2011 Outstanding Co-op/Intern of the Year Award Winners

Sarah Horton Name:
Sarah Horton
Caterpillar College of Engineering & Technology
Mechanical Engineering
Panduit Corp.

As a Mechanical Engineering Major, there are several areas of expertise in which I can specialize. Before working at Panduit, I had no idea what I wanted to do for a career. Then I received a co-op position and all the knowledge that comes with it. Now I have a good understanding of what I like to do, along with the professional contacts and experience needed to achieve my goals.

I was able to work on several projects throughout the department and even traveled to other locations to meet more engineers, which broadened my knowledge of the scope of the company. There were only two other co-ops at my facility, so I was able to take on a lot of responsibility.

My most significant project was a qualification paper for a new product. Several engineers had developed a part for a new line of Boeing airplanes. The final step was to write a paper outlining the test method for the part, ensuring that the parts are compliant to industry and company standards. I learned about the new part, quality standards for Boeing and Panduit, and general standards of electrical components. I coordinated with the lab technicians to determine facility testing capabilities and common practices. This project gave me a chance to learn about Panduit at all levels of business and engineering. It also allowed me to utilize my English and CAD (computer-aided drafting) skills. After several drafts, Boeing accepted the paper with compliments on my visual aids throughout the work.

This was a great experience. I cannot wait to go back for the summer and tackle more projects. I also met many wonderful people who helped me gain confidence in my own skills and took the time to develop skills that have proved invaluable.

Stephanie Lunsford Name:
Stephanie Lunsford
Foster College of Business
Management Information Systems
United States Attorney’s Office

I have enjoyed the last four years that I have spent at the United States Attorney’s Office. The experience I gained while being there helped me develop my professional skills, and gave me a wonderful feeling of accomplishment by helping to put criminals in their rightful place.

I am responsible for the discovery in a majority of the fraud cases that our office handles. My MIS major has helped me ease into the new process of putting discovery into an electronic database. During my internship, I was able to successfully organize over 46,000 pages of discovery in one case alone with the new database. This new process has proved to be a valuable time and money saver for the office.

I have truly enjoyed my time with the United States Attorney’s Office. It has opened so many doors to my future in the business world, and I could not be more thankful to everyone I work with. I look forward to finishing my time at Bradley with the United States Attorney’s Office and would like nothing more than to continue my professional career with them after graduation.

Sara Melton Name:
Sara Melton
College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
History – Secondary Education
Wisconsin Badger Camp

I have spent the last two summers interning at Wisconsin Badger Camp, a ten-week summer program for individuals with disabilities. Before Badger Camp, I had never thought of working with individuals with disabilities, but nothing short of divine intervention led me to Wisconsin two years ago. This experience has been a contributor to numerous, dramatic changes in my life ever since. For someone who has never experienced working at Wisconsin Badger Camp, it is difficult to describe exactly what makes it such a special place of employment. On the surface, the job might seem to have little positive rewards. The work was extremely challenging. It involved long days, late nights, heavy lifting, and a lot of sweat and tears, but every lost hour of sleep or mosquito bite was worth it in the end.

My position at Wisconsin Badger Camp was as a main camp counselor. Every week I was assigned between two to four campers and I was responsible for their care, safety, and health for the entire week. From seven o’clock in the morning, when we all woke up, to nine o’clock at night, my campers and I would attend camp activities together, play together, laugh together, and get to know one another as friends. WBC offers its campers arts and crafts, fishing, camping, music, nature, and recreation each day, as well as special activities at night, such as, Badger Olympics and Badger Ball. The main purpose of camp is to provide activities for its campers that they generally are not provided with outside of camp. Our campers have a wide range of disabilities, both cognitive and physical, that often prevent them from participating in the normal recreational activities that the rest of the population takes for granted. Camp is one of the only places where our campers are not judged or restricted in any way.

My experiences at camp provided me with the necessary tools and skills to become a more effective teacher, forcing me to be creative, adaptable, and resilient in my interactions with my campers. There are many times throughout the day in which a camper might not want to get out of bed, to attend an activity, or to go to bed. As a counselor I had to learn about my campers to determine the best course of action in such situations. There were other times in which some of my campers became violent or agitated, and I had to remain calm and collected in order to handle the crisis in a safe and efficient manner for both myself and my camper. I had to learn how to handle these situations creatively, to adapt my schedule to these unexpected delays, and to resume normal activities after they were concluded.

There is not a day that goes by that I do not think about my campers or Wisconsin Badger Camp. I am still in contact with the friends that I made during my two summers working at camp, including my campers and the other staff members. Wisconsin Badger Camp forced me out of my comfort zone and introduced me to a new perspective of life. Wayne Dyer said it best when he said, “It changes the way you look at things and things you look at change”. Wisconsin Badger Camp was not just an internship; it was a life altering experience that I will never forget.

Lauren Niemiera Name:
Lauren Niemiera
Slane College of Communications & Fine Arts
Sports Communication and Spanish
Susan G. Komen Peoria Memorial

Before last summer began, my biggest claim to fame had always been playing on the Bradley University Women’s basketball team. Sure I also had two majors, in Sports Communication and Spanish, but whenever I went on an interview and people asked me to list my experience I would say, “Well I play on the basketball team, so it’s hard for me to gain internship experience in the summer.” I was merely a student-athlete using that title as my excuse to why I did not have any “real world” work experience on my resume.

When I was given the opportunity by Dr. Angela Pratt of the Bradley University Department of Communication to offer my sports knowledge in a non-profit environment for Susan G. Komen for the Cure in Peoria, I was hesitant. I knew very little about the Komen organization and had always dreamed of working with a more publicized organization, like the Chicago Bulls. After talking further with my coach, parents, and Dr. Pratt, I decided to take a chance with this opportunity and see what it had to offer. Today I can say that was one of the best decisions I ever made.

My summer internship with Susan G. Komen changed my life in more ways than one. First, I learned how to interact and contribute in a work place setting. At Susan G. Komen I was not just another intern with a number; I was the only intern and everyone knew my name. Additionally, my co-workers entrusted me with many responsibilities in the three months I spent working in their offices. For example, I designed and implemented a Komen exhibit to be used at the LPGA State Farm Classic. Then, I went on-site at the LPGA State Farm Classic for a week, which gave me the opportunity to meet and network with many executives from the LPGA and to hear people’s stories about their battles with breast cancer.

Hands-on experiences such as talking with people, coming up with my own ideas to contribute to projects, and networking with professionals were the most influential parts of my internship. Within the first two weeks with Susan G. Komen I was inspired by my co-workers dedication to Komen’s mission and I too became “Passionately Pink for the Cure.” After meeting so many breast cancer survivors, as well as individuals who had lost loved ones to breast cancer my heart wrenched at the fact that I needed to do something to help contribute to finding a cure. Then, I though about President Glasser who had battled and beat breast cancer once in my Bradley athletic career already. Despite her diagnosis, President Glasser continued to attend all of the Bradley women’s basketball games and cheer our team on courtside, never giving up. It was her perseverance, as well as the inspirational people I met through my time in the Komen offices, that influenced me to plan my own event to raise funds for Susan G. Komen for the Cure and support their mission.

I worked simultaneously in the Komen offices in Peoria while developing The 1st Annual Swing for the Cure golf outing in my hometown of Orland Park, Illinois. To make this event possible I called on many local businesses for hole sponsorships and collected donation items for the silent auction. Additionally, I connected with Bradley alumni and famous speed-painter, Elliott From, who agreed to make two paintings live at my event to auction off. In total, 125 golfers showed up to my event to help raise an approximate $10,000 donated directly to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. This internship experience taught me the value of having a passion for what you do. Once I became “passionately pink for the cure” I indulged myself fully in the same way that I have always dedicated my time and efforts to basketball.

Erin Oates Name:
Erin Oates
College of Education & Health Sciences
Family and Consumer Science - Dietetics
Bay Valley Foods

During my freshman year at Bradley University as an FCS-Dietetics major, I became aware that there are numerous paths I could take with my anticipated degree. After shadowing a clinical dietitian, I became certain the hospital setting is not for me and began to think of where else I could carry out my passion for nutrition, cooking, and science. This past summer, I was fortunate enough to have the most rewarding internship working alongside a food scientist at Bay Valley Foods’ Research and Development Lab in Pecatonica, Illinois.

Bay Valley Foods is one of the nation’s leading suppliers of various private label foods to major retail, foodservice, bulk and ingredient, and international customers. Since Bay Valley foods holds the leading share of private label retail and foodservice pickle sales in the United States, my site supervisor receives calls and orders daily to revamp a formula. This renovation can include many processes, such as, cost reduction, flavor matching, color matching, sodium reduction, and natural color substitution. Food scientists at Bay Valley Foods R&D lab hold various degrees such as microbiology, nutrition, culinary arts, and food science making for an experienced, comprehensive, and collaborative research team. The scientists, such as the ones I worked alongside, preserve as well as innovate the food supply while assuring flavor, color, texture, nutritional quality, and safety.

As an intern, I assisted in projects from calculations of formulas, mixing brine, and pasteurization of the pickles. I was able to observe major production plants in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and Plymouth, Indiana, and understand how these products are then distributed to grocery stores. In one instance in which my supervisor received a project to lower the sodium content in one of her pickle products, she allowed me to begin the project entirely on my own. This included testing salt replacers, picking out the best one, making and testing the first trial of brine while keeping detailed notes for her to use after my internship was over. In addition, I assisted other lab workers in aseptic food production including shelf stable cheese sauces and pudding products. I was invited to partake in every event as the other employees, such as attending flavor presentations, conducting experiments, contributing to discussion, being a part of taste testing panels, and even setting up my own taste testing panel. In short, I never felt like an intern—I felt like and was treated as an equal employee.

I have established a network of relationships and resources at Bay Valley Foods and have been asked to come back this summer. My site supervisor and her peers explained how I can easily use my future degree in dietetics to become a food scientist in a lab similar to theirs. This internship has given me the experience I need to direct my selection of a concentrated dietetic internship when I apply my senior year. Thus, the combination of nutrition, food service, science, research, and lab skills I have received provide me with the backbone of knowledge I need to focus on my goal as a non-clinical registered dietitian.