By Lilli Arbetter
As I wrap up my time with the Sarnoff Center, I have been reflecting on my internship experience. Through conducting research, learning from team members, and engaging in community outreach, I gained a new perspective on the types of genetic disorders that are particular to the Jewish population. I learned about conditions, such as Tay-Sachs disease, Gaucher’s disease, and Cystic Fibrosis, that can have a significant impact on Jewish families. More than anything, I learned about the great services that the Sarnoff Center offers these families, through education and genetic counseling, to provide hope and guidance.
Before joining the Sarnoff Center as their Lewis Summer Intern, my knowledge of Jewish recessive disorders and hereditary cancers was limited. However, throughout the summer, I learned a lot about Jewish genetics. The culmination of this work was a presentation that I gave last week to my fellow interns, informing them about Jewish genetics and the Sarnoff Center, with hopes that this will provide increasing recognition of these topics and the services available to guide families through challenging decisions.
Prior to my presentation, I conducted a pre-survey in which most participants indicated that they had some or no knowledge on topics such as Jewish genetic disorders, BRCA mutations, and the Norton & Elaine Sarnoff Center for Jewish Genetics. After my presentation, I sent out a post-survey in which participants indicated that they experienced increased knowledge about Jewish genetics and would likely recommend the Sarnoff Center to friends and family. It was fulfilling to know that I was able to spread this important information and see the impact my sharing of knowledge had on my fellow interns.
A part of my internship that I want to highlight is the research I conducted to find grant opportunities for the Sarnoff Center. I worked on this with Sabrina Scheinberg, the Lewis Summer Intern working in the JUF’s Planning and Allocations department. From this project, I expanded on my research skills and gained knowledge and appreciation for the inner workings of nonprofits.
Further, I had the opportunity to reach out to local synagogues in the Chicago region and inquire about their participation in our High Holiday outreach program, which includes gift bags and informational pamphlets to be distributed to congregants. Through emailing the synagogues and being one of the contact points for the outreach, I had the ability to work on my communication and organizational skills. I learned the importance of informing the community about the services that the Sarnoff Center offers to make as many people as possible aware of these valuable resources available to them.
I am so grateful to the wonderful Sarnoff Center team for the opportunities and connections they provided me this summer and the knowledge I have gained. As I move forward with my sophomore year of college, I look forward to building on this newfound knowledge as I pursue a career in healthcare. I know this summer experience will serve me well in my future professional endeavors.