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Student Internship: Emma Stucki in Rome


Emma Stucki recently graduated from BYU as a pre-med student minoring in Italian. She was accepted to medical school at Washington State University and will begin her studies in the Fall. She attributes her acceptance in large part to her internship. She says “I think my internship was the single most valuable addition to my application to medical school.”

Emma worked with Associazione Comboniana Servizi Emigranti e Profughi (ACSE) to provide immigrants and refugees in Italy with resources to help them acclimate to life in their new country. She assisted in a dental clinic, using her Italian language skills and medical knowledge to work across cultural differences. Emma was featured in a video about the ACSE Center in Rome: Siamo Qui.

Siamo Qui

Emma did not initially have plans to intern in Italy because she had already studied abroad in Italy a few summers before, but she was encouraged by Dr. Haraguchi to apply for scholarships and internships that could be beneficial to her medical school resume. Emma comments: “I couldn’t complain about the prospect of living in Italy for another several months!”

In an interview with Emma, she explains the impact her language studies and internship experience has had on her life:

Q: Did your internship help you with your career goals?

“I think my internship was the single most valuable addition to my application to medical school. I talked about it in every one of my medical school interviews. Additionally, as I mentioned, my internship gave me confidence in my communication skills and therefore in my ability to effectively talk about other experiences in my interviews. This fall, I am starting medical school in my home state at Washington State University!”

Q: Did your internship shape any of your long-term goals?

“I do not think that my internship changed my long-term career goals as much as it reinforced my intention to work with underserved communities. In Italy, refugees can access medical services in the emergency department, but refugees were sometimes completely reliant on charity dental care such as the services offered by ACSE. After medical school and residency, my current goal is to return to work in my home community in Yakima, Washington. There, we have a shortage of primary care physicians and patients face long wait times to access medical care. It is my hope to contribute to the solution to this problem by providing wholistic primary care in a clinic that prioritizes equitable access.”

Q: What did you learn from this experience?

Emma: “I learned to work across cultural differences, because I worked in an Italian organization that helped immigrants from all over the world. For me this meant overcoming language barriers and occasional miscommunication. It helped me to build a lot of confidence in my communication and interpersonal skills.”

Q: What advice would you give students who are hoping to participate in an internship?

“I would say that if you are considering an internship, inquire about scholarships that may be available. If you are able to go, it is an invaluable experience. Make the most of your chance to work within a new culture by building connections from the beginning of your internship. Practice resilience in the ways that work for you!”

Q: Anything else you would like to share about your internship?

“An extra special part of the Italian Internship experience is the chance to live with a host family. This is also one of the most effective ways to build your language skills and to be immersed in all the ways that daily Italian life differs from life in the US. The experience would not have been the same without this aspect!”

Emma Stucki’s internship experience is a great example of how impactful experiential learning can be.