A Summer of Learning About Myself and My Future Impact on Our Healthcare System

By Valeria Donoso ’22

As I grew up around a family of immigrants, I saw constant struggle and strength but also perseverance. It is very important to me that the work I commit to is surrounded around improving the lives of those like my families. Throughout the year, I volunteer at the Ada Jenkin’s Free Clinic as a Spanish translator. While volunteering, I see my family’s struggle and resilience in the marginalized groups we serve. After my exposure to inequitable healthcare, I have become determined to serve as a physician that will be an ally to those who have gone through, or are going through, the same struggles my family once did. 

Continuing these goals, this summer I was an unpaid intern for the Tight-Lipped Podcast, a storytelling podcast, and movement-building project about chronic gynecological conditions. I spent the summer examining how systemic sexism, the lack of research funding, and social pressures barre the diagnosis of these conditions. I assisted with the podcast by conducting background research about historical healthcare policies and transcribed interviews. I developed marketing strategies to build our audience, specifically the Latinx community by translating the website and helped develop a resource list in Spanish. I also worked on their social media platform and outreach.  

While interning at Tight-Lipped, I have learned a lot about the history of medical discrimination within race and gender and its presence in today’s healthcare system. As the uprising of Black Lives Matter protests and anti-racist learnings began in the summer, I saw it as our responsibility, as an all-white-passing team, to make efforts to educate and provide resources for our audience about the history of racism in gynecology and its presence in healthcare today by uplifting the Black voices and creatives that have been doing this work. I curated Instagram posts dedicated to the dark history of gynecologists using black female slaves to pioneer procedures without consent and while not using any anesthesia based on articles and books about this. I also worked with my team to highlight how this history translates into America’s large Black maternal mortality rate and the reluctance from medical professionals to believe Black female patient’s pain.  

Although I dedicated lots of time to educating our audience, I also dedicated a lot of time to learning and unlearning things around the healthcare system and race. I attended lectures, listened to podcasts, and read articles to learn more about how I can help better the current health care systems in place. I specifically listened to the NATAL podcast and read Inaugural Edition of The Sankofa Journal from Davidson College.  

I have also learned about knowledge biases in clinical research. As I investigated the history of research for chronic conditions in gynecology, I noticed many flaws in the research funding system that barres the dedication for funding for this type of research. Funding for gynecology and obstetrics must be shared with the pediatrics department even if they do not have any overlap. I also noticed that there was a lack of research to solve chronic pain conditions in females and I believe this is due to societies history of ignoring women’s suffering and pain. After learning how little is being done to solve these conditions, I have begun to aspire to contribute to this type of research in the future. 

I not only learned a lot more about medical and knowledge biases, but I also learned a lot about my future aspirations. As I mentioned previously, this learning opportunity was unpaid, and I had to search for outside funding to be able to commit to this internship. I was able to commit to this internship with the support of funding from the Emerging Professionals Grant that I accessed through the Center for Career Development. With this grant funding, I was able to fund necessities that piled up and were out of reach without proper funding. If it weren’t for this grant I would have been forced to have picked-up unsafe jobs in my community that would risk the health of myself and my family or drop this amazing internship completely to work full-time in a job that would not enrich my learning or provide safe social distancing during this pandemic. By being able to commit to this internship with grant funding, I learned so much about myself and how I can further impact our healthcare system.  

Passion is Contagious.

By Chris Chao ’22

Passion is contagious. 

A collection of photographs, sporadic pieces of information, and a map with 123 points for each tree—that’s how I started as a Sustainability Scholar. My partner organization was TreesCharlotte, an environmental-preservation organization that is dedicated to preserving Charlotte’s tree canopy. My main project revolved around the Mecklenburg County Treasure Tree program. The Treasure Tree program started in the late ‘80s to identify the largest and most significant examples of each tree species in the county. The original program ended in 2000. With the massive development in the Charlotte area, a new committee was formed in 2017 with the goal of restarting the program.

My job was to track down trees, photograph them, interview the property owners to get the trees’ stories and then put all that information on a new website. About 55% of them are still standing today. Once I organized our information, my supervisor suggested I visit some sites to get photographs and interview the homeowners.

That’s when everything changed.

After I interviewed the first property owners about their trees, I realized I was working on something really special. Their stories inspired me. I became personally invested in telling the stories of these trees—trees which homeowners played on when they were children and trees that signified people’s parents, some of whom had passed. Through the passion in people’s recollection, I realized the importance of preserving these stories. 

My time with TreesCharlotte is almost over and soon the Treasure Tree website will be live. Moving forward, I’ll become a volunteer member of the Mecklenburg County Treasure Trees board. I hope to start a similar program in the Town of Davidson for my environmental studies capstone. I’ve experienced how contagious passion can be and I’d love to share that with the Davidson community.

Thank you to TreesCharlotte’s Jen Rothacker and Treasure Tree Committee member Brett Dupree for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this project. I only played a small part in the updated Treasure Tree program, but I loved it. 

My Homework Was a Ticket Into The Professional World And a Paid Job

By Erin Papakostas ’23

My homework was a ticket into the professional world and a paid job. That’s right: because of a class assignment, I was presented with an opportunity to do freelance writing, and I now write for several magazine publications around the Lake Norman area.

Let me explain how I went from trying to get an A on an assignment to getting a job in freelance. This past semester I took Dr. Churchill’s class, Literary Analysis, which is the gateway course for English majors. Our final assignment was to write a profile of a Davidson alum who graduated with an English degree, and learn how their degree and Davidson experience prepared them for their career. To search for alumni with interesting careers, I used the Davidson Career Advisor Network (DCAN), a database of alumni who have volunteered as career resources for Davidson students.

Excited to learn about the professional world, I contacted alums with careers that piqued my curiosity. When I spoke with Delia McMullen ‘88, she was eager to talk about her career as content coordinator for neighborhood publications around Charlotte: Myers Park Life, SouthPark Life and Dilworth Life. I am especially interested in freelance writing, so McMullen’s experience caught my attention. After exhausting my questions, McMullen asked me if I would be interested in writing for her publications. As an aspiring writer (whose summer volunteer plans in Mexico had fallen through), I jumped at the chance to learn the ropes of professional magazine etiquette and see my writing published.

I have no ties to the Charlotte area, so we decided it would make more sense if I wrote for publications close to Davidson. McMullen put me in touch with a contact of hers, Tara Marshall, who works as content coordinator for three Lake Norman regional magazines: The Peninsula Navigator, The Talking Point, and River Talk. I sent Marshall my W9 paperwork and began taking assignments. My work consists of interviewing residents to write fun articles that highlight new families and accomplished kids in the communities.

My class assignment gave me the chance to network without even realizing it and receive professional experience while doing what I love most: writing.

Myths of Job Searching

By Assistant Director for The Center for Career Development, Kelli Robinson

Graduating seniors are asking many questions about job search strategies. The CCD staff is here to support you. The biggest message we want to offer is: Relax and congratulate yourself. You’ve worked too hard not to do either. When doubt starts creeping about the future, know this: Pandemic or not, job search realities still exist, as do myths that cloud them. Let’s address some common fables that are surfacing. 

Myth #1: I need to know the exact job I am pursuing after graduation.

Reality: You don’t need to have it all figured out. Nothing is forever, including a chosen career path.

This myth paralyzes people into inaction. Remember, you are searching for your first full-time job after college. What it will be is a stepping stone in the career path you’re creating as you go.

Think about how much you’ve changed in the past 10 years, a pattern that will continue. Your skills and self-awareness will increase. You will assume new roles, personally and professionally. Your interests will change. Furthermore, the world of work will continue evolving with jobs yet to be invented. Podcast producer, app developer, sustainability manager are all jobs that didn’t exist 10 years ago.

The question shouldn’t be “how could you change careers” but rather “how could you not?”

Myth #2: To consider a job it must meet all of my criteria.

Reality: It’s unlikely one job checks off all the boxes.

Establishing a “pros vs. cons list” helps evaluate job options. Understand that there will be cons. A job may be in your ideal location, but not in the industry on which you are focused. Another role may be a great professional fit but found in a city that doesn’t top your list. Something has to give. When searching for opportunities, less filters yield more options.   

Myth #3: Searching career sites is the best job search strategy.

Reality: Connecting with people is more productive in the long run.

Scrolling job boards gives a false sense of accomplishment. Sure, you are viewing job openings. But how many other job seekers are seeing those same positions? And how many opportunities aren’t you learning about because they’re never posted?

Regardless of a poor or stable job market, it’s a fact: Job boards can be helpful, but successful applicants spend more time pursuing career conversations than perusing job boards. Find a balance that favors networking.

#4: If I don’t know my career path, graduate school can help me figure it out.

Reality: Graduate school is purposeful, not exploratory.

Applying to graduate school should be done with intention, not by default. Know why you are pursuing the degree. Your graduate school professors hit the ground running the first day of class and you’re expected to keep pace. Knowing how the program fits your professional development is critical.

Don’t ponder job search questions and fears in a vacuum. Schedule an appointment with a career advisor to start the conversation. Seniors – we work with alumni too, so know that the CCD is available to chat after your status changes from student to graduate!

Consider Culture – Why I Chose the Craddock Group by Emily Lynch ’19


When I moved to Washington, D.C. in June 2019 to begin my position as a Management Analyst with The Craddock Group, I did not fully understand government contracting and its role in supporting and managing the operations of so many federal and local government agencies. Over the last nine months working as a government contractor, I have learned that The Craddock Group is essentially a niche management consulting organization that specializes in advising government agencies. I have developed consulting, technical and analytical skills, and work towards mastery of the Microsoft Office applications. I interact regularly with clients, and help the team develop innovative solutions to our clients’ challenges. Working (indirectly) for the government alongside a team of private-sector professionals has already taught me many valuable personal and professional skills, including flexibility, patience, and persistence.


During my senior year at Davidson, I came across The Craddock Group’s Handshake posting for an entry-level “Management Analyst.” I felt inspired by the company’s mission and excited by the goals described on the company’s webpage – I knew I had found a good opportunity. The job description emphasized the firm’s specialties, which include real estate services, capital planning, strategy and management consulting, and federal budgeting and financial management. I liked that these capabilities were broad and would offer me exposure to multiple subject matter areas that aligned well with my interests and academic background.

I was immediately drawn to the firm’s focus on real estate services. With a background in residential real estate, I was eager to relate my personal experience to the real estate consulting services The Craddock Group provides to its government clients. While I was fully aware that residential real estate is an entirely different practice than public sector commercial real estate, this seemed like an opportunity for me to apply what I had learned through a prior summer internship and evolve it in the context of intergovernmental relations and navigating the challenges of federal agencies. As a political science and economics double major, I was excited about the interaction between the private sector and government entities. I was familiar with the vast complexities of the government bureaucracy and could envision the benefit of a private sector perspective in the strategic management and optimization of the government’s real property portfolio.


The Craddock Group is a small firm, comprised of less than 25 team members. The firm employs a talented group of private sector professionals and former members of the military and federal government, who support one another and are constantly learning from each other. The environment of The Craddock Group is a lot like the student body at Davidson – small in number, but rich in experience, skill, and the capacity to succeed in accomplishing any given objective. We operate in a supportive and collaborative community, that is welcoming and encouraging. The nature of the contract-based work splits the team into smaller project teams that support clients on different initiatives, yet there is unity and comradery across the entire team. I learned quickly that this was the type of company that takes pride in its people and whose goal is to teach new hires by immediately immersing them in ongoing projects and giving them direct, hands-on opportunities to contribute.

At The Craddock Group, we learn by doing. I was not, by any means, an expert in the subject matter, nor was it the expectation that I came to the firm with an extensive real estate and capital planning background. Instead, my value lay in the skills that Davidson teaches through its liberal arts coursework that prepares students to communicate effectively, accept challenges to master new skills, and learn quickly. As an analyst, I am tasked with projects that I have no prior experience with and given the freedom to tackle the project and learn the process firsthand. From the beginning, I have been directly involved in supporting ongoing projects by working on-site at the client’s office, participating in frequent meetings with internal team members and clients, and collaborating with my teammates to produce high quality materials and tools that are delivered to our clients. As with any new job, there was a learning curve, but my colleagues have answered all my questions, provided advice and feedback along the way, and helped me fully integrate into the company. Frequent interaction with senior team members has been an unparalleled tool that I will continue to benefit and learn from.

Day-to-Day Work

As analysts, we process information relating to the client or project at hand by organizing, synthesizing, and analyzing data, and then working to develop insights, strategies, and recommendations to streamline the client’s mission and operations. Tasks often involve developing PowerPoint presentations on thoroughly researched materials and information, and creating data tools that store information and manage the client’s records, allowing us to analyze trends, identify issues, and present graphics and reports that demonstrate the portfolio of assets and capital projects.

We operate in a project-based environment with a specific team assigned to carry out the tasks associated with a given contract. The diverse range of projects require a wide range of skills to produce deliverables that satisfy the unique requirements of a particular contract. The variety of work constantly exposes me to new challenges that we seek to resolve as a team. It also makes each day and each week very different from the next. The Craddock Group has provided me with the opportunity to develop invaluable technical and interpersonal skills in the workforce from mentors whose expertise I admire, while also learning in an environment that encourages innovation and creativity.

Advice to Current Davidson Students

As a recent college graduate, my advice in navigating the job search is to carefully consider a prospective firm’s culture to determine whether or not the type of work and work environment will be suitable for you. As I have experienced in my time as an analyst at The Craddock Group, you do not need to be an expert in the industry on day one, but instead, you need to be willing to learn, engage with new challenges, create connections, and be flexible in adapting to the project flow.

Soccer ‘Cats in Philly

Our life as Davidson student-athletes revolves around our sport and academics. Our education is never compromised, even when we travel. This season, Davidson women’s soccer has endured a strenuous travel schedule in the A10. Although missing classes is not ideal, the time we have towards our academics is very valuable. The Philadelphia career event, sponsored by the career center, was an impactful experience understanding the importance of navigating the Davidson alumni network and focusing on our future after Davidson. 

An aspect about Davidson that was not stressed enough during my first three years was the strong alumni network the institution has. Our trip to Philadelphia was a great example of it. Initially, the networking event was a bit nerve racking because I thought it was difficult to relate to Davidson alum who were at different points in their lives compared to me. Once I had my first conversation with an alumni, we ended up having more in common than I thought! My teammates and I enjoyed talking about the changing social scene at Davidson, our majors, our future career paths, and our love for the college. 

As the evening went on, the team got to hear from a handful of alumni on a networking panel. Ryan Northington (‘96), former Davidson men’s soccer player, emphasized the impact our position as student-athletes has on our resumes. He mentioned that when he reviews two applicants with similar credentials but one is a student-athlete, he chooses the student-athlete every time. Hearing this made me feel much better about entering the workforce, knowing the advantage I have over other applicants. Being a student-athlete brings important skills that can be applied when looking for employment. Team player, time management, communication skills are just a few examples that the panel listed that were key skills to emphasize. I learned so much from these Davidson grads, especially being persistent in making Davidson connections. 

The Philadelphia career event also included professional school panels for medical, law, and business school. I attended the Villanova law school panel which featured Villanova law students who were former student-athletes in undergrad. The admissions director went through the process for applying to Villanova’s law program, then afterwards we heard from the students about their experience when they applied to law school. Listening to their unique stories, I found a common theme about transitioning from being a student-athlete to a regular student. My undergrad application process revolved around soccer and where I wanted to play. Now, soccer will not be an important factor when picking which law schools I apply to. The law students advised me and other players to figure out what are the main things we are looking for in a law school. Maybe it’s financial aid, location, being close to family, or prestige. In reality, soccer won’t be one of them, but soccer can help us when we apply. Similar to Northington’s point, the Villanova law students encouraged us to emphasize the skills we developed while being student-athletes.

Overall, I believe this career event was helpful for every player to reflect on what directions to take during their Davidson career. Of course, my path looks starkly different from my freshmen counterparts, but we all learned that student-athletes are hireable! To achieve our desired career goals, we must be proactive in utilizing our alumni network, and ultimately being our own advocates when competing for internships or full-time jobs. 

Michele Manceaux ’20, Psychology & Political Science Double Major (Pictured Right)

Attention Rising Sophomores Who Need Research Experience But Can’t Get Any because They Have None

Read about CCD Student Associate Haleena Phillips, and her experience with RISE
(Research in Science Experience) Program

Are you a rising sophomore who is interested in the sciences? Do you struggle finding research opportunities because they want you to have prior experience but nobody gives you a chance because you have none? Are you tired of my questions? If you answered yes to any of these options, continue reading this post!

            As ironic as it sounds, I’ve been through that exact moment when I applied for a research position at a different college but got rejected because I didn’t have any previous exposure to a lab. As upset as I was, I had to laugh as I realized  that I cannot obtain an experience when internships require prior involvement with a lab. Somebody had to give me a chance and that is exactly when I found out about Davidson’s RISE (Research in Science Experience) Program. A 4- week immersive program that explores biological research methods, from “literature searching and review, to hypothesis formulation and testing, to data analysis and presentation.” The program is mostly intended for underrepresented students but anyone can apply. In addition to the application, a letter of recommendation and a resume was required. The Center for Career Development  assisted me in crafting the perfect resume in order to be accepted into the program. I received a $2,500 stipend and additional grant money to stay on campus. I had such an amazing time over the 4 weeks executing a project in the lab. Also, staying at Davidson without the workload of a semester with your friends is the BEST. I was able to make my own schedule as I became established in the lab and was able to have that research experience under my belt as a freshman. When I returned back to campus in the fall as a sophomore, I presented at my first research symposium and I felt like I finally had  my life together in this hectic Davidson climate.

 My First Research Symposium!

For more information on RISE, please contact Mark Barsoum (mabarsoum@davidson.edu)

Looking for an Internship

Read about CCD Student Associate Anna French, and her advice on searching for an internship!

Internships. We hear about them all the time as students, from not only our parents but also our peers. It seems like all our fellow students around us have one or are waiting to hear back regarding their acceptances. If you have not started looking for an internship yet, do not worry. You have plenty of time. The best time to apply for internships as a student who is busy with school and extracurricular activities is winter break. Why? You no longer have schoolwork to bog down your afternoons and most of your extracurricular’s are probably on campus, giving you additional free time. If you return home to your family during winter break you also have the support and knowledge of those you love and trust.

Speaking of family, your families are a prime source of advice. If you are trying to write a cover letter for your internship and can’t find time to swing by the Career Center before you go home try asking your parents, aunts, uncles, and older cousins. Most likely they’ve all written cover letters before, if not for an internship then for a job application. Additionally, your families and family friends act as your first tier of networking. If you are having a hard time finding the type of internship you want on Handshake, try asking those you are close to whether or not they know of anyone who would like to have, or are accepting applications for, interns. Usually someone will say they know of a company who is looking for interns. You can then go and research the position and the company to see whether or not you think you would like to apply there.

As for the application process, you should remember that different companies have different requirements. Some only require your resume. More often than not, though, you will have to provide a cover letter stating who you are, why you want to work there, and why you think that you’re a good fit for the internship position. The key to writing a successful cover letter is doing your research on the company. For example, take a look at the About and Mission pages on the company’s website. These should tell you what sort of environment, work ethic, and goals the company likes to promote and uphold. Tailor your cover letter to reflect these qualities by pulling key descriptor terms from these pages to put into your letter; doing so will show the employer you have vested interest in their work and truly want to work for them. However, do not lie or exaggerate your personality or your experiences. If you are not energetic and the company portrays itself as fast-paced, don’t tell them you are upbeat all the time. Focus on other qualities about the company that you appreciate and be yourself. After all, if you get accepted, your employers will quickly discover any discrepancies between your words and your behaviors, so it is best to avoid them in the first place.

Finally, waiting to hear back can be excruciating and if you get rejected, painful. I just want to remind you: there are many other applicants who are applying for internships, all of them qualified. Yes, you were rejected, but you weren’t the only one who was rejected; others were too. Also, there are many internships out there, and new ones are being posted all the time, so don’t give up hope if you weren’t accepted. Who knows, maybe that internship wasn’t meant for you and a better one will come your way and change your life.

Up Close with Synchrony Financial’s BLP

up close_Synchrony Financial's BLPDavidson grad Dan Hagemann ’15 recently completed his first year in Synchrony Financial’s Business Leadership Program. Synchrony Financial (SYF), completing the separation from GE Capital, created its Business Leadership Program (BLP) to begin developing future leaders of the company. Dan, now a full-time BLP, shares his experiences from the Program and answers some typical questions about SYF with you below:

“What is the Business Leadership Program, and why did you apply to it?” 

The Program is a 2-year program at Synchrony Financial consisting of three 8-month rotations. Each entry class of BLPs contains roughly 50 BLPs. When you enter the Program, you enter under one “track,” and each of your three rotations provides a different experience within that track. Nine different tracks are offered, ranging from HR to IT to Data Analytics. Mine is Credit, in which I’ve done rotations in Deal Underwriting and Credit Risk.

The rotational nature of the Program still to this day remains my biggest personal draw towards the Program. When preparing to graduate Davidson, I was interested in doing consulting, but I realized that the Business Leadership Program provided that same short-term assignment structure that I admired in a lot of consulting firms. Also, it was clear to me that Synchrony was very serious about investing in its Program participants and valued its employees, both large priorities for me.

“How did you get the job, or at least, what made you a good fit for Synchrony’s BLP?” 

As an Economics major at Davidson, I felt very confident about my quantitative and reasoning skills – I’d later realize that they weren’t all that special – which I figured would be important for a position in Credit. However, it became really clear to me throughout the interview process that Synchrony placed quite a bit of weight on leadership abilities and what SYF now calls “Critical Experiences,” and I was able to point out some examples of those abilities and experiences from my time at Davidson, whether related to Wrestling or studying in India and Spain.

“What have been the highlights of the Business Leadership Program so far?” 

We’ve had quite a year packed with several awesome experiences, but I’ll try to boil it down to three main points:

  •  Meeting our CEO Margaret Keane as the very first experience I had at Synchrony (9:00am, Monday morning – not kidding!). I’ve been lucky enough to speak with her a couple of times since then, but meeting our fearless leader will remain one of my favorite events that my class experienced.
  •  Traveling to different SYF sites across the country for three weeks as one of our signature Cross-Functional Experiences. We dedicated the three weeks to learning about Sales & Relationship Management, a function none of us work in currently. It brought my class a lot closer together, and we were able to present our findings directly to the CEO and her direct reports at their Management Committee meeting.
  •  Every year in July, the BLP Symposium provides a week-long opportunity for BLPs to reconnect at our headquarters in Stamford with various functions as an orientation for the new class. The improvements that we saw both in our fellow BLPs and Program growth overall in one year were astounding.

SYF employees participating in the 2016 BLP Symposium.
SYF employees participating in the 2016 BLP Symposium.


“What advice would you give to someone interested in applying to the Business Leadership Program?” 

So, my primary advice here applies to any job, not just the Program. Aside from the given of getting to know fellow alumni at the companies you’d like to work at, I think it’s essential that you ask smart questions and show a good knowledge of a company’s business model or nuances to demonstrate both ability and interest. A few really simple, informal test questions like, “How do we (SYF) make money?” can tell a lot about how interested a candidate is in the business, because the content is fundamental to every action we take as a company. Specific to the Program, carefully consider which track you want to be a part of and know how to demonstrate your leadership experience.

Dan will be on-campus for an information and networking session on September 13th. Students are welcome to reach out to him directly at Daniel.Hagemann@syf.com or connect with him on LinkedIn.

If you’re interested in applying for the SYF Business Leadership Program, visit the Credit posting and Marketing posting in Handshake.  SYF is also recruiting for internship positions.    The application deadline for all positions is October 5 @ 11:59pm.

Wildcats in Washington: At the Intersection of Policy and Diplomacy


Original story written by Maria Antonia Bravo ’18, participant in the Davidson in Washington program.

Last year, I was in the heart of the Colombian jungle, seeking answers as to why the production of a fruit that a whole village depended on had significantly dropped. Fast forward a year, and I am stuck in the D.C. metro – among its multiple repairs and detours – trying to figure out which line and direction I should get on to get to my internship.

What do these two experiences have in common? Well, of course the protagonist (me), Davidson’s support, and the fear factor of the unknown and unfamiliar. Interning at the Meridian International Center while being part of the Davidson in Washington program has fostered a seamless intersection of my interests in political science and Latin American studies. At Meridian, I am working for the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI), a White House Initiative established by President Obama in 2016. YLAI will bring 250 social and business entrepreneurs from Latin America and the Caribbean to the U.S. in October for a four-week fellowship. During this time, the participants will be paired with a fellowship host from a U.S-based company with the goal of gaining valuable professional development skills to advance their own entrepreneurial ventures.

Read more.