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UM students enjoy summer through different experiences

While many students spent their summers getting some rest and relaxation, some chose to mix their fun in with preparing for the future.
Come fall, three students talked to The Daily Mississippian about it.
Alise Darnell chose to spend half of the summer in school and the other half out of the country. Chris Presley remained in Oxford all summer doing lab research and school. Erika Watson left Oxford as soon as spring semester was finished and went north to spend the summer with a bunch of girls.
Each student is glad to be back in Oxford for another semester but has memories from the summer that will last forever.
Darnell, a senior speech pathology major, stayed in Oxford for the June summer session, but when July approached, she packed her bags for somewhere far away from this college town: Peru.
Darnell has spent seven summers in the slums near Lima, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.
She was an intern for a mission organization called “Frontline Peru,” which works with churches in the states by connecting them with churches in Peru. During her month there, Darnell traveled to Lima, Cuzco and the jungle.
Her days were filled with construction work and Bible school with native children. Her exhaustion was indescribable, but she pushed through because she can see the progress of the places and the people every year she returns.
“When we first went there in 2004, there was no running water or electricity,” Darnell said. “It’s just cool to see that now there is a hope for the slum outside of Lima.”
Darnell is also very thankful for the friends she’s made over the years.
She can now have meaningful conversations with the native girls she has practically watched grow up.
Presley, a senior biology major, didn’t have too many conversations at all during his summer break.
The Ole Miss drum major had a great experience a little closer to home.
He was participating in a eight-week program called Summer Research Institute for Undergraduates.
He was paired with faculty member John Williamson, with whom he did a research project where they determined which fungi could be used for anti-bacterial drugs.
Staying in a lab with no outside communication for large amounts of time does not sound like an ideal summer plan, but the program prepares students for graduate school and gives them an idea of what they can do as a science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) student.
“It’s pretty much like we are graduate students, but we’re undergrads trying to get a feel of graduate school here at the university,” Presley said.
Along with the program, Presley took a research methods class, so needless to say, he was doing school work all summer.
As the program came to an end, Presley and six other classmates went to Destin, Fla., to celebrate the completion.
He is glad it is over, but Presley would advise any STEM undergraduate to consider the opportunity. Not only does it look good on resumes and applications, but the experience is helpful, even if you find that it’s not what you want to do.
Watson is a senior elementary education major and her summer correlated perfectly with her career plans.
She chose to go north for the summer to supervise 50 girls ranging in ages from 12-to-13 years old and 12 counselors.
Watson spent last summer at Camp Rim Rock, which is in Yellow Springs, W.Va. She helped with activities like horseback riding and arts and crafts.
This year brought additional responsibilities, as she had to make sure her girls arrived where they needed to be at the right time and were involved in the activities.
Along with spending her summer interacting with children, Watson also had the opportunity to build relationships with women from around the world. The camp partners with Camp Across America, so she met women from various countries including Sweden, Australia and New Zealand.
“There is such a strong bond because you are working with them all summer,” Watson said.
While camp life was not ideal, it does not seem to bother her.
“I can’t imagine doing anything else for summer,” she said.