Note: Felicia Peterson was our summer intern from Macalester College’s “MacNest” program.
The prologue was February 21st when I walked into a room full of strangers.
While I was excited to discover which startup I would devote ten weeks to, I felt overwhelmed trying to figure out which group would be the best fit for me. All that doubt faded away when End in Mind showed up on the list. I was sold. During spring semester, I took a class called Living and Working with the Dead where I learned about death and dying, and more specifically, how death and dying affects the living. I knew I could take what I learned and use it to help further the organization’s mission. Ten weeks ago, I wrapped up the prologue and began my journey, my story with the End in Mind.
The first day of my internship at End in Mind, Jamie Bachaus, the program manager, looked me in the eye and said she wanted to know what I wanted to get out of the internship. I got to personalize some of the details, which gave me a sense of agency in my new location. With one meeting, I learned that my projects would impact End in Mind and my thoughts, feelings and opinions mattered.
The next weeks sped by. In a mustard yellow room at the Glen Nelson Center, I had my check-ins with Jamie, set up goals, learned about expectations, and watched brilliant women bounce ideas and inspirations off each other. I cried in that room. I found encouragement in people in a place of uncertainty. I took my first steps to advocate for myself and trust that others have the capacity and proclivity to be supportive. I had to turn to Jamie, research librarians, and MacNest staff for guidance over and over as I worked on my main project: a literature review about purpose and its effects on wellness.
I am a work-a-holic, so I poured over scientific research showing activities like taking time to assess mental health and being “present” in the moment improves quality of life. When I finally gave myself permission to pause and contemplate the details of my life, I realized that I was not on a path set in stone. That thought terrified me. True to End in Mind’s modus operandi, I had important, future impacting conversations about who I am and what I need to do in the world that will fulfill me. I have always been a person who creates step-by-step plans, thinking that if I follow through, I will be able to satiate my ambition. The environment allowed me to be curious about the world around and within me. I learned about graduate school–a future that had always seemed closed to me. Jamie provided me links, materials, and project ideas for me to return to Macalester and implement.
I now check in with myself daily. Where am I mentally? Did I just spend ten minutes with my fingers on the keyboard, staring at the screen while my brain short-circuits? Is there something else on my mind that will continue to affect me if I continue to ignore it? Asking myself that already proves to me that I grew during my internship. If I can do that over one summer, what am going to be capable of after three more years with a degree in my hands? Navigating points of ambiguity created a space for me to recognize the survival skills cultivated over the years and the resiliency I hold within me.
Now, I am counting down the days–not for the end of the internship, but for when I can share the stories I held onto for ten weeks to the people I care about. I can leave knowing that I learned and honed in on different skills. I am proud to say that I worked with End in Mind. I cannot wait to tackle my second year at Macalester College and continue adding to my story.