This Is Only the Beginning

"Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever."

-Mahatma Gandhi

Strong words that I have applied over the course of my internship. I have every day count as if it were my last, but I have also appreciated all the knowledge I've gained to the extent that I will cherish it forever. If my experiences with QEM and NSF have taught me one thing, is to keep my head held high and always aim forward no matter how many obstacles or failures I face. I truly triumph to success this summer, especially this last week. The most difficult challenges I endured were to write my final report and deliver my presentation. I knew what I had accomplished over the summer but I didn't know how to clearly inform other people about it. With the help of my mentors, I was able to overcome these challenges and excel farther than I had anticipated. 

There I was, receiving my certification of completion from my internship director. Definitely one of my proudest moments in life. The hardest part was saying goodbye to everyone, it felt as if I had grown with them for such a long time. It was even more so emotional saying my farewells to my mentors. Although, they weren't truly "goodbyes", but rather "until next time" moments, knowing that we would all keep in touch for years to come. The internship might be over but there's more for me when I come back home. Until this day forward, I shall continue to adhere to concepts and ideals I learned this summer and strive towards achieving my life goals. As I mentioned before, this isn't the end, but the beginning. My blog will remain ongoing for those who wish to keep informed. And I suggest you do, because only exciting things await. 

Ciao for now!

Week 9 Was One to Shine

This week on Paola's life.....

There was a Zoo exhibition! It was the first time in a long time I had gone. I felt like a little girl full of wonder and excitement as I viewed all the displays. Although it was great to be up close to animals, a part of be was heartbroken that they had to be in cages all the time. I still had fun and I made sure to take a few pictures! 

Aside from all the fun in the zoo, I got to visit the facilities of Lockheed Martin, an engineering company that works on public defense. I initially thought I would be bored because I could relate to their interests but I became quite the opposite when they spoke about matters in aerospace technology. It was definitely one of the coolest opportunities QEM has provided. The rest of most of my week I was working on my final presentation and on my report. I could say that I feel well prepared for my presentation, and that I'm proud of the report I wrote. Now that I got all my worries from my assignments out of the way, I can just sit back and enjoy what's left of D.C. before I leave. See you guys next week for the season finale of my summer internship!

Paola over & out

Around DC in 70 days - Week 8

Who said you had to travel the entire world to experience different cultures and engage in an immersive adventure? When you can have all that and more by just visiting Washington D.C.

Heres my story. Museums, monuments, Chinatown, Georgetown University, festivals, food trucks, this is a glimpse into my summer. With the Natural History Museum and the public health graduate fair being the highlights of my time this week. I have been able to learn so much about what goes on around me, but also what goes on in regards to myself and my future. Between the fair I have mentioned, and the AAAS Inventor Ambassadors session I attended, I have been motivated to consider other options that are available to me within my degree of studies. I was sure all my life of what I wanted to do, but I'm glad that I was exposed to so many other possibilities through this internship. I'm telling you, its been quite the ride.

This summer will be one to remember, that's for sure. There's but only two more weeks to make the most out of what's left of my internship. I've been working hard this past week to finish up all my job assignments to focus on the fun activities left to discover in the remainder of my time. I've hit a few bumps in the road with my assignments, but if the invention ambassadors taught me one thing, is too look at failure, not for what it is, but as an opportunity to do better and excel. I'll be applying this advice next week as I prepare for my upcoming presentation and conclude my time here. 

Wish me luck!

< Paola signing out >

Week 7 and still going strong!

You wouldn't believe the week I have had

But here it goes,

Prada, Wall street, ABC television, the Statue of Liberty, subways, Spiderman. These are a few of many things that remind me of New York City. As I grew up, I always heard Brooklyn this, Manhattan that. Names of places and things that were widely reported to the Nation yet have only been realistically familiar to some people. I always thought New York was a place for celebrities and talented people, never for someone like me. My mindset soon changed once I finally visited the Big Apple itself. People of all kinds where there, and here I thought "Miami is the most diverse". Over packed yet I could see why everyone would want to be there. It was as magical as they say it is, yet it was as typical as any other city. With its dirty streets, struggling laborers, and continual urbanization. I was amazed at how tall all the buildings were; jaw-dropping skyscrapers everywhere. However, what struck me the most was how exciting it really was to visit the iconic places that had been advertised to me my whole life. Such as Central Park, Chinatown, Time Square, Broadway, and much more. Since I was only there one day, I didn't get to do all the things I wanted, nonetheless, it was still a great experience to share with my intern family.

You might be wondering "wait....did she say just one day? What did she do the rest of the week then?". Patience, there's more to tell. During my work week, I was able to attend many fun things, as well as professional development events. The highlights were definitely the resume writing workshop, a DC Outdoor Film, a Leadership Toastmasters meeting, a staff lunch, and a National Geographic Digital Storytelling event. Out of all of those, you might be more curious about what Toastmasters means or how was the storytelling like from such a prestigious society. To put it simply, they both involved a group of empowered people sharing their experiences and developing their leadership skills. I hope to one day become a great leader that has the power to move others and make a strong impact in the world. Fulfilling this internship and making the most out of my experience is the first step towards that. Let the countdown begin!

Only 21 days left


Life in the Fast Lane (Week 6)

It's true what they say, time flies when you're having fun.

I'm halfway through my internship now and it hasn't even felt like it's been that long. It's been refreshing to keep busy by being productive or by going out to have fun. Speaking of which, just last weekend my friends (the interns) and I had a road trip to Philadelphia, making stops at Virginia and Baltimore. During this trip we sang to tunes in the car, went hiking in the Great Falls National Park, visited historical sites like the Independence Hall, had the best Philly cheese steaks, went to the Maryland Aquarium and even visited Johns Hopkins University! What a dream come true it was for all of us. I would say we became much closer after having this adventure together. Upon returning, that connection didn't dissipate, even then, we continued to visit each other every other night to play cards or share meals. It was a long weekend after all, so we had time to hang out all throughout, even on the fourth of July. On that day, we all went to a gathering at the home of Dr. Toldson, the current President of QEM. There was delicious food provided as well as a beautiful outlook of the city. I was able to meet friendly new faces whom later on, I shared a view of the fireworks with. We definitely ended that day with a bang.

Socializing was the highlight of my time this week, I was able to expand in the work place as well as personally meet people in my department I hadn't previously connected with. Additionally, I was able to better understand the purpose and importance of my work project, thus, bringing more meaning to the tasks I was performing. By deepening my understanding, I could better present my progress towards my work goals during my Midterm Evaluation. I hope that once I complete my Internship, I will have had enough practice to give my final presentation about my personal and professional growth. I don't doubt that my peers and advisors will be impressed with my final results.

Not even you,

'til next time.

Blog Post (I lost count)

California? More like Cali-fun-ia cause that's what it mostly was. It was four days of networking with important individuals, learning about research in infectious diseases, and best of all, venturing the beautiful coast of Santa Barbara. You might think, "learning about diseases, where's the fun in that?". Well, for a curious developing scientist like myself, that's the most exciting thing I could imagine. It was so fascinating to indulge myself in all this information. Especially knowing how the contributions made by these scientists impacts the lives of many, including plants and animals. It was an honor to meet these researchers and receiving professional advice from them. But it wasn't always a serious conversation, many of them were laid back, particularly when we had fun events going on like hiking, going to the beach and attending a banquet. The conference was very inspiring for me and the campus where it was located was indeed beautiful.  I left California with good memories and a nice tan. Next stop, Philadelphia!

-Paola signing out

Week 4 Blog Post

Despite it only being 4 weeks passed, I already feel as if though this is a second home. I have built strong relationships with my peers, I'm an expert at finding my way around, and I feel relief when I get "home" after a long day at work. I have developed a comfortable routine, yet every day never ceases to surprise me, especially during this week. I dedicated myself to meeting more people at NSF, as well as being more involved in the community. The interns and I were able to attend a 5K music festival themed run where we ran and danced to victory at the fact that we were supporting a great cause- cancer resistance. It was a wonderful chance to have fun while encouraging a selfless deed. On that topic, I constantly volunteered to help others at work this week which enabled me to strengthen existing relationships and even develop new ones. I never knew how many amazing people surrounded me until I really got to know them. I further bonded with the other interns when we went on a tour at Capitol Hill. There was so much more rich history inside that building than I ever thought there was and I didn't expect I would get the chance to find out for myself. I'm glad I was able to get out of my comfort zone (aka leave my cozy cubicle) and try out new things. Now what awaits is my trip to Santa Barbara, California where I will attend an environmental biology conference with my mentor. Stay tuned to hear how that goes!

Til next time,

Paola Zegri  

Week 3: Blog Post

“Last weekend was one to remember. I had never seen so much life, so much color, and so much pride compacted in two days full of events. On Friday, every club in town hosted drag queen shows and pre-parties, all leading up to the LGBTQ+ Pride Parade the following day. It was my first time ever attending one and I’m glad it got to be at one of the most popular ones held in the U.S. I even got the opportunity to meet a YouTube celebrity that I had admired for so long. It was rather eventful, and exciting to have had this experience during my internship. I would say that the entire week really, was dedicated to socializing and expanding my network. During the week, I was provided numerous opportunities to network by both NSF and QEM. I obtained helpful tips at a networking workshop held at NSF, which aided me to become much closer with my co-workers and my mentors. At QEM, we had our first professional development meeting which served to reflect upon myself professionally, as well, as having quality time with the other interns and our coordinator. We shared more time together afterwards when we went to a networking event. At first it was scary to know that I was expected to socialize with a bunch of strangers in a small room, but my intern friends helped me gain the confidence I needed to introduce myself to others (thanks, Jasmin). In the end, I gained so many connections this week, plus, I strengthened my current holding relationships. Who knows, maybe in the future I’ll run into a job offer, or I’ll accumulate friends for life. Only time will tell, until next time.”




Week 2: Blog Post

Sunday night as I laid in bed, all I could think was "How will my first day at the National Science Foundation be like? Will I fit in? What is to be expected of me?". Despite my head being filled with anxious thoughts, I was also eager and excited to discover everything about the internship. When the day for orientation finally came, I was immediately relaxed as soon as I met the faculty and the rest of the interns. Everybody I met that day was very welcoming and kind. I was pleased to meet my mentor and find out what my assignments would be in the future. My fear for what I expected to encounter quickly dissipated once the orientation came to an end. My day only improved from there, my roommates and I had made a delicious cooked meal which brought me comfort at the fact that I was far from home. That corresponding night, the rest of the QEM interns, our advisor, and I had gone to an open mic event. It was a fun activity I have always intended to do, but never had the time for. With that being said, my first day of the week concluded delightfully. The remainder of the week I found myself following a 9AM-5PM work schedule where I would do multiple tasks on the computer, attend staff meetings, and have lunch with my co-workers. As a young adult, I have never felt as highly respected as my older peers but at the National Science Foundation, I am treated as an equal. Furthermore, having my own office makes it all the more official and honorary to be recognized as a professional. Contrary to how I was at the beginning, now I feel prepared for what's to come the rest of the summer.   - Paola

Week 1: Blog Post

My first week post:

"I came to Washington D.C. expecting great things. Little did I know that my first week experiences would surpass my expectations. My first official day here I was greeted politely by the front desk clerk at the residency in which I was staying. I could already tell there were only more friendly faces to come. As I came through my dorm, I encountered my roommates, whom I had no trouble getting along with. The next few days were full of wonder and excitement. My mornings involved coming into the QEM (Quality Education for Minorities) building to network with professional speakers, learn about a variety of relatable topics, and most of all, discover essential information that could benefit me in my career. My time with the other interns and with our advisor, Kendrick Pullen, became a fulfilling experience. In the evenings, I found myself wandering about D.C. and participating in all sorts of fun activities such as eating in the best restaurants, learning how to take the metro, visiting museums and historical sites, and enjoying the nightlife in the popular parts of the city. If this is my first week here, I can't imagine what's in store the next 9 weeks. I look forward to working further with QEM and starting my job with the National Science Foundation."

((The photo that is attached was the first picture the female interns and I took together before meeting the others))


Paola Zegri