ORISE program benefits both Army and students

By Public Affairs Office, U.S. Army Public Health CommandSeptember 12, 2014

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"There is no other summer internship opportunity quite like it," said Jacqueline Owens, management analyst and ORISE Program coordinator at the U.S. Army Public Health Command, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. "ORISE provides such a unique experience for a student--one they can't get anywhere else."

The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education is an educational fellowship program established worldwide in 1992, according to Owens. It helps to meet the needs of the U.S. Army by providing additional workforce and offers job training for college students or post-graduates. Owens says the USAPHC has the greatest number of ORISE participants on APG.

This summer, the USAPHC hosted 34 ORISE students, assigning them to G--staff and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, or STEM, fields in which the command's technical professionals work. Under the guidance of public health experts, the students are exposed to what a worldwide public health organization does.

Many ORISE participants are very familiar with STEM disciplines, Owens said.

At the USAPHC, ORISE participants can work in many different fields. Amanda Rice, whose father works at the USAPHC and alerted her to the ORISE opportunity, works with security and intelligence. Kristina Dziki supported the USAPHC laboratory, and Anthony Bunger worked in the Deployment Environmental Surveillance Program.

Participants have the opportunity to work on diverse tasks that aid the command's mission. Bunger cross-checked air, soil, water and waste samples in a Department of Defense database and assembled sample kits for Soldiers in the field. Dziki operated bio-detection equipment and helped in lab projects in biodefense.

"It's more than just bench work, though," said Dziki, "I was able to be involved in the management and organization of the labs, not just the lab itself and collecting data."

The majority of ORISE participants seem to have common ambitions of extending their knowledge, gaining experience for future employment, interacting with new people, and getting exposed to government careers.

"This job was very good in helping me to get my foot in the door," said Rice, "And it's great for me and my government career to build up experience in this field."

"What folks know here (at USAPHC) is amazing," says Owens, "You're sitting next to Ph.D. scientists and engineers. It's a remarkable summer internship, and you get paid for it."

Rice, majoring in intelligence analysis at American University, learned a great deal from online training courses and the security clearance process. Dziki, a bioengineer major at the University of Maryland, was grateful to have found a job with the unique intersection of health and technology.

And Bunger, who majors in music education, built valuable skills working with scientists.

"Regardless that I'm pursuing music education at Towson," says Bunger, "I have learned matchless skills like operating government computers and programs. But I especially love the experience I had with meeting new people and interacting with them in a workplace setting."

Many participants like Dziki had solid skills to offer as a result of previous training; she contributed two years of engineering school and fast learning capabilities. Bunger said that he and the ORISE students he worked with stayed organized, got projects moving along and done on time.

In return, the Army benefited from the hard work and dedication of these ORISE participants, Owens said.

"We value the young because youth most times comes with an openness; a willingness and yearning to learn … they bring that with them," Owens says, "They give us fresh new ideas that we may have not considered, and we are always grateful for their attentive shadowing and hard work."

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U.S. Army Public Health Command