Meet the summer 2017 participants in the
Flinn Scholars Professional-Leadership Internship Program

September 19, 2017

By Matt Ellsworth

Flinn Scholar Lizzie Hannah, interning at the Critical Path Institute in Tucson
For Lizzie Hannah, interning at the Tucson-based Critical Path Institute helped to crystallize an interest in the intersection of science and public policy. Her next stop: law school.

The Professional-Leadership Internship Program (PLIP) was developed exclusively for Flinn Scholars to strengthen their professional networks and complement their academic preparation through project-based internships. The Flinn Scholar internship experience is distinctive among similar programs because of its emphasis on creating opportunities to interact with key leaders at the host organizations. Flinn Foundation staff members facilitate individualized placements for Scholars with leading off-campus organizations in Arizona—including large for-profit companies, small startups, nonprofits, and government agencies.

The Professional-Leadership Internship Program, which provides funding of up to $5,000 to participating Flinn Scholars, is not a requirement of the Scholars Program, but is highly encouraged. Flinn Scholars typically participate during their third year of undergraduate studies, or in the summer preceding or following that year. 

Since launching this personalized internship program in 2015, Flinn Scholars have had incredible experiences. Below are snapshots from our summer 2017 interns.

Jonathon Barkl, Class of 2015
Internship Host: Advent Diamond, LLC

“Participating in PLIP this summer allowed me to witness, with close proximity, the process of technology commercialization at a startup company. Not only was I directly working on projects that would significantly impact the success of the organization, but I was also doing so in close coordination with the company’s lead founders and researchers through a process of collaboration and iteration that helped foster my success.

“This fast-paced and high-intensity environment presented me with challenges and opportunities, allowing me to develop a range of skills that I had not yet had the opportunity to exhibit through my experiences in the classroom.”

Lexi Darby, Class of 2015
Internship Host: Arizona Department of Health Services

“My experience interning through this program is one that I will always carry with me through my career. As a student who didn’t really know where my career was going to take me, I consider myself lucky to have been able to experience the multifaceted landscape of public health.

“Specifically, I was able to utilize my skills in historical scientific research and worked with the Tuberculosis Control Program to trace the history of tuberculosis in Arizona. While I was able to do something fairly academic that I enjoy, I was also able to learn more about what working program managers and epidemiologists do today to control tuberculosis in Arizona.

“One unforgettable experience I had was learning that the father of Dr. Robert Flinn (who established the Flinn Foundation) came to the United States to set up a sanatorium for tuberculosis patients in Prescott. Without tuberculosis, it is unclear whether Dr. Flinn would have ended up in Arizona, and if he hadn’t, I would not have had the opportunity to learn about this history through PLIP! It was a full-circle revelation that was incredible to come across, and I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to learn this important history of Arizona.” 

Grant Laufer, Class of 2015
Internship Host: North American Research Partnership

“This summer, I had the chance to get paid to do what I love. I have always been fascinated by international trade and political relations, and my summer as a Flinn Scholar intern for the North American Research Partnership (NARP) allowed me to learn more about the field I intend to make my career in.

“I was privileged enough to work for Flinn-Brown fellow Erik Lee, the executive director of NARP. Erik is incredibly knowledgeable about the US-Mexican border and the relations of everything from cross-border towns to the federal governments. He also has connections to many individuals in the Southwest who work with the global economy and governments, including the U.S. Department of State, which will be helpful as I look into future opportunities. Much of my work was based around reading government and nonprofit reports from both the U.S. and Mexico on border and interstate issues.

“I have learned so much about research, using government sources, and navigating different resources, in addition to the fascinating world of border issues. PLIP has been amazing in terms of professional development and building long-lasting relationships.”

Professional-Leadership Internship Program
Abihjay Murugesan (center) concludes his internship at the Arizona Department of Health Services with a capstone presentation to share what he has learned and accomplished with DHS colleagues and Flinn Scholars Program staff.

Abhijay Murugesan, Class of 2015
Internship Host: Arizona Department of Health Services

“My internship took place at the Bureau of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) & Trauma System within the Arizona Department of Health Services. I analyzed pre-hospital care data and hospital-discharge data to justify the development of a community paramedicine program for diabetes screening, management, and clinical referral.

“My career goal is to become an emergency-medicine physician and EMS medical director, so gaining experience in EMS administration and program development at the state level was directly relevant to my professional goals; moreover, the internship exposed me to key aspects of EMS and provided me a unique perspective. Additionally, I had the opportunity to work with EMS leaders who have worked in public service at the local, state, and national levels, and their mentorship was one of the most valuable aspects of my whole experience.

“Through PLIP, I had an individualized internship that matched my interests, and the financial and professional support from the Flinn Scholars Program made it incomparable to previous internships I have had.”

Mary Saxon, Class of 2015
Internship Host: First Things First

“When I decided to participate in PLIP, I knew that I wanted to focus on one of my interests I had yet to explore in my college career and work to develop new skills. I interned at an early-childhood-development agency working in the Children’s Health division that focuses mostly on health policy and systems change. My supervisor was a Flinn Scholar alumnus; it was great to connect with someone whose career aligns with my interests and has a great network in the state.

“At the beginning of my internship, I felt like I needed to pretend like I knew more than I did, but I soon realized that I learned the most by admitting what I didn’t know and having organic conversations with my supervisor and colleagues. The work I did at First Things First pushed me to work independently and solve problems by asking questions and doing research on my own. I was able to develop stronger writing, research, and data-analysis skills. I truly learned so many new skills that I haven’t been able to find in my undergraduate coursework at ASU!”

Angela Siebrecht, Class of 2014
Internship Host: Refugee Focus

“My experience as an intern with Refugee Focus has been one of the highlights of the last four years for me. This internship has exposed me to incredible people doing amazing work in the world of ESL (English as a Second Language) education and refugee resettlement. Additionally, the unique nature of Flinn’s internship program allowed me to develop my own classes and curriculum at Refugee Focus.

“Even with prior teaching experience, assuming responsibility for my own classes was a large challenge, and my internship supervisors were both supportive in providing assistance when difficulties arose, and flexible in allowing me the space and time to create (and revise, many times over) the concept and curriculum for my writing classes.

“This experience has opened my eyes to the important work being done in the world of English education and the ways that creative-writing skills and principles can be molded to facilitate this education, and has been more valuable to me (personally and academically) than I could possibly describe. “

Learn more about the Professional-Leadership Internship Program and other benefits of the Flinn Scholars Program.