An extraordinary opportunity: high school student shares her volunteer experience
By Rebecca Vichi, Walter Johnson High School Senior
As a high school student, I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to work as an intern in the Clinical Center’s Office of Communications and Media Relation (OCMR) at the NIH. I have learned a lot in my ten months here, and hope to continue my work with the department until I go off to college this fall.
While volunteering, I have been given many opportunities to help with very exciting projects. My absolute favorite assignments that have had the most influence on me include assisting with film crews in the building, photographing the Clinical Center and visiting The Children's Inn at NIH.
I was introduced to the OCMR team and was able to shadow a documentary film crew in one of the labs at NIH. We helped the lab technician focus on his interview and avoid distractions. I found the laboratory extremely fascinating. The technician was working on an experiment showing the effects different medications had on the brain. I even got to be filmed while the technician elucidated his experiment and processes to me.
I was also able to shadow another film crew and meet a brilliant patient who was currently enrolled in medical school. She was very inspiring and uplifting. It shows that if you put your mind to something, you can do anything.
Another project I work on is taking seasonal pictures of the outside of the Clinical Center. This way, I can contribute to my love to photography, and explore different parts of the building that I may not get to regularly see on a normal day. My photos have been used on the social media accounts and as the main image of the website, for thousands to see.
While working, I was also able to visit The Children's Inn at NIH. I was there specifically to get consents for some pictures that were taken on Sibling Day, however I experienced much more. I sat there as I watched the siblings of very sick children tell their families about their experiences. It was so touching that I shed tears. I was so heartbroken for what the families were going through and yet was also encouraged at their strength and bravery. Aside from my favorite projects, I have also done other things such as editing important documents and transcribing interviews. Although they are smaller jobs, they are just as significant to me as anything else I get to do. No matter the assignment, it is important to put in full effort.
There is so much going on at NIH all the time. At first I was very frightened and overwhelmed, like anyone would be on their first day of anything. New is stressful. Everything the Communications department does is extremely necessary and important. However, everyone in the department has been more than friendly. They are all very serious about their jobs, but I feel like they are all one big family. They have been helpful, loving and attentive.
It has been very generous and trusting of them to let me take part on such important projects, and I have learned a lot. I am currently a senior, so it has helped me with writing and editing college essays. Socializing and communicating with many different types of people has also helped me improve my speaking skills. The work is so thorough and so intelligent that you have no choice to be very focused and patient. The Clinical Center is a huge and important place, and I am very thankful to be able to take part in the activities that take place here.