Spending her summer in Honolulu, Jennifer Switzer ’16 interned with the Make-A-Wish Foundation Hawaii, a nonprofit organization that grants the wishes of children with life-threatening conditions by providing them with extraordinary experiences. The Hawaii chapter alone granted 475 wishes to children this year.
For many children from the mainland, those wishes involve visiting Hawaii and Switzer was able to help organize these experiences. For each case she was assigned, Switzer worked through the wish process from start to finish, collaborating with the child’s local chapter and vendors to book activities and build an itinerary based around what each child was most interested in doing while visiting Hawaii.
“My favorite part of the internship was seeing how unique each wish was and trying to go above and beyond to make sure every kid had the time of his or her life,” she says. “The wish families often stopped into our office and getting to meet them was so fun.”
Switzer, a biochemistry major, says the most fulfilling experience was leaving the office and witnessing the wishes she helped to organize.
“Seeing the smiles on the children’s faces and the joy it brought to their families was something that will always stay with me,” she says. “It’s amazing to see the life-long memories that are created for these wish families and how the simplest things mean so much.”
Not only did her internship expose her to the demands of the workforce and the skills needed to thrive in a professional environment, but it also acted as an eye-opening experience.
“The most valuable thing I learned is that tomorrow isn’t guaranteed,” she says. “I’m grateful for today and I am learning to live in the present.”
During her time at the Colleges, Switzer has been a teaching assistant for the Chemistry Department; participated in the Koshare Dance Guild; conducted cancer research in “Organic Chemistry II” and cancer biology courses with Professor of Biology Sigrid Carle and Chemistry Lab Technician David Slade, respectively; played intramural volleyball; has been a William Smith mentor for the William Smith Dean’s Office; and worked in Bristol Fieldhouse.
Switzer credits the rigorous studies of the Colleges with providing her the motivation to succeed at Make-A-Wish Hawaii. “My time at HWS has taught me how to be efficient and work well under stress while still finding time to joke and have fun,” says Switzer.