Paying it forward: Engaging Princeton Students in Non-Profit Work

Justine Hamilton
Justine Hamilton ’17, Project 55 Fellow at Princeton Internships in Civic Service (PICS), NJ

Justine Hamilton is from Rockville Centre, New York. She hopes to have a career in medicine and public health. At Princeton, she majored in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and minored in Global Health Policy. Justine has been a member of global health groups on campus, including Princeton’s Unite For Sight Global Health Society and Partners in Health Engage. She has also worked as a Research Intern at Cohen Children’s Medical Center, and as an intern for Montefiore Medical Center’s Network Performance Group through Princeton Internships in Civic Service (PICS). She is excited to join PICS as a Project 55 fellow and connect other dedicated students to impactful non-profit organizations. She looks forward to assisting in expanding the program and helping other students explore potential careers in public service.

When I learned that Princeton Internships in Civic Service (PICS) was accepting applications for a Project 55 Fellow, I was excited because I had done a PICS internship the summer after my sophomore year and loved it. PICS gave me the opportunity to explore multiple aspects of a field I found interesting and find direction for my career. I was an intern at Montefiore Medical Center in the Network Performance Group. I learned about quality improvement in healthcare and had the chance to shadow several clinicians. My experience as an intern shaped my trajectory toward pursuing a career in medicine and taught me how to approach issues in the field from a more humanistic, service-minded perspective. Project 55 has allowed me to give back to the program that influenced me greatly and pay it forward to current students. In a few months, I will be heading to medical school. PICS and AlumniCorps played an instrumental role in getting me to this point and I am so grateful for my experiences with both organizations.

PICS is an alumni-founded and funded organization, whose mission is “to develop and support, through active alumni involvement, paid summer internships in civic service for Princeton undergraduates that positively impact the public interest and result in the personal growth of the students themselves.” As the Student Program Coordinator, I certainly contributed to this mission. I played an integral role in the management of the program, met and counseled students who are interested in nonprofit work, worked with the dedicated PICS board members and interfaced with people who work with our remarkable partner organizations.

2018 Orientation Photo
PICS Leaders at Orientation. Justine, current Project 55 Fellow at PICS
orientation photo4
PICS interns at Orientation

There will be 192 interns all over the country and abroad doing important work with nonprofits in education, medicine, policy, legal services, arts, and more this summer. I know that many of these students will have life-changing experiences and will learn the value of incorporating service into their lives no matter what career path they ultimately choose. I genuinely feel that the work I did this year will have a great impact on the students as well as the communities they will serve. I think that, as a student of an institution like Princeton, it can be easy to take resources and opportunities for granted and forget how much work, time, and compassion goes into running a program like PICS. I have learned to be more appreciative and conscious of all that is involved in making these opportunities available to students of all income levels.

In April, I really came full circle with the PICS program. I attended the PICS Professional Development and Leadership Orientation before I went out on my internship in 2015, and now I have just finished helping to organize and run the orientation for the 2018 interns. Our keynote speaker at the event, Professor Miguel Centeno emphasized the importance of not competing and doing service purely for the sake of helping others, rather than more self-interested motivations. I think that my main takeaway from my Project 55 Fellowship with PICS is that it is always important to step back and think about how what you are doing can have greater meaning and a positive impact.

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