NORTON, Mass. - Eighteen Wheaton College student-athletes have earned fellowships this summer through the Filene Center for Academic Advising and Career Services that will enrich their academic experiences.
The Davis International and Porter Cleveland fellowships are just a few examples of the Wheaton Edge – a promise that every single student will receive financial support for an internship, research position or other experiential learning opportunity by the time they graduate.
Throughout the summer, the athletics department will feature the student-athletes taking part in these fellowships, including a guard from the women's basketball team Rachael Zipper '19.
A biology major from Salem, Mass., Zipper interned at Supported Living Inc.
Wheaton Athletics: Tell me a little bit about your fellowship.
Rachael Zipper: I am working for an organization called Supported Living Inc. They provide housing and day services for people who have either traumatic brain injuries or acquired brain injuries. This summer I am working in the fitness program there, so I create workouts and rehab protocols for individuals who have suffered a brain injury. It is a hands on opportunity. I am also working with patients who have MS through the program as well. Lastly, I am also doing music therapy with the residents in which we do a drumming circle and it is taught by a professor from Berkley College.
WA: What interested you in the fellowship?
RZ: I am very interested in studying the brain, this internship directly allows me to do so in which I am interacting with people who have been affected by a brain injury and I am able to gain experience in the field of Neuroscience.
WA: What experiences are you hoping to gain from your fellowship?
RZ: Through this experience, I am directly learning about how brain injuries can affect overall functioning of individuals and how that can impact their quality of life. I also am gaining more knowledge about the types of facilities and programs that people with brain injuries have access to prior to their injuries later on in life.
WA: What are your career aspirations and how will this help you achieve them?
RZ: I plan on becoming a physicians assistant in neurology. This gives me the hands-on opportunity to interact with people who have suffered from Brain injuries. I learn something new and fascinating every day while working with these individuals which relates exactly to my future in neurology and treating patients who have similar injuries.
WA: How will this experience make you a better leader at Wheaton and on your team?
RZ: Working with these individuals has shown me to not take simple things for granted and that motivation and a positive attitude can take people very far in life. Each individual in this community has so many aspects and stories to them and finding out about this person's interests or history is always so fascinating to get to know that these people are not defined by their brain injuries and that there is more to them that meets the eye. The takeaway lessons that I have received through interacting one on one with the residents has helped me see how fortunate I am and that I can make a difference in people's lives even through the smallest of ways. I have learned how important encouragement and making personal connections with an individual in order to accomplish a shared goal.
WA: Finally, why do you think these opportunities are beneficial to Wheaton students?
RZ: These experiences help students become more knowledgeable in their field of interest while also allowing them to see if they will want to do that exact form of work one day. For me it is awesome because I do not have to spend the summer working a job that isn't permanent; I get to work the entire summer doing something that I love and will be doing for the rest of my life.