Student Engagement

MFRI’s internship opportunities offer students the chance to earn course credits, build their resumes and enhance their knowledge. Interns and student workers participate on all MFRI teams as they learn about military members, veterans and their families. We are proud to work in collaboration with Purdue University departments that are educating future leaders.

Student Spotlights

Daniel Farrell

Daniel FarrellQ: Why do you like working at MFRI?
A: Quite a few things. For one, MFRI gives me an insight into a side of military affiliated people that I hadn’t previously been able to experience without doing some closer research on my own. Working at MFRI also gives me the opportunity to help those military affiliated people in some capacity, which I love to be a part of. This line of work also allows me to better understand veterans in a way that may help my career in the Air Force when I graduate. Lastly, my coworkers are a joy to be around and I know that I’ll laugh at least once when coming into work on any given day.

Q: Are you part of a military family? If so, please explain. If not, explain what you’ve learned about military families while working at MFRI.
A: My grandfather served in the U.S. Marines, and my brother is a current enlistee in the U.S. Air Force. My brother is one of my biggest role models in life, and has played a large part in influencing my decision to join Air Force ROTC at Purdue.

Q: Describe how your academic path has helped prepare you for your position at MFRI? How has MFRI helped you work toward your career goals?
A: Being a political science & history major both does and doesn’t line up with my current work. When I’m working on spreadsheets, that’s a bit disconnected from most of my normal academic course load. However, doing reading-based research and conducting interviews for the current project I’m working on has done a lot in the way of helping me sharpen my toolkit for future career endeavors.

Q: Describe the most meaningful part of your experience working on your team at MFRI (research, education and employment, external relations or outreach).
A: Apart from the great experiences with my coworkers every day, the current project I am working on has let me step out of the box of my normal work, but in a really good way. I believe the work I’m doing at the moment is not only a great opportunity for personal development, but that it will also do some good for others (potentially nationally) once completed!

Christine McCall

Christine McCallQ: Why do you like working at MFRI?
A: I chose to work at MFRI because of previous experiences working with military and veteran communities. During my undergrad, I worked with organizations (e.g., healthcare systems, community partners) in Massachusetts aimed at supporting the needs of veterans. Following my undergrad, I led a child mentorship program that served military families, active duty service members and Air Force cadets. From these experiences, I developed an interest in the diverse experiences of veterans and their families across the life course. Since then, I have sought to understand and develop proactive initiatives that best meet the needs of military families. The work conducted by Dr. MacDermid Wadsworth and the staff at MFRI was attractive to me because of the connections and applications to military communities.

Q: Are you part of a military family? If so, please explain. If not, explain what you’ve learned about military families while working at MFRI.
A: My grandfather served in World War II and the Korean War. Though I never met him, his service influenced how my family views and supports military communities. Additionally, I have several friends that have served/are actively serving and these individuals have illuminated the intricacies of managing military and family demands, including family growth, deployments, frequent moves and transitions out of the military.

Q: Describe how your academic path has helped prepare you for your position at MFRI? How has MFRI helped you work toward your career goals?
A: In addition to working with military communities during my undergrad, I worked on a project studying families during the transition to parenthood. These two influences were complimentary by highlighting the complexity of families’ responses to transitions. Ultimately, my experiences working with military populations and families in transition drove me to a PhD program to study military families. While PhD programs strive to train individuals to conduct rigorous research, MFRI is a well-known organization that seeks to conduct research with impact. The work at MFRI has shown me how to apply research findings, address the needs of communities, and be a resource for a variety of individuals.

Q: Describe the most meaningful part of your experience working on your team at MFRI.
A: Working on the research team at MFRI has allowed for the development of individual, professional, and research skills. Specifically, Dr. MacDermid Wadsworth and Dr. Topp have been instrumental in “how to think like a researcher”, from their emphases on theory-driven designs, rigorous methods, thoughtfulness and clarity.

Q: Explain your involvement in the military and veteran space outside of MFRI?
A: I have been volunteering my time to transcribe handwritten responses from World War II veterans through The American Soldier in World War II project. During World War II, the Army Research Branch (housed within the US War Department) sought to understand how soldiers viewed the Army and related conditions. Of the surveys I’ve transcribed, the topics range from the political and social context of the 1940’s to the daily experiences of serving in a warzone. The comments provided by soldiers have elucidated the large variability in opinions, perspectives and experiences of soldiers. Something that has been especially interesting is how similar these responses are compared to the research being conducted on service members serving the current conflicts. Reading these responses not only “feeds my soul” but encourages me to think about novel ways that can capture the dynamic and complex experiences of service members and their families across their life courses. The American Soldier in World War II project is based at Virginia Tech. Interested individuals can visit the projects’ website on Zooniverse to learn more or create an account to start transcribing!

Aaron Brewer

Aaron BrewerQ: Why do you like working at MFRI?
A: Having been previously in the military, I see how my work is helping other veterans and it feels almost as if I am helping a brother or sister. Also, having a boss like Keara who is so fun to work with makes working at MFRI that much more enjoyable. She assigns me tasks that help me understand the importance of my role at MFRI and how my work helps others daily.

Q: Are you part of a military family? If so, please explain. If not, explain what you’ve learned about military families while working at MFRI.
A: 
Yes, one of my grandfathers served in the U. S. Air Force and another served in the U.S. Coast Guard. My father and uncle both served in the U.S. Army, and I am currently serving as an Air Force traditional reservist. I also have two cousins on active duty, and my fiance is currently in the Air National Guard. I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly in the military, but the benefits stay for life. It is a rewarding experience that helped me grow into a better person.

Q: Describe how your academic path has helped prepare you for your position at MFRI? How has MFRI helped you work toward your career goals?
A: 
My academic path has not been directly impacted by MFRI, but I have gained crucial professional and personal skills that I will carry with me as I advance in my career. MFRI took me in as a veteran from the U.S. Air Force, which gave me a sense of belonging. The culture MFRI has created for their employees has allowed me to gain experience in professional development, data base management, and team work. All of these skills will follow to other jobs.

Q: Describe the most meaningful part of your experience working on your team at MFRI (research, education and employment, external relations or outreach).

A: I think the best part is coming into work excited to see my coworkers, who I now consider family. My coworkers help me daily, and make working at MFRI enjoyable. This is something that I have never experienced anywhere else, and I think having this makes work feel like a community, rather than just a place I go every day.  I can then have the internal motivation to take care of what I am there to do.

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