Earlier this month, Lizbeth Alvarenga ’18, a senior from Western Springs, completed a six-week summer internship as a student researcher at FermiLabs in Batavia, IL, a U.S. Department of Energy laboratory focused on high-energy physics. Lizbeth was one of 15 students selected for Fermi’s TARGET Program, which is a highly competitive, paid opportunity for Illinois high school sophomores and juniors who have strong interest and demonstrated aptitude for physics, mathematics, computer science and engineering.
“My summer at Fermilab … opened up my mind to many new ideas which, at one point of my life, I would've never thought possible,” Lizbeth reports. “I also solidified my thoughts on majoring in physics because there is so much to be discovered everywhere.”
Combining work and hands-on, experiential learning, the program’s goals are to encourage high school students to undertake college study and pursue careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) disciplines. TARGET also encourages and aims to increase the representation of under-represented minorities (Black, Hispanic, Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, Alaska Native/American Indian) and women in the sciences and engineering at the college level and, consequently, in the work force.
“I learned many different things throughout this internship and got to work alongside some amazing people who made this an unforgettable experience,” Lizbeth continues. One of those people was her supervisor, Donna Hicks. “With her mentoring, my co-worker and I had the opportunity to learn a lot about material science and how it contributes to the overall goal, which for Fermilab is currently finding out what a neutrino is. More specifically she taught us how to use machinery such as a laser microscope, Scanning Electron Microscope, and Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy.
“I honestly recommend this to anyone who is thinking about a career in STEM because you learn about the different opportunities that exist under all of these categories,” she concludes, “and you have fun while doing it.”
Fenwick Science Teacher Brigid Esposito was present on August 4th to hear her student’s final presentation at Fermilab. “Lizbeth’s enthusiasm for physics is truly contagious,” Ms. Esposito says.
Check out Fermilab’s TARGET video.