Saule Aoki, BMC, 24′

Montgomery County Coroner

Semester: Fall 2023

Faculty Advisor: Maja Šešelj

Field Site: Montgomery County Coroner’s Office (MCCO)

Field Supervisor: Jessica Bisch

Praxis Poster: 

Saule Praxis Poster - Copy


Further Context:

During the fall of 2023, I had the opportunity to participate in a praxis course designed around an internship with the Montgomery County Coroner’s office. The county coroner is responsible for determining the death’s cause, manner, and circumstances through medical examination and investigation. You may see the profession portrayed in crime TV shows, but real life is much different. In addition to homicide and deaths involving criminal activity, the coroner’s office is responsible for investigating suicide, accidents–such as falls or drug overdoses, sudden death,
deaths in-custody’s-or during police intervention or incarceration.

During my internship, I participated in various steps of the medicolegal process. I attended and assisted with autopsies every day during my training. I measured and recorded organ weights, took fingerprints, and helped everything run smoothly. While assisting in the morgue, I observed
how the medical examiners determined the cause of death and had the opportunity to ask many questions. I learned a lot through hands-on participation and witnessed how pathological signs discovered during an autopsy indicate the cause of death.

Last summer, I interned with the Harris County Institute of Forensic Science in Houston, Texas, through Bryn Mawr’s summer internship program. My prior experience with medicolegal cases in Houston provides a basis for general comparison with the patients I observed in Montgomery
County, which has a median income twice that of Houston. Houston had many more daily cases, more homicides, and people who did not have access to healthcare during life. Yet, Montgomery County has huge wealth disparities; patterns of wealth were highly associated with the number of cases and circumstances of each death.

Overall, I’m grateful for the opportunity to intern with the Montgomery County Coroner’s office. I have gained a lot of insight into the field, and I plan to use the connections I’ve made to continue a career in forensic science.

Palmer Jones, BMC, ’24

Healing Futures Through Restorative & Transformative Justice Practices

Semester: Fall 2023

Faculty Advisor: James Martin

Field Site: Youth Art & Self-Empowerment Project (YASP)

Field Supervisor: Felix Rosado

Praxis Poster: 

Healing Futures Poster (5)


Further Context:

This was my third semester working with Healing Futures in the Youth Art & Self-Empowerment Project. This program aims to focus on connecting with youth to teach them the importance of accountability and engagement with their community. The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office sends eligible cases to the Healing Futures team and if the capacity and resources are there (often a challenge with non-profits such as this), the responsible youth (demeaning language is avoided) will be enrolled and immediately begin meeting with a team of two facilitators. We then connect with the person harmed (notice the dignifying language) to begin making connections and assisting them with their needs throughout the process. By the end of the sessions, the responsible youth will have written an apology letter and have been prepared to share it with the person harmed at their Restorative Community Conference. This conference utilizes the indigenous circle process, highlighting the importance of creating an intentional space. Using restorative and transformative practices, facilitators guide the circle and provide people a chance to share how this impacted them or caused harm. All involved will then create a restorative plan that the responsible youth typically spend 4-8 weeks completing.

Throughout this entire process, we continue to provide transportation, food, or any other support (within our means) needed in order for them to be successful. Once completed, there is a community celebration where we present a personalized award to honor the responsible youth (and occasionally the person harmed) for their strength and determination. This semester, I focused on gaining confidence in my facilitation skills through learning from the program manuals. I worked one on one with other facilitators to brainstorm how the current curriculum could be expanded or made more accessible and implemented new workshop materials. Guided by my mentors, I focused on the nature of healing connections and how programs that engage with the community help people to build ecosystems of care. I previously compared the youth in the program to seeds, reflecting the health of their environment and the things that pour into them.

If we continue to pour positive, confidence-building energy into the youth, they will learn to better care for themselves, which allows them to better care for their community. Through this, there is a reimagination of what community care can look like and hope beyond our current systems of accountability.

Olivia Kaplan, BMC, ’24

The Clearly Collective

Semester: Fall 2023

Faculty Advisor: Matthew Feliz

Field Site: The Clearly Collective

Field Supervisor: Olivia Cleary

Praxis Poster: 

Cream Simplified Professional Portrait University Research Poster-3


Further Context:

Clearly Collective, a visionary custom silk scarf company, stands at the intersection of art, fashion, and architecture. This women-owned startup specializes in crafting exquisite silk scarves inspired by monumental architecture from any location. Each scarf is a canvas, meticulously designed to capture the essence and beauty of iconic landmarks, structures, and lifestyle; the Clearly Collective transforms these elements into wearable masterpieces. These intricate patterns, details, and motifs are thoughtfully curated and placed together to evoke a sense of connection and appreciation. The heart of the company lies in its commitment to
celebrating cultures, lives and memories through its designs. The scarves serve as a visual journey, showcasing the unique charm and significance of various locations.

As a college senior, the significance of real-world experience cannot be overstated. While academic knowledge forms a solid foundation, the transition from classroom learning to practical application is where true growth and readiness for the professional world occur. Real-world
experiences I have gained from working with The Clearly Collective have offered me invaluable insights into the complexities of various industries, providing me with the opportunity to apply problem solution and analysis skills to actual situations.

These experiences not only enhance problem-solving skills but also open up the world of opportunities ahead. The exposure to real-world challenges has instilled a sense of confidence and self-efficacy, empowering and strengthening my interests.

While working at the Clearly Collective, I have been given the opportunity to learn and grow in my academic and career interests. I have also been given the chance to be a member of a small team working to make a big impact. The ability to learn and grow with the company has offered exposure and skills unlike anything else I have experienced.

A large part of the work, besides working on designing scarves, has been a combined effort to learn client outreach, business development, and media skills. These expertise and trials ensure the development of effective and engaging content, enabling the company to offer unique and high-quality product and customer experience. Business development skills have been
fascinating, learning from a women-owned and founded company, how strategic growth, including market analysis, client acquisition, and partnerships building to expand the reach and impact of the brand. Meanwhile, media development play a pivotal role in crafting compelling
narratives, creating visually appealing content, and finding desired and few clients, continuing to grow platforms for marketing and brand building.

The Clearly Collective engages with its audience across various platforms, creating a community that shares a passion for art, fashion, and architectural marvels. As time goes on, the collective hopes to bring in more stories and memories of places: towns, neighborhoods, and communities, to create meaningful pieces anyone can enjoy.

Katie Manyin, BMC, ‘23

Gender Socialization and Gender Specific Education

Semester: Fall 2023

Faculty Advisor: Elise Herrala

Field Site: Girls Inc.

Field Supervisor: Brionna Pendelton

Praxis Poster: 

Praxis Independent Study Poster Final


Further Context:

In addition to my work in the classroom facilitating Girls Inc. curriculum, one of my goals for this independent study was to analyze how Girls Inc. ‘s gender-specific educational programming affected girls’ understanding of their gender identity. I was able to do this analysis through recording field notes after my classes, and then coding the field notes for patterns
relating to the girls’ gender expressions and behaviors. At the end of the semester, I wrote a memo summarizing my findings throughout all of my classes. Here is an excerpt from that memo:

The two major themes that stood out to me after looking through my Girls Inc. field notes were the girls’ fixation on beauty and physical appearance and their lack of self-confidence. While these patterns aren’t surprising to me, I was surprised by the contradiction I observed between the girls’ astute awareness of societal inequities and the pressures put on women, and their occasional inability to identify these issues in class. For example, the 7th grade students in my media literacy class consistently demonstrated that they are aware of the harmful beauty standards that our society pushes on women, yet they are clearly still affected by this all-encompassing messaging, and sometimes even perpetuate harmful beauty standards
themselves. The contradictions that my students in Girls Inc. have demonstrated with regard to beauty standards highlight the very human experience of being able to identify when something is harmful and wrong, yet struggling to completely divorce oneself from societal pressures.

The girls in my classes have consistently demonstrated both a keen awareness of the pressure put on women to look, dress, and act a certain way, while also making comments in class that are hypercritical of their own and even other people’s appearances. One key example of this contradiction happened during my second week at The Community Academy of Philadelphia. During this session, we had the girls look at and analyze different advertisements. One of the “advertisements” I gave a group of girls to look at was really just a cover of Seventeen magazine. This cover featured a picture of Camilla Cabello, and one of the most
prominent headlines on the cover said “Get OMG Hair While You Sleep! (Seriously).” Right away, the girls in the group called out how ridiculous the idea of “OMG” hair is, as one girl mockingly asked, “What does OMG hair even mean?” Her tone told me that she understood that the idea of “OMG Hair” is so abstract and subjective, and that by using this phrase, Seventeen is implying that our hair has to look a certain way to be considered beautiful and worthy of praise.

Yet, just a few moments after the girls started making fun of the idea of “OMG Hair,”, the conversation turned to a critique of Camilla Cabello’s hair and outfit on the cover of the magazine. The girls declared that she did not have “OMG hair,” and then went on to talk about how horrible her outfit was. Therefore, even just after recognizing that it is unnecessary to put
pressure on women to look a certain way, and in this case have “OMG hair,” the girls started pulling apart a woman’s appearance. While the girls demonstrated the ability to recognize and call out misogyny in the media, they also still participated in the culture of critiquing women’s appearances themselves. This illustrates how incredibly hard it is for the girls to break out of the sexist fixation that our society has on women’s appearances, even when they recognize the harm that this fixation can cause.

Throughout my fieldwork at Girls Inc., I have also seen many girls fixate on their own physical appearance, even when we were not discussing any related topic. For example, when we did an assignment called “What’s Special About Me” with the fifth graders in which they had to write something they liked about themselves, many of the girls wrote about an aspect of their physical appearance that they liked. While it is beautiful and powerful for girls to voice what they like about their physical appearance, the fact that they went straight to that part of their identity instead of aspects of their personality speaks volumes about what young girls are taught to value about themselves. In addition to many girls struggling to write things that they liked about themselves in the “What’s Special About Me” activity, girls in all three of my placements communicated to me, in various ways, that they believe that they are ugly. Because these girls
are constantly receiving the message from the world that they should put incredibly high value on the way they look, they start to be highly critical of their physical appearance, which can contribute to lowering their self esteem.

The observations I made of the girls’ behavior in my Girls Inc. classes only reinforced for me how important it is to talk to girls about sexism and societal pressures from a young age. In my opinion, we can’t reach girls soon enough.