WINS Internships Connect to Active Research

For 38 years, the Academy’s Women In Natural Sciences program has been providing young women from Philadelphia public and charter schools with hands-on science workshops, career and college exploration and positive youth development. 

The sophomore, junior and senior WINS students are encouraged to participate in internships and other work-based learning opportunities to connect their studies to active research and careers in STEM. Each student walks away with a unique experience that shapes their future.

Inspired to be a Science Educator

Every year, one WINS senior is awarded an internship to act as the WINS I Assistant to help the freshman class. This student assists with lessons, activities and field trips. In 2015, Michelle Huynh (center) was awarded this role. “I got to be the mentor to 25 new WINS girls. I was a big sister, mentor, chaperone and big support to the WINS program.” The most valuable lessons Michelle learned from the experience are perseverance, open-mindedness and living in the moment. She has fond memories of her role, including holding Madagascar hissing cockroaches, eating squid, adventurous hikes and developing relationships that would last a lifetime.

As a result of her internship, Michelle was inspired to seek a career as a science educator. She earned an associate degree in Middle Grades Education and will receive her bachelor’s degree in Adult Education this spring.

Digging for Dinosaur Bones in Montana

Many people dream of digging for dinosaur bones. For Ruby Le, a senior in the Academy’s Women In Natural Sciences program, this dream became a reality in the summer of 2019 when she joined the Drexel Environmental Science Leadership Academy for a weeklong fossil dig in Montana. Beyond jacketing fossils, Ruby enjoyed the unique experiences Montana had to offer, including stargazing, hiking, learning about geography and meeting peers from across the country. “The experience increased my knowledge of paleontology, geography of drylands and social skills with people from other states.”

A Future Environmental Scientist

In 2019, Habibata Sylla participated in a weeklong field experience with Academy scientists at Lacawac Sanctuary. “I describe this opportunity as life-changing because my experiences there finalized my decision to pursue environmental science as a career.” Shortly after this experience, she joined the Academy’s Wetlands Section under the direction of Elizabeth Watson, PhD. Habibata was able to participate in fieldwork and research with the scientists before COVID-19. After the pandemic hit, she switched to working from home, where she organizes research data for the team.

Ichthyology Internship Helps Student Follow Her Dreams

Aigner Turner is a senior in the Women In Natural Sciences program. In 2019, as a rising junior, Aigner completed an internship with the Academy’s Ichthyology Department. With an interest in forensic science, this position gave Aigner a unique opportunity to get a taste of her future career by studying fish forensics. “My experience working with the Academy’s ichthyology staff had an impact on what career I would like to follow. I’ve chosen to go down the path of forensic science, studying any and everything that has to do with forensics,” Aigner shares.

On Thursday, March 11, WINS held the eleventh annual Life After WINS Alumnae Panel. You can watch the recording here to meet three amazing program alumnae and learn more about their experiences from the program and the impact it had on their lives.

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