March 17, 2023

An Epic View

Esther Hale sits on a podium and looks to the future.

The Epic Advantage is a promise to every Earlham
student that no matter their circumstances,
they can receive up to $5,000 for a career-
discerning opportunity.

This can be a faculty-led trip, a research project or even a self-designed internship. Students are encouraged to find something they are passionate about, something that will test them, something that will help build their resume and real-world skills.

The Epic Advantage, thanks to generous donors, is the jewel of Earlham’s signature program, the Epic Journey, and few schools can match it. The following pages reflect the impactful, sometimes life-changing, Epic Advantage endeavors of these Earlham seniors.

Esther Hale ’23

Major || Philosophy and art

Epic Advantage: Summer digital internship in Spain

Career discernment

Through this experience, I realized that I want to pursue science communication after graduation. While reflecting on my previous work, I saw a running theme of the wonder and beauty of outer space, and decided to pursue that passion in my art and career.

By design

I designed my Epic Advantage internship with the idea that I could use this opportunity to improve my language fluency, meet new people, enjoy the cultural experience, but also gain skills for the workplace by learning Photoshop and Illustrator.


Because I had organized this internship, I gained a confidence in myself—I learned I was able to create any type of experience I wanted. I am so grateful, because through that I gained so much more confidence in my language ability. It took a lot of courage to make that first move and try to talk to people, knowing barely any Spanish. I realized I have more courage than I thought.

Esther Hale '23

“I feel pretty blessed.”

Thato Ts'olo '23

“I enjoyed furthering my knowledge of heart-related genetic disorders.”

Thato Ts’olo ’23

Major || Biochemistry

Epic Advantage: Research opportunity to study hypo plastic left heart syndrome
Focus on the heart

Learning more about the heart as an undergrad allowed me to grasp the complex mechanisms of the cardiovascular system and further develop my hands-on experience in this field. This research assisted in clarifying my career path a bit more—I want to become a medical doctor, and I would like to focus on the heart as a clinical cardiologist. Also, I would like to build up more cardiovascular research experience to aid in the pursuit of my career interests. The complexity of the cardiovascular system includes the presence of a broad range of diseases that can be studied to improve the current understanding of cardiac physiology.

Learning about himself

This research opportunity was for 10 weeks, and I was mainly living by myself. This gave me ample time for understanding my research to a greater extent. I really pushed myself through this opportunity in projects that I worked on which developed my sense of resilience. Working with a team in a laboratory setting was new for me, and I learned about how other people communicate in a team-based environment, as well as related efficiency. I felt like I had a responsibility to do more to help my team. One thing I struggled with was saying no in team settings. That’s something I still have to work on moving forward. Sometimes, when I had a project to work on, someone would ask me for help and it was hard for me to say no to them, even if I knew I needed to focus on my own projects.

Rosa Ramirez Martinez ’23

Major || Psychology

Epic Advantage: Internship in hometown of Guadalajara, Mexico, shadowing a psychologist
Summer of service

One of the requirements for a scholarship I have is to do a summer of service community service. I wanted to take that back into my hometown, so I worked as an intern with the psychology department in Guadalajara shadowing a psychologist on site and was assigned 12 patients.

Counseling in spanish

I learned psychology in English, but I want to work with the Spanish community. I was able to grow this vocabulary by being in Mexico, which was very important because I know I want to work with people of color, especially people who come from a country where Spanish is the first language.

A painful discovery

One of the trainings we did was on appropriate parenting styles. There is a lot of violence and domestic abuse in Mexico, so for me it’s important to dismantle some of these beliefs. Children are not going to tell you that something’s wrong in the house, but sometimes problems are revealed anyway. I had a 6-year old tell me that her father was abusing her. Obviously, she doesn’t know this is wrong, but through drawings and different expressions I was able to figure that out. An investigation was opened and this person is now seeking support. This was very frightening for me, but then I realized I was able to do something that nobody else could. I was able to build trust with this 6-year old girl and help her build a vocabulary to express her emotions and cope with this situation.

Rosa Ramirez Martinez '23

“I wouldn’t have this experience without Epic Advantage.”

Isaac Robertson-Brown

“This was a very necessary first step to get into my field.”

Isaac Robertson-Brown ’23

Major || Biology

Epic Advantage: internship with Smithsonian Environmental Research Center’s Fisheries Conservation Lab
Fishing for science

A lot of what I was doing over the summer was fieldwork catching fish or crabs and measuring them and putting out food or tying up little crabs and seeing if anything comes out to eat them. When I wasn’t doing fieldwork, I worked on an independent project, analyzing data from horseshoe crabs that had been tagged and released.

Behind the curtain

I learned a lot about what a career in marine science looks like. What are the pros? What are the cons? And what am I looking for out of it? Being able to peek behind the curtain into that world was very necessary and helpful to me so that I could even begin thinking about applying to graduate school.

Career building

This internship was huge for my CV and my resume. The mentor at my lab is pretty well known in the world of conserving fisheries, and I am still in contact with him for recommendations and things of that nature. If I didn’t have this internship this summer, I would be less likely to break into this field after graduation.

Shruti Belitkar ’23

Major || Neuroscience || Minor || Public Health

Epic Advantage: Internship in India shadowing a pathologist
Career goals

I wanted to see what pathologists do and gain experience in that field, because it is my career goal to become an epidemiologist, specifically an infectious disease specialist. I’ve never had any lab experience with real-time patients, so I was interested to learn that part of the field. This really gave me the knowledge and insight of what a job would look like after Earlham.

Giving hope

I learned how important patient-doctor relationships are. One of the people I worked with told me, “Hope is the best thing that you can give to your patient. Because when you give that you’ve already won half the battle with the patient.” As a healthcare provider, that is such an important reminder to keep in your head when dealing with patients.


Epic Expo, the event where students can show what they did during their Epic Advantage experience, was really amazing, especially paired with homecoming weekend. I actually met an Earlham alum who visited my city to work with a pathologist. It was really nice to talk to someone who was able to understand my internship experience. It seemed like he was proud of me and I was grateful to have met someone with a similar work background.

Shruti Belitkar '23

“This experience made me more passionate to become an infectious disease specialist.”

Olivia Wilson '23

“I still think about this experience all the time.”

Olivia Wilson ’23

Major || Psychology || Minor || English

Epic Advantage: Internship at Volunteers of America with Fresh Start
Day-to-day at VOA

Fresh Start is a residential program that works with women coming out of substance use and addiction, specifically mothers. On a day-to-day basis, I would work with the peer-recovery coach, sit in with various groups and attend our staff meeting. I also listened, observed, participated and helped when possible


There is such a stigma around substance-use addiction, and a lot of these women knew that. We all collectively are trying to fight against it and draw awareness to it. We were able to connect even though I’m not in their same situation. Any type of substance abuse will cause changes in the brain. This is why it is hard for individuals to begin recovery. This is also why recovery works best when an individual is surrounded by people who want to help and support them—such as the individuals at VOA Fresh Start.

Career confirmation

This internship reassured me that I’m on the right path. Before Fresh Start, I knew I wanted to do something in mental health, but I wasn’t sure what. After this internship, I decided that I do want to work with individuals who are struggling with addiction. I found the work fulfilling and it was rewarding being in an environment that promotes a positive wellbeing for both the clients and staff members. I would love to go back to VOA and work as a case manager.

Tommy Makabu ’23

Major || Global management with a concentration in marketing
Epic Advantage: Internship with a small movie production company

I learned how directors display their movies and the steps necessary to create movies. I was the marketing and editing intern. My goal was to help my employer market his movies better, help him edit scripts and make progress producing his films. It was some great work, and I feel like I learned a lot through this opportunity. This experience really helped me see what the real world is going to be like— working with a boss, learning how to listen and editing, which you can take anywhere.

Project manager

I liked working on a variety of different projects. My boss had me contacting people and conducting Zoom calls. Another project was interviewing a guy in town, and my boss showed me how the camera and lighting worked. I never knew there was so much to know about a camera. I also got to pick the actors for an upcoming movie.

Preparing for the future

This experience got me prepared for the real world. My time management improved, and I was more focused on work. I learned that if I dedicate myself to a task, I can really get stuff done. This internship helped me prepare for the future and what I can expect after graduation in any field I pursue.

Tommy Makabu '23

“This was my first internship ever. It inspired me to go out and find more opportunities.”

Tsering Lhamo '23

“Epic Advantage gave us a path to go into the real world during breaks. I’m glad I got to use it—that’s a check off my Earlham bucket-list.”

Tsering Lhamo ’23

Major || International studies || Minor || Chinese studies
Epic Advantage: Internship with Students for Free Tibet in New York
Joining SFT

Students for Free Tibet, SFT, is an international organization, but students can start up their own chapter at their college, and we have one here. During the summer, I joined their headquarters as a campaigns intern, where we discuss different campaign and event ideas and monitor news from Tibet.

Lifelong inspiration

As a Tibetan, I’ve grown up seeing SFT and their different movements and events. It has always been really inspiring. I was so happy to join SFT at Earlham and plan events, but working with the headquarters was a totally new experience. I wanted to be a part of the movement that works for Tibet’s cause—whether it’s human rights or climate change.


I got to meet people who I’ve always admired from Tibetan movements. I had the opportunity to have a meeting with one of the 2008 Tibetan Uprising project coordinators—it was awesome learning from her and her experience. There were many other Tibetan activists and former political prisoners who talked about how they had been a part of Tibet’s movement. It was really inspiring as an emerging advocate who wants to be a part of the movement. Talking to these activists and seeing their work gave me more confidence in my future career choice and motivated me to do more advocacy work on Tibet’s issues

Story written by Kelsey Mackey. Photos by Dan Oetting.

Like what you’ve read? Share this article with your network.

A man in an orange scarf gestures and laughs with text overlaid. An ad for the Earlham Fund.
For Good.
Spark good—
For Good.