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St. Norbert students spend their summers taking part in a variety of activities, including working as counselors at youth summer camps held on campus.

What I’ll Be Doing Over Summer Vacation

Remember when college students mostly came home for the summer and flipped burgers or lifeguarded to earn money for school? Today’s college students have a rich choice of options. They may spend their summers doing serious work, such as campus research or professional internships, or exploring new ventures. Here’s what six SNC students will be doing this summer.

The intern/Center for Urban Teaching: Izzy Johnston ’23
I’ll be interning at Milwaukee’s Center for Urban Teaching, which aims to put more teachers in urban settings, where there is a demand. One of its other goals is to help close the achievement gap. I’m excited about this opportunity to take control of my own classroom and experience being a teacher. I also get to help make lesson plans. I don’t know how to do that, but I’m excited to learn. Also, I really love working with kids.

I heard about this opportunity through the educational psychology class I took last semester. A recruiter from the Center for Urban Teaching came to talk to our class about the program, and he later encouraged me to apply. This is an amazing opportunity, and it’s important to get as many unique experiences like this as I can. 

The business owner: Jessica Ney ’22
String Works is a small side business I run, where I make string art and sell it. String art is stringing thread in a pattern between nails that are hammered into a board, creating a picture or words. Most of my sales come from custom orders. I do not have many pieces in inventory due to my busy schedule at St. Norbert. My business is on Facebook (String Works) and Instagram (@string.works).

My goal is to sell my pieces on Etsy to reach more customers around the world. This would be a great way to expand and earn more money to put towards my education expenses. I’m also hoping to attend more craft/vendor fairs in the future, specifically Door County’s Fall Festival. I’ve always loved going to the Fall Festival, so it would be awesome to take part in it one day.

The researcher: Leah Zimmer ’22

This summer, I’ll be working as a research fellow in a condensed-matter physics lab alongside Nicholas Mauro (Physics) and Peadar McGrath ’22. We were hoping to travel to the Advanced Photon Source research facility at Illinois’ Argonne National Laboratory this month, and the Spallation Neutron Source at Tennessee’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory in May, to gather data on the atomic structure of metallic liquids. Over the summer, I’d be analyzing the data we gathered to better understand how the structure of metallic liquids is connected to the ease at which metallic glass forms.

Due to the increasing risk of the CoronaVirus, the fact that two of our research collaborators are over the age of 60, and the likelihood of increasing travel bans/precautions in the near future, our group’s scheduled beamtime (the time we were going to gather our data) at the Advanced Photon Source (APS) at Argonne National Lab has been postponed indefinitely. Initially, Dr. Mauro (Physics), Peadar McGrath ‘22, collaborators from Washington University in St. Louis and Stanford, and I were scheduled to have beamtime over Spring Break.

Currently, we (and our WASHU collaborators) are working on plans to conduct experiments in late May at the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) at Oak Ridge National Lab. We are also looking into traveling to Washington University in St. Louis over spring break so that we can gather other relevant data for our project.* 

The news is super disappointing, but our beamtime at the APS will likely be rescheduled, and the containment of the CoronaVirus and safety of our older collaborators has to be a priority.

Going to WashU would be valuable because it would give us some data to analyze even though our APS trip got canceled. Additionally, going to WashU and gathering some data gives us a backup plan in the event the SNS trip should be canceled as well. The data we would gather at WashU obviously is different than the data we could collect from the national labs, but at least it would be something for us to analyze.

This is my third research experience at St. Norbert, but it’s the first project where I really feel like the lead student. In past research experiences, I always would defer to students who were older than me. But going to Washington University in St. Louis over J-term this year and working alongside graduate students showed me that age really doesn’t matter; everyone on this project is working towards the same goal and we all have something important to contribute.

The thing I’m most excited about, though, is being able to conduct hands-on research at national laboratories. Because of the practice I had in St. Louis, I still hope that at some point I'll  be able to operate the ESL (electrostatic levitator, one of the key machines we’re using) at the Advanced Photon Source. Being able to operate the ESL, a $500,000 piece of equipment, made me realize I really can do research, and showed me that I’m an integral part of this project.

The travelers: Tommy Blink ’21 and Katie Wagner ’21

Our students hoping to travel have plans that have been long in the making. Along with the college and its international partners, they are monitoring the COVID-19 virus situation carefully. Our sidebar has more on the coronavirus, its impact worldwide on international education and the college’s response. Meanwhile:

Tommy Blink ’21 says: 

This summer, I am planning on attending the International Summer School at the University of Stirling in Scotland from June to July. I will be taking two theology courses focusing on world religions and two English courses focusing on Scottish literature. These courses work out great for me since I am majoring in both English and theology at SNC. I am most excited to travel in Europe for the first time and build new friendships! All of my courses sound very interesting and contain travel components, so I am looking forward to learning outside of the classroom as well. Additionally, I’m planning on doing some traveling on the weekends, hopefully visiting London as well as areas of Ireland, which should be cool! This experience will impact my future by allowing me to experience new cultures and learn about English and theology from new perspectives, which will be very interesting. 

And Katie Wagner ’21 says: 

I plan on participating in a Global Seminar, The Politics and History of Mediterranean Migration, to study people's migration patterns. The goal is to first arrive in Madrid, then Rabat and finally Rome, taking time in each location to learn the history of migration. This trip is so attractive for many different reasons. What drew me into this course was being able to take part in traveling to three different countries and being exposed to different cultures. Not only could we learn about the migration patterns of the past but soak in the current people and their way of life. I find it so freeing to have this opportunity to be able to travel and learn. After discussion with my parents and reviewing the cover page of this Global Seminar, I was hooked.

The intern/Schneider National: Erika Ditzman ’21
Over the summer, I’ll be participating in an internship program at Schneider National, during which I’ll serve as a member of the box-planning team that matches drivers with Schneider’s most suitable trailers. I’m looking forward to plunging headlong into uncharted waters. My previous internships were concentrated around written communication, but this position will require that, instead of hiding behind a computer screen, I face my greatest fear: people. This is my first “big-girl” job, too. But while I’m incredibly nervous, I’m also excited to explore new areas and opportunities.

 March 12, 2020