Works and Days


"summer internship award"

Summer Internship Award: CRAL Astrophysics Lab in Lyon, France

CRAL Observatory in Saint-Genis-Laval, France

For two months this summer I worked at the CRAL (Astrophysics Research Center of Lyon). The observatory is located in Saint-Genis-Laval, a town right outside of Lyon, France. The observatory is small but has a lot going on, and is also up the steepest hill I’ve ever had to walk. I started looking for summer work by sending emails to various people at institutions all over Europe who I thought was doing interesting work in computational astrophysics. I started by emailing The Swiss National Supercomputing Center (CSCS) where I thought I could learn a good amount of the basics. They were only allowed to accept Swiss students, but hearing a response at all made me feel encouraged and kept me going. Two weeks into this process I found a list of internships available on CRAL’s website, and sent my boss, Jérémy Blaizot, an email. The internships were in numerical astrophysics, which interested me because of coursework I had done at Reed in Physics and in Computer Science. My request for summer work was apparently one of the weirdest and out of the blue emails he had ever received, coming from someone in an unheard of place in Oregon who was very intent on learning numerical astrophysics for galaxy formation, so he figured he might as well say yes.

My research aimed to speed up part of a radiative transfer simulation code. In a given area within the simulation, a photon might scatter many times, something that is computationally expensive. A way to speed this process up is to have a probability distribution function for the photon after it scatters, or try to approximate one. Initially, I tried working towards an analytic solution for the problem, but then moved to various numerical techniques. I was amazed when everything I was doing somehow built on things I had learned in my two years at Reed. The physics for Monte Carlo Radiative transfer was a natural extension of material learned in Physics 202, and the math and computer science courses I had taken at Reed also allowed me to learn new material in an effective way.

I learned a lot academically, but I also got a lot more out of the experience. On my way to France, I started freaking out that I didn’t know anyone or didn’t speak the language. However, as soon as I landed I started feeling better. Everyone I met was so wonderful and the overall environment was great for me since I was able to really focus on something I loved while getting a new experience of living abroad. The person I stayed with for two months, Marie, helped me learn enough French to make basic conversation, and was always giving me great advice for what to do in Lyon. I must have gone to almost every museum twice, but the highlight was when during my last week a friend came to visit me and insisted we go to the film prop/miniatures museum, which I thought I would hate but wound up loving. I also tried “toasted bread” ice cream, which I can definitely say changed my life for the better.

Summer Internship Award: Performing Arts Intern for Portland Institute for Contemporary Art

My Intern All Access pass and the ever-important walkie talkie used for calling the shows on opening weekend.

September 08, 2016: Opening night of PICA’s 14th Annual Time-Based Art Festival. 1 Opening Night Dinner. 2 Artists’ performances. 11 hours of work.

I was exhausted, but the countless hours throughout the summer that I had spent preparing for this moment were finally manifested into the premiere of the vibrant festival to come. TBA is a 10-day citywide arts festival taking place here in Portland with stage performances; visual installations; film screenings; dialogues, panels, and workshops with artists; and late-night dance parties. TBA features artists from a plethora of cultures, backgrounds, and mediums with an astounding 57 shows, 15 dialogues and panels, and 6 workshops throughout the 10-day festival. From dancers to jugglers to DJs, there really was something for everyone. Thirty-three artists and groups came to us from around the world even beyond the US, including Lebanon, South Korea, Bulgaria, and France. TBA took over Portland by taking place at venues ranging from the Portland Art Museum, to Portland State University’s Lincoln Hall, to the Winningstad Theatre, and (for the first time ever) Reed College. Throughout the summer, my primary jobs included obtaining work visas for international artists, creating contracts for their performances, and creating endless spreadsheets and itineraries of all their travel and performance dates.

Staff meetings tripled in size by the end of the summer. I went from working with 10 other people at my own desk to sitting in a makeshift office in what used to be a 16,000-square-foot indoor skatepark. Several of my days throughout the summer felt the same: spending 5-6 hours researching an artist trying to prove they are world-renowned in order to obtain a work visa, consolidating 5 spreadsheets into one beautifully color-coded spreadsheet, researching flights for all of the artists, or confirming travel dates and browsing nearly every Airbnb in Portland. A LOT of work goes into planning a festival with hundreds of attendees per night, which I knew, but I guess I didn’t realize that actually getting to work with and communicate with artists didn’t come until they were actually on the ground in Portland. I was excited for this internship because I wanted to see what happened behind the scenes of all the excitement, and I definitely did get that chance.

In the weeks leading up to the festival, and especially once it began, things started to pick up. Instead of working at my computer, I started running errands. I was told a few hours before opening night that Juliana Huxtable, a DJ from New York, requested fresh ginger and honey for her tea. I walked to New Seasons, walked back, and stood in the kitchen grating ginger for her while soundchecks and setups in the venue were happening in the background. “Wow, I guess this is really what it feels like to be an intern,” I remember thinking to myself. Being an intern meant waiting at the airport with two of your friends for a Bulgarian only for him to walk past you because he was “looking for someone who looked like a driver.” Being an intern meant driving him to his hotel and helping him carry all of his bags to his room, then turning around to go back to the airport because another artist was arriving at 11:00pm that night.

The highlight of my entire internship was getting the opportunity to work with Narcissister, a Brooklyn-based feminist performance artist whose face is always obscured by a series of masks. She needed someone to help her with costumes and props during her performances, and that’s where I came in. I got to carry around my own walkie-talkie in order to communicate to the sound booth and to call the show, which is a really big deal for someone like me! After her first performance, she told me that she felt good knowing that I was on the side of the stage ready to help. I really proved myself after her second show when one of her masks, an integral part of her character’s identity, was stolen. As the person in charge of collecting the props after each performance, I felt like I’d let her down. I drove her to the airport that night and was given a huge hug and an enthusiastic conversation about working together in the future. I assured her I would keep looking for the mask and the very next day, I sent her a text telling her that I had found the person who had taken her mask and had driven to their house to retrieve it for her. I think this is when I earned my (self-proclaimed) status as #1 intern.

Summer Internship Award: Clinton Foundation

Former POTUS, Bill Clinton, and Gabriel Richardson '18

For the length of three months this summer, I was given the incredible opportunity to work at the Clinton Foundation. At the active nonprofit, I had the occasion to work with a set of diverse and motivated individuals impassioned in serving their international community with innovative solutions. My intern colleagues came from a range of countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Colombia, Haiti, Mexico and Canada. Many had different academic backgrounds with degrees relating to Law, Political Science, Public Policy, Social Work, and Government, which added value in developing creative solutions to any issue.  At the Foundation, I worked through the Scheduling Office alongside many other distinct teams spread throughout three main offices in Little Rock, Arkansas; Midtown, Manhattan; and Harlem, New York. I mainly worked in President Clinton’s personal office located in Harlem and occasionally worked at the Foundation’s headquarters in Midtown.

Having the chance to become part of a pioneering community that focuses on sustainable charitable solutions was an essential reason for which I applied to the organization. The Foundation has pursued its mission of empowering the underserved through partnerships with governments, the private sector, other foundations, and philanthropists, creating networks of cooperation that are focused on results. The goal of the organization is to offer expertise and resources to self-empower individuals across the globe. An example I observed of a sustainable program at the Foundation was the continued development of CHAI (Clinton Health Access Initiative). In this initiative, individuals< with medical and government backgrounds worked together to organize and train thousands of healthcare workers as part of an effort to address critical shortages in poor countries and help others build strong, self-sufficient health systems, and expand access to high-quality, low-cost treatment and diagnostics for many other diseases and conditions. Through such proactive methodology, the Foundation’s efforts have improved millions of lives around the world and has tackled problems relating to AIDS/ HIV, accessible healthcare, sustainable investment, climate change, and small business development.

Although the Scheduling Office does not directly involve program design and groundwork, the duty of the Office is essential to the daily functioning of the organization. As former White House Scheduling Director and the current Executive Director of the Clinton Presidential Library at the Foundation, Stephanie Streett, likes to mention, “it is really where the rubber hits the road.” Schedulers are in charge of placing ideas, communication, and resources into action within any organization. Within the Foundation, without the knowledge of the initiatives, people, and programs involved, one could not carry out an effective job. Prior understanding of the challenges faced and those who are able to confront these obstacles is necessary in a position of making successful connections and effective organization.

As a Scheduling Intern, I personally ensured all incoming invitations and scheduling events for President Clinton were databased and responded to, under the supervision of the Scheduling Correspondence Assistant. I also had the opportunity to assist in the compilation of data and information, and assist in the maintenance of various databases; ongoing lists for Foundation senior staff; scheduling archives; and file systems. Throughout the internship term, I met with Foundation officials to receive career advice and exchanged conversations relating to political work, legal services, and government management with several other team-workers. The internship organizers met with individual students to develop career skills and encourage full involvement as essential staff within the Foundation.

After the term, I observed that my writing and communication skills were better developed and that my attention to detail greatly improved due to the particularities of my position. Speaking with professionals gave me insight on my possible future career paths after Reed. My supervisors encouraged me to research fellowship opportunities and consider graduate studies relating to international and human rights law. Dr. Donna Shalala, the Foundation’s current President, encouraged interns to consider service driven opportunities such as the Peace Corps; she taught in Pre- Revolutionary Iran under this government organization. Many perspectives were instilled on the interns and I came out of the experience with a better global understanding and skill-set for any future endeavors.

This extraordinary opportunity would not have been possible without the generous award received by the Center for Life Beyond Reed and all the assistance offered by the Center’s Staff. In addition, I would like to extend my gratitude for the support and recommendations received by Professor Darius Rejali, Professor Morgan Luker, Professor Diego Alonso, and Jolie Griffin, along with Political Science Department.

Summer Internship Award: Learning at Saturday Academy

Saturday Academy students learn the science of bubble blowing outside of the Paradox Lost during the annual 4th and 5th grade Talented and Gifted camp, held on Reed campus!

I spent my summer as an intern for the Saturday Academy, a non-profit organization that offers hands-on classes, camps, and apprenticeship experiences for youths in Oregon and southwest Washington. The ten weeks I spent with the Saturday Academy involved observing and facilitating its summer offerings as well as assisting in its behind-the-curtains operations at their office in the University of Portland. I came to this internship thinking it would make a worthwhile use of my math and science background as well as give me preliminary experience in teaching. However, it was a experience with much more variety than that. The task of finding a specific anecdote to illuminate a larger lesson I learned this summer is pretty tough actually.

I did enjoy some opportunities to be a math major for the Saturday Academy. For a programming class I taught a miniature lesson on modular arithmetic to help students understand the “mod” function in their coding language. During an algebra prep course, I had to explain myself a little after nominating a seemingly erroneous candidate for a favorite number, “e”. But I think the more rewarding parts of the internship came from the moments where I had little use for math. Based on the textbooks I’ve read, no theorem deals with LEGO sorting and no corollary presents a surefire method of keeping children out of areas populated with hornets.

Summer Internship Award: Community Work in Cape Town

Where is Nomuhle?

I was stressed. I was in the middle of organizing meal logistics for a weekend camp, and it was Thursday with roughly 24 hours to go. My head was swimming with “4 kilos of chicken,” and “Who will really show up for a breakfast shift at 7:30.” But for one hour I was supposed to go and meet Nomuhle in the township (she’s a community coordinator). Ten minutes late already, I fast-walked from our office: out past the tall barbed wire fence that runs around it, over the piles of stray litter that mark the edge of the township, and through the township streets to the Ubuntu4All container.