By Maegan Clearwood, Copy Editor
Tanning under beachy suns and catching up on Nicholas Sparks novels may sound like the ideal summer break after a long, tedious semester. For the many academic-oriented students at Washington College, however, simply enjoying the summer weather will have to wait.
Three months of no classes means three months of opportunity for junior Ed Hoegg. He started brainstorming ways to take advantage of summer break as soon as last year’s ended, and is anticipating a busy, productive few months working alongside chemistry professor Dr. Aaron Amick.
“I’m working with Dr. Amick in the chemistry department to help him finish one project and start others,” Hoegg said. “In addition, I’ll be helping the theatre get ready for next year and the office of student activities, but that’s all on the side.”
Although Hoegg will not have much of an opportunity to wind down after a hectic academic semester, he hopes the experience will be worthwhile.
“I’m a chemistry major, and I’ve never done research of any kind for chemistry, so I hope it gives me a better idea of what to expect in the working world, especially in the lab,” Hoegg said. “I know the research that he plans on studying is very advanced. I’m sure my chemistry skills are going to be pushed, although I hope to learn about some of the advanced mechanisms.”
Sophomore Erica Walburg will also be staying in Chestertown this summer. After a competitive application process, Walburg was selected as this year’s student editor for the Washington College Review.
“The position was one of those things that looked like so much fun and would be a really interesting, fulfilling job to have, but I honestly wasn’t expecting to get it,” Walburg said. “I really liked how both visual and composition aspects were included in the position; it works perfectly with my English and art majors, and I think that was what really drew me in.”
Walburg will be assigned a variety of challenging tasks, including copyediting, layout design, communication with fellow editors, and working with college relations. Working on so many aspects of the publication will provide Walburg with a solid foundation for a number of possible careers.
“I think this opportunity is phenomenal in relation to career possibilities in my future,” she said. “I’m still not exactly sure what I would like to do when I graduate, but keeping my options open is key, and having this experience in editing will help greatly if I ever look into working for a literary magazine or a newspaper. Also, because the position is so multi-faceted, I’ll be able to take the skills I learn over the summer into any career I may find myself in–and that’s something you really want out of a job or an internship.”
For many WC students, preparing for later careers is a major deciding factor when it comes to making summer plans. Sophomore Katie Laury has been determined to travel and study in Ecuador since before her freshman year, and hopes the experience will provide her with valuable skills for a future career.
“In the future, I hope to become a veterinarian, and while I do not expect a blue-footed boobie to come waddling into my clinic, I think it is helpful to gain as much knowledge as possible about as many species as possible,” she said. “I have seen a lot of shows on TV about the rainforest and the Galapagos Islands, and always thought that they looked like amazing places to visit. When I found out that I could actually go there with the school and get to experience the wildlife these places have to offer, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.”
The 23-day class will not be a vacation for Laury and her fellow researchers, but she is looking forward to the hard work.
“Originally, I had thought that I wanted to go to the Galapagos the most so that I could get close to the animals, but I’m sure that the rainforest is going to have some amazing flora and fauna for me to see,” Laury said. “At the beginning of the course, we are being lectured right at the University of San Francisco Quito. Although these talks will probably be very informative, I’m still looking forward to getting out into the field far more.”
Laury will be using the time to her advantage. “It is required that we do some sort of research involving Ecuador, so I am hoping to collect as much information as I can concerning how the human population is impacting the once tame and abundant animal population on the Galapagos Islands,” she said.
Sophomore Virginia Long’s summer plans are not quite as adventurous, but she is still anticipating a hectic few months. Long will be interning for 11 weeks at the Naval Research Lab in Washington D.C., where she will be studying crystallography.
“I’m hoping to go to medical school through the military after college, so working with the navy will help me learn about it,” Long said.
Long worked with butterflies at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History last summer, so she is used to staying busy over summer break. This summer, however, will present some unique challenges for Long.
The biggest challenge is “the fact that it is a lot of chemistry, and I’m a biology person,” Long said.
Stepping out of one’s comfort zone and into the “real world” is indeed an intimidating part of getting ahead over the summer.
“The biggest challenge will probably be simply becoming accustomed to not having all of the comforts of home,” Laury said. “While in the rainforest, there is only cold water and limited electricity that goes off when they shut down the generator at about nine at night. I will also always have to be on my guard about what I eat and drink, considering their water is not the cleanest down there, and although it probably sounds silly, it’s most likely going to be a challenge for me to remember that I have to use bottled water instead of the sink to brush my teeth.”
For Hoegg, the biggest downside to his summer plans is something that many WC students are anxious to escape from this summer.
“Trust me, there’s nothing to do in Chestertown,” Hoegg said. He helped the drama department move into the Gibson Center for the Arts all last summer, and is well aware of how quiet campus can be without its regular crowds.
“Last year I didn’t have a car,” Hoegg said. “It was horrendous. I only went home twice because we worked weekends. This time, I’m more mobile. My friends have jobs in D.C., so it’s easier for us to get together.”
Chestertown may not have sunny beaches and crowded boardwalks, but the opportunity to put her skills to the test makes staying local worth it for Walburg.
“I honestly don’t mind having less free time, because at least I have a job,” she said. “The biggest difference will be living on campus and away from my home in Wisconsin. Despite the fact that I won’t be able to see any of my friends from home, I have many friends here who will be living on campus as well, so that is a definite plus.”
Working alongside accomplished professors and writers may be intimidating, but Walburg is confident that the experience will be adventageous.
“This position is an enormous responsibility, but I am positive that I’ll be able to handle any roadblocks that may pop up,” she said. “I’m working with amazing people, and they’ll be a huge help if I ever need it. I think it’s going to be an absolutely wonderful experience, and I can’t wait to get started.”
Finding alternative ways to spend what would otherwise be a quiet, boring summer break is crucial for many WC students. These go-getters will still be working hard and staying focused, even long after exams are over.