Sara Chernicky

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Robert Morris University

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International Experience Summary:

As a Vira I. Heinz recipient, Sara was able to complete an academic internship abroad in Santiago, Chile. She had an active intern role in the Laboratorio Neurosistemas at the University of Chile. During her 8-week experience, Sara had the opportunity to work in a neurobiology lab, observing and assisting with cell culturing. She was able to learn valuable techniques in microscopic dissection, precision pipetting, cell culturing protocols, and microfluidic chamber fabrication. In addition, she observed other trials occurring in the lab that used eye tracker technology. Due to Sara’s interest in medical device design, Sara interviewed the inventor of a medical device to assess challenges that arise in that process. Sara was granted the opportunity to live with a host family, an experience that allowed her to practice and learn Spanish while observing the impact of family values in the Chilean culture. Her dinner time was spent every night learning about food and speaking Spanish to her host mother. During her time in Santiago, she was able to visit the museum of human rights and the Pre-Columbian museum to investigate the history of the country’s demographic, past government oppression, and the importance of the indigenous Mapuche people.  She visited some of the various landscapes Chile has to offer including the Andes mountains, the spanning coastline of beach towns filled with street art and handmade pieces, and the desert in the north. Sara is grateful for this experience that pushed her boundaries and taught her so much about herself and her home culture.

Community Engagement Experience Summary:

CEE Title: Sustainability Panel and Paint

The Building a Sustainable Society: Panel & Paint event was two-fold. The first part acted as a way to educate young adults and community members on global environmental issues, creating sustainable lives, and practicing consumer mindfulness. Three local experts sat on the panel and were able to answer questions and provide tips for growth in the local Pittsburgh area and throughout campus. Secondly, attendees were able to decorate their own reusable shopping bag which could be used for the foreseeable future. Our campus store and eating establishments all utilize single-use plastic bags, so this acted as a good replacement and segue into creating sustainable attitudes throughout life. This time acted as an invitation for students and community members to network with the professional panelists.  The community engagement experience was an opportunity for the Robert Morris University Vira I. Heinz awardees of the 2019 cohort to “think globally, act locally” with the knowledge they acquired abroad in Iceland, Costa Rica, and Chile. The young female leaders were able to take on the initiative to reach a need in their community by addressing a topic they are truly passionate about: sustainability.