisitive and well-able to integrate into our work environment.”

Leloudis says students who intern for the EPA will experience more than federal agency work. They will experience the nation’s capital, too.

“They urged me to take advantage of everything that D.C. has to offer,” Leloudis says. “I could take a Wednesday morning off and go to a congressional hearing. When DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act) was announced, I was outside the Supreme Court.

“They pushed me to experience it,” she says. “Definitely.”

Upcoming events

Several events have been organized for students to learn more about funded internship opportunities with institute for Public Health Innovation and the Environmental Protection Agency. They include:

  • Noon on Oct. 25: Elsa Haag ’14 will give a Presentation of Learning on her internship with the Institute of Public Health Innovation, with lunch provided, Stanley Hall 044
  • Noon on Nov. 8: Kirsten Leloudis ’14 and Vesta Davis ’15 will give Presentations of Learning on their internships with the EPA, with lunch provided, Stanley Hall 044
  • Noon on Dec. 4: Information Session for EPA internships, Center for Integrated Learning Commons, Landrum Bolling Center
  • 7 p.m. on Jan. 16: Information session for EPA internships, Rose City Coffee Cooperative

For students interested in applying for an internship?

  • The application deadline is Jan. 24 and two internships will be awarded. The Interns for 2014 will be announced on Feb. 10.
  • For updates and reminders, like the Earlham Public Health Club on Facebook.

— EC —

Earlham College, a national liberal arts college located in Richmond, Indiana, is a "College That Changes Lives." We expect our students to be fully present: to think rigorously, value directness and genuineness, and actively seek insights from differing perspectives. The values we practice at Earlham are rooted in centuries of Quaker tradition, but they also constitute the ideal toolkit for contemporary success. Earlham is one of only 40 national liberal arts colleges ranked among U.S. News and World Reports' "Great Schools at a Great Price."

Brian Zimmerman is director of media relations at Earlham College. He can be reached at (765) 983-1256 and zimmebr@earlham.edu.


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