WHK Student Internship Enrollment, Mentor Participation Up More than 50 Percent

By Nancy Parrish, Staff Writer
Group photo of students.

With 66 students, the 2013–2014 incoming class of Werner H. Kirsten student interns is the largest ever.

By Nancy Parrish, Staff Writer

The Werner H. Kirsten Student Internship Program (WHK SIP) has enrolled the largest class ever for the 2013–2014 academic year, with 66 students and 50 mentors. This enrollment reflects a 53 percent increase in students and a 56 percent increase in mentors, compared to 2012–2013 (43 students and 32 mentors), according to Julie Hartman, WHK SIP director.

Hartman attributes the increase in enrollment to several factors. The number of slots available is directly dependent on the number of mentors who sign up for the program, she said, and this year more mentors agreed to participate. That’s because of an aggressive campaign Hartman and James Cherry, Ph.D., scientific advisor to the program, launched to enroll more mentors. “We made several requests in person, over e-mail, and through public events to recruit mentors,” Hartman said.

Their campaign to increase enrollment didn’t stop with the mentors. The two also visited local high schools to encourage student participation in the program. “Generally, I think that recent ‘alums’ of the program tell their peers … and it spreads through word-of-mouth,” Hartman added. “Parents at the NCI at Frederick also encourage their children to apply.”

Craig Reynolds, Ph.D., director, NCI Office of Scientific Operations, was pleased with the enrollment this year. “This increase reflects a positive outcome for our community—both in recruiting talented young people into careers in science and in the strength of our staff for stepping up to the plate and providing a foundation on which students can pursue their interests,” he said.  “I applaud the efforts of the staff at NCI at Frederick and the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research. I look forward to next year’s WHK SIP class.”

Interested in the Program?

The WHK Student Internship Program is designed for high school seniors, extending from the summer following their junior year until the end of their senior year. The students are paid for eight weeks of work during the summer and receive four weighted credits towards the completion of their academic curriculum during the school year. 

Mentors are generally seasoned laboratory researchers or principal investigators (PIs) from NCI at Frederick laboratories, according to Hartman. In general, she said, they sign up to encourage young people to pursue scientific careers and to train the next generation of researchers. In addition, she noted that “because the PIs have a dedicated and highly motivated student for a year to help with their research activities, many mentors find this experience to be a mutually beneficial and satisfying one.” The laboratory receives a small training budget for the student, she said.

To find out more about this program, visit https://ncifrederick.cancer.gov/careers/student_programs/internships/SIP/, or contact Julie Hartman at 301-846-7338, or hartmanjb@mail.nih.gov.