Hillary, Hungary and Hockey: What Five Smithies Did Over J-Term

Photos courtesy of Hannah Hwang '19, Hannah Sachs '16, Emma Stewart '19, and Emily Jackson '18 | From top left: Hannah Hwang '19 poses with Hillary Clinton, Hannah Sachs '16 shows her support for refugees in Croatia, Emma Stewart '19 poses with Rep. Sean Garballey and Emily Jackson '18 with alumnae and current Smith hockey players.

Photos courtesy of Hannah Hwang ’19, Hannah Sachs ’16, Emma Stewart ’19, and Emily Jackson ’18 | From top left: Hannah Hwang ’19 poses with Hillary Clinton, Hannah Sachs ’16 shows her support for refugees in Croatia, Emma Stewart ’19 poses with Rep. Sean Garballey and Emily Jackson ’18 with alumnae and current Smith hockey players.

 

Hannah Elbaum ’19
Assistant Copy Editor

J-Term is the perfect time for Smith students to take a fun class or pick up a short internship. Some Smithies travel to far-away places and others stay at home. For these five Smithies, J-term was packed, filled with politics, sports practices and scientific experiments.

Emily Jackson ’18 spent most of her J-Term right here at Smith with the rest of the hockey team to practice and play a few games. Although she is currently the President of the hockey club, Jackson had never even skated before coming to Smith.

“Because the campus is so empty [during J-term,] it is nice to know that your teammates are around to spend time with, [and] it is definitely a time where we get to know each other better,” she said.

A few of the team’s games were postponed due to snow, but they did get to host an alumnae game with Smithies who had previously been on the team. Jackson said, “It was great to see the hockey alums who came back to get on the ice.”

Emma Stewart ’19 didn’t go far from Smith; she interned at the Massachusetts State House with Rep. Sean Garballey. Stewart is already involved in policy-making at Smith as a member of the Student Government Association and is focusing specifically on how to improve health and mental health services.

Over the course of three weeks, Stewart kept busy answering constituent communication and ensuring that “not only everyone got a response but that the Representative was aware of the views of the people he is supposed to represent.”

Now Stewart says she feels as though she has gained valuable information about her intended career, and is excited to return to the position over the summer.

Also politically engaged was Hannah Hwang ’19, who went to Iowa this January to work for Hillary Clinton’s campaign, doing canvassing work and phone banking.

Even in single-digit weather, Hwang says the individual experiences of talking to residents and hearing what she had to say made it worth it.

At one point, Hwang even saw Clinton speak, shook her hand and took a picture with the presidential candidate. Hwang was so excited that she was “not actually sure what [she said to Clinton, but] it was something along the lines of ‘I love you, thank you.’”

Excitement was all around in New Haven for another Smithie. Most people think dirt is just, well, dirty, but for Elena Karlsen-Ayala ’16, it is fascinating. During her month-long internship at the Yale School of Forestry, Karsen-Ayala spent her days sorting tiny insects known as mesofauna and macrofauna under a microscope because they are hardly visible to the naked eye.

Karlsen-Ayala knows many people are not as interested in dirt as she is, but to her, “soil is literally the foundation of most ecosystems, and there is an enormous amount of species diversity and biotic diversity that is driving aboveground ecosystems.”

In addition to working with mesofauna and macrofauna, her work hopes to uncover the diets of micro-organisms by tracking the flow of carbon through the ecosystem. Hopefully, she said, when the data from her carbon analysis comes in, she will be able to  publish the answers.

All the way on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, Hannah Sachs ’16 was working with Youth with a Mission, a non-profit grassroots organization focused on supporting refugees in their journeys. Over the course of the month, Sachs spent time in Hungary, Croatia, Bosnia and the Czech Republic.

Previously, Sachs had worked with this organization in anti-human trafficking work. “[When I was] confronted with stories and images of refugees … I became overwhelmed with a desire to help and find a way to intentionally welcome the refugee community,” she said.

Sachs emphasized the hope and positivity of the refugees she met, especially the children. After meeting so many people, forming connections and seeing the impact her presence had, Sachs reflected, “Everyone can honestly do something […] and even the smallest gesture or most simple work really does matter.”

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