Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Summer doing this, summer doing that: students plan for post-year growth and relaxation

Elise Brenner

“No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks,” declares the hit Alice Cooper song “School’s Out.” School is indeed soon to be out for the summer, but it’s not always as clear-cut or purely rad as the song makes it seem. Students will bid school, friends, club meetings, sporting events and so much more goodbye for the summer. 

Cooper can be forgiven for not expanding his lyrics to include, “no more Gus’ Snack Bar walking tacos,” but just how are Augustana students making the most of their summer months?

One answer is laying out the next steps in their education. For students on particularly demanding academic tracks or those who prefer an airtight plan, the summer can be a time to pick back up the pencils and the books without the added pressure of day-to-day school life. 

Sophomore Ally Lesher, majoring in political science, will spend her summer interning at Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office. It won’t be her first time working within the legal system, though.

“I started doing internships when I was a senior in high school,” Lesher said. “I worked with a defense attorney to transcribe videos like dashcam footage.”

Lesher also traveled to court and observed how cases play out. For some, observing the inner workings of a courtroom might prompt Cooper’s “School’s Out” lyric: “I’m bored to pieces,” but for Lesher it was an early look into her future career. In fact, that experience cemented her interest in law.

“I always kind of knew I wanted to be a lawyer, but that [first internship] kind of confirmed it for me,” Lesher said.

The very next summer, Lesher took on an internship at The Cosentino Law Firm in Batavia, Illinois, where she interacted directly with potential clients and performed clerical work. With two internships under her belt, Lesher has seen the interpersonal and logistical sides of law. This summer, her internship at Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office will be an opportunity to combine her skills, experience and knowledge while learning even more about public defense.

“With the State’s Attorney’s Office, cases are more assigned, which will be a new experience for me,” Lesher said. “I’ll also be able to go into court and work with more lawyers one-on-one.”

Lesher, who is minoring in communication studies and philosophy, hopes to continue applying skills from her courses to her internships. Lesher said that interacting with legal clients requires tact, and passing law school exams requires a unique way of thinking.

“[Schools] recommend that anyone planning to become a lawyer take philosophy classes, because half the tests are logic questions,” Lesher said.

While only in her second year at Augustana, Lesher has already taken strides towards her goal of attending law school and becoming a lawyer. The summer can be a time for personal growth just as much as the academic year, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a time for balance as well. Finding ways to relax and unwind can be just as important as finding opportunities to advance an education. 

Junior Rebecca Brenner is finding that balance through her pursuit of a communication sciences and disorders (CSD) degree, a deeply personal goal for her.

“I grew up with a lisp, and I was in musical theater for 10 years,” Brenner said. “Luckily enough, someone in a show with me was a speech pathologist and he gave me free therapy.”

Speech-language pathology is a branch of medicine which aims to support patients with speech disorders and communication hurdles, among other goals. Brenner’s experience of being supported by a professional drew her towards CSD. She has now spent the past year as a mentee at the Barbara A. Roseman Center on-campus, shadowing graduate students and gaining hands-on experience in speech-language pathology.

“The grad students have clients and they mentor us so we can prepare to take our own clients senior year,” Brenner said.

Brenner will soon begin working directly with clients, and she said her focus for the summer will be ensuring that the transition from junior to senior year goes smoothly. For Brenner, spending time with family will be both relaxing and informative in her future working with young clients.

“Both of my cousins just had kids, so I’m planning on babysitting a lot,” Brenner said. “I love my niece and nephew, and I’m a CSD major, so any exposure [to children] would be great.”

She also plans to stay in contact with her advisor and hopes to train under a licensed speech-language pathologist from her hometown with whom she’s worked before.

Remaining connected to Augustana over the summer can keep students on track, but some find excitement in traveling. Long-distance trips can be valuable resources for students interested in opportunities not available locally. 

Junior Shay Macafee will spend two weeks this summer nearly 9,000 miles away from Rock Island.

“It’s a program where we get to shadow wildlife veterinarians on a nature preserve in South Africa,” Macafee said.

Called “Live4Now,” the program gives a small group of students the chance to expand their knowledge of veterinary medicine through hands-on interaction with wildlife and local animals. Combining lectures from licensed wildlife veterinarians with in-the-field experiences, Live4Now will take Macafee on the ground and to the skies.

“I get to fly in a helicopter, tagging and tracking [wildlife],” Macafee said. “If there are any changes in herds, you go down and check how they’re doing.”

Though the program is separate from Augustana, Macafee has been able to utilize Augie Choice to help cover the cost of international flights. As a biology major and pre-veterinary student, Macafee will gain useful experience in a field she said is competitive.

Beyond her time in South Africa, Macafee will continue working with animals this summer at Rock Island Animal Hospital, her current employer. Why take such a long trip when she works so close to Augustana? She said it’s all about variety.

“A lot of the prerequisites for vet school have to do with gaining a large breadth of experience—small animals, big animals, wildlife, exotic animals and zoo work,” Macafee said.

In addition to supporting her future career, the trip provides opportunities to learn about conservation and preservation, core interests of Macafee’s.

Summer internships, travel and academic planning can all make a difference as students transition from one academic year to the next. At the same time, summer can embody the feeling of carefree liberty embodied in Cooper’s lyrics. How are students unwinding and taking time for themselves?

Lesher will spend valuable time with her loved ones, both human and otherwise.

“I love to hang out with my family and my dog,” Lesher said. “I have a golden retriever named Lily, and she’s like my baby.”

Brenner hopes to find time to practice her hobbies and visit long-time friends.

“I like to crochet, so I’m trying to do more projects, especially [making things] for my niece and nephew,” Brenner said. “I definitely want to see my friends that I’ve had since preschool, too.”

In the midst of finals, it can be easy to forget how to relax. Exams and presentations can feel like the only things that matter. However, summer can be a time to pursue academics, relaxation, hobbies and more. 

Augustana students can take their own unique approaches to the season once school is, in the words of Cooper, “out for summer; out ‘til fall.”

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