Hometown: Cary, NC
Majors: Neuroscience and Psychology
Minor: Poverty and Human Capability Studies
Why did you apply for this particular internship? Professor Beckley asked me what I wanted to do with my life and I honestly had no clue. My summers up until now have consisted of, shockingly, teaching swimming lessons and coaching a swim team. Fran Elrod mentioned a potential internship that involved running a swimming program in a low-income area. I find the drowning rate of children in such areas appalling, so I said "sign me up."
How did your work apply to your studies at W&L? The second half of the title of my minor is "Human Capability Studies." I am learning here just how empowering the ability to swim is and in this way, I am seeing not only children but also adults find comfort and strength in the water. By adding this skill to a personal arsenal, it drives a feeling of accomplishment home that serves to support an individual.
What was the most unexpected aspect of your Shepherd Alliance experience? I didn't expect to become as close with my roommates as I have over the past month and a half. We look forward to our homemade dinners together to sit and digest our days. We each have such unique experiences that we grow in knowledge and understanding of Phillips County with every conversation.
Favorite W&L Memory: Winning ODACs for swimming my sophomore year
Favorite Class: Intro to Neuroscience with Professor Stewart
Favorite W&L Event: Fall Harvest Dinner in D-Hall
Favorite Campus Landmark: View of House Mountain from Cannan Green
Why did you choose W&L? I came to W&L because I loved the opportunities presented to me to grow in the pool and in the classroom. I loved the campus and the traditions that made it feel like a special place where I could strive for success.
Why did you choose your major? I went into Neuro 120 as a Psych major and came out as a Neuroscience major. There's something that I find so fascinating about the microscopic connections in the brain that drive who we are and how we act.
What professor has inspired you? Professors Stewart and Beckley
Advice for prospective or first-year students? Don't be afraid to try new things, talk to new people, and most importantly--talk to your professors. Building a rapport with them from the beginning can do nothing but help you.
As we draw to the end of our second session of swim camp, I sit and reflect on all of the chaos, thunderstorms and snakes in the pool that brought us to this point. The brightest moments of my time here in Phillips County have stemmed from the kids in this pool and the efforts they have put forward in learning how to swim. It is here that they work towards attaining comfort in the water and once they reach that point, it is all about advancing their skills so that they may attain all that is holy here: the deep end.
Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death in children and in ethnic and low-income communities, the drowning rate is at least three times greater than that in more affluent areas. I got a sharp reminder of how prevalent drowning is when my mom sent me a link to an article from my hometown paper about the four adolescent drowning deaths that had occurred over the past weekend.
The city of Helena is home to an 84-year-old WPA-built pool that almost didn't open this summer. I was almost out of a job this summer. The kids who talk about swim camp all year long almost didn't get their chance to once again spend their days learning water safety skills and diving for rings. However, some quick action by the co-directors of Together for Hope resulted in a grant issued by the Helena Health Foundation that not only provided the funds to open the pool, but also allowed free admission to all who wish to come to the pool for the entire summer.
So here we are, three short months later, with a total of 178 kids served by these past two weeks of swim camp. Countless smiles, splashes, and advances in swimming skills have passed since the pool opened. In particular, I have a few memories of these two sessions of swim camp to share
In an area that is desperately trying to regain its former opulence and prosperity, it's hard to find hope in the citizens who have lived through so much and have so much more to battle through. My roommates come home with stories of the everyday struggles that people here face. I'm lucky however, in that the pool displays happiness and enjoyment for the kids and adults I've served over the summer. For every bubble blown and big arm stroke taken, there comes a breath of fresh air in this community--a sense of success and "I can do this!" that for a time supersedes all other concerns and worries for those at the pool.
No day here is standard, because with every new day, there is someone at the pool who achieves something new that they never before thought possible for them to accomplish. No day here is boring, because every day at the pool is another day on my toes, excited to see what good will happen and aware of whatever wrench life as a swimming instructor is about to throw in my gears. No day here is without a smile, because those who come here are reaching new heights in the pool and I am lucky enough to get to witness it.