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Students SEAP into STEM with apprenticeship program

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Morse students are seeping into the STEM world.

Four students were accepted into the Science and Engineering Apprenticeship Program (SEAP), an intensive summer internship that enables students to explore science and engineering careers.

To obtain career and laboratory experience, juniors Therese Pamplona, Judy Pangelinan, Christopher Santos, and Tert Soriano applied and were chosen to be part of SEAP where each student will be working with a different scientist or engineer in their research from June 18 to Aug. 10 at Naval Base Coronado.

The eight-week program is treated as a job, which requires its interns to work five days a week, 40 hours per week. In return, they will be receiving bi-weekly paychecks, totaling $3,300 by the end of the internship. In addition to working in the Department of Navy laboratories researching, they will also present a final project showcasing the information they learned.

“I feel excited to be working in a lab for eight weeks alongside experts, who will hopefully inspire me to choose a career for myself,” Pamplona said despite being aware of the demanding nature of the program.

Pamplona will conduct research in a toxicology lab with Molly Colvin, a published marine ecologist. Meanwhile, Soriano will be investigating automated navigation for autonomous underwater vehicles with Steve Hobbs, a published mathematician professor at Point Loma Nazarene University.

Although Pangelinan and Santos do not know the specifics of their research topic, they have been assigned mentors. Santos will be working with Michael Walton, a research scientist in machine learning and software development, while Pangelinan will be mentored by Chris Ward, an electrical engineer.

“I’m very excited to get actual experience in a STEM job,” Pangelinan said. “I’ve always liked lab work. Hands-on and kinetic learning is how I learn best.”

While the enthusiasm for the program is high, they can’t ignore the fear of being in a professional and academically new environment.

“I’m scared of actually trying to understand the work,” Soriano said.

Meanwhile, others feared another aspect of the program.

“I’m going to be by myself having to communicate with people,” Pangelinan said. “I don’t talk to people well.”

Despite the current worries, they know that the benefits outweigh them. The experience, as well as the money, is an important factor in this.

“I’m most likely going to save it up for college applications or get a new computer,” Santos said, already envisioning the amount of money needed for his senior year.

Despite discovering the program after the application deadline last year, Morse was able to take advantage of the opportunity this year. These four students are just the beginning of the school’s mission to seep more students into the exciting world of STEM.

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