Summer Plans Series: When in Rome, Help the Homeless

By Cody McConnell ‘14
University Communications

Sometimes, you need to do what you want to do in life, according to Wallis Nash ’15, an international relations and anthropology dual major and French minor, who did an internship this summer in Rome, Italy.

“I decided I’m too young to do what’s practical over what I want to do,” said Nash. “I also really wanted to do an internship so I could get international work experience.”

Earlier this summer, Nash learned basic Italian and participated in IES Abroad, where she interned at Europe Consulting. The social cooperative helps to reintegrate homeless individuals into society by rebuilding their self esteem through a variety of programs. One of the programs, called Bike 95, requires homeless individuals to maintain and rent bicycles to people.

IMG_2969“I translated the Bike 95 website from Italian into English, French, and Spanish,” stated Nash.  Along with other interns, Nash produced a promotional video for Bike 95 using stop motion, an animation technique.  Nash also took pictures for another stop motion for a different project called Gare Solidaire, a collaboration among 12 train stations across Europe working to decrease homelessness.

“I was able to help the homeless people in Rome, and the promotional videos I made will continue to help them,” said Nash. She also admitted that she learned a lot about herself and grew from the experience. “I learned a lot about cooking for myself and not relying on all of my needs being in, or around, my dorm building,” said Nash. She also learned about the differences between United States and Italian culture.

This story is part of the Summer Plans Series, a collection of stories about how undergrads at the University of Rochester are spending their summer. Know of someone doing something cool over break? Email The Buzz ( and tell us all about it!

Summer Plans Series: Pianos for Peace Makes a Joyful Noise

By Rei Ramos ’15
University Communications

August marks a very musical month for the streets of Rochester, thanks to a community arts project led by a UR undergrad. In 11 different locations around the city, pianos have been placed in parks and public spaces as part of an outdoor music installation led by Marissa Balonon-Rosen ’14. The project, Pianos for Peace, works to provide the public with access to the arts and serves as an outlet for Balonon-Rosen to promote ideas of nonviolence within the community.

A Rochester native, Balonon-Rosen was able to take piano lessons through the Rochester City School District at a young age, an opportunity that was not available to many. As such, she was also familiar with the issues plaguing her local community. “I was raised in Rochester and really experienced many of the issues that it has had with violence,” she explains. Now a dual degree  student enrolled at both Eastman and the River Campus, she hopes to use this arts project as a vehicle to send a “message of peace” through music and community values. The pianos, which were all donated, were painted and decorated with different messages and interpretations of peace by local youth and artists.

Balonon-Rosen drew inspiration from similar outdoor piano installations that she found while abroad in Paris. From this initial idea, she was also able to incorporate aspects of her dual degree to provide the foundations for this project.  Having found great value in music and the arts as a piano major at Eastman, she was likewise driven by a desire to promote nonviolence, as evidenced by her pursuit of Urban Youth Studies – a major that she created through a mix of classes in anthropology, psychology, education, and religion among others.

The project was made possible through the collaborative efforts of multiple local organizations, such as the University of Rochester, the Eastman School of Music, the

Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence, and the Rochester City School District – all organizations that Balonon-Rosen has worked with or experienced first-hand. When asked about the workload required to spearhead this project, she was quick to acknowledge its difficulty. “It took a lot of coordination,” she admits; charged with acquiring the pianos via donation, enlisting artists to paint them, as well as connecting with community members to find viable spaces for the installations, Balonon-Rosen had to spend a considerable amount of time and effort to make her plan into a reality. The installation series will continue until the end of August when the pianos will be moved to the Ghandi Institute for Nonviolence as a continuing community fixture to promote peace.

Balonon-Rosen believes that this project offers a positive vehicle of expression to the community. “For me, I see music as a way of bringing strangers together – bringing neighbors together – in a way that nothing else really can,” she explains. With this, the inclusion of dropboxes for suggestions with each piano gives the public the opportunity to reflect on how to better promote peace within the community. “Sometimes people have the idea, but don’t have the platform to share it,” explains Balonon-Rosen. For her, this project is all about starting a dialogue within the community in order to open up the idea for peace to both neighbors and strangers alike.


This story is part of the Summer Plans Series, a collection of stories about how undergrads at the University of Rochester are spending their summer. Know of someone doing something cool over break? Email The Buzz ( and tell us all about it!

Summer Plans Series: Saroyah Mevorach Experiences the London Fashion World

By Blake Silberberg ‘13
University Communications

University of Rochester senior Saroyah Mevorach recently returned from an internship in London, England, with the Fashion and Textile Museum. The art history major participated in the Educational Programmes Abroad (EPA) Internships in Europe. The program is offered through the College Center for Study Abroad.

Mevorach grew up surrounded by a family of art collectors, in homes filled with Chinese and European art collections. After taking every art course available to her in high school, she was certain she wanted to pursue a degree in art at Rochester. During the spring of her sophomore year, she participated in the University’s Art New York program, where she worked as an editorial intern for Town & Country magazine in Manhattan. As an intern, she helped prepare information and photos for upcoming spreads, fact checked for fashion, lifestyle, or social articles, and helped out in the fashion closet, prepping for shoots and unpacking as well as organizing inventory.

“Since it is a very elite and fashionable magazine, I was able to see designers, models, socialites, and other relevant figures coming in and out of the office and was also able to work with and observe extraordinary people,” explained sm1Mevorach, “I was able to see how the runway is translated to the page and then distributed to the public. It was a very comprehensive learning experience and I really loved it.”

Building on that positive opportunity, Mevorach embarked this summer on the EPA program in London. The program sponsors semester-long study programs in London, Berlin, Bonn, Cologne, Brussels, Edinburgh, and Madrid and combine eight-credit internships with coursework throughout the semester. It also provides solid work experience for the students involved.

Mevorach describes London as “A great city for fashion, contemporary art, and multicultural experiences, and an excellent place for someone involved in art to intern.” She interned at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London, which is owned by Newham College, and was founded by Zandra Rhodes, a famous British designer. Because the organization’s staff is only 8 people, she was able to experience what she describes as “nearly all aspects and roles within the museum.”.

“I helped plan curatorial approaches and layouts, organize exhibition lists, and even worked in the shop and gallery once or twice.” Mevorach also helped create and maintain a social media campaign for the museum, as well as helping to draft press releases. Being part of such a small staff also allowed her the opportunity to work with high profile designers.

“The best day was probably when I worked with David Sassoon, designer for the notable fashion label Bellville Sassoon, who created dresses, gowns and outfits for the Royals, including Princess Diana,” recounts Mevorach. “I smhelped him organize his upcoming exhibition at the show and was able to see all of his original sketches. He is so sweet and amazingly talented.”

Mevorach describes living and working abroad as eye opening. “Our world and all of its industries have gone global, and I think it’s extremely important to experience any field outside the borders of the United States.”

“After working and living in London, I have a greater appreciation for and understanding of what it takes to make it in the creative industry. I have learned to be more independent and met people who have inspired me. This program offers a growing experience for anyone willing to go and accept a new challenge.”

This story is part of the Summer Plans Series, a collection of stories about how undergrads at the University of Rochester are spending their summer. Know of someone doing something cool over break? Email The Buzz ( and tell us all about it!

Summer Plans Series: Ansley ’14 Grows by Leaps and Bounds

By Rei Ramos ’15
University Communications

Working as a summer intern is not always all fun and games. However, according to Emily Ansley ’14, employment at LeapFrog Enterprises comes with quite a few perks. A developer and manufacturer of technology-based learning products for children, the company incorporates innovations in software to create educational toys for young children, which are, as the rising senior has found, surprisingly entertaining. “I’ve gotten to play with many of the toys–some of which aren’t even on shelves yet.” Working at the company’s main office in sunny California, Ansley likewise gets to enjoy a warm, West Coast summer.

Serving as a software engineering intern working with a team of mainly post-baccalaureate interns to create and update software tools to be utilized by the company’s professional developers. One of her first projects involved revamping an outdated audio mechanism. “The current tool was made when LeapFrog had only one or two different platforms. LeapFrog has grown tremendously since, and we need a new, easier tool that accommodates all the current platforms and has the ability to be extended for future ones.” As such, her code-writing efforts impact both the company and the development of its educational products.

Majoring in computer science, Ansley is already familiar with electronic coding and software. Through LeapFrog, however, she is able to see firsthand how they are used by a large scale corporation. With this, she is acquiring valuable skills that will remain beneficial even after her graduation in the coming spring semester. “For me, this internship is my first step into the corporate world. I’m learning many of the techniques they use to meet deadlines and get projects finished on time.” Through weekly collaborative meetings with different departments and the mentorship of company employees, Ansley is gaining valuable experience that simply can’t be taught in a classroom.

After graduation, Ansley hopes to partake in an English teaching assistantship. She aspires to work closely with young children in the near future. “I’m applying for a program in Taiwan where I’d help teach English to elementary kids for a year. After that, I’m not sure yet,” she admits. But even with her future seeming a bit uncertain, Ansley is sure that her current internship will truly help her to develop professionally and grow by leaps and bounds. “Although LeapFrog is a very unique company, I’m finding that I will be able to carry over many of the skills I acquire here to every other job.”


This story is part of the Summer Plans Series, a collection of stories about how undergrads at the University of Rochester are spending their summer. Know of someone doing something cool over break? Email The Buzz ( and tell us all about it!


Summer Plans Series: Levan Bokeria ’14 Receives Internationally-Competitive Golden Key Award

By Caitlin Mack ’12(T5)
Univ. Communications

Levan Bokeria ’14, a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society chapter at the University of Rochester, was awarded a Golden Key Undergraduate Achievement Award.  The award, valued at $5,000, recognizes undergraduate members for their outstanding commitment to the Golden Key pillars of academics, leadership, and service.

Bokeria’s achievement is especially notable in light of the competitive nature of the award; while 924 individuals applied for the prestigious prize, only 20 were granted.  Bokeria is one of 12 winners from the USA and two winners from region 10, which represents New York and all of New England.

“Finding out about the Golden Key Undergraduate Achievement Award was extremely exciting for me,” said Bokeria about receiving the award.

Bokeria, a philosophy and brain and cognitive sciences double major, is from Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia. He is the current president of the Undergraduate Philosophy Council and held dual titles as Honorary Members and Campus Officials Liaison and Education and Literacy Service Director for the Golden Key Society during the 2012-13 academic year.

This summer, Bokeria is taking courses at Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland, as part of a summer program offered by the Skalny Center for Polish and Central European Studies. The classes will prepare Bokeria for a Take Five year studying the fundamental principles of political science and the recent history of Eastern Europe.

“Such merit scholarships are an important boost for academic confidence as they serve as an implicit confirmation of successful undergraduate performance,” said Bokeria. “I would like to thank everyone who has helped me become the person I am, especially my professors, fellow students, and staff members at the University of Rochester.”

This story is part of the Summer Plans Series, a collection of stories about how undergrads at the University of Rochester are spending their summer. Know of someone doing something cool over break? Email The Buzz ( and tell us all about it!

Summer Plans Series: UR Student Lands Columbia Internship, Among Other Activities

By Caitlin Mack ’12(T5)
Univ. Communications

Se Hoon Kim ’16 likes to be a busy guy. The rising sophomore brought Tiananmen protest leader Baiqiao Tang to campus last fall, founded the East Asian Affairs Association, and made time for Model UN, Taiwanese American Students’ Association, Japanese Students Association, and Korean Percussion Group. Now Kim, who intends to major in international relations, has a full line-up of summer activities ahead.

In mid-May, Kim began a three-week internship at a New York City marketing group, where he will assist in contacting companies to work out marketing deals.  “I am looking forward to interacting with various types of people and learning about business interactions,” said Kim of the experience.

In June, he will then begin an internship in Building Community at Columbia University, where he will serve as a residential advisor for a group of 10 high school students taking not-for-credit college courses. The two-month internship is geared toward gaining real-world perspective on leadership skills while mentoring American and international high school students.

­­­Kim will receive two weeks of training and attend seminars led by professionals in the field of community building. Following training, he will serve as a live-in resident adviser and a program assistant for six weeks at Columbia’s Summer Program for High School Students.

Using skills developed during the seminar, Kim will be responsible for creating a cohesive, lively, and respectful student body and organizing social events for his students, such as study breaks and trips to New York City attractions.Throughout the practicum, interns meet to discuss their experiences, challenges, and accomplishments, and write short reflective essays about their experiences at the end of the program.

Kim participated in the program during his high school years and wanted to come back as a residential advisor. “I wanted to give back,” he says.

Despite having some time off in August, Kim doesn’t plan on relaxing. “I’ll probably do some independent studying when I’m home,” he says. Also in the works for fall 2013: an event featuring author and Forbes contributor Gordon Chang that will spotlight the abductions of Japanese citizens by North Koreans.

In the Photo: Kim ’16 with Forbes columnist Gordon Chang.

This story is part of the Summer Plans Series, a collection of stories about how undergrads at the University of Rochester are spending their summer. Know of someone doing something cool over break? Email The Buzz ( and tell us all about it!