Summer Spotlight: Carson Clay '19

Dec. 13, 2018

Carson Clay ‘19 pursued a research internship in South Africa, which was funded by the Streicker Fellowship. Carson is originally from Raleigh, NC. She is majoring in the Woodrow Wilson School and pursuing a certificate in Global Health and Health Policy (GHP). She is interested in medicine, but also deeply invested in health policy. Carson believes doctors should be more involved in policy and has plans to work in policy before applying to medical school, and continuing her involvement in health policy as a physician.

In her junior summer, Carson worked as a research intern in health policy in Cape Town, South Africa. Her interest was initially sparked by a GHP course she took that was taught by two professors who work in rural South Africa. Carson spent her summer in the prevention wing of the trauma department at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital on work that might prevent car accident-related deaths.  Assisting on a study for Child Safe South Africa, she used ArcGIS to map and analyze accident locations, and investigated the efficacy of a mandatory seat belt law for minors that had been passed years earlier in preventing accident-related fatalities in minors. Her summer work culminated in a research report and a journal article that is scheduled to published early next year.

Carson was enthusiastic about her time in South Africa, but it was not without obstacles. Unlike official Princeton internship programs such as Princeton Internships in Civic Service (PICS) and the International Internship Program (IIP), which are typically highly structured, Streicker Fellows identify and design their own projects and the Streicker Fellowship Program provides funding to support students’ work. Carson identified a researcher who agreed to supervise her, but when she arrived in Cape Town, she found that the researcher was away on a work-related trip and would not be back for several weeks. Carson was not deterred. She befriended some medical students working in the same hospital and networked with the other researchers in the prevention wing until she found someone willing to take her on. While she found this initial setback stressful, she said the work she ended up doing on the seatbelt project was even better than the project she had initially designed. Carson has also kept in touch with the medical students, describing them as “friends for life.”

Asked if she had advice for first- or second-year students looking for internships, Carson she said that if the deadlines for the official Princeton internship programs have passed or if you’re not finding an internship that you feel is a good fit for you, definitely look into the independent funding sources. Between programs like Streicker, Bogle, Dale and others, there is funding available for many types of summer opportunities that students may be interested in.