International Student Services

Division of Student Services

Summer Experience Award

The Summer Experience Award offers Reed students on an F-1 visa or with other with other citizenship- related work restrictions the opportunity to complement their academic studies with an unpaid summer internship focused on an area of interest and possible future employment. The award was created to provide international students with off-campus experiences that would typically be unattainable because of work restrictions. This year’s Summer Experience Award will be granted to at least three students, each receiving a maximum of $3750 to cover their expenses while participating in an unpaid internship.

Off-campus internships that are completely voluntary and unpaid are not considered “employment” and do not require USCIS authorization. In order for your internship to be considered “voluntary”, it must be unpaid and it must be work that would not otherwise be a paid position if taken by a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident. Please be aware that some internship sites, colleges and universities in particular, may require work authorization through Optional Practical Training (OPT). Reed College does not offer Curricular Practical Training (CPT). The ISS office can assist you with the process of applying for pre- completion OPT if it will be required, but be advised that it is necessary to apply 90 days in advance of your anticipated start date. To read more about the OPT process, please review “What You Should Know about OPT” on the ISS website. Additionally, we strongly recommend that applicants have conversations with potential employers early regarding any possible required work authorization, even if the opportunity is unpaid. Please consult with the ISS office if you have any questions or concerns. 

Click here to download the SEA Application 2016


Requirements for Receiving Award

  • Student must be attending Reed on an F-1 visa at the time the award is made
  • Student must be a rising sophomore, junior, or senior at Reed in the summer of 2016
  • Awards will be made only for unpaid internships
  • Internship must be for a minimum of eight weeks of work of at least 20 hours per week
  • Internship must be in the United States
  • Students selected to receive the award will share their experience with the Reed community in the fall of 2016, including oral presentations and a written statement
  • Past recipients of the award must wait one year to re-apply and are not eligible in consecutive years


January 27: Info Session, 4-5 p.m., ISS Office

March 11: Application Deadline, 5 p.m.

March 13-24: Application Review by Committee

March 31: Decision Notification

Past Recipients

2015 Summer Experience Award Recipients

Ahyan Panjwani ’16

Mateo Coloma

Country: Pakistan
Major: Math-Economics

I was born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan. I intend to go to grad school for Economics.

My SEA Story

The summer before, I was a McGill Lawrence Fellow and worked in the non-profit sector in Karachi. For this past summer, I decided to switch gears and interned at a hedge fund, Irvington Capital, in downtown Portland. At the fund, I worked as a fixed income research analyst with a focus on sovereign debt and mortgage backed securities. As part of my job, I was developing various models on Matlab, looking at macroeconomic indicators like housing markets, reliance on commodities, growth rates, etc. This summer witnessed some major world events; the Greek tragedy a.k.a. Grexit, the Iran Deal, and China's long awaited slowdown. These events shook the financial markets and I had to stimulate such turbulence in my models using stochastic techniques. My thesis will be a derivation of this work. This was a great experience and I made some great contacts while at the place. Lastly, I'd like to thank the ISS and the Department of Economics for all their help throughout the process.

Mateo Ruben Ochoa Coloma ’16

Mateo Coloma

Country: Bolivia
Major: Physics

I was born and raised in La Paz, Bolivia, among the llamas and the alpacas that inhabit the Andes. I am currently in love with the intellectual life and will probably soon be in a love/hate relationship with my thesis. Hobbies include being in the library until it closes, boosting my ego by beating freshmen at pool in the pool hall, and making eye contact with absolutely no one.

My SEA Story

This summer I decided to go to Harvard University. I joined the Heller Group, a research group that works on theoretical physical chemistry. I worked on a project in collaboration with a professor and a PhD student. The main goal of the project was to understand double replacement reactions by looking at the switching of pairs in the reaction. We suspected that, due to the very precise conditions for the reaction to take place, the reaction actually happened through dynamical tunneling. By building a simulation program that used the Split-Operator Fourier Transform (SOFT) method, we could simulate what would happen to the wave function representing the molecules in the presence of potentials that represented the two molecules that were reacting. My experience this summer allowed me to learn how research is actually done, since at Reed we have minimal exposure to research. Additionally, with this experience I got to get a feel of the East Coast lifestyle, and of Harvard as a school and potential candidate for my graduate studies. The experiences I had this summer will be of enormous help for the research I will have to do for my thesis, and also to know what path I will take after graduation.

Kammy Chiu ’18

Kammy Chiu

Country: Hong Kong
Major: Environmental Studies/Economics

Bio: Pottery enthusiast from Hong Kong.

My SEA Story

Thanks to the award I was able to intern for Mercy Corps Northwest (MCNW), a Portland based non-profit over the summer. My role as a MicroTracker intern involves data collection and analysis for clients that MCNW served in the previous fiscal year. The data collected measures MCNW’s efficiency and effectiveness in its mission to assist micro-enterprise development in order to increase household economy, spur job growth, and ultimately, alleviate poverty in the Pacific Northwest. To me, the most unique aspect of this internship is the opportunity to gain both an insider and a third-party perspective on the work of an NPO. As an insider, I witnessed the interaction of organizations of all sizes, from the micro-enterprises that MCNW assists to Mercy Corps itself, an international organization. Finally and most importantly, this summer experience gave me the opportunity to understand the community challenges that my new home, Portland faces.

2014 Summer Experience Award Recipients

Ha Nguyen ’15


Country: Vietnam
Major: Biochemistry

I grew up in Hanoi, Vietnam and have lived in Maine and Barcelona, Spain. I now call Portland, OR home. I love skateboarding, snowboarding and playing the guitar.

My SEA Story

With the funding from my SEA, I was able to stay in Portland over the summer to work on a research project at the Portland VA Medical Center (PVAMC). I previously worked there using the SEA in 2012 to examine the immunotherapeutic mechanisms of a potential drug for multiple sclerosis (MS) derived from recombinant T-cells ligands (RTL). This summer, I continued on my work to assess the biochemical interactions of a number of RTL constructs with T-cell receptor CD74, which plays an important role in MS and other autoimmune diseases. This summer experience not only enhanced my research techniques and served as great preparations for my senior thesis at Reed, but also gave me invaluable groudwork for my future career after graduation.

Lukas Morick ’15


Country: Germany
Major: Chemistry

I was born and raised in Germany. After having finished high school, I volunteered in Costa Rica for one year and there I decided I really wanted to study Chemistry at a small liberal arts college like Reed. It wasn’t super easy but one and a half year later I arrived here and (starting senior year this fall) I have loved every minute of it!

My SEA Story

With the award I was able to spend my summer working with the Cook Group at Indiana University in Bloomington, IN. There I was working in a research group focused on using less common/dangerous and cheaper metal catalysts for a host of different reactions in Organic Chemistry. As such the research done is very rewarding since every contribution you make will have the chance to make the synthesis of various substrates used for example in drug synthesis greener and thus a little more sustainable. Especially in a profit oriented field such as the chemical or drug industry it is vital that we devote our resources to these key features which is why gathering experience in a very contemporary field of study such as this one was a truly rewarding experience. In the research group I was assigned my own project and had to bite my way into it through literature research and then plan out possible reaction pathways and conditions, assess errors, adjust procedures and test hypotheses. Overall the experience has helped me immensely in planning for my inevitable time after Reed and especially the upcoming road towards graduation. Thank you ISS!

Shabab Ahmed Mirza ’15


Country: Bangladesh
Major: Economics

I've taken a rather circuitous path through Reed–I'm completing my degree in 9 non-consecutive semesters over 6 calendar years. I've loved the opportunity to complement my Reed education with work and volunteer experience in Portland and beyond, though I'm sure my non-traditional path gave my very-traditional father more than a few grey hairs. My professional experience in arts administration has given me great insight for my senior thesis in economics, a study of the relationship between sources of funding for theatres and their programming decisions.

My SEA Story

I had been a student of Tamara Lynne, Creative Director of Living Stages Theater in the past, and she was kind enough to take me on as a Program Assistant for the summer.
Unlike most other SEA recipients, I did not participate in a structured program so I had a lot of freedom to determine the scope and structure of my summer work. Living Stages is still in its infancy–I mailed the IRS paperwork for 501(c)3 non-profit status my first week on the job–so there were plenty of opportunities to find my own ways of being useful: identifying funding opportunities, connecting with potential partners, developing organizational strategy, et cetera. There were also many things that just needed to get done, whether it was taking notes at board meetings or reorganizing the furniture in the tiny, shared office. The demands of juggling multiple tasks at a young nonprofit was a great complement to my prior professional experiences, where I felt like the proverbial small cog in a large machine.
I am very grateful to International Student Services for funding this position through the Summer Experience Award, especially since the sources of funding available to me as an F-1 international student are so limited.

Yudan Guo ’15


Country: China
Major: Physics

I am a student of physics.

My SEA Story

I worked at Laboratory for Physical Sciences at University of Maryland-College Park on superconducting transmon qubit, which is a promising candidate to realize large scale quantum computing. I worked on experimentally implementing a recently proposed self-consistent tomography technique to characterize the injection, manipulation and retrieval of quantum information.

2013 Summer Experience Award Recipients

Yuan Xue ’14


Country: Hong Kong, PRC
Major: Biology

I grew up in Guangzhou, China until the age of nine when I went to Isehara-shi in Japan and attended local elementary school for two years. My family then moved to Hong Kong and I had been there until I was sixteen and decided to attend high school in Portland, Oregon on my own. I have been in Portland for seven years now and I have come to treasure it as my second home. When I am not busy moving across the globe, I enjoy weight training in the gym, scuba diving under the sea, and harmless merry-making with friends.

My SEA Story

I have strong interests in biology science research, and I have always been eager to learn more about different methods and technologies to answer questions that I have in mind about life system. I was both honored and glad to be a recipient of this year’s SEA, which funded my research visit at a Bioengineering lab in Stanford University. I worked under the mentorship of a brilliant graduate student in the lab to develop RNA-based device that would allow reversible control of cell cycle progression through small molecules. The development of this device is significant as cell cycle regulation (or its dysregulation) has a significant role to play in carcinogenesis, cell fate determination, and the efficiency of DNA transfection/integration. The development of this device would potentially open doors for new research studies that were previously challenging to conduct. Specifically for my project, I received training on molecular cloning using Gibson Assembly, flow cytometry assay and analysis of mammalian cells expressing fluorescence-tagged proteins, and cell cycle assay using propidium iodide. On top of the laboratory training I received, I also became well acquainted with many of my co-workers in the laboratory whose friendly personalities and admirable work ethics made my research visit all the more enriching. The SEA enabled me to undergo this invaluable experience which confirmed my passion in conducting scientific research, and I intend to pursue graduate study for further training in the future.

Suhai Yehuza ’16


Country: Ghana
Major: Physics

I am from Ghana and an aspiring physics major. I am very passionate about soccer and the ocean.

My SEA Story

The SEA gave me the opportunity to spend last summer studying Amphiphilic Polymers at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez. It was a very stimulating experience to work with experiences researchers on the synthesis and characterization of polymers that mimic protein fibril formation. I had the pleasure to work with an experienced team of researchers in the university's chemical engineering labs. This experience and exposure to the use and operation of several lab equipments have helped shaped my interest in the engineering field and my possible major here at Reed.

Jason Htet Lin Thu ’14


Country: Myanmar (Burma)
Major: Economics

I came from Yangon, Myanmar (Burma) in 2010 to start my academic life at Reed. I am a strong supporter of the International Student Service's work and currently an InterConnect mentor for four amazing first-year students. My interests and passions include economic development, data analysis, personal development, calligraphy, and theology. I aspire to become an impactful business person.

My SEA Story

I worked as a business outcomes analyst for MicroMentor Program (, a subsidiary of Mercy Corps, in Portland, Oregon. The Program provides an online platform for small business owners across the US to meet business mentors and develop their businesses through the mentors' support and suggestions. My role as a business outcomes analyst is to collect and analyze the information on how the mentoring relationships have helped the small business owners and what we can improve in our service. The results are wonderful - suggesting that mentoring and success of the small businesses are greatly correlated. I enjoyed the internship very much because not only I learned valuable professional and technical skills but also I had a wonderful supervisor (Loren Guerriero) and a great team. Definitely it is a fulfilling project to work on and satisfying environment to work in. I am bringing my skills and experiences from this internship into my thesis project as well as my career development beyond Reed.

Sandesh Adhikary ’15


Country: Nepal
Major: Physics

Over my two years at Reed, and especially this summer, I have thoroughly enjoyed living in one of the quirkiest city I’ve ever been in with some of the nicest people I've ever met. I have really enjoyed exploring the great food around Portland and also experimenting with cooking myself. In the future, I can see my interests in Physics, Education and Engineering to name a few, leading me towards a career in research (or hopefully some kind of junction of all of them).

My SEA Story

With the help of the SEA grant, I was able to intern at the Lab of Nanoelectronics at Portland State University. I had the opportunity to contribute in research to find alternative designs for secondary (rechargeable) batteries as opposed to the conventional Li-ion, Ni-Cd or Lead acid ones. The project was aimed at analyzing and optimizing the charge/discharge capacities of different combinations of electrode and electrolyte material. Specifically, we worked on characterizing the electrochemical properties of Calcium and Sodium ions when used within our battery system in an attempt to build robust, cost-effective batteries using chemicals that are easily accessible and less toxic. I really enjoyed working at the lab and plan on continuing my involvement in the project. Apart from teaching me invaluable skills, this summer’s experience has also helped me shape what I might want out of my career in Physics.

2012 Summer Experience Award Recipients

Ha Nguyen ’15


Country: Vietnam
Major: Biochemistry

I grew up in Hanoi, Vietnam and lived in Maine for a while before coming to Reed. My hobbies are skateboarding, snowboarding and playing the guitar. I have long been aspiring to become a surgeon.

My SEA Story

With the funding from the SEA, I was able to work at the Portland Veteran Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) as a research assistant in an immunology lab last summer. The lab focused on examining and developing a potential immunotherapy for multiple sclerosis (MS) called recombinant T-cells receptor ligand (RTL). My main project was to assess the effect of RTL on the complement pathway in antigen-presenting cells and T-cells from peripheral blood mononuclear cell samples of MS patient. I was also trained to handle mice, prepare and process cell samples, and scan for protein expressions using fancy equipments. In the end of the summer, I concentrated on reproducing a construct in the RTL called the α1 domain, as it appeared to induce the most significant effects on EAE (the mice version of MS) and MS. In general, the internship taught me so much about immunology and biomedical research, as well as sharpened my knowledge and laboratory skills.

Amanuel Melesse Tafessu ’14


Country: Ethiopia
Major: biochemistry/molecular biology

I was born and raised in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. I have enjoyed my time in Portland (has it been 2 years already?!) and I hope to become a researcher.

My SEA Story

The summer experience award allowed me to explore the world of medical research through an internship at CROET, a research center that is part of the Oregon Health and Science University. I had the pleasure of working with a team of researchers peeking into the biochemical puzzle behind Alzheimer’s disease using a fruit fly model. I found the work to be very exciting and left the internship armed with techniques and methods which are generally applicable in biological research. I also got a taste of (and developed a taste for) fulltime lab work. As legal restrictions on payment to students on F-1 visa status would have precluded my participation in the internship program, the SEA made it possible for me to gain this valuable experience.

Huy Nguyen ’14


Country: Vietnam
Major: Physics

I was born and grew up in Saigon, Vietnam and attended high school in Singapore. I’m currently a senior physics major, doing a thesis in condensed matter theory. In my thesis I will be studying various properties of the Hubbard model using auxiliary field-based quantum Monte Carlo methods. On campus I work as a senior helpdesk consultant for the Computer User Services, one-on-one tutor and grader in physics. I also hold a Senior Operator license at the Reed Research Reactor. Outside academics, I enjoy reading about law, public policy, economics and investigative journalism. My hobbies include photography and biking.

My SEA Story

The funding from SEA allows me to attend the physics REU program at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, VA. I studied and made visualizations of a few Quantum Monte Carlo methods, a class of algorithms that use stochastic processes to simulate quantum mechanical systems. Quantum mechanics is probabilistic in nature and so all physical properties must be calculated using integrals. The fundamental problem here is that quantum systems have a very high number of dimensions which makes deterministic integrals computationally infeasible (think exponential complexity). This is especially true for strongly interacting systems because we cannot use mean field approximations ("divide-and-conquer" if you will). Monte Carlo method allows us more efficient calculation of these integrals at the cost of some statistical uncertainty (which we try to minimize) due to our sampling of the space. Pretty smooth sailing up to this point but before Monte Carlo calculation of properties can be done though, random walks must be used to propagate the wavefunctions through time and this is where things get stormy e.g. the fermion sign problem that requires more clever methods. These methods, however, can be quite opaque to beginners (some of them even occur in abstract spaces instead of position space) and I hope my visualizations will help newcomers more quickly get a sense of how these algorithms work. At the time I just finished sophomore year so I had to wrap my head around some advanced quantum mechanics (e.g. second quantization), statistical mechanics etc but overall I found it delightful to see how researchers pull together ideas from many seemingly unrelated areas of math and physics to solve a particular problem. During the REU I also attended a 7-week machine shop course and many seminars, visited the nearby colonial area several times and went on 2 ropes courses.

2011 Summer Experience Award Recipients

Amzar Faiz ’13


Country: Malaysia
Major: Economics

In my free time I enjoy practicing capoeira and yoga as well as venturing out into Portland in search of good food.

My SEA Story

I am always up for adventures and new experiences, and it is this drive that has led to my experience in Detroit last summer. After realizing that I did not wish to stay in Portland that summer, and that I wanted to see more of the United Sates, I began searching for opportunities that would help me leave Portland. After searching for awhile, I came across the Center for Community Based Enterprise (C2BE, C2BE is a non-profit based in Detroit whose focus is to research and educate people on ways in which the community may benefiet from cooperating with one another. The Summer Experience Award allowed me to undertake this unpaid internship, by providing me with the resources necessary to sustain myself in Detroit. While I was there, I had the chance to apply my theory based economics which I gained from my classes onto a real world situation. I conducted interviews with locals, met city planners, and experienced firsthand the effects of the recession and international markets on the city. A city which once had almost two million people but now remains with a little less than eight hundred thousand because of various reasons which involve: job losses, bad mortgages, etc. This experience has helped me gain perspective on how my knowledge is applicable in the real world, and without it, my life would be severely lacking.

Elizabeth Dinkova ’13


Country: Bulgaria
Major: Psychology and Theater

I love directing, but am also interested in acting and playwriting. My psychology interests focus on creativity research, clinical psychology, and cognitive processes.

My SEA Story

The award enabled me to complete an internship at the Cognition and development lab at Yale University. I worked as a research assistant with a graduate mentor, with whom I explored the relationship between causality and categorization in a series of studies. The experience helped me become a better researcher and student of psychology. It also informed my understanding of graduate school and the various other paths one could take to pursue a career in psychology.
Photo: Elizabeth standing in front of the psychology building at Yale.

Rukayat Taiwo ’12


Country: Nigeria
Major: Biochemistry

My hobbies are reading and shopping. I aspire to become a medical doctor.

My SEA Story

Last summer, I had the wonderful opportunity of volunteering in the Emergency room and Intensive Care Unit at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU). In both places, I took part in various clinical research projects with most of them involving the determination of the efficacy of various drugs and new treatment options. Performing my job required interacting with patients and doctors which was not only enjoyable, but also helped improve my professional communication skills. Observing the day-to-day life of a doctor and patient-doctor interactions for a 3 month duration was an invaluable experience which further influenced my decision to apply to medical school. Since these positions were unpaid, I would have been unable to accept them without some financial support to cover my housing and feeding expenses. The funding given to me through the Summer Experience award enabled me take advantage of this opportunity.

Contact International Student Services

Gray Campus Center 104
Skype: iss.reed

Dana Lawson
Assistant Dean of Students for International Student Services

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