The Esterly Award

When looking for summer internships, both Paloma Medina ’14 and Su Anne Lee ’14 decided to look outside the box—and outside the United States. Paloma jumped at the chance to research butterfly movement patterns and population sizes in Costa Rica while Su Anne accepted an engineering internship in her home country of Singapore.

Before heading to opposite sides of the world, Paloma and Su Anne knew they could use assistance with the extra expense that comes with international travel. Fortunately Career Planning & Resources helped pick up the tab with Virginia Judy Esterly awards for them. Established in 1949, the Esterly awards are granted to students who present worthwhile educational projects for the summer, usually in small stipends up to $1,000. The awards are a popular resource for students, whether they have an unpaid internship, an independent research idea, or are working with a professor on a project.

“I’ve heard a lot about engineering but never really knew what the career was like,” says Su Anne, an engineering major. “This was a great way for me to learn about what I’m getting myself into.”

In Singapore, Su Anne worked in the engineering division of Singapore Airlines, where she worked with senior engineers and documented troubleshooting tips for the Airbus A380 aircrafts. As the only female intern out of six in the department, Su Anne found her Scripps experience to be especially valuable.

“Scripps has continuously challenged me to question, and this general conduct of inquiry and initiative enhanced my experience at Singapore Airlines,” she says. “In most meetings I attended, the gender disparity was clear, but I did not feel in any way inferior to my colleagues.”

Meanwhile, Paloma enjoyed her challenging research at the Firestone Center while while also experiencing the culture of Costa Rica and improving her Spanish first-hand.

“This was a great opportunity for me because I’m not able to study abroad during the semester, but I was still fortunate enough to get a little taste of that life.

“I love the feeling of being out in the field and gathering data that I will then be able to translate into visible results. This experience has strengthened my relationship with my professors as well as made me feel more connected with the science community at Scripps.”

For Su Anne and Paloma, the Esterly Award was a vital part of their summer experience.

“The Esterly Award is such a great way to support summer projects and internships,” says Su Anne. “Not only was I able to be involved with such a great internship, I was also able to spend time with my family and friends in my first summer back home!”

“You have nothing to lose and everything to gain,” says Paloma of applying for an Esterly Award. “It’s a great opportunity to really pursue something you’re passionate about.

“I would like to say thank you to the Esterly Award donors a thousand times over. Having the fortune of being financially secure on my trip was very comforting.”

“For all other students thinking about what to do during their summer,” says Su Anne, “I say challenge yourself, travel, and do something you’ve never done before!”


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