Meet #CrusaderIntern Meghan Donahue ’21

Name: Meghan G. Donahue

Class Year: 2021

Position & Company: Yale School of Medicine Alzheimer’s Disease Research Unit (Intern, Research Assistant)

1. Tell us about where you interned over the summer and the kind of work you are doing.

This summer, I interned at the Yale School of Medicine Alzheimer’s Disease Research Unit where I was trained to function as a full time Research Assistant, and support the functioning of multiple Alzheimer’s clinical drug trials. I had the opportunity to interact with patients presenting a wide array of cognitive abilities on a daily basis as I took their vital signs, performed EKGs, drew their blood, and administered some cognitive testing. I became adept at retrieving the major medical history of potential trial participants, and collaborated with a panel of medical professionals as they assessed these factors and other clinical measures leading to a diagnosis.

2. Give us an example of how you have applied your academic learnings to your internship

As a psychology major with a health professions career track, I frequently integrated my academic learning into my day to day responsibilities.  One specific example of how I applied my classroom learning to my internship focused on the techniques necessary to process blood labs that were drawn in the office .  The challenge of balancing a centrifuge and pipetting contents from a vile utilized skills that I have practiced during my Chem and Bio lab periods.  Having had this academic experience, I felt calm and confident when handling these blood samples, and competently transferred the contents from my very first assignment onward.

3. What has surprised you about being an intern?

Something that surprised me about being an intern was how easy it was to grasp new workplace concepts, and apply what I have been learning in the Holy Cross classroom to real life applications. While many students find the meticulous detail of courses to be an annoyance at times, questioning if they are even pertinent to the functions of a future career, I was able to connect many bigger picture concepts to my coursework at Holy Cross.  My knowledge of psychology, cognition, memory, biology, chemistry and anatomy and physiology made my transition at Yale this summer fairly seamless and smooth. 

4. How did this experience influence or connect to your future career plans / goals?

Since I am planning for a career in healthcare, what better opportunity than to be trained at a world-class medical institution in an arena that focuses on a disease that has impacted millions globally?  Not only was I able to log some of those coveted patient contact hours required for any PA school, but I was also able to practice some of the basic medical and interpersonal skills and techniques that I will be using for the rest of my professional life. 

5. Any internship advice to pass on to other Holy Cross students?

My internship advice would be to identify what you want, and then try to get it.  Just because a Holy Cross student has never had an internship at a site that interests you, do not be afraid to strategically reach out and see if they would be amenable to the idea.  If you are able to secure a HC funded stipend, you are also in a position to market yourself as “free” to them.  I was the first non- Yale undergraduate student to intern at the ADRU.  I was so fortunate to secure the funding from Holy Cross, and then successfully tap into the HC alumni network to help me navigate the process, identify decision makers and share advice.  I would not have had the amazing ten-week internship that I had this summer if I had not figured out how to make a compelling “ask”.  If I can do it, so can others.

Meet Summer Intern, Emily Rivard ’19, Harvard-Amgen Scholar at Harvard University

Name: Emily Rivard

Class Year: 2019
Internship Position: Harvard-Amgen Scholar at Harvard University

Tell us about where you interned over the summer and the kind of work you are doing.

This summer I conducted research at Harvard University through the Amgen Scholars program, which is a residential summer research opportunity allowing undergraduates to partner with a Harvard faculty mentor and work under the supervision of graduate students or post-docs in his or her lab for 10 weeks.  I worked in Dr. Hopi Hoekstra’s lab in the Departments of Organismic & Evolutionary Biology and Molecular and Cellular Biology, studying the developmental and genetic bases of natural variation.  Using deer mice as a model system, we investigated the molecular mechanisms of adaptive evolution.  I had the opportunity to give an oral presentation on my work, present a poster at a university-wide symposium, and attend the annual Amgen Scholars U.S. Symposium at UCLA.  This program also offered a number of pre-professional development opportunities, such as weekly networking events and graduate school preparation seminars, as well as fun community-building programs with the other members of my Amgen cohort, including Red Sox games, hikes in the White Mountains, and Boston Harbor cruises.


Give us an example of how you have applied your academic learnings to your internship?

I was able to utilize information I had learned in a variety of my biology courses during my research this summer, including material from introductory courses on organismal biology and evolution and material I learned in my upper-level courses in genetics, genomics, and cell biology.  It was really exciting to conduct research that spanned such a wide range of topics within the scope of biological research.  I am glad that Holy Cross promotes such a well-rounded education, since I think it prepared me well for working in an interdisciplinary lab.

What has surprised you about being an intern?

Working as an undergraduate researcher at a university was a new and interesting experience.  My lab this summer had a different environment than what I have experienced at Holy Cross because it was large and composed of undergraduates, graduate students, post-docs, laboratory technicians, a laboratory manager, and a PI.  I was pleasantly surprised by the incredible welcome and support I received throughout the summer from everyone in the lab.


How did this experience influence or connect to your future career plans / goals?

As a biology major currently applying to PhD programs in genetics/genomics and hoping to one day become a professor, my research this summer was relevant and important to my future career goals.  This experience, in conjunction with the research I conduct in Professor Findlay’s lab at Holy Cross, gave me the knowledge, skills, and experience necessary to be a competitive applicant for graduate school.  My research experiences as an undergraduate have also helped me determine the types of biology I would be interested in pursuing for my future research.


Any internship advice to pass on to other Holy Cross students?

For students interested in conducting research at other universities, I would definitely recommend getting involved with research here at Holy Cross first.  Conducting research at Holy Cross during the school year and last summer was really important for me to get the experience necessary to be a good candidate for programs like Amgen or REUs.  My research advisor here at Holy Cross was also very helpful during the process of applying to summer research programs at other schools.  The research opportunities at Holy Cross are really amazing, so I would suggest chatting with the professors here about possibilities to help with their projects!

Meet Summer Intern Laura Escolero ‘19, Research Assistant, Boston City Councilor Kim Janey

Full Name: Laura Escolero ‘19

Summer Internship: Boston City Councilor Kim Janey

What were you up to this past summer?

This past summer I was a research intern for Councilor Janey’s office of the seventh district of Boston. Most of my work had to do with researching and brainstorming plans for many issues that the city of Boston is facing such as gentrification, gun violence, trauma, homelessness, and education. During my time working for the city councilor, I was able to sit in many briefs and meetings and understand the process of local government rulings and procedures. I was also able to meet many of the local constituents and hear their voices and opinions on the issues we were directly working on at town hall and community/neighborhood meetings. This was definitely an eye opening and transformative experience as I was able to network and learn about the many challenges my home is facing and how I individually can hold my city representatives accountable.

What was your favorite part?

My favorite part about the internship was that it was very student oriented and I was able to work on issues that I cared the most about. For example, every intern did a research project of their choice and I researched police surveillance through the use of new emerging drones as it was a very concerning issue for many of the residents in Boston. All of the other offices also had college interns and every Friday we would all take “field trips” to local service centers and other community venues to learn about organizations that are helping the city with issues of housing, emergencies, and law enforcement to name a few.

What surprised you?

The most surprising part about my internship was how city councilors and many employees in city hall work all hours of the day and really take into consideration every single complaint or petition of constituents. I really didn’t realize how local officials take their work home everyday in order to improve conditions for each of their districts and how they work tirelessly to really get to know and be in solidarity with their residents.