Caleigh Paster ’21

Small World Initiative, Inc., New York, NY

This summer, I interned as the video communications director at the Small World Initiative (SWI)—a non-profit located in New York City that is working to combat the antibiotic crisis while increasing scientific literacy and minority representation in STEM. The antibiotic crisis is the growing threat of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Antibiotic misuse—like finishing a treatment before prescribed—and overuse—such as using antibiotics in livestock and for any infection, even if it isn’t bacterial—have brought into perspective the dire need for new antibiotics. SWI combats this growing threat by crowdsourcing antibiotic discovery through a hands-on, discovery-based curriculum for high schools and colleges. Seeing as there is limited funding available for these initial drug discovery steps, the work SWI is doing is essential to solving the antibiotic crisis.

In a typical summer, the SWI team would convene at a campus for their annual Instructor Training Workshop where they help instructors learn how to teach their curriculum. However, due to Covid-19, their workshop this summer was forced to be virtual. As the lead videographer, I was assigned to produce and edit 22 instructional videos for their Training Workshop. I wrote pitches of the training for news sources to cover. I connected with these filming teams via video calls to help them set up the proper camera angles, work out equipment kinks, and gain familiarity and comfort with the filming process. After the footage was filmed, I spent hours editing together the clips, adding special effects, and ensuring that the videos were comprehensible for the workshop attendees. My project for the last week was to cut these instructor videos into student versions that can be used in the classroom setting for years to come!

Prior to my internship at SWI, I knew that I was interested in a public 
health career. However, due to my limited public health exposure and hours spent in a lab last summer, I thought that my public health career might be as an epidemiologist or health sciences researcher. After completing my internship at SWI, I now see an entirely different career path 
ahead of me. Working in public health communications is a vital role, as 
this pandemic has shown me. Getting factual information out to the general 
public in an easy-to-understand manner is necessary to keep society functioning and safe. As such, I now can see myself combining my love for film and video through a career in public health video communications. 
This has led me to select public health and video production courses for my senior year at Williams, as well as apply to various Science Communications and Public Health Master’s programs and fellowships.

I am beyond grateful for the experiences I have had this summer. Having the opportunity to serve as the lead video producer at a public health non-profit has changed my views on what I can do with my career. Without the support of ASIP, this wouldn’t have been possible. Thank you so much to everyone that made this possible!