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The Experiential Learning Difference at Trinity

Wuzhen, a small tourist water village in China. Photo Credit: Trent Walker '18

How are you spending your summer? Tackling some much delayed projects? Getting caught up on your reading list? Taking an extended vacation with family or friends? When I ask that question of Trinity students, many tell of the amazing experiential learning opportunities they're having this summer.

At Trinity University, we believe that experiential learning is an important part of how students learn to apply knowledge in a real world environment, while developing essential skills to complement classroom learning. As anticipated with the implementation of the Trinity Tomorrow strategic plan, a record number of students, nearly 350 from across all majors, participated this summer in these high-impact educational experiences as a way to broaden their Trinity journey.

Tanya working at Jungle Disk

Internships in San Antonio

Thirty-eight students are participating in Students + Startups, Trinity's competitive summer internship program supported by a grant from the 80/20 Foundation in partnership with San Antonio's co-working space Geekdom. The Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship reports that's more than double the number of participants from when the program was first offered last summer. Trinity students are paired with San Antonio tech startup companies and entrepreneurs, in most cases working directly with the founder, and provided an immersive experience that connects them directly with San Antonio's burgeoning startup ecosystem. Read how Thalia Cedeno '18, an international business major from Ecuador, and Tanya Nair '20, a psychology major from Tanzania, are applying what they learned on campus to their internship experience at Jungle Disk, a San Antonio data security startup.

Trinity students and faculty posing at a rain forest

International Internships and Study Abroad

More than 150 Trinity students are participating in a study abroad or international internship program this summer. One of Trinity's most popular and long-standing international internship programs, the Madrid Summer Program, supported 21 students this year. This international immersion experience gives students the opportunity to live with Spanish families, work in Spanish companies, study in Spain with Trinity professors, and explore modern Spanish society. The Center for International Engagement coordinated 11 different study abroad programs led by Trinity faculty, including to Mexico, Costa Rica, Spain, China, Taiwan, Japan, and Germany. Twenty Trinity students participated in the summer program at Jiao Tong University in Shanghai where they explored topics relevant to the economic relationship between China and the U.S. They recorded this video as a remembrance of their China experience.

Intern Courtney Justus outside Gemini Ink

Internships through Arts, Letters, and Enterprise

The Center for Experiential Learning and Career Success has been closely involved in the development and growth of the Arts, Letters, and Enterprise (ALE) internship program. This summer, 15 humanities, arts, social science, or natural science majors broadened their business literacy skills by working in local arts organizations, nonprofit agencies, and in government sectors. Participation in the program has tripled since its launch two years ago. Read how English major Courtney Justus '18 found her creative hub through an ALE internship with Gemini Ink, a local literary nonprofit.

Cynthia prepares materials at her lab station.

Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships

Trinity's robust undergraduate research program drew 147 students this summer who work directly with faculty members in innovative research. Students co-authored papers that will be published in leading academic journals and give presentations at national conferences. A vast majority of the undergraduate research on campus this summer is in the STEM fields. Cynthia Alvarez '18, a McNair Scholar and neuroscience major, is developing research that examines astrocyte (brain and spinal cells) secretions for their potential relation to Alzheimer's research. She plans to present her research findings at a national neuroscience conference this fall.

Thanks to the leadership of humanities faculty, STEM research models have been redesigned for arts, humanities, and humanistic social sciences. A growing cohort of summer undergraduate research fellows are also working with faculty in the arts and humanities under Trinity's Mellon Initiative. This summer, 20 students are collaborating with faculty on a wide range of research projects. Students demonstrate how humanities skills and methodologies are essential for understanding and making sense of our everyday lives. They are researching local topics related to San Antonio and the Texas border, related to national and international issues, and topics spanning the ancient and contemporary worlds. See what they are working on.

Students displaying their research in CSI

The Experiential Difference at Trinity University

The opportunity to engage in hands-on learning allows students to apply techniques, theories, and methodologies gained through their coursework to solve problems or explore issues outside of the formal classroom. By getting students to "push the boat out," they develop professional competencies and transferable skills.

Trinity is committed to growing the number of opportunities that prepare our students for a competitive world. Our students frequently tell us these experiences are a transformative point in their Trinity journey on the path to discover, grow, and become the next generation of problem solvers, critical thinkers, and leaders.

I invite you to the Summer Undergraduate Research Conference on Tuesday, July 25, from 3 to 5:30 p.m. in the Center for the Sciences and Innovation to see the change this makes in our students. That's when these bright, articulate, and intelligent students will share their experiential learning journey.

Best regards,

Danny Anderson

As Trinity's chief storyteller, I love to share news about the University. But I also love hearing from you. Please feel free to contact me at TUPresident [at]

You can also follow my Trinity conversations on:
Twitter: @TU_President19