How Did Alumni Spend the Summer?

During summer breaks, you’ll find many of our graduates giving back to their communities, learning new skills, and preparing for the future through internships and summer programs. We caught up with a few alumni to hear how they spent this summer.

Jade Morton-Alexander ’16, a rising junior at Tufts University, participated in a biomedical research program at New York University School of Medicine. As a pre-med student majoring in biology, the summer internship gave Jade the opportunity to dive into scientific research connected to her future goals. “I want to be a cardiovascular surgeon,” she says. “I did research aligned with cardiology and pathology that involved a lot of hands-on work, such as cell culture and quantitative polymerase chain reaction.” She spent eight hours a day in the lab, culminating in a presentation of her research at the National Leadership Alliance Symposium in Connecticut. Jade also attended weekly seminars led by postgraduate students and research scientists designed to help students learn about their future options. “This program has helped to open my eyes,” says Jade. “I’ve always wanted to go to medical school after Tufts, but recently I have been contemplating pursuing a dual doctorate. I love research, and I love medicine, so I might apply for a M.D./Ph.D.” Her medical school of choice? NYU.

Arielle Benjamin ’17, a rising sophomore at Georgetown University, spent the summer studying at the Esade Business School in Barcelona, Spain as part of her college’s study abroad program. With a specific focus on business ethics and marketing, the program was a perfect fit for Arielle, who plans to major in marketing. “I’ve always wanted to study abroad, and the program aligned with what I want to pursue,” she says. “I learned more about my passion and received college credits, too.” When she wasn’t hard at work in class collaborating with team members on case studies, Arielle was enjoying school-sponsored visits to several businesses in Barcelona, including technology company HP and fashion retailer Stradivarius. “It was inspiring to tour the companies and speak with the marketing executives about their work,” she says. “It gave me a lot of insight into the field, especially from an international perspective, and encouraged me to continue on my current path.”

Malcolm Urena ’20, a rising junior at Brookline High School, helped to combat food deserts and food insecurity in eastern Massachusetts as a youth crew member at The Food Project. “Everyone deserves healthy food,” says Malcolm, whose family moved to the state two years ago. “Our current food system is failing lower-income communities, and I wanted to learn more about it.” The nonprofit hires local teens to work with staff on urban and suburban farms, helping to grow and distribute produce to hunger-relief organizations, CSA programs, and farmers’ markets in underserved communities. “I spent most of my time weeding, planting seeds, and harvesting crops, and I really enjoyed it,” says Malcolm. “This work is important because having access to healthy food affects all of us.” 

Micaela Gonzalez ‘21, a rising sophomore at Riverdale Country School, participated in the Tory Burch Foundation’s 2022 Embrace Ambition Summit: Confronting Stereotypes and Creating New Norms. “Over the past year, my school advisor could see how proud I am of my Latinx heritage and that I always stand up for what I believe in. When she asked me if I’d like to attend the summit, I immediately said yes,” says Micaela. “I’m passionate about issues of racism, intersectionality, and what it means to be a woman in today’s society.” Micaela was inspired by the speakers she heard that day, including Jacqueline Woodson, Mindy Kaling, and other female entrepreneurs, authors, activists, academics, and more. Their insights resonated with her deeply. “There was such a diversity of voices, and I especially loved hearing from Dolores Huerta,” says Micaela. Huerta, the 89-year-old labor leader who co-founded the United Farm Workers union, was interviewed by actor and activist Rosie Perez. “Ms. Huerta continues to work to better our society because it’s not the fame that matters,” Micaela reflected. “It’s the mark you make on the world.”
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Harlem Academy is an independent school (grades K-8) that drives equity of opportunity for promising students, guiding them to thrive at the highest academic levels and one day make a mark on the world.