George Washington Carver internship promotes diversity

Ryan Anderson

Students from all over the country came to Iowa State during the summer to gain hands-on experience through the George Washington Carver internship program.

“The George Washington Carver internship has a ‘science with practice’ motto,” said Theressa Cooper, assistant professor for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “We bring in interns from all across the US to experience research with faculty members in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.”

This eight-week program for non-ISU undergraduate students is designed to teach students in a hands-on environment.

“We want to expose students to the opportunities we have here at Iowa State,” Cooper said.

According to the diversity and multicultural programs at Iowa State, the purpose of the program is to promote an environment where students gain valuable research experience that assists them in making future education and career decisions.

The program requires the interns to work 40 hours per week, write a research paper, attend all research activities, submit a professional portfolio and maintain a daily journal of activities that are specific to his or her field of choice.

“Since the first day we have been doing projects on our own,” said Ellen Tisdale, an intern from Austin, Texas. “We are almost completely self-sufficient in the lab.”

Academic areas include, but are not limited to: environmental issues, genetics, journalism projects, cancer genes, honeybees, soil work, and other agricultural and life science activities.

“I’m actually out there getting experience, getting training from great professors who are at the top of their field who are very, very humble about what they do,” said Jamilah Page, an intern from Birmingham, Ala.

In order to spread the word of the internship program, ISU representatives travel to college fairs and conferences to inform about this educational program, which has brought a diverse group of students to participate and grow in science.

This year was the largest internship class with 34 students — 23 of them being female.

“Its an opportunity for us to bring diverse populations of people here. Its not a black and white issue; it’s a gender issue,” Cooper said, “The majority of the students here were female.”

Cooper said they were very proud of the female presence they brought this summer.

The internship program inspires students to do what Carver did; research and experiment to learn.

According to his biography, George Washington Carver was a scientist and inventor. He was most known for using the peanut, creating more than 100 peanut products.