Catherine Michelutti, a junior in Bioengineering and Wharton and fellow in the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) Paideia Program, shared her virtual internship experience with the Orion Organisation, a healthcare NGO based in South Africa that provides for “the educational, training and therapeutic needs of children, youth and adults living with physical, psychosocial challenges, intellectual and neurological disabilities”:
“My internship with the Orion Organization has prompted me to reflect on my identity in terms of where my passions and future career interests lie. My previous work experiences have all been in biomedical research fields, which is something I’m passionate about and want to continue doing throughout my career. However, working with Orion has opened my eyes to the realms of interdisciplinary work that comes with operating a healthcare NGO and the joys that come with it.”
Congratulations to recent Penn Bioengineering graduate Gabriel DeSantis on being awarded a Fulbright grant for the 2021-22 academic year:
“The Fulbright Program is the United States government’s flagship international educational exchange program, awarding grants to fund as long as 12 months of international experience.
‘As an avenue for building cross-cultural understanding, the U.S. Student Fulbright Program is an unparalleled opportunity for American students to represent our country and our University across the world,’ says Jane Morris, executive director of Penn’s Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships, which supports applicants. ‘We are so proud of all our Penn Fulbright students who will be contributing to this important mission through their study, research, and English teaching as Fulbrighters.’
As an undergraduate studying bioengineering, Gabriel DeSantis spent a semester abroad at ETH Zurich in Zurich, Switzerland. Now in the Bioengineering master’s program, DeSantis is also a Penn Abroad Leader, serving on the office’s student advisory board and supporting fellow students interested in global experiences.
Penn Abroad’s Selene Li recently interviewed DeSantis about what drew him to Switzerland and his time there:
How did you discover the Switzerland abroad program?
I think it was probably in my sophomore year when I started seriously thinking about going abroad as something I could do during my time at Penn. I had cousins and other friends who had gone abroad, and just heard great things about it, so it seemed like something worth looking into. So as a bioengineer, I remember I first looked at what programs even offer bioengineering credit, and there’s really only a handful of options. I think I really wanted to be in Europe, and the Zurich program was at a super strong school. There was also someone in one of my classes who was a year older than me that was planning on going and was going through the whole application process. They were telling me about their whole application process and that really showed me how feasible going abroad was as a bioengineer.
What kinds of classes did you take?
I went in as a Health Sciences and Technology major. I had a decent amount of freedom in terms of the courses I could take because of that. While there, I took four credits that I ended up bringing back, and then two courses that were a little smaller that I didn’t do for credit but were just sort of interesting.
What was a really good or favorite memory from going abroad?
I really like hiking. During the first few weeks, we would do day trips to mountains nearby, but we did one weekend trip where we did two nights in Interlaken and had two full days to do some more intense hikes. Interlaken is just one of the most beautiful places in the world. We were staying at a nice little hostel, so I had an amazing day doing an 18-mile hike, and then coming back and hanging out with a bunch of people who I was also abroad with, as well as other people who were at the hostel. I think it was just being around constant beauty and around such great people and feeling accomplished because of the hike that made it such a great memory.