Students in a 2016 course explored the social determinants of health in Trenton, N.J.
Fotobuddy Photography
Sophomores to mix interning, learning

About 65 rising sophomores will take part in service internships this summer through a new University program that aims to get underclassmen thinking about how to incorporate service into their academic and co-curricular work and career plans. 

Freshmen selected to participate in the Service Focus program choose from dozens of funded internships through University programs such as the Keller Center’s Tiger Challenge program, in which students will work with the municipality of Princeton to address waste-stream contamination; and the Pace Center’s John C. Bogle ’51 Fellows in Civic Service program, which will see students working as financial-coaching interns for the International Rescue Committee to help refugees. 

As a Service Focus intern, Anna Macknick ’21 will be planning Community Action trips in the Camden, N.J., area for incoming freshmen. 

“I’ve heard from a number of upperclassmen that there’s often a disconnect between summer internships and life at Princeton, and I want to fix that,” Macknick said. “For me, service is essential because it offers a powerful way to connect with different communities. It’s about giving back, but it’s also about learning and respect.”

When students return to campus in the fall, they will be matched with faculty mentors and grouped with other participants to discuss issues related to service, including ethics and community building. They will also take a fall academic course with a service component. Service Focus is open to all students, regardless of financial need.

“We want students to think about how they can bring their interests into the broader world,” said Service Focus director Yi-Ching Ong. “Whether they incorporate something that they learned about into their junior paper or senior thesis, or whether they continue to pursue summer opportunities that allow them to continue exploring what else is out there — it could take different forms.”

A University task force that explored the role of service at Princeton emphasized the sophomore year as “pivotal in both academic and social growth.” It said summer internships could provide “a widely shared experience of learning how to serve that will inevitably spark questions, conversations, and the desire for further learning about why and how to serve better.” 

In 2016, President Eisgruber ’83 lauded the proposal as a good way to connect service and learning, saying it “supplies students with a valuable option for the summer after their first year of studies, a time when some of them might otherwise struggle to find rewarding experiences [and] ... it adds more structure to the sophomore-year curriculum.”