Week 10: From DC to Rochester, Thank You

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Tuesday, August 9, 2022


Valeria Viteri-Pflucker

The final week of the internship has come to a close and I have arrived safely in Illinois after 14 hours on the road. After all 10 weeks, I must say I had a fantastic summer. During the final week, there was a lot of finishing up to do but also a lot of preparing to say goodbyes. On August 1st, we had our final (in-person) Dungeons and Dragons session on blankets behind the Lincoln Memorial where we got to watch the sunset. It was a very nice closing to a summer-long campaign for the group. And we finally got out of that cave we were in for the past month or so. On the 2nd, I had a photographer come to Jared’s lab and take photographs of me for my NIST blog post, which I must revise soon. The photos turned out great and I’m very happy to have them. On the 3rd, I had my last day at NIST. Jared planned a small going-away party where people from the group went out to eat around noon with me. Jared and I meant to try to get some work done in the lab, but we ended up talking more than working which was nice because I had things I wanted to ask about before I left. Also, finally having photos back from the photographer I finished creating my presentation which included some of these photos to give viewers a feel for what my lab looked like. The next day was the practice run for the Symposium. My talk was of course quite a bit longer than I wanted and I got fantastic feedback on what to cut and how to trim content in a way that would help the talk rather than deduct information. I practiced and edited quite a bit, and also packed most things that night. Then came the big last day. The interns gave a series of honestly fantastic talks about a wide array of topics.

Afterwards began the series of goodbyes. We all left at different times so they were scattered throughout the next 24 hours. We went back to GW and Div helped me load my car. The blue carts to help load and unload were gone! I am very thankful Div was there to help; I had way too much stuff to do alone without a cart. I essentially moved almost entirely out of my other apartment into this one and will be moving from this one to my new home in Rochester, NY in a week, so its quite a bit of stuff. After packing and throwing out any remaining food that wasn’t packable, the remaining interns had a last get-together. We sat around, played games, and talked. Eventually it was time to retire but we all just awkwardly stood around by the door to consignment (Emma & Janessa’s room) not knowing how to say goodbye. There was a group hug at one point. I don’t quite remember leaving but I won’t be forgetting the people I left.

For the last 2 summers, I participated in a Department of Energy internship program and, due to COVID-19, it was remote. I met no one during these 2 summers, and relied heavily on friends who were nowhere near me and had their own lives going on. It was lonely at times, working 50 hours a week in a room with no one to talk to. I had a lot of fun with the work I was doing (thankfully) and my cat is a wonderful work buddy (thankfully) but I didn’t realize how much more I could have gotten out of an internship program. A lot of people told me to take a break for once and relax for the summer, but I’m really glad I didn’t take that advice. I learned a lot at NIST and learned a lot about physics education from different backgrounds. I got to meet some really cool people who are going to do great things. I got to live in Washington, DC for a summer! In junior high a bunch of students took a trip to DC and I couldn’t afford it. I wanted to go for a long time and finally got the chance. I got to be an experimentalist! Overall, I had a fantastic time. In one week, I’ll be moving to start the next chapter of my life. I’m going to attend the University of Rochester to start a PhD in optics. I feel much more confidence in starting this new venture after this summer, and I’m very thankful to my advisor Jared, the other interns, and Brad for the experiences I’ve had. Thank you all for being so genuine.


Valeria in lab

Valeria Viteri-Pflucker