From an ecological reserve in Brazil to a United States Congressman’s office in Washington, D.C., an archaeological site on a Mediterranean Sea to an opera company in northwest Arkansas, College of Wooster students are exploring their passions this summer with the support of fellowships from APEX – the College’s integrated center for academic and career advising, planning, and experiential learning.
APEX Fellowships offer structure and mentored support – along with up to $3,100 in financial support – to Wooster students engaged in summer internships or vocational exploration programs.
In total, there are 56 Wooster students with APEX fellowships this summer, and their experiences vary as much as their interests. “It could be anywhere, it could be anything,” says Brett Woodard, associate director of entrepreneurship and experiential learning. “One of our favorite aspects is the open-ended flexibility it gives students.”
Take for instance Madelaine Braver ‘18, who has a student-designed major of human-environmental interaction. She has never even taken a political science class, but finds herself researching proposed legislation, giving tours of the Capitol, and corresponding with constituents, as she works in the office of Congressman Jim Renacci. “As someone who is not a political science major, this summer has helped me learn a lot about Congress and the legislative process. It truly embodies the experiential learning facet of APEX,” she explained.
Similarly, Matthew Barber ’17 may be a Spanish major and spending the summer in a rainforest, but the focus of his fellowship at Betary Reserve near Sao Paulo, Brazil, can be described as marketing oriented. He spends most of his days researching the tourist industry, with the ultimate goal being to present a business plan to a bank in order to secure a low-interest loan for the non-profit. And in typical Wooster student fashion, Barber added that “the best part of the experience has been learning a new language – Portuguese.”
While most who major in biochemistry and molecular biology are focused on entering a health field, Peter Arts ’17 is interested in fermentation and landed an operations internship at the Wolverine State Brewing Company with his APEX fellowship. He has learned the entire production process by assisting employees with their daily tasks, and says “being able to … bottle and package the product that people are going out and buying at the supermarket is a really cool feeling.”
Other students’ fellowships are more directly linked to their Wooster studies, such as Alina Karapandzich ’18 and George Marn ‘18. Karapandzich, who is double majoring in archaeology and classical studies, has been able to further develop her excavation skills, from bone cleaning and sorting to pottery washing, on the island of Crete. She is “really grateful to be a part of such an incredible project … and can learn from so many skilled professionals in (the field).” Marn, also a double major (music, theatre and dance) who is a studio artist with Opera in the Ozarks, said his favorite part “has been learning about the world of professional opera and being able to work with an incredibly talented group of artists.”
In addition to APEX fellowships offering a wide range of student experiences and serving as stepping stones towards postgraduate opportunities, another central theme has emerged from this four-year-old program, according to Ryan Ozar, associate director of internships. “We see this as a one-of-a-kind thing Wooster is doing. It’s the depth of what students are doing that makes it unique. This is really a 12-month, November-to-November process, beginning with advising students on how to find opportunities, followed by a series of workshops that help prepare them for what to expect and how to get the most out of the experience, and of course, regular mentoring with a faculty member.”