When I first considered doing a Shadow, I was studying abroad in Buenos Aires. A great many things happened to me during that semester, and just about as many questions, too, about where I’m going to be and what I want to do after Reed. Wondering how I was supposed to utilize and mold my Reed experience into something conducive to my future. Even the answer to what sort of field I wanted to go into was up in the air. These questions have only become more dire as I have been embarking on the last half of my undergraduate phase. So upon hearing about the opportunity Reed was offering students to shadow Reed alumni, I thought, what better way to help me examine this dilemma.
I didn’t know what kind of shadow I was looking for, besides looking for one where the person I would be shadowing could advise me on how to navigate the murky and amorphous decisions that I would soon have to make.
I had always thought of a career in teaching as an option; sometimes as my one an only option, and at other times as a backup should I never find anything better. As it were, at this point the playing field was level for all possible careers. I just wanted to know what careers were available and how one gets there. How do careers happen? For surely they are not always dependent on the linear development of one’s schooling, from grade school and higher education. Clearly, my problem was a simple lack of exposure to the realties of a career beyond the fanciful notions of stability and mundane complacency.
This winter, I spent four days at the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts in Richmond, California. I shadowed Jordan Simmons (Reed ’78), but I also had opportunities to work independently, with other interns, and with various members of the faculty and staff.
The Center, which includes a theater, a dance studio, practice and rehearsal rooms, and office spaces, is housed in a beautiful renovated building. When I arrived, Ruthie, the Deputy Director of Programs, took me around the Center, introducing me to everyone we ran into. She told me what they did at the center, professionally, but she also alerted me to other details, such as: one employee made great cheesecake and another was passionate about sneakers. Everyone had an amazing set of combined skills or passions. Ruthie herself, I learned, had degrees in both social work and jazz piano, and this kind of combination was not unusual among the staff.
Founded in 1968, the Center offers on-site classes, in school and after school programs for students in the Richmond area, ensembles, performances, college and career counseling, and internships. When I visited, the Center was in a “dark week,” or a period with private lessons and rehearsals but no regular classes. Even so, sometimes I would walk downstairs and come upon a student in a piano lesson. One afternoon, the sounds of an alumni band floated up from a first floor rehearsal room to the offices upstairs. Usually, the Center offers lessons in everything from violin to West African Dance, acting to oboe, plus jazz theory, capoeira, Mien/Laotian ceremonial dance, stage combat, ballet, and more.
This winter, I spent a week working with Arun, Ranjan, two other Reed externs, and one Lafayette extern. Working from 3 continents, 4 time zones, and 5 cities, we met each morning (PT) by video call to try to build a web application through our collected efforts.
Arun and Ranjan are about 6 months into their startup, Gloopen Inc., which is an extremely versatile communication platform. Their guidance helped us simulate a startup experience.
I did my winter shadow with Kati Sweaney from Reed’s admission office. I applied for the shadow not knowing much about admissions, but knowing that I am generally interested in institutional diversity and equity. Since I have mostly been involved in these objectives from the student advocacy end and given that I want to do institutional diversity work after graduation, I thought that learning about admissions would be a good way to observe the contested terrain of institutional diversity and equity policies. The experience was generally so positive that I left the winter shadow considering that admissions’ counseling could be a great career path for me after graduation.
Kati very intentionally framed my shadow with my interest in diversity at its heart. She scheduled meetings for me with almost every counselor at Reed so that I could ask questions about working in admissions and the opportunities as well as constraints that the Reed admission team has when trying to advance equity at Reed. I also was able to shadow her while doing many of the different functions of admissions: information sessions with prospective students, outside reader training, outreach work at NAYA, and collaborative meetings between Disability Support Services and admissions. Through this shadow I was really able to see the number of partnerships that admissions has with different parts of campus, the scope of impact it has, and the variety of tasks that any day may bring. Kati was very attentive to making sure that the shadow aligned with my goals and the entire admissions staff was extremely generous in sharing their time with me. The week was an extremely positive experience and I would recommend the shadow to anyone who is interested.
Shula and Caleb working the sound board in the Control Room
Upon my return to Reed at the start of this semester, I met up with a friend of mine who had just returned from studying abroad. Amidst the excitement of being in the same country again and the desire to know as much as I could about all that she had experienced, I naïvely asked her, “How was it?”
“I could never describe everything that happened accurately,” she responded, “so much took place during my time away that it would takes at least as long for me to relate it all to you.”
Having just left my winter shadow with Shula Neuman and the newsroom at Saint Louis Public Radio, this answer resonated with me. It described exactly what I had felt. Because in the three all-too-short weeks I spent at the station, the team there exceeded every expectation I could have brought with me. But how can I adequately encapsulate that in a short blog post? How can I do justice to every minute of every day, whether I spent it hopping around press conferences with Missouri’s governor, performing investigative journalism about the merits of Stan Kroenke’s proposal to move the Rams back to Los Angeles, or producing interviews with some of the most determined advocates for progress in race relations I have ever met?
Ziyuan Zhong shadowed at Tableau, a software company that helps people visualize, analyze, and share their data.
I went to Seattle on January 10 for my winter shadow, which spanned from Monday to Thursday. This shadow was probably one of the best experiences of my life. I learned how to use Tableau, how to give a presentation using Tableau and data analysis skills, and how to solve real-world problems using what I had learned at Reed.
This shadow consisted of three main parts. First, we shadowed customer technical sales calls. By listening to the conversation between the workers and the customers, I realized the importance of good communication between people, in addition to having mastery of the technical details. This motivates me to grasp every opportunity in the rest of my academic life at Reed, and to practice my oral skills and communication skills.
Kammy Chiu, sophomore Economics-ENV major and recipient of the Winter Fellowship for International Travel, reflects on her residency program with The Pottery Workshop in Jingdezhen, China, learning to work with porcelain.
The Pottery Workshop
My artistic residency with The Pottery Workshop (TPW) took place in The Sculpture Factory (TSF), Jingdezhen. For just over three weeks, I thought about absolutely nothing apart from clay. Three other international residents accompanied me during my time at TPW: Edith, an Israeli artist who specializes in painting porcelain tiles, Alberto, arguably one of the most knowledgeable mold-makers in the US who’s about to finish his MFA at Syracuse University, and Josh, another Reedie who introduced me to ceramics a year and a half ago.
The setup for our tasting experiment
I had not, in my life, expected to be able to point at a bottle of salad dressing at Safeway and say, “Oh cool, I made that.”
(‘Helped make that’ is definitely more proper, but sometimes you’ve just got to flex in the grocery store.)
Applying to CCD Innovation to understand the world of food innovation seemed, in my head, to suppose a certain scientific environment: one comprised of vast numbers of tiny bottles filled with hyper-concentrated-who-knows-what in ultra-sterile laboratories, logbooks filled to the brim with the anguish of hundreds of statisticians in the pursuit of ultimate flavor, and a grim, if regulated, corporate environment with masters of the tastebud denoting the desires of the mass public to lesser, flavoring-affiliated chemists.
For my Winter Shadow, I stayed with Ruth Werner and her family. Ruth works from home where she juggles various projects related to her role as an author, artist, and educator, specializing in pathology and massage therapy. I had the fortune of getting to know her and her family, while getting some insight into publishing. Unfortunately, due to some health related concerns I was unable to engage with the opportunity as fully as I would have liked.
I did, nonetheless, have a rewarding experience. Speaking to Ruth about the intricacies of her work helped me realize the various approaches one can have into the field of education, despite my previous misconceptions of its limits. Seeing the way that she interacted with the field and others in it showed me how I might incorporate my own interests, skills, and passions into my educational pursuits without having to sacrifice different aspects of my identity. For example, Ruth talked about how she majored in theater at Reed but that her time here “made it clear I [Ruth] could go into any direction I wanted” stating that she “never felt constrained to follow any particular path” because she was supported by Reed to study anything that made me passionate and to trust that that would work out. And despite theater belonging to an entirely, seemingly disparate realm, she believes that her practice in the area helped her develop skills that were transferable to her role as an educator. Together we spoke at length about the importance and marketability of effective communication, which gave me confidence about moving forward into the world of publishing.
Ruth and I also talked about the significance of having vision, of being imaginative, problem solving, and being open to failure. She gave me some very valuable advice about pursuing publishing, which I’d like to share for others who might be pursuing it as well:
When the Reed library decided not to hire me my sophomore year I moved on to other things and contented myself with straightening books (to preserve their spines!) and relocating the occasional mis-shelved loner (so people can find it!) both at Reed and all my favorite public libraries. I'd briefly considered going for a library science degree, but that seemed like a big investment when all I really knew was that I Love Books and Libraries Have Books. So when I saw the posting for Winter Shadow at the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine I knew I wanted to get it. While ideally I'd have tried a shadow before my senior year, better late than never right? Part of the description for the OCOM internship was also that they needed help cataloging a large donation of Chinese-language books--a dream come true for a linguistics major with a focus on Chinese!
After being accepted to help out at the library I began to see more of the behind the scenes work I'd been curious about. Veronica Vichit-Vadakan patiently trained me in all the ways of inter-library loans and the particular system OCOM uses, giving me a very every-day look at how a small library runs. OCOM is also unique in that it has a medicinal herb library for students to work with--something that makes sense for the school but that you probably wont find in a larger public library. These kinds of details are now helping me think about what kind of library I'd want to work at, and what kind of degree I'd then want to focus on. Public libraries sometimes have literacy programs or larger historical reference projects, while smaller libraries can have more focused resources and a more focused audience. The cataloging of Chinese language books is one of these more focused projects; unsurprisingly most of the books are about Traditional Chinese Medicine (I certainly picked up some new vocab). It was kind of wild typing a title into WorldCat and seeing that another library copy of the book I was holding was in Hong Kong! Even small libraries are part of this huge global thing. The conversion of older lectures recorded on VHS to DVD was another project happening while I was there. I realized libraries do a lot of work not only innovating new ways to access materials but also in making sure older resources don't get dusty and "left behind." To me this is really exciting--a combination of technology and curating abilities.
All in all, while re-shelving and scanning articles is not most people's idea of a good time, to me it's sort of satisfying. You run into things you wouldn't have looked up yourself. It's also just the most obvious work libraries do, there are larger issues like how libraries handle the increasing push for digital works, how libraries are also one of the few public places people can get together or use computers for free, how libraries can assist with life-long learning, or home schooled or virtual learning, and on and on. Taking the time, if only for a few days, to absorb the library atmosphere, talk about and research libraries, has made it clear to me it's a future I'd consider pursuing. Waiting to be hired in a library would have been a stressful alternative, so many thanks to Victoria and OCOM, and to Reed for organizing the Winter Shadows program.
In my first email conversation with Dr. Jeri Janowsky, my winter shadow sponsor, she sent me an article explaining how the education gap between high socioeconomic status (SES) children and low SES children grows in the summer time but stays constant during the school year (Beth M. Miller, 2007). The article explained that this phenomenon is largely a due to the fact that high SES students usually have the opportunity to enroll in enriching summer camps, while low SES students do not.
Saturday Academy aims to bridge this gap by offering classes on Saturdays and over the summer to students of all income levels. This January, I had the opportunity to work for Saturday Academy in Portland for two weeks. I was struck by the non-profit's dedication to a single mission: to level the playing field for all students. As a result, I learned the importance of having a strong mission for non-profits. During a staff meeting I attended while at Saturday Academy, Jeri continuously pushed her staff to share any news they had on their projects, but more importantly, to make sure they understood how everything they were doing fit into the overall mission of Saturday Academy.
Over the course of the two weeks I spent working and learning at Saturday Academy, I also learned how non-profits function successfully. The role of the non-profit is to collect, organize, and distribute the resources of the community in order to accomplish a specific goal. In the case of Saturday Academy, bettering the education of the community’s children. Saturday Academy collects grants and the expertise of community members who instruct their classes, organizes them and provides them with guidance, and then distributes them to the community by way of classes.
I would like to begin by saying that I would recommend this winter shadow to anyone who is interested in medicine, even if that desire is not a burning passion. Not only was this shadow informative, but even more importantly, it was inspiring. Reed has often been sighted as basing much of its educational philosophy on the importance of theory rather than practice. At times this type of education has left me wanting to see more implementation of what I was learning. This shadow illustrated a physically hands on application of all the science that I had enjoyed so much at Reed. In other words this shadow gave me a very specific idea of a career I could work towards, which is something Reed often neglects to provide for its students.
The shadow experience itself involved a week shadowing emergency room Doctor Ruth Selvidge. The first shift I observed was the day after I arrived. It was a cacophony of sensory input that was exhilarating and the hours flew past. The only indication that it had been ten hours was my physical fatigue. I spent the rest of the evening parsing apart what I had seen during the day, and what I had thought and felt. One of my first, most vivid impressions was the people.
Every part of the job involves contact with people, however those that initially caught my attention were not the patients, but the other doctors, nurses and staff. They were some of the most patient, considerate, smart, funny and talented people I had ever seen working together in a workplace. I arrived expecting to be amazed by the patients and ailments and traumas, but instead found myself enjoying every snatch of conversation that the staff had time for. This highlights my other first impression, which was that there was hardly anytime down time. For a work environment that could rupture into a high stress situation with a single phone call, everyone treated one other with respect and kindness. It was one of the best teams I’ve seen. For me it was the first time I witnessed a job that I wished I could really be a part of.
Josh Tsang, sophomore chemistry major and recipient of the Winter Fellowship for International Travel, reflects on his time in Jingdezhen, China, completing an artistic residency in Chinese ceramics.
Despite being safely at home in Portland, and having almost no school or work obligations, I still feel as if I am at the mercy of the external world. I have just completed an artistic residency at ‘The Pottery Workshop’ in Jingdezhen, China – a ‘small’ (for China) town known as the birthplace and capital of porcelain – and I have never felt so inexperienced in ceramics (not even when I first started making pottery 7 years ago). This isn’t because I haven’t learned anything or made progress in my work, but because everything I knew about how art and pottery works in North America was thrown on its head in Jingdezhen. That’s why I’ve titled this post “Learning to Let Go” because literally everything I knew, from producing work – the throwing, glazing, firing processes – to the conceptual idea of ceramic art was thrown out the window. I was starting from scratch.
Kate Hilts, senior Environmental Studies-Political Science major and recipient of the Winter Fellowship for International Travel, shares some vignettes of her experience in Madagascar, photographing species endangered by climate change.
Near the end of my trip, I started to worry that I’d forget the details of my experience. Trying to hold onto the little details of Tana and its surroundings before I forget them, I started jotting random notes down in my phone, such as “harvested rice smells like freshly mown grass” and “private schools everywhere.” I compiled them all. Here are the bits and pieces:
Kartini Clinic is a small health clinic in Northeast Portland that offers treatment for pediatric patients with eating disorders. Kartini’s approach to eating disorder treatment differs in many ways from that of other facilities. The clinic’s treatment program is family-based and places an emphasis on eating disorders as genetic metabolic disorders instead of psychiatric disorders. In the past year, Kartini Clinic has even implemented individualized genetic testing as a part of their treatment process.
Upon intake, Kartini Clinic patients, ranging in age from 6 to 23 years old, are placed in one of the clinic’s three stages of treatment: the partial hospitalization program, the intensive outpatient program, or the outpatient program. During my two weeks shadowing one of the clinic’s medical assistants, I was given the chance to observe all three levels of treatment. However, I primarily interacted with patients in the partial hospitalization program, taking vitals each morning and occasionally eating meals with them. I learned some incredibly useful skills over the course of those two weeks, including how to take blood pressure manually, how to analyze urine samples, and how to recognize abnormal levels in certain vital measurements.
During my time at Kartini Clinic, I also conducted research. I was responsible for collecting data on the initial diagnoses and intake medications of one hundred of the clinic’s most severe patients. This data will later be compared to the results of genetic testing for those patients. This genetic testing, conducted by a company called Genomind, gives the doctors at Kartini Clinic information about specific mutations that are commonly associated with negative reactions to certain psychoactive drugs. This type of information is invaluable to the doctors, as they often prescribe psychoactive drugs to combat the anxiety and depression that often accompany eating disorders. The goal of our research is to observe any correlations between the results from this genetic testing and the severity of the patient.
Walking down the shore of Lake Michigan right before I slipped on ice. Photo Credit: Shannon Bacheller, ‘16
I’m not one to travel. NYC had been my home for 18 years before I got accepted to Reed. Stasis breeds complacency and so I left my home. Moving to Portland would stir in me the sort of anxious energy that can be channeled productively. Even so, I wasn’t comfortable calling the place home until my last semester. I arrived with the dream of becoming a doctor. Having completed a synthetic chemistry thesis, I left more confused now than before as to what my true love was, be it medicine or chemistry. Being so infatuated with two things is a strange thing indeed.
Though I welcomed the short break, I was eager to ease my cognitive dissonance. My next destination was Chicago, IL, where I was to shadow Dr. Daniel Wynn (’77, Biology) at his private neurology practice in the suburbs. I left NYC once more in the hopes that a wiser soul than I, a clinical researcher and neurologist at a successful multiple sclerosis center, could aid my plight. Being in a foreign town would force me to explore.
Being a traveller grants one the comfort of knowing that, when overwhelmed by the novel, home is only a ways away. After my first visit at the clinic, it was obvious Dr. Wynn was a master of his craft. He charmed his patients, talked to them like they were old friends. His patients appreciated his wit (as did I), his genuine care, and above all, his patience; he treated his patients as equals. He took his time to explain all things in detail. He consulted with his patients on all matters and left all final decisions up to them. They worked as a team. They shared the ups and downs of their treatment, the good and bad stories, their wishes and worries.
Imagine you’re me. You’re 20 years old and you love DNA, but have very little on your resume to show for it, save a former lab tech job and a prayer that your future employer can detect your enthusiasm. You’re dragging a conspicuously neon suitcase down the street of a Parisian suburb following the signs to École Normale Supérieure de Cachan, a private University with a reputation for its scientific prestige. Not surprisingly, your three days of 1990s-era in-car-insta-French CDs have done nothing to prepare you for the conversation with the security guard explaining what you’re doing there. For the next two weeks, you’ll be having these conversations with everyone you meet by courtesy of the immediate observation that you are out of your element. Your comfort zone is 6667 km away, and you are really excited not to be in it.
For my Winter Shadow Internship, I was working under the supervision of Bianca Sclavi, a biophysicist in charge of the Bacteria Lab at ENS Cachan. Suffice it to say that my Winter Shadow experience was a learning opportunity, but also an experience of exposure on many counts.
LBPA is an interdisciplinary lab, so projects not only pass through the hands of biologists, but chemists, mathematicians, and physicists as well. In addition, Bianca often seeks the assistance of collaborators around the world from Minneapolis to Cambridge to other side of Paris. Coming from Reed, where the Bio Department and the Physics Department ironically feel miles away from one other, this was one of the first surprises about LBPA: how scientific inquiry in its raw form refused to stay in one place. With this in mind, as well as Bianca’s tendency to work on multiple things at once, it was often easiest to follow the development of individual experiments.
Sydney Scarlata, senior political science major and recipient of the Winter Fellowship for International Travel, reflects on her time in Cuba, using photography and mini-interviews to capture a moment of life in Cuba at a crucial transition point at the end of decades of animosity but before the floodgates of U.S. capitalism fully open.
Author’s note: I’ve never been very articulate so this may be the hardest part of my project.
On January 1st I left snowy Chicago for a country whose language I could not speak and whose relationship with my country was unsettled, at best. This project started as an attempt to capture the wide-ranging impact that the Cuban revolution has had on the country and its citizens 55 years after the fact. And yes, I have several photographs of the many monuments, street art, and the propaganda posters (because advertisements don’t exist in Cuba). However, my project quickly morphed into something much great and infinitely more complicated. I found myself exploring the depths of what, and more importantly who, is Cuba. What I found (besides delicious food and cloudless skies) was a community of people who were so excited to share a piece of their everyday lives with me. Obviously there were some exceptions (I know I would be more than a little skeptical if a U.S. tourist asked me if they could take my photo). Cuban students, for example, always refused a photo op. Generally, however, I found that my camera was a conversation starter.
My Winter Shadow experience did not concern the cold, bright, often terrifying light of real-time social exposure in the offices and labs I’d always imagined as waystations placed along the glistening Career Track, places for making urgent connections. Instead, it was private, personal, almost confidential—indeed, my time spent with Edith Zdunich, a Portland-based freelance book editor, was very much about what happens in the shadows.
The editing Shadow had captured my interest partly because my understanding of the field was so vague. Sure, as an avid reader and writer with a confidence in her own grammatical accuracy, detail-oriented perfectionism, and literary taste, I had a hunch that being paid to polish manuscripts for publication would suit me. But my comprehension of the processes that brought a work from brainchild to print edition was virtually nil, and Internet searches supplied surprisingly little clarity. I knew what an editor’s job was, but I had no idea what editors actually did.
When I met with Edith, one of the first things I learned was this: neither do their clients.
For two weeks this winter, I shadowed Dr. Dan Michaels in the La Jolla Village Family Medical Group. As a student interested in pursuing medical school after Reed, I was thrilled for this opportunity. This experience exceeded my expectations and has left me more excited than ever for my future.
Every day of my shadow, I followed the day-to-day work of Dr. Michaels. This work included seeing patients, refilling prescriptions, following up with patients about test results, and dealing with pesky pharmaceutical representatives. As I had expected, the work life of a primary care physician was busy. In addition to annual exams, the patients we saw included people with sore throats, stomach pains, aching muscles, addiction concerns, and surgery follow ups. The variety was exciting and Dr. Michael’s grace leaping from case to case was impressive.
In each appointment, Dr. Michael’s would open the door and recite, “I have a student that would like to stand by. Is that alright with you?” With the exception of two patients, I was graciously welcomed as the patient appeared flattered to be considered an interesting case and eagerly allowed me to learn from their body. In these rooms, I was honored to be a part of these patients’ lives in even the smallest way, whether that meant offering a sympathetic glance as they shared their frustrations with weight loss, holding the hand of a brave patient going through a tough point in their health, or simply thanking the individual for trusting me with these details in their life.