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Alumni Mentors share their workplace and knowledge with rising seniors

Debbie Kane
October 26, 2023

Anne Rankin ’92, the current Bates-Russell Distinguished Faculty Professor and an instructor in science, embraces her role as a change agent at Exeter. Inspired by conversations with current and former students over her nearly 25 years with the Academy, Rankin spent months brainstorming ways to build meaningful connections between the groups. “Students often talk about how valuable it is to have perspective from someone working in a career they’re interested in,” she says.

To provide those opportunities, Rankin coordinated nine new summer internships that pair students with alumni mentors in the workplace. Open by application to rising seniors, the internships placed students in diverse professional settings, including assisting with eye exams at a retinal clinic, helping a sustainable clothing brand prepare its 2024 collection, and collaborating virtually to develop an artificial intelligence module for older adults.

Rankin’s initiative complements the Academy’s robust summer internship program, which includes an 11-year partnership with Dr. Seung Kim ’81, director of the Stanford Diabetes Research Center. Students work alongside Kim in his lab, conducting hands-on biomedical research, creating and characterizing new strains of fruit flies.

Rankin stresses that the internships are more than ways for students to work in interesting settings for a month or so. “It’s also an opportunity to learn from someone other than teachers,” Rankin says. “It’s about human relationships and learning how to be mentored. Putting the students in touch with a caring adult and having them talk to you about your next steps. That’s important.”

The alumni benefit as well. Mentoring students who share their Exeter experience is an opportunity to share real-world experiences as well as insight into their business or area of expertise. “We don’t coddle anyone,” says mentor Dennis Whittle ’79, co-founder of consulting firm Normal>Next. “They’re doing real work with real leaders in real time.”

Ultimately, for Whittle and other alumni, the mentorship opportunity was as rewarding for them as for the students. “It’s a chance to learn how to be mentors,” Rankin says, “and give back to Exeter in a meaningful way beyond financial contributions.”

Here’s a look at a few of the new internships.

Exploring Clinical Medicine

Mentor Dr. Raghu Murthy ’81 works with student, Jett Goetz