Student Interns

Meet the Student Intern Team



Adam is double-majoring in landscape architecture and landscape industry. It’s his second summer with the program after Jeremiah Bergstrom recruited him.

Adam describes the Water Resources Program as “the chillest job” he’s ever had. Before this, Adam worked for Rutgers Gardens, Central Park, another park somewhere else, a golf course and a nursery and what he admires about working for the Water Resources Program is that it hosts the nicest collection of people he’s ever known. He also has the opportunity to do a lot of “legit design work.”

Oftentimes, Adam finds himself in the field overseeing construction. Going out in the field is the best part of the job, Adam says. His favorite days of work were in Neshanic working with the NJ Tree Foundation, a bunch of good guys who had chill personas and good senses of humor.
He really enjoys working with Jeremiah, as Adam operates under the impression that he is Jeremiah’s favorite student. Jeremiah often isn’t around, however, he’s very elusive, so Adam always happy every time they work together.
Adam spends a lot of his time designing and building rain gardens. Adam builds rain gardens like grandmothers bake cookies, he just churns them out like it’s what he’s always been destined to do. He knows everything there is to know about them, he’s an encyclopedia of rain garden knowledge.
Adam is always doing something. He’s also very good with a shovel, in a non-Sopranos kind of way. He’s been described as easygoing, mellow, laid-back and more than a little goofy at times. He reminds Liz Pyshnik of Spike the stegosaurus from The Land Before Time and Kaylene of Tina from Bobs Burgers.
He wrote a proposal for the bike-sharing program at Rutgers. If it weren’t for Adam, Kaylene wouldn’t have her bicycle.
When he’s not working, he’s spending time with friends, relaxing, or just cruising around.
His work with the Water Resources Program has helped him to deal with contractors and to be able to talk with people about design plans and construction. He’s learned how to work with a variety of people, something that’s very important in his line of work.

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Amna has spent a fall semester and two summers interning for the Water Resources Program. But her interests weren't always aligned with environmental engineering. Amna spent a half-year studying chemical engineering and quickly realized that she didn't enjoy it, resulting in poor grades. She decided to switch majors.

Switching to bioenvironmental engineering delighted her parents. Mostly her father; her mother thought that a bioenvironmental major just stands around outside, staring at trees. Mother encouraged her to find a job where she does work for a living.

It was Amna's older sister who discovered the Water Resources Program. Amna needed an internship over the summer and, while the Water Resources Program was all filled up, she took up an independent study opportunity in the fall.

Amna was astounded at how fun her job was. She was working with people with all kinds of majors and she loved it. The joy of working on a program like this, Amna explained, is that it goes beyond educational background. Amna just loves working like she's in the real world, giving her all to a project that's not being graded. Throughout her years with the Water Resources Program, she's also honed her ability to work with other people to accomplish a goal.

Amna has built rain gardens in Troy Hills, she's spent a summer working on a project that was funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), and this summer provides Amna the opportunity to continue working on the NFWF project as well as working in Camden on a combined sewer overflow management project.  Her favorite work is the rain garden stuff.  She's the kind of girl who's eager to prove how strong she is.  Show her the biggest rock in the quarry and she'll figure out how to pick it up.  She knows that she can do everything a guy can do and she can probably do it better, too. She's like a character right out of Anne Get Your Gun. But she never likes to take herself too seriously and she always has a lighthearted character.

When she's not busy being awesome at work, she's an admittedly peculiar person. Amna would love to be a hiker. When she tried it out, she got lost... five minutes from the parking lot. So, instead, she loves the beach – less opportunities to get oneself lost – but she doesn't know how to swim.

Ultimately, it seems, there is nothing that Amna would rather do than travel. Experience the world. Go to Africa and set up water pumps.

Just don't ask her to set up water pumps in the woods; she might get lost.

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Bhavani is a bioenvironmental engineering major and a fresh face in the water resources program. When Dr. Obropta and Dr. Krogman promoted the internship opportunity at a bioenvironmental mixer for Bhavani's major, Bhavani didn't quite know what to expect.

She spent the first handful of days working on site visits in East Brunswick, New Brunswick, Monroe, and several other towns. In addition to site visits, Bhavani went sampling with Lisa Galloway Evrard who, according to Bhavani, makes some bangin' cupcakes.

Bhavani says that sampling is a lot of fun, especially when you get ticks all up and down your legs and your hip boots are five sizes too big.

It’s incidents like these that probably inspire her mother to tell Bhavani to get an office job. At home, Bhavani is among computer science majors and computer engineers, not the kind of people who are often found tramping through the woods looking for ticks.
When Bhavani is away from the tick-infested jungles of New Brunswick and Monroe, she's trying her hand at AutoCAD and ArcMap. She's surprised that The Powers That Be even allow the interns to use such systems, as she'd never imagined herself using anything like them before.

But it's a welcome challenge for Bhavani, an outgoing and energetic individual. But anyone who knows Bhavani would think of her as outgoing and energetic. Few people know the certain set of skills that Bhavani possesses outside of being a tick magnet. For starters, she can catch a chicken like nobody's business.

Bhavani grew up in India where chickens run free, children ride around on tiny bicycles, and teachers are allowed to beat their students. Bhavani also spent a good deal of her time playing with tires. She left India when she was seven or eight to come to the US, where we have fewer free-roaming chickens and fewer teachers who beat their students, but more blood-sucking ticks and large boots.

When she's not working, she's hanging out with friends. Or watching supernatural shows on television, such as Fringe and iZombie (but, curiously enough, she doesn't care for the show Supernatural). Bhavani also plays video games like Tomb Raider and The Legend of Zelda and reads comic books from the 90s. She insists that Wally West, the third Flash, is the best Flash.

When she is at work, she loves every minute of the experience. She's very comfortable in this new environment and because of her work in the program, she's decided to go for her Masters in Civil Engineering with a concentration in Water Resources. A job where her hip boots might actually be the right size.

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Bob is an environmental planning and design major hired by Jeremiah, his Site Design professor.  He was hired specifically to work on a project to monitor gravel wetlands that have been built in the Barnaget Bay watershed. It was February and automatic sampling equipment needed to be deployed into the field as soon as the ground thawed.

February was also crunch time for the National Fish and Wildlife (NFWF) project. It was hectic but it was cool.

Primarily, Bob works on the Barnaget Bay project and on various projects throughout Hamilton. He spends his time computer mapping and collecting water samples. He also does handyman work when it needs to be done. The other interns can use AutoCAD but Bob's one of the only ones skilled with a hammer and power tools.

His favorite day on the job so far was spent sampling in a canoe. He and a small team were tasked to find out how much sediment was on the bottom of three stormwater ponds. They took a canoe and surveyed one rod standing on top of the sediment. The second one had to be pushed as far down into the sand as they could. They had to balance the canoe and the rod in the water and stay in the boat without capsizing it. Bob is a certified kayak instructor so he spearheaded the expedition.

He grew up working on commercial fishing boats and a lot of that work involves fixing things and most of it is spent working in terrible conditions. On another note, Bob is also really good at riding a bicycle with no hands. He also rock-climbs, mountain bikes, and hikes. He's very outdoorsy.

Most of the new people don't know what Bob does. He's very independent, very serious, and he's described himself as blunt, stoic, and extremely knowledgeable. Essentially, Bob Brown is to the Water Resources Program what Jordan Schlansky is to Conan O’Brien.

Bob is happy with the program because of how varied it is. He's created a pretty exhaustive NJ database for GIS. GIS tech and field tech are the two things he'd like to work with when he gets a full-time job.  He also has developed some Apps to ease the collection of field data.

Bob is glad to be getting so much field experience. He also meets a lot of awesome people on the job, including Jess Brown, no relation.

Bob Brown's girlfriend is named Jess and Jess Brown is the person who supervised Bob Brown and she's married to a guy who is also named Bob Brown. That's too weird to simply be chalked up to "small world, huh?" One day, some conspiracy expert will make sense of all of that and discover Bob to really be a lizard man from Mars plotting to overthrow the government.

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Cody volunteered for the Water Resources Program in the past but this is Cody’s first official year working for the program.  

Cody is a civil engineering major and admires the program for how many dedicated, motivated individuals have become a part of it.

Cody’s been involved in all stages of multiple projects. He’s seen a project go from site assessments to construction documents.  He’s taken photographs of potential project sites, used AutoCAD to create preliminary designs and then HydroCAD to model these designs.

Most of the summer project work is done in teams and Cody seems to always be the driver for his team.  He loves driving especially the Ford F150 pickup truck and would list driving as one of his strengths. He's never been issued a ticket for speeding, he always gets from Point A to Point B safe, no accidents. He’s like Jason Statham in The Transporter, except Cody’s not bald.

Cody says that their field days are always super-exciting for him. Detention basin evaluations, stream sampling and rain garden construction have always been fun.  And he’s made friends with a lot of his fellow student interns and many of these friendships developed while working together in the field.

Cody is outgoing. He’s motivated. He’s also trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. (He’s an Eagle Scout, if you haven’t guessed.)

Eagle Scouts are always prepared. So it should come as no surprise that Cody has thoroughly ironed out a plan for survival in the event of a zombie apocalypse. His plan is detailed and multi-layered and he can probably go on for hours about it if you ask him but, to summarize, he has some wisdom about the types of zombies one might encounter: If they're fast zombies, you're screwed. The fast and stupid 28 Days Later ones are dangerous but the fast and smart I Am Legend ones are infinitely more deadly. The slow and stupid ones are easy to deal with, but the slow and smart ones are a little dangerous. As long as you seek out Cody the instant the news starts its stories of people biting other people, then you’ll be fine!

In his free time, he trains and teaches Tae-Kwon-Do. He also makes a mean quesadilla.

Working with the Program, Cody has seen that he can make a difference in making the world a more sustainable place. He’s seen that he can help reduce negative impacts of climate change. The Water Resources Program is making a difference to reduce local flooding and improve the living conditions for residents of New Jersey.

That is, until the zombie apocalypse begins. Then, it’s every man for himself.


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Dillon is an environmental engineering major from Puerto Rico. He transferred from the Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico and came to Rutgers where they assigned him to Nicole to introduce him to RU. She toured him around and introduced him to the program. Upon learning that the program was looking for people who spoke Spanish, Dillon applied immediately. Dillon is a skilled Spanish speaker.Nos robar su avestruz y montar en la ciudad.

Dillon's first impression of the program was that it was a very strict and really serious working environment. Soon, he settled in and found it to be incredibly laid-back and "chill". Upper management entrusts these huge projects to their interns and that sort of responsibility means a lot to Dillon. Dillon has done a detention basin project in Hamilton. He's worked with some other interns overseeing the field work but he's also taken it into his own hands, assessing over 130 basins. He wrote up reports, too.

Most recently, Dillon is working on designing a rain garden for use at a municipal building. This is his first opportunity to design a project.

His parents probably think he runs around New Jersey conserving water. That's more than some other people can say, though; his wife has no idea what he does.

Also: Dillon has a wife and son. It's one of the most surprising things about him. He spends a lot of his free time with his family, going to parks and the racetrack. It's basically boring old dad stuff made awesome by Dillon because he's an awesome dad.

Every interesting fact about Dillon Swiderski could fill up three exposé pieces, but we'll just condense the best into one. He just got his motorcycle license. He knows the best places to eat in town, he knows the best stuff to order, and he knows that the salsa rosada is actually just mayo ketchup. He'd like to own a nonprofit, go to Miami, work for a few years and start his own hydrology and hydraulics company, though not necessarily in that order. He likes to meditate, surf, and do some off-road motor sports. He is very inclusive and super positive. He believes that the most essential component of the workplace is the emotional stability of the employees, which is why he spends the first bit of his day greeting and catching up with everyone.

If the funding was suddenly cut to the Water Resources Program, Dillon would stay and work. He's not in it for the money. He's in it for the memories, the experience, and the interaction. He understands that nothing lasts forever, but he also believes that the skill set he's built in the program is truly unparalleled by any other program and internship. It's great for him to know what to expect in the work force and to have a lot of answers as to how companies and engineering programs operate.

To close, Dillon says that the best place to get burgers in New Brunswick is at Diesel and Duke and his LinkedIn profile is "Dillon Swiderski".

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Dom is a bioenvironmental engineering major on his second year with the Water Resources Program. Dominick didn't expect such a friendly work environment when he first came to the program, and he certainly didn't expect the interns to be taught so much.

He was instructed how to use a lot of different computer programs, but those aren't really Dom's forte. He's good with them, but he's more outdoorsy. He loves nature. Some of the most engaging work Dom has done so far with the program has been the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) work visiting towns and performing outfall assessments in Hamilton Township.

He's the guy who always takes initiative. He's very eager to keep working, even if everyone else is ready for a break.  Dom would have a pickaxe and be going at it while everyone else is getting water. His "Get it done" attitude is so strong and his work ethic so unparalleled that his coworkers call him the Dom-inator.
The Dom-inator is never lazy, never complains about wanting to go home, and always loves what he does. He's a hard worker, he's physically very strong, and he is also probably immune to poison ivy. When his team goes into the field for outfall assessments or detention basins inspections, everyone else would go home scratching their legs and putting aloe on. But not the Dom-inator.

He's a very imposing person. Some people may be intimidated by Dom due to his quiet demeanor and muscular physique.  But once you get to know him, it is impossible not to like him.  Dom is super-strong guy with Snapchats that involve these cute pictures of little, tiny animals.  Even in his off-time, Dominick is into the environment.  He can't get enough of it.

It takes a little while to know whether Dom is joking or serious (he usually is joking). His friends don't understand a lot about this job. A lot of them are doctors, pre-med majors, and aren't interested in the environmental aspects. His parents at least know what he does and they insist that they, too, have a rain garden in their yard. They don't, but Dom can't stand to break it to them.

In his free time, the Dom-inator plays soccer and swims, but it always depends on his friends' availabilities. When he can't hang out with friends, he plays with his birds. He has a cockatiel and a parakeet.

The Dom-inator's hardworking nature comes from his time in wrestling. His coach helped him a lot and taught him to keep going until all the work is done. And then, Dominick got hit by a radioactive meteor and got all of his super powers, and that's the Dom-inator everyone knows and loves today.


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Eliot is an environmental planning and design major hired by Jeremiah. This is Eliot’s second summer with the program but this summer he is splitting his time with the US Forest Service.  Fortunately for Eliot, he seems to always be working for the Water Resources Program on the days of the celebratory events like ice cream socials and barbecues.  In addition to becoming an outstanding designer of green infrastructure, he has become quite the social butterfly.

Before Eliot got an internship in his field, he was spending his days conducting inventory of trees and working on golf courses. He is relieved to finally get to do field work for the Water Resources Program instead of research all day long. While the research process has the potential to be interesting, Eliot found it to be disorganized and vague at times.  

Luckily, here at the Water Resources Program, everyone knows what they're doing and they provide a lot of direction.

Eliot's time with the program has been an intensely educational process. There is a huge emphasis on getting the interns to learn the tools of the trade and have them develop certain skills.

Since Eliot is all about trees, he was happy to be working on a tree canopy assessment project for Hillsborough. Eliot found the project to be immensely enjoyable because it was him doing things that he wanted to learn and, for the most part, he was leading the project.

In his free time outside of work, he spends a lot of his week trying to restore a historic trail on campus. He has some friends who think that he just works on that trail full-time.

But one can go mad just doing trail work all day. More recently in the program, Eliot was writing the Lopatcong Creek Watershed Restoration and Management Plan. He did a lot of calculations for it last summer and, this year, he worked on the actual plan. It was fun to collaborate on that with so many different people, a different experience than the one he had with the Hillsborough tree canopy project, when he was working independently.

Tree-loving aside, something that some people might not know about Eliot is that he's an old soul. It's the sort of thing you don't learn until you've driven him up to Hoboken – like Hollie did – to talk to Chris Brown. Not the rapper. The Principal Planner for the City of Hoboken.

Also, Eliot is minoring in Spanish. Él no es tan bueno en hablar español, sin embargo. He's been playing the piano since the first grade, Hollie's nickname for him is Nagele Bagel, and he's an Eagle Scout. You can tell he's an Eagle Scout because he has a throw rope in the back of his car. Just in case someone is drowning.

Eliot loves working for the program because the environment is good. Everybody is really nice and welcoming, especially the bosses. "It's always being kept real here," Eliot said.

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Enrique is a civil engineering major who has been in the program for several months. He's made friends with Dillon, Shivangi, and Nicole, who introduced him to the internship opportunity.

Last summer, Enrique thought he wanted to be an architect when he graduated but, after a full semester, he was really interested in water resources. The program helped him to realize what he wants to do in the future. He wants to do a lot of community outreach. Enrique saw in the program things that he wanted to see himself doing in the future. He'd like to get his Masters in Hydraulic Engineering.

To Enrique, the Water Resources Program has been nothing but welcoming. People tend to be more like friends than coworkers. Enrique didn't want it to be akin to his experience doing research where he couldn't connect to his coworkers. Everybody was too focused and not very friendly. But, here, they hang out at ice cream shops, at farms, and they always have a good time. If his pay was suddenly cut altogether, he would still stay for the people.

Enrique himself is really friendly, one of the nicest people you will ever meet. He's a hard worker too, coming in an hour early and staying late. He has checklists of things that he wants to accomplish that day; he is a goal-driven person. He's learning a lot this summer and is a quick learner.  He's a pretty adventurous person and learned the outfall assessment process very quickly.

Hamilton outfall assessment is every Thursday and off he goes, hacking through the forest with a machete. He loves it because it's rare for an intern to get work chopping through bushes with a giant knife. He doesn't like frogs or the animals he sees when he goes, but that's part of the fun of it. He's getting used to all sorts of different things.

His parents think that Enrique is a construction engineer, that he spends all day in the field yelling at people what to do. That's not him, though. He's always happily working, walking around and doing his job in the field. His family and friends are happy for him because this is something that he loves to do.

Few people know this, but Enrique plays the guitarlele. It's a small, stringed instrument that is neither as big as a guitar nor as small as a ukulele. He also loves spending time with his nephews, he can draw by hand really well, he loves martial arts, and he's a really good dancer. On Thursdays, perhaps, Enrique can try to master la Danza de los Machetes. He'd certainly be the envy of all of his coworkers.


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For three years, Farielle has been a valued member of the Water Resources Program. She's a bioenvironmental engineer who has helped turn others onto the program as well. Kyhlil has cited her as a strong influence in his decision to apply for the internship. And he has good reason to: she's friendly, she's understanding, and she'd stop what she's doing to help a friend at the drop of a hat.

At work, Farielle loves being able to do very hands-on projects related to her major. Since she began working for the Program, Farielle has been conducting a lot of site visits in Hamilton and other towns as part of completing impervious cover assessments.  She also has conducted site visits in Camden City as part of the combined sewer overflow project.  She has worked a lot on rain gardens. Farielle was shocked to learn how many rain gardens Rutgers has popping up around New Jersey. They number in the hundreds.

Personally, her work is most engaging when it's something fresh and new. Anything new is different and anything different is exciting for Farielle.

She was inspired to apply for the job by Dr. Obropta. Just seeing how he started the program was very inspiring to Farielle. He's very helpful, very encouraging, and he gives all of the interns opportunities to grow and get jobs that will help them go places in life. It's helped her to work with other people and to be professional. When she's in the workplace, Farielle has learned to work with instead of compete with her coworkers.
Additionally, her work on this internship has gotten her another internship in consulting with Accentur. Telling them about her experience in stormwater consulting gave her a good background for overall consulting. Farielle thinks that, in the future, she'd like to start a program like this. Her work with this internship convinced her to try and work with academia in the future.

Farielle is a very honest and studious person. When she's at school, she's learning and when she's not at school, she's studying. But, upon scrupulous examination of her personal life, one would find Farielle to be an avid Netflix watcher.

House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, and LOST are the mainstream, quickly-recognized titles that Farielle frequents. She takes pride in watching a more obscure selection of Netflix shows, such as The Tudors, which one can only assume is an incorrectly-spelled show about people who mentor other people through difficult school subjects (and, you know, not a show about the reign of King Henry VIII of England). Farielle watches a bunch of historical fiction shows. She didn't name which, but if you're at the office one day and need to chitchat with somebody about the game-changing season finale of Call the Midwife, Farielle is almost certainly your girl.

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Hollie is an environmental planning and design major, a rarity in the Water Resources Program. She's been with the program for a year and a couple of months and she's done just about everything there is to do.

She's worked on rain gardens, she's done a lot of surveys, and she's been participating in weekly meetings for outreach programs in Camden, Newark, and Patterson. She'd also been "suckered into" investigating and documenting combined sewer overflow networks in Newark. Hollie is very hands-on and she loves what little outdoor work she's given, especially the rain garden construction. But, recently, she's been focusing on project management, trying to get certified through a course so she can boss people around and organize their schedules. This summer, Hollie has mostly been trapped inside the office and running to the store for supplies to satisfy the whims of upper management.

Once, she had to re-order a van mirror three times. The first time, AutoZone ordered the wrong one. The second time, Amazon sent her the mirror for the wrong side and the third time, she got the correct mirror but she was unable to return mirror #2.

Hollie remembers how she first got roped into the Water Resources Program. Jeremiah, who was teaching her Site Design class, asked her if she wanted to work for him in the fall. It was the 2013 semester. She remembers because that's when she had her first surgery. Lacrosse ball to the nose.

Since she arrived, Dr. Obropta and Jess Brown have accommodated her and convinced her to stay with the program, but Jeremiah was there from the beginning.

She wanted to take him up on the job because she thought the work would be interesting. Hollie is around water a lot. She lives on Long Island and she tries to go to the beach whenever she can. She collects sea glass. Her grandfather is a World War II veteran who owns a lake house and Hollie visits often. She recognizes that water is a largely wasted resource and she enjoys learning about how people can use it in a functional and sustainable way.

Her grandfather tells her that she can't work with the program because it's not a state job and, worse, it's not a job on Long Island. But Hollie's parents are fine with whatever Hollie wants to pursue. They don't know what she does for a living and they don't ask too many questions.

At work, Hollie is delightfully sarcastic, fun, and organized. Her pet peeve is being late. She's also very funny. Or, she likes to think that she's funny. She hopes that people are laughing with her and not at her, though that is a possibility. Hollie is also very easy to talk to and easy to get along with.

Hollie devotes a lot of her time to teaching girls' lacrosse in East Brunswick, though her nose disagrees with the decision. She was also on her varsity bowling team for three years. She has two bowling balls: one is at home and one is in the back of her car.

With the first one, she plans to fend off home invaders and, because of the second one, the front of her car is five inches higher off the ground than the back.

She's very thankful that the Water Resources Program has given her the opportunity to do work that pertains to her major. Because of Dr. Obropta, she'd like to become a project manager one day. Or, at the very least, she'd like to have a job that doesn't involve ordering van mirrors off of the Internet.

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After three years of undergraduate work in China, Jason Yu has come to Rutgers University. As an environmental science major, he was intrigued by Dr. Obropta’s internship opportunity with the Water Resources Program. This is Jason’s first year interning for the program. What he enjoys about the Water Resources Program is how everyone knows what to do or how to figure it out and they are active. They’re involved with so many different projects and they actually do field work. The Water Resources Program is the real deal.

Jason has been working on modeling a part of Hamilton Township to find out if green infrastructure would influence the hydrology of the nearby river. He’s done some design work as well as work in the field, collecting data for his modeling and visiting the sites he’s designing for.

But Jason is a much focused person and he is very good at what he does. He collected data with Dillon Swiderski once. They were supposed to have collected data through an entire week and it only took three days to complete! Other than that, however, most of his coworkers would find it hard to put into words what Jason does all day. He keeps to himself a lot with his head buried in the computer, modeling his watershed.

He’s fairly shy and doesn’t say much, but it would surprise nearly everybody if they found out that Jason actually plays bass in a heavy metal band. His band also does some punk and funk work and his bandmates are all majoring in mechanical engineering at Hill Center. The band’s name is Hill Center. Jason thinks that there are probably better names for the band; as an undergraduate, he played in a band called Numb and he thinks that would be a good name for their band.

Jason spends a lot of his time gaming, playing a lot of Witcher, Dark Soul, and Warcraft. When he’s not gaming, he’s practicing guitar and bass and maybe some paper craft. He also cooks for himself, so that’s very time-consuming.

Jason plans to use his modeling work as his graduate thesis. It’s really important to him and Dr. Obropta to show the importance of green infrastructure. Before Jason came to the program, he already knew a lot about chemistry and ecology but, now, he’s thinking like an engineer. He is always thinking about finding the practical solution. Now, it’s all about engineering and that wouldn’t have been possible without the Water Resources Program.


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Kaylene is a bioenvironmental engineering major and this is her first year with the program. For Kaylene, this program is an opportunity to see what engineers do for real and for her to see what she's getting herself in to.

She is also a wealth of stories. There's her first day out in the field when she had to go to Newark with Jeremiah Bergstrom and they worked with a group of ex-convicts. There's that time that she went concrete bridge-making with Kyle. She's also performed many site assessments, spent entire days taking pictures of playgrounds, and there's even that one time when she was hanging out with stray cats.

In Middlesex Borough, while they were at work, "an old, weird hillbilly lady" (those are Kaylene's words) pulled up behind the municipal center and began putting cans of cat food around. When invited to follow her into the woods behind the center to where there was a "cat colony," Nimah and Kaylene of course said yes and followed the lady through the woods to find 14 cats in a shed called the "Cat Hotel". One of the cats, Tiger, followed them back to their truck when they had to leave to go back to Rutgers.

There's also that one with the PS4 and the magic Chipotle, but Kaylene tells the story better than I could write it.

Her favorite trips are the ones to Newark because they hit up the WaWa on the way back. Anything that involves WaWa is good, Kaylene says.

Some people would characterize Kaylene as being "extremely fly." She's generally very happy and always laughing about things. She's very energetic and likes her cat Ash. Kaylene is also fighting a winning battle against the financial aid office. She's putting a lot of time into it.

When she was younger, Kaylene wanted to be either a paranormal investigator, a marine biologist, or a storm chaser.

Speaking of paranormal investigation, Kaylene is a huge fan of Weird NJ. She frequently goes on adventures to supposedly haunted places around New Jersey and would love to visit the Pine Barrens, or maybe Midgetville.


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Kaylin is a bioenvironmental engineering major and this is her second year with the program. She was given a glowing recommendation by Amna.

Upon first entering the program, she was treated to a fun introduction to her bosses, facilities, and resources. She didn't expect it to be so much fun.

She's been knee-deep in work for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation since last summer, drawing up designs for Milltown, Manville, and Bridgewater. Although designing on AutoCAD can be fun, Kaylin prefers the hands-on, outdoor work like rain gardens.

Her parents, unlike most of the parents of her coworkers, understand what she does with the Water Resources Program. Her dad is an engineer, so he's in on the big secret.

She's happy that this is the work she's doing over the summer, as Kaylin is interested in doing something with water conservation in the future. She also knows that this is a good experience overall, actually being able to work with people to realize a goal, unlike her previous summers spent lifeguarding.

Even if she wasn't being paid, Kaylin would still want the internship. It's a great opportunity for her, plus she gets to keep her design plans.

When she's not busy at work, Kaylin is quite the traveler, having been to eight different countries outside of the U.S. She's been to France, Spain, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Italy, and Mexico. Kaylin loves to travel.

She also loves soccer. She's been playing her whole life. Another surprising fact about Kaylin is that she is a sister to twins. She is not herself a twin, but her two siblings are. They're also taller than she is.

Kaylin is also a big Netflix watcher. She is a loyal Orange is the New Black fan and says that she watches some random TV shows too, like the cooking show Chopped and the critically-acclaimed true-crime series True Detective. Kaylin enjoys going to concerts and playing with her pets. Her dog's name is Blackjack and her cat is Thor. Kaylin spends her free time playing with the Norse God of Thunder. How awesome is that?! One day, Kaylin would like to have a cat named Loki. And then they can fight over who is the rightful King of Asgard.

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Kyhlil Palmer is a bioenvironmental engineering major and a new member of the Water Resources team. He's excited that this internship is giving him experience using computer systems that may become more useful later on in his career. Kyhlil also enjoys long walks on the beach, the sea breeze sweeping across the sand, and the salty smell of the ocean water.

Kyhlil is very family-oriented. He reports to them every day to tell them what his day was like, what he learned so his parents don't have to ask or assume anything. But Kyhlil also enjoys being independent and it's one of the aspects of the internship that he loves the most.

He's completely entranced by AutoCAD and HydroCAD. Kyhlil is a former engineering major and that subject still intrigues him, so Kyhlil is very interested in those particular systems. Other than the people, Kyhlil says, that's where it's at. The sophisticated computer systems.

The best part about Day One, Kyhlil says, was the people. Everybody was kind, everybody was welcoming. He met two individuals, Dillon and Farielle, with whom he's grown very close. They're both friendly and trustworthy and they've helped Kyhlil to feel at home in the program.

This is his first opportunity to do some work in his new subject. His first week was spent planting in Camden and the second was spent maintaining rain gardens.
In addition to his work planting for rain gardens, Kyhlil uses his free time to grow plants to harvest and make his own products, like conditioner, facial oil, shampoo, instead of just buying it all. He researches this stuff frequently.

He spends his free time watching movies. He's the kind of guy who looks for the positive in everything, so he doesn't really have a favorite movie. Or a least favorite movie. He can't even choose a favorite rapper, narrowing it down to Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, and Jay Cole. Kyhlil believes that the best rap songs are the ones that educate their listeners and tell stories. He appreciates the efforts of those particular rappers to spread messages to the young men and women who listen to their music.

People usually say that Kyhlil is chill and cool, carefree but motivated at the same time. Kyhlil can easily hone in and focus on a test or whatever it is that's in front of his face. He's a great friend. He knows that if anyone needed his help, he'd drop what he's doing and be there for them in an instant.

He's always positive, always smiling, and he challenges himself to learn and become a better person each day, which he knows the Water Resources Program will help him to do.

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Liz is an environmental science major for whom this is her first experience with the Water Resources Program. She's extremely glad that she applied for the job because, if she didn't work here, she wouldn't have known what professional environmental design looks like; she wouldn't have had the chance to help children build a rain garden; and she wouldn't have learned how to brandish a machete like Indiana Jones.

Liz has been involved in engineering for a long time, with experience in an Engineers Without Borders’ project that involve performing a leak detection for a small mountain town in Guatemala.

When she helped build a rain garden in front of an elementary school in Roselle, she got the chance to talk to children about the garden, its purpose, and the kids got the chance to contribute, getting dirty in the name of water conservation and environmental protection.

On the last several Thursdays, Liz ventures out to assess outfall pipes that lead from the streets to the streams in Hamilton Township. These outfall assessment teams use machetes to hack through plant growth to reach the streams. Through this, Liz learned of her proficiency with the tools. Don't upset Liz during an outfall assessment.

All of this is, of course, a far cry from what her parents think that she does. Liz isn't even sure her parents understand, even vaguely, what she does all day. They're under the impression that she gets coffee for people all day, as any ordinary intern surely would, or she's planting gardens, toiling under the hot sun from day in to day out.

When she explains her job a little more in-depth to her friends, they usually say, "That's so you!" or their eyes glaze over and they say, "What?"

Liz loves working at the program, even if half of the people she knows don't understand what she does for it. Liz's favorite day at work was an outfall assessment day. They went to Grounds for Sculpture and got in for free, on official RU business of assessing outfalls. They looked super-professional, walking together as a squad through the paths of Grounds for Sculpture with all of their tools and equipment. It was the most fun she's ever had at work.

Liz is the ultimate team player. She's incredibly motivated and brings out the positives in every situation. No matter what, she keeps chugging along. She has some excellent corny jokes as well.

Some surprising tidbits about Liz include her amazing ability to perform a headstand, without a wall for support, for ten straight minutes. She's a huge fan of Quentin Tarantino. She also keeps some groundhog repellent, made out of coyote urine, in the back of her car. I didn't ask her how she got the coyote urine, however. I hope she bought it from somewhere.

For Liz, her work with the program is only the tip of the iceberg. She would love to further study stormwater resources and manage public land. Liz is also interested in city planning.

For her long-term goals, Liz thinks that it'd be fun to own her own consulting or design business. In the meantime, however, she has some plans to spruce up the Water Resources Program. She hasn't approached her bosses about it just yet, but she loves the idea of Water Puppy Resources. Everybody could bring in puppies and they'd put a massive steak outside by the picnic table where everyone eats their lunch. Liz is sure it would keep up morale, but she hasn't yet perfected her plans to outfit puppies with machetes for outfall assessments.


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Marta is a landscape architecture major and this is her first summer with the Water Resources Program. Her first impression of the program was that were are a lot of projects to get involved with. There is some kind of job for everyone here. She was surprised by the variety of work opportunities the program provides.

Marta felt very fortunate to be invited by Jeremiah, her Construction II professor, to join the program. She says that she knows she's not his favorite, however; that's Tsz.

In Construction II, Jeremiah concentrated on green infrastructure and how landscape architects can help build things in environmentally-friendly ways.

She's done work for Central Park and the Rutgers Gardens, but that was mostly physical labor. Here, she's promoting green ideas and integrating them into the community and Marta loves her job.  Since arriving in the Program, Marta has been in Piscataway and Neshanic conducting impervious cover assessments for National Fish and Wildlife Foundation climate resilience project.

Marta's mother worked for the Agricultural Cooperative Extension, so she is familiar with what Marta does on the job. But her dad thinks that she just drives around a lot.

Her parents have requested that Marta build them a rain garden. Marta says that she'll get around to that eventually.

Marta prioritizes, though. She needs to finish playing through The Last of Us before she can do anything for her parents. In her time not spent killing hordes of virtual zombies, Marta spends a good deal of time hiking. She's good at navigation so she won't get lost five minutes from the parking lot.

She also draws. Along with being hardworking and courteous, Marta is equally creative and artistic. This side of Marta lends itself well to her work, as she excels at conceptual drawings.

Prior to working in the Water Resources Program, Marta didn't realize how big an impact green infrastructure could have on a landscape. It'd be impossible for her not to design anything in the future without first considering its environmental impact, whether it's a rain garden for her parents or a zombie-proof bunker for the backyard.

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Matthew Leconey is a bioenvironmental engineering major who used to work as a delivery boy for a Chinese restaurant. His favorite part was whenever somebody answered the door and said, "Hey, you're not Chinese...."

So, Matt now works for the Water Resources Program. And his parents have no idea what he does at work anymore.

Matt has worked with the Program for a fall, a spring, and a summer, his work spanning from rain gardens to site visits, from conceptual sketches to random odd-jobs.  Matt is very much a guinea pig for the professors there; he's always getting new jobs to do.  Like lying down pretending to be dead on the floor with ceiling tiles on top of him.  Dr. Obropta needed to bring a leaky roof to the attention of the Dean.

Of all the projects he's been a part of, Matt has decided that he loves the site visits, being able to visit a place and say, "What can we do here?" He likes to be given a space to fix up and then figure out how to make it all work.

Matt's very intelligent and hardworking.  He's also a perfectionist. Anybody can just spit out a product, but Matt puts his heart and soul into his work, trying to make it the best it can be.

His work with the Water Resources Program for many a season and his fascination with the environment have changed his worldview.  "Rainwater falls down," Matt says.  "We have to manage it somehow."  He's always looking for environmentally sound ways of doing things.

When he's not obsessing over environmental cleanliness, Matthew hangs out with friends and plays video games.  They're mostly Nintendo games and the Nintendo games are most Zelda games.

Matt played tennis in high school, but he insists that he wasn't very good at it.  Regardless, he carries tennis rackets and balls in the back of his car.

As he is prepared for a tennis game to break out around him, he is also prepared for whatever the Rutgers Water Resources Program throws his way.  Rain garden work, site visits, cover assessments, he's ready for it all.

Matt says that since he didn't have a ton of expectations going into the program for his first season of work, it was about what he expected.  Except for the ceiling falling on him. He didn't see that coming.

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Nicole is a civil and environmental engineering major. As she has been interning for the Water Resources Program for several years, she is a familiar face. When she first started, it was her first job ever. She didn't know what to expect, but most of her friends had jobs at Subway or Shop Rite and complained a lot about work, so she had that expectation going in. Happily, she was proven wrong as the Water Resources Program was not only a lot of fun but also determined to teach people like Nicole, who didn't even know what an engineering job would look like, the skills and the knowledge to succeed at their careers.

When she first started at the program, she was mostly in the field and her mom would see her come home dirty and sweaty nearly every day. Now that she's working a lot in the office, she comes home less dirty and less sweaty. Aside from how filthy their daughter gets on the job, Nicole's parents don't know what she does for the program.
Ever since the beginning, Nicole has been spending the majority of her days in Hamilton Township. It was where she did lots of hydrologic modeling, worked to identify potential sites for green infrastructure, and now her grad school work is based in Hamilton. This Hamilton work was the most fun for her because of the learning curve associated with it. Her first task was to conduct hydrologic modeling and write a modeling report. Having little experience with modeling, she made sure to bother the right people frequently, thus learning very quickly the skills she needed to know.
And now, not only does she know everything there is to know about the software, but she laid the groundwork for teaching it to others.
Though you wouldn't be able to guess if you meet her, Nicole is actually very adventurous; she's a risk taker. Like many other interns in the Water Resources Program, Nicole is into hiking (but she can navigate her way away from the parking lot, unlike some interns). She and her fellow intern Shivangi went to the Delaware Water Gap to hike, but it was January and the whole thing was iced over. They decided to hike to a nearby pond. They opted for the flatter trail, but it was incredibly slippery. The first stretch was abysmal but, after that, they reached the pond with minimal problems. When it was time to come back, they decided to come back a different way.

They soon found themselves having to physically hold each other to pass by incredibly icy sections of the path. Rocks were loose. They ran into bears. They had to detour several times from the trail, which ranged from difficult to walk on to absolutely impossible. The whole thing was insane. It took them forever to get back.


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Nimah is a civil and environmental engineering major and this is her first summer with the program. She's taken many classes with Nicole and Shivangi, both of whom were already interning at the Water Resources Program. When the two of them learned of Nimah's interest in pursuing water resources, they recommended the program to her.

Nimah loves it. She enjoys how Dr. Obropta makes the job fresh, fun, and exciting, and not at all like a boring office job. Everybody is very friendly and Nimah was surprised by how many activities everybody did together. They have field days during which they go sampling, perform site visits, or construct rain gardens. Being able to build the rain gardens as a team and then see the finished product at the end of the day is something that Nimah found to be very satisfying and immensely fulfilling. She's glad to be getting experience in the field setting up rain gardens, something she didn't expect to be doing, despite Nicole and Shivangi pitching the program to her as a very hands-on job.

So far, Nimah has been hard at work with impervious cover assessments for the National Fish and Wildlife Federation (NFWF). She's done them for her hometown, alongside some designs meant to improve its environmental impact. She got to see a new side of North Brunswick that she hadn't really noticed before. Now, she's moved on to Somerville. Not only does Nimah love to do the NFWF work, but she also enjoys using the engineering software. This was her first time using GIS.

Nimah is that person who stays late in the office just to finish her work for the day. She's also very friendly. Her smiles make other people smile. She comes off as someone cool and calm, who knows what they're doing and can do it well.

And you wouldn't know it if you looked at her, but Nimah is also a bit of an adrenaline junkie. She likes scuba diving and cliff jumping. She also never knew she wanted to be an engineer. She'd originally wanted to study English or philosophy.

She spends a lot of her weekends hiking with friends. She goes to the beach. She likes cooking and finding new recipes to make.

On the engineering side of things, she's also working on a massive project to build a hospital in Haiti. She spends a lot of time on that with a platoon of other engineers. They're stuck on trying to design a water system. The project was started in February and the hospital construction has already begun. The engineers, including Nimah, are going to assess and design the water treatment component in the coming months.


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Stephanie is on her first year here and, like Amna, she changed her major from chemical engineering to bioenvironmental engineering. After a time spent just being miserable and taking classes that didn't make a whole lot of sense, Amna and Stephanie found themselves at their new internship for their new major. This, Stephanie said, was the light at the end of the tunnel.

Her first days were spent scouring Google for government buildings and schools that would make good sites. After that, she did some National Fish and Wildlife Foundation work in North Plainfield, then some design work for a rain garden at the Highland Park Senior Center. Most recently, she's powering through work for Helmetta, which she describes as the smallest town imaginable.

Everyone likes the construction document she did for the senior center. It was her favorite project thus far and she got to work with AutoCAD. She says that AutoCAD hated her for a while. She had no idea how to use it the first few days and, several weeks later, all she could do with it was make it crash. She also told me not to include anything about how she didn't know how to work AutoCAD.

So, instead, we'll talk about Amna. Stephanie and Amna first met one another in sixth grade Spanish class. Stephanie is extremely positive. She's a laugher, she laughs through all of her problems. She has a bright picture of her future. Together, Amna and Stephanie were each others' therapists. The two of them spend an inordinate amount of time together. In fact, Stephanie was with Amna on that fateful hiking trip when she got lost five minutes from the parking lot.

Stephanie's not that much into hiking, but she is a really good runner. She can run five miles in 30 minutes and has sneakers in the back of her car.  In the event that her coworkers leave her behind on a site visit, she can sprint back to Rutgers. She also has a tire in her trunk. She's never changed a tire before, but it's there just in case. There's nothing a little bit of determination and a quick Google search won't be able to fix as long as Stephanie's around.

When she's not enabling her friends getting lost on hiking trips or driving through small town America, Stephanie is with Amna. And when she's not with Amna, she watches Netflix. Instead of Orange is the New Black or some obscure shows no one has ever heard of, Stephanie watches a lot of Parks and Rec. She binge-watches things she's already seen like Gilmore Girls, Gossip Girl, The New Girl, and any other show that has the word "girl" in the title.

Stephanie is relieved to have such a cool job at the Water Resources Program.  This job gave her a chance to work within her new major and to spend even more time with Amna. Her overwhelming positivity is having an interesting effect in the workplace. She thinks she creeps out Jeremiah because she's smiling every time he sees her.

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Tsz is a landscape architecture major and a new face in the Water Resources Program. This is her first summer. She was asked to apply for the Program by Jeremiah, her Construction II teacher.

One of the reasons she wanted the job is because the Water Resources Program does a lot of community outreach work. She also gets to work in various municipalities; she had no idea there were these many towns in New Jersey.

On the Program and how it's run, she's surprised to see how much the Program trusts its interns. It gives them a lot of responsibility. She learned a lot in a very short amount of time. She picked up HydroCAD in her first couple of weeks. At the same time, she'd been visiting Camden for combined sewershed assessments, Woodstown for rain garden design, and various other municipalities for National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) climate resilience project.

The Woodstown railroad rain garden was her favorite project in those early weeks. It was a marked departure from the conceptual work she was doing for the NFWF project.

For Tsz, someone with a clear idea of how she wants to change the world through her field of study, the Water Resources Program opens up all of her options. She can see that being a landscape architect doesn't have to be working for some big design firm.

Her work in the Program has also taught her more about Jeremiah, her boss. She continues to be shocked by his seeming dependence on coffee and she believes that she's spent so long with him that she's able to detect Jeremiah from a mile away.

Tsz likes to be artistic. She has a unique mindset toward nature and it shows in her photography. She's also a genius.

Tsz is from Hong Kong (so, unfortunately for the USA, she can't be President). She speaks Cantonese and would be able to successfully get back to her hotel if she was lost in China. She'd like to be able to take what she's learned and go to Eastern China to aid the environmental situation that's brewing over there.

Her hobbies include hiking (her favorite place to hike is Lantau Island in Hong Kong) and photography. Her dreams of political office have been shattered, however.


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Vinay is a senior in high school who is planning to major in engineering in college. This is his first summer with the Water Resources Program.  He’s an Eagle Scout and the WaterResources Program always likes hiring Eagle Scouts.

In his first few weeks of work, Vinay was quite worried about getting a ticket for parking in the wrong places. His first assignment was stream sampling with Enrique Jiminez, unlike anything he’d done before. Vinay thought it was cool to learn how to use the different tools. Surrounding him with Enrique’s infectious friendliness was the perfect way to dip Vinay’s toes into the water. Vinay learned how to mark off a measurement sheet, which has all sorts of markings about the depth and velocity of the water at each point in a stream. He got extra practice filling out the sheet when somebody dropped the sheet into the stream and they had to make up a new one.

Day Two found Vinay partnering up with Matthew Leconey for some site visits. They took pictures of schools, churches, and libraries to see what they could do to implement green infrastructure. They got harassed a bit by people who thought they were snooping around and being troublesome, but they didn't get into any switch-blade rumbles or anything. Between the two of them, they managed to stay out of trouble.

Recently, Vinay’s been working on a paper for the Urban Extension Program. He and Dr. Obropta are trying to get national legislation to put money into a program that funds and teaches sustainable practices in urban areas.

When his friends ask what Vinay does at work, he tells them the boring stuff and keeps the fun stuff to himself. He doesn't want Dr. Obropta to get overwhelmed with job applications next summer.

Vinay loves working for the program. For his first job, he didn't want to work as a cashier at McDonald's and he wanted something good, some real life experience, to put on his resume. It was only natural that he chose the Water Resources Program.

Vinay is smart, young, energetic, and he's motivated. When he’s not at the program, he teaches karate. Vinay also believes that, if he’s actually put into an office, it would take approximately half an hour for the Donald Trump presidency to stop being funny.

But Vinay doesn’t have a lot of free time to be thinking about the comedic implications of politics. He insists that his day is filled up by his commitment to the Water Resources Program. Free time is spent driving to and from the Water Resources Program. For sleep? He sleeps in the car between the time he gets to the Water Resources Program and the time he's supposed to start work at the Water Resources Program. Social gatherings? He stops at the Shell on his way to and from the Water Resources Program.

He’s dedicated, to say the least.

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Water Resources Program  at Rutgers NJAES