The Summer research early identification header.

As this year’s semester finally comes to a close, many UPRM students are greeting the long-awaited summer with open arms. While some will find solace in their homes for rest and relaxation, others will be preparing for graduate school or Summer internship programs. One such individual is Jennifer Mojica Santana, a fourth-year undergraduate of the English department. Jennifer is an active member of TeatRUM and Her Campus, with her becoming Editor-in-Chief of the student-run publication in the following academic year. Currently, Jennifer finds herself in Providence, Rhode Island, where she has been accepted by the Summer Research-Early Identification Program (SR-EIP) to work under the tutelage of Dr. Matthew Pratt Guterl, a Professor of Africana Studies and American Studies at Brown University.

The SR-EIP is a fully paid summer internship offered by the Leadership Alliance institution. Undergraduate students are given the opportunity to be trained and mentored in over twenty research institutions in the United States, which allows these students to prepare for PhD or MD-PhD programs. Jennifer disclosed that her motivation to apply for SR-EIP was because she was turned down from another internship during Christmas vacation. Knowing that many deadlines might’ve already been reached, Jennifer scoured the internet for any programs available for Humanities students until eventually coming across the SR-EIP at the Princeton University website. The application process was quite straightforward. The Leadership Alliance provides an online application website which requires prospective applicants to create an account and submit personal information, a statement of purpose, two letters of recommendation, and academic interests. Then, a student can choose to send their application to three programs; however, Jennifer did admit that it was a stressful process since she was pressed for time and wanted everything to be perfect.

Fortunately, that resolute attention to detail paid off! Jennifer was at Denny’s finishing a class presentation with a friend when she received the great news about being accepted to the program in the form of an email. Jennifer recalled that some tears were shed when she read the email. She confessed, “I had lost a bit of hope about getting accepted, so when I got the news I just felt insanely happy and proud of myself; like my hard work was paying off.” Jennifer was absolutely thrilled to being accepted to Brown University, especially since Emma Watson, an idol of hers, studied English Literature there.

Under the tutelage of Dr. Guterl, Jennifer will be focusing on her main research interest: Nuyorican literature. Through their research, Jennifer hopes to grow as a student, as a person, and as an aspiring professional while focusing in minorities’ literature. Ever since she was a first-year, Jennifer was confident that she would pursue her graduate studies in journalism. However, after taking several literature courses in “el Colegio,” a question surfaced in Jennifer’s mind: What if I become a professor instead? And so, Jennifer is confident that the internship program will answer that question. Whatever the case may be, several of Jennifer’s colleagues are actually from the UPR school system as well, and she hopes to do her best in order to make her alma mater proud.

From July 28-30, all SR-EIP participants will be expected to present their findings and their final work at the Leadership Alliance National Symposium (LANS) or the Brown Symposium from August 3-4. Although Jennifer admits that the program has been a lot of hard work, she is definitely looking forward to applying to more programs in the hopes of growing and expanding her learning. And, for all those considering applying for an internship, whether with SR-EIP or otherwise, Jennifer urges everyone to give it a chance. Reflecting on personal experience, Jennifer states “Don’t overthink it, just try it. I know it’s a bit scary, especially if you have been turned down by other programs before, but if you don’t keep trying, you will never know.” If the exhilarated joy from Jennifer’s smile in the image below is evidence enough, one can definitely take her word for this incredible experience. Until your return, Jennifer, safe travels, and the best of luck to you!