How my connection to PRYDE saved my summer

 Vanessa Chicas, PRYDE Scholar

Vanessa Chicas, PRYDE Scholar

I did not know what my summer plans were until May of 2017, right before finals. This was nerve-wracking as I was worried I would be left without any job or internship for the summer. Luckily my PRYDE faculty mentor, Elaine Wethington, connected me to Jackie Davis-Manigaulte at Cornell University Cooperative Extension in New York City (CUCE-NYC), and after talking with her over Skype, she offered me a position. I was ecstatic! There were so many reasons why I was excited about this opportunity! Firstly, I finally had my summer plans. Second, I was close to home. Third, CUCE-NYC was exactly where I wanted to work that summer.

On the first day, I woke up extra early and was a little too punctual when I entered the office. Jackie was not even in yet! When she arrived, she introduced me to Lucinda Randolph-Benjamin, who I would be interning for in the office. That first day was especially productive for me. In the morning, I was busy inputting survey data into Qualtrics from a program that just finished. After lunch, I helped prep bags for the high school students involved in Choose Health Action Teens, or CHAT, the program that I worked with during my internship.

The CHAT program has high school students, most of them seniors, travel to different elementary schools throughout the city to teach younger children about healthy eating, nutrition, and exercise. The first day I was in the office, I helped Ms. Lucinda prep all the bags full of materials for the high schoolers’ lesson plans. Additionally, we got them acquainted with the materials and how to teach the lessons. All in all the first day was productive, to say the least, and I could not wait to return.

Throughout my work with CUCE-NYC, my days consisted of doing office work in the mornings and helping out with the CHAT program in the afternoons, as well as traveling to some of the schools with the students whenever I had the chance. The CHAT is an after-school program whose format included talking about nutrition, playing a game, and trying out a healthy recipe. The internship gave me a holistic experience of what 4-H is capable of doing. Research and data travels from Cornell and is incorporated into programs and curricula for 4-H to implement, truly integrating research and practice.

The last day of the program, working in the different elementary schools, showed me the true impact of CUCE-NYC on these students. The students were to complete a survey to evaluate the program, and in return they would receive a 4-H water bottle. The students were both excited that the last day was more fun than others, in that the recipe was better and there were many more fun games to play than other days, but sad that the program was over. Many students asked when the program would start up again, exclaiming that they could not wait! This experience made me even prouder to be a PRYDE Scholar, because our work truly does help youth in an engaging way. The youth do not know that they are learning during this process; most of them just enjoy this fun after-school program. Sometimes the students were rowdy because they were extremely excited. If I could go back and work for CUCE NYC, I would!

Vanessa ChicasComment