Future Microbiologist Gets Hands-On Experience Through His Trinity Internship
Trinity High School students for the first time have the opportunity to collaborate with the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD) through the Pre-Professional Internship Program, and senior Matthew Saunders has already benefited greatly from the partnership.
Trinity High School, located in Garfield Heights, is the first high school in the nation to incorporate a career-based internship program for all students. Trinity places students in grades 10 to 12 in professional settings one day a week throughout the school year. Students choose to focus in the areas of health care, graphic design, information technology or college and career in areas such as environmental science, education, law, and accounting. Now in the fourth year of the program, Trinity students intern at more than 70 locations throughout the Cleveland area. Trinity provides the transportation to and from the corporate internship sites as student interns gain a resume of career experience before they attend college. Trinity’s sponsors - who have a 98 percent repeating rate - enjoy the enthusiasm, assistance, and creativity of their interns.
Matt, praised for his initiative and enthusiasm for research, has started an independent project at NEORSD. Using knowledge gained from his previous internships at South Pointe Hospital, Matt is testing samples collected from the wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) for the presence of the bacteria Escherichia coli (E. coli). The objective of this project is to identify growth and/or deterioration of E. coli in these samples over seven days. This important project is ongoing as Matt summarizes his results, and presents his findings for the lab.
“EPA gives time limits on some samples of how long we can hold them, so this new testing is to see if samples can be kept longer,” explains Matt. His experience at NEORSD has included learning about custody procedures, using a pH meter for pH analysis, and putting together sampling kits for waste water treatment plants and customers. Now, this new project allows him to delve deeper into an area of great interest — microbiology.
In the microbiology department, Matt has learned how to perform bacterial analysis using both membrane filtration and the colilert method. Additionally, Matt assists with the maintenance of the laboratory’s aquariums and culturing units. The organisms in the aquariums and culturing units are used for Whole Effluent Toxicity testing which is performed by the laboratory.
Described as “personable” and “very interested” by Mark Citriglia, Manager of Analytical Services, Matt loves how hands-on his internship is. “I am part of something bigger,” he said. This “something bigger” is exactly what Trinity High School encourages its students to strive for — and what many have achieved. Matt has been encouraged to apply for summer employment at the NEORSD to continue his professional development. Matt’s supervisor and the rest of his co-workers are greatly impressed with his professional and engaging work ethic.
This internship placement, Matt says, has reinforced his dream of going to school for biology and then continuing as a graduate student of microbiology.
Article written by Emily Hoey, Pre-Professional Intern for CMP Communications