Hillary Monahan ’14 had the opportunity to participate in an internship with Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) in Arlington, Mass., this summer. The three-month internship began just two days after she returned home from the spring semester abroad program in Costa Rica. MyRWA was established in 1972 to protect and restore the Mystic River, its tributaries and watershed lands.
“My position was in water quality management, doing field work and in the lab analyzing my data,” explains Monahan, a dual major in environmental studies and Spanish and Hispanic studies. “I took samples from surrounding lakes, ponds and rivers around the Mystic to test for algae counts, specifically cyanobacteria counts. If the levels were too high, I would report them to the state so that actions can be taken to close a potentially harmful water body until it is treated and levels are down to a safer count.”
Another MyRWA project Monahan took part in was monitoring American eel counts as they pass through the Mystic Lake’s dam. Every day, they collected the eels in buckets, counted them and returned them to the Upper Mystic Lake. They then graphed the progress. Monahan also spent time aiding in the Water Chestnut Removal Project which aims to pull up an invasive plant species that clogs the Mystic River watershed and its recreational areas.
“Career Services was a great first-step in the process, as the office helped me revise my resume and introduced me to the Experience website,” says Monahan. Students can use the Experience site to connect to different employers and find various internship and job opportunities.
In reflecting on her summer with MyRWA, Monahan considers it to have been a great experience in which she learned more than she expected in just a few short months. “This internship was a very rewarding experience, and I know the skills I’ve learned will benefit me in the long run for future careers.”
She intends to work with the Salisbury Center for Career Services and Professional Development again to explore future career options and also plans to attend graduate school.
“Ultimately, I would be interested in continuing my research in water quality of local watersheds – something that involves field work, analysis, and a real-life, applicable purpose,” says Monahan.
On campus, the senior is a teaching fellow for the Spanish and Hispanic studies department, an eco-rep, and a workshop facilitator for first-year William Smith women in sexual assault and acquaintance rape awareness workshop. During the 2013-2014 academic year, Monahan is working on an Honors project focusing on the detrimental health and environmental effects of genetically modified organisms.
The photo above was taken at Mystic River Watershed Association. Monahan is second from the right in the front row.