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Student Profiles

Christopher, Hayley and Jacob
Christopher Buenrostro, Hayley Harrison, and Jacob Atkins

Pursuing Their Professional Passion

Meaningful internships enhance students' sense of self, whole serving local communities.

For students like Christopher Buenrostro ’23, Hayley Harrison ’23, and Jacob Atkins ’24, three of the recipients of the Barton Family Endowed Internship Program Fund, interning with local community partners through the REAL Program helped them explore how their interests could translate into a career. Aligned with Santa Clara’s mission to promote learning beyond the classroom, the holistic education undergraduates receive here and through internships such as these ensures they will become passionate leaders of tomorrow.

Established in 2015 by Laura Barton, mother of Christopher Barton ’14, the Barton Family Endowed Internship Program Fund fills the financial gap created when students pursue an unpaid internship. Through the Barton family’s generosity, students who participate in faculty-led research and secure unpaid internships related to their studies are able to receive stipends. These transformative opportunities allow students to gain invaluable real-world experience, build their professional networks, and learn more about their future careers. During this fiscal year, the fund supported the College of Arts and Sciences’ REAL Program.

A dynamic program for students across the college’s 27 disciplines, the REAL Program provides opportunities for undergraduates to discover their calling and put their Santa Clara education into practice. Katy Korsmeyer, biology professor and director of special projects for the college, states the REAL Program’s internships go beyond creating photocopies, answering phones, or fetching coffee. “We help students find meaningful roles in their chosen field that link academics to a career.”

In this way, the REAL Program allows students to discern what really speaks to them through a trial run. Many individuals who claim to have a career in mind discover quickly that it is not what they had anticipated. “Find your calling by exploring the intersection of your majors, minors, and interests,” encourages Korsmeyer. “We empower students to follow their passions, whatever they are, beyond what’s initially set in their head.”

In addition to gaining hands-on professional experience and developing new skills, students learn to contribute as a valued member of a team. “Understanding expectations of themselves and those others have of them is huge,” remarks Korsmeyer.

During his internship, psychology major Christopher Buenrostro planned a large-scale, longitudinal study of the effectiveness of the Examen, a 500-year- old reflective Jesuit prayer. Under the guidance of Thomas Plante, the Augustin Cardinal Bea, S.J., University Professor, their proposed research will take place in a nonreligious addiction treatment facility. Buenrostro hopes the centering nature of the prayer might hold promise for treating individuals at inpatient and outpatient settings. By carrying out this study, Buenrostro and Plante will progress the adoption of the wealth of Jesuit literature in a clinical setting for modern-day addiction treatment.

Working with one of Santa Clara County’s largest nonprofit providers of behavioral health services, Hayley Harrison, a psychology major and cross-country student-athlete, helped investigate the influence of screen-mediated shared reading, a reader-facilitated process that promotes children’s learning and engagement. This research addresses how children’s learning fits in a world where technology is rapidly advancing and becoming ever more prominent. Upon completion of the study, Harrison will present her findings to the developmental psychology research field and beyond.

As a socially conscious political science major, Jacob Atkins was placed with Santa Clara County’s Division of Equity and Social Justice. While there, he evaluated its social justice programs and helped with division-wide strategic planning. Through an equity-centric lens, he focused on how organizational structures of office hierarchies impact the workplace culture. Atkins’ hope is to highlight areas of improvement for the division that align with the county’s mission to address equity and social issues within the community.

Since its inception, the REAL Program has grown to support over 500 undergraduates. “We would love more students to have access to this experience,” Korsmeyer notes as she details her vision for the future. The ultimate goal of the REAL Program, aided through funding from donors like the Barton family, is for every undergraduate to have the opportunity to meaningfully bridge the concepts and theories they have learned in professional settings.

Recently, the College of Arts and Science hired a full-time internship director dedicated to facilitating internships and careers as part of the core in academics. With this new position, the program looks to bolster its offerings for generations of future Broncos. “When a Bronco gets in the door, we’d like to see the door open wider for more Broncos to gain this type of experiential learning,” says Korsmeyer.

With assistance from the Barton Family Endowed Internship Program Fund, the REAL Program gives eager Santa Clara students the chance to put their vision, courage, and education into practice and be the change they wish to see in the world.