Summer at Oxy is No Slumber
Summertime and the living’s easy, the saying goes, but that’s not to suggest Occidental folds up and heads for the beach – except for the marine biologists, of course.
The season remains busy for many students and faculty members, with the June-to-August stretch lending itself to a wide range of internships and research projects.
Seven Occidental students are taking part in a community-based internship program that allows them to work for Los Angeles non-profit organizations committed to housing and community development issues. “These are not typical careers for students – certainly not the kinds of careers students initially consider, or even know about, when they are in high school or starting college,” said Peter Dreier, E.P. Clapp Distinguished Professor of Politics. For the third straight year, Dreier raised money from banks to provide a stipend and room and board for the interns.
“Some work directly with the homeless and with very poor families, an eye-opening experience for many of the students,” Dreier said. “These internships make students aware of possible careers working in the nonprofit sector on issues of banking, advocacy, organizing, housing and community economic development.”
This year’s participants – and the groups they are working with – are Philip Barney ’08 of Las Vegas (L.A. Community Action Network); Mary Jane Boltz ’08 of Glendale (Coalition for Economic Survival); Andrea Chicas ’09 of San Francisco (ACORN); Quing Shu (Mimi) Liao ’08 of Oakland (Little Tokyo Service Center); Lorena Matarrita-McNicholas ’08 of Pomona (Strategic Actions for a Justice Economy); Adrienne Spivak ’07 of Englewood, Colo. (LINC Housing); and Karina Vanderbilt ’09 of Bellingham, Wash. (Livable Places).
Traveling to the African nation of Mali, Kether Hayden ’08 of Gresham, Ore., and Ryan Bowen ’08 of Kent, Wash., joined Assistant Professor of Physics Adrian Hightower to conduct various research projects. Hightower visited the country – about two-thirds of which is in the Sahara Desert – for a third time to work on renewable energy projects. Together with colleagues from the Ecole Nationale d’Ingenieurs in Bamako, Hightower hopes to build a foundation for a renewable energy industry based on solar panels.
Hayden considered the role of the panels on gender, politics and development. If used to pump water, women and children would be the biggest beneficiaries, while using solar cells for lighting would tend to affect politically connected men, Hayden found. Bowen looked at the Malian interpretation of Islam. Mali is about 90 percent Islamic, but has not imposed Sharia law.
Both students were among the 86 students who presented their research at the Aug. 2 Summer Research Conference held at Occidental. Over the last four decades, summer research has evolved into a cornerstone of the liberal arts experience at the college. Occidental’s Undergraduate Research Program was cited as one of the country’s best in a 2001 study sponsored by a consortium of private foundations.
Eight Occidental students took part in the Community Arts & Public Service Internship Program (CAPS), an outreach made possible through an alumni gift to the College’s Career Development Center. Participants were selected from a field of 20 applicants and interned full-time in several arts and public service organizations. Activities included everything from helping to create a community art festival to working at the Downtown Women’s Center.
Participants and their organizations are Maggie Goddard ’08 of Quaker Hill, Conn. (A Noise Within); Thomas Pivnicny ’08 of Carlsbad and Ariana Tiziani ’08 of Seekonk, Mass. (Barnsdall Art Park Foundation); Eleni Polakoff ’09 of South Pasadena and Devin Wasley ’07 of San Carlos (Children’s Law Center Inc.); Rebecca Shipps ’08 of Sebastopol (Downtown Women’s Center); Allison Kanny ’08 of Camarillo (The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens); and Edward Ko ’07 of Spokane, Wash. (Visual Communications).