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

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!

Alison Seiler

Alison SeilerQ: What motivates you to work at MFRI?
I enjoy working for an organization that makes a difference. I know that every person in contact with MFRI is positively impacted by the work done here. We have the chance to help military and veteran families in all capacities. At the end of the day, working with MFRI has provided me insight and opportunities that I could not have received anywhere else.

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: Currently, my brother serves in the Navy. My grandpa served in World War II and many of my extended family members serve as well. Being in a military family means being connected, strong and supportive. Surviving the battles that are thrown your way, whether you are the one being deployed or you’re a family member, takes a great amount of faith and grace.

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: I am a senior at Purdue majoring in hospitality and tourism management with a minor in communications. This plan of study has helped me prepare for my internship by allowing me the opportunity to work closely with the public and gain experience from a managerial perspective. I have worked with content management systems, taken several marketing classes and learned important customer service skills. Serving as a communications and external relations intern at MFRI has prepared me for the workforce by helping me navigate the social media marketing process and learning how to properly plan and execute an event.

Q: Describe the most meaningful part of your experience working on your team at MFRI.
A: One of the most meaningful parts of my experience at MFRI is the feeling of accomplishment when an event goes as planned. I have the opportunity to see and aid in the planning process from beginning to end. There is no greater feeling when an event goes as planned and the people you are hosting enjoy themselves. Furthermore, I enjoy helping plan events that raise awareness about military and veteran families and how their day-to-day lives differentiate from civilian life.

Shannon Lee

Shannon LeeQ: How has your experience as a military kid motivated your work at MFRI?
While job searching, I realized that I wanted to work where I could make a positive contribution while learning new skills. As a military kid, I was motivated to work at MFRI because I believed that my past experiences allowed me to have a deeper understanding of the work that MFRI does.

Q: Describe the most meaningful part of your experience working with Star Behavioral Health Providers (SBHP).
A: The most meaningful part is knowing the impact this program has on veterans, service members, and their families. The impact of SBHP is widespread, reaching across the U.S. I never imagined that as a college student I would be able to work in an organization that leaves an impact on people outside of my immediate community.

Q: How does your work at MFRI relate to your academic program and extracurricular interests?
A: I am a second year pre-pharmacy student involved in Boiler Gold Rush , Habitat for Humanity and Purdue University Dance Marathon. A common theme among my major and organizational involvements is working to help others. My work at MFRI relates to my academic program and extracurricular interests because my work at MFRI is purposeful and has a positive impact on the military community.

Q: How is your work at MFRI helping you achieve your career goals?
A: My work at MFRI allows me to accumulate the skills necessary to succeed in the professional world. As someone interested in entering the healthcare field, efficient communication is important. A lot of my work for MFRI and SBHP is communicating with providers and answering any questions they may have. The skills I learn from MFRI can help me become a better pharmacist or healthcare professional.