“So, what are you doing this summer?”
Since February this year, I have heard this question asked with increasing frequency as said season approached. Not only has it been directed at me, but I’ve overheard it being asked of my friends, in class, at the library, in the student union, at the neighboring table of the campus coffee shop while I finish writing up a lab on pulse wave velocity…and I could go on. Such a simple question should have a simple answer, right? But this question held more weight than 10 impending midterms.
Let me take a minute to introduce myself. The paper version: I am a premed rising Junior majoring in Biomedical Engineering and minoring in Chemistry. It sounds kind of daunting when I write it out, at least to me, I’ll admit. But what isn’t on paper is that I cycled through wanting to minor in Music, Spanish, Visual Art, Biology, and Global Health, before settling on Chemistry…and to be honest I’m still not sure about it. I love to create art in many forms-drawing, painting, sketching. And I am passionate about helping sick people, whether that is through direct care, or through coming up with new medical devices, technologies, and cures. In particular, I love working with children, whether that’s babysitting, working as a volunteer tutor at a local elementary school, or supervising a nursery.
Who else am I? I grew up in the countryside near Baltimore, later moving to live near Raleigh. I traveled all along the East Coast growing up. I love the beach and the mountains. I love animals (especially dogs). My hobbies include reading, binge watching Sherlock and Harry Potter, re-watching my favorite Marvel Movies (or seeing new ones), watching cooking shows and youtube videos, attempting to bake something from said youtube tutorials (usually only semi-successfully), drinking coffee, singing to Panic! At The Disco, and planning where I want to travel based on the latest HGTV House Hunters episodes. But the real kicker is, I’ve never been to New York.
Now, back to the question about summer. Before I knew I was accepted as a Moxie, this question plagued me. Everyone else seemed to have summer internships, research positions, or classes lined up. And I wanted so badly to be a part of the New York DukeEngage program. When I found out I was accepted, I was ecstatic. I could answer the question confidently and definitively.
But could I, really?
I remember when I was first deciding which DukeEngage program to apply for, the NYC one caught my attention because it focused on the issue of women’s empowerment and equality, which I have always been passionate about, particularly since coming to college. Though many of those around me seem to think this isn’t much of an issue, I see the effects of gender inequality every day in the way my male friends speak, the way female students are objectified, the gross imbalance in the ratio of male to female students in my engineering classes…the list goes on. As I read through the description of the NYC DukeEngage program, a deciding factor for why I chose it over others was the opportunity to intern at one of the listed partnering organizations, and Sanctuary for Families particularly caught my eye. Sanctuary’s mission to end human trafficking, stop gender violence, and help victims of domestic violence is essential in working toward gender equality and creating a healthier mindset in future generations, and I am honored and humbled to be able to work for such a worthy cause.
Now, the question, “What are you doing this summer?” is complicated for a new reason: I don’t know how to elaborate. Though it no longer holds the stress of the unknown, beyond the short answer, I’m not completely sure what to say. I don’t have a clear picture of what to expect this summer–and it excites me. I can’t wait to arrive in New York, this whole new environment which I’ve never experienced, and find out how I can play a role in helping to end inequality and work toward improving society. I look forward to being a part of Sanctuary for Families’ mission.