Chatham University

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undergraduate connects with local nonprofit 412 food rescue

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Natalie Jellison ’17 (left) with Chatham student Charlise Oliver ’18 on a 412 Food Rescue run

According to the National Resources Defense Council, 40 percent of food produced in the United States never gets eaten.

According to local non-profit Just Harvest, of the 1.2 million people living in Allegheny County in 2012, nearly one in seven faced food insecurity.

According to Leah Lizarondo, co-founder of local non-profit  412 Food Rescue, Chatham undergraduate Natalie Jellison ’17 is the brains behind mobilizing local universities to help solve the problem.

“She was the one who heard about us and thought it would be a great idea to rescue food at Chatham,” says Lizarondo. “And she did. She not only broached the conversation with the Office of Sustainability at Chatham, she put together the stakeholders that made it happen.”

Jellison credits a class at Chatham for sparking the idea. “We had to do projects in my Sustainability and Social Justice class,” she says. “and someone mentioned 412 Food Rescue. I thought that food was a good issue to focus on, since it’s the basis of everything. I did some research into 412 Food Rescue and started volunteering.”

Chatham students Cat Woodson ’16 and Diarra Clarke ’17 doing first official run with Anderson, Giant Eagle and Zipcar.

Since 2015, 412 Food Rescue has been “rescuing” unsellable but perfectly good food from retailers, wholesalers, restaurants, and other organizations, and delivering it to soup kitchens, pantries, shelters, schools, and other community programs.

Jellison arranged a meeting with Dr. Whitney and representatives from Chatham’s dining services, Parkhurst (Chatham’s dining services partner), and Zipcar. “Everyone was like, if you want this, you can have it,” she says. Parkhurst and the Office of Sustianability split the cost of a Zipcar membership so that students without cars could also volunteer to deliver food, and Zipcar waived the hourly fee for Chatham students on 412 Food Rescue runs.

Jellison started doing food runs on Saturday mornings, picking up food at Anderson, stopping by a nearby grocery store to collect its donation (“it’s on the way”), and dropping it off at Murray Towers, a high-rise for seniors run by the Allegheny County Housing Authority.

Maggie Fleiner '19 during the second run.
Maggie Fleiner ’19 during the second run.

“Volunteering is once per week, for an hour, at 11:30 on Saturday morning,” she says. “Right now, about seven Chatham students participate. I want to grow that number this fall to get it more organized.”

412 Food Rescue sees Chatham as a model and catalyst for bringing the program to other universities. Jellison—who will be graduating with a self-designed major in environmental justice and a minor in business and is also pursuing a certificate in women’s leadership—is currently interning there, working to do just that.

“It’s cool,” she says. “I think that at a young age I’m doing a lot, and it’s exciting.”

Student profile: Nora Moorefield


Chatham junior and accounting major, Nora Moorefield ‘17, has been invited to intern with UPMC’s Summer Associates Program—a highly competitive, compensated 11-week internship that exposes college students interested in business or technology related areas to real-world business opportunities.

Nora is the vice-president of finance for the Chatham Student Government, Chair of the Undergraduate Budget Committee, a Student Office Assistant with Student Affairs, and a Resident Assistant at Laughlin Hall.

Q: Where are you from?
A: I’m from Pittsburgh, and I can’t imagine myself living anywhere else.

Q: What brought you to Chatham?
A: I was attracted to the location and the fact that that at the time, it was an all women’s university. I live in a nearby neighborhood and wanted something close to home. I needed a university in the city so that I could take advantage of such opportunities like internships in and out of the academic year. I was also interested in a smaller campus where I could get to know my professors personally and they could get to know me.

I have grown to feel more confident with my opinions and how to foster healthy dialogue with people surrounding ideas that I feel passionate about and ones that I don’t.

Q: What are you majoring in?
A: I’m majoring in accounting and minoring in mathematics. I came to Chatham to study engineering. Here we had a 3-2 engineering program that I was attracted to where I’d receive my bachelor’s in mathematics in three years and then another in engineering in two years from a neighboring accredited institution like Carnegie Mellon or the University of Pittsburgh. After taking a number of courses that didn’t relate to my studies in my first year of college, I took an accounting class that sparked my interest.

Q: What drew you to UPMC’s Summer Associates Program?
A: I was looking for an internship that allowed me to apply my knowledge from the accounting, finance, and mathematics courses that I’ve taken. I was immediately attracted to UPMC’s presence in the community, and was so excited to hear that they had a program where the employees, including myself, could volunteer around the city during the internship. I was also interested in their new mentoring program where the interns would have opportunities to mentor the employees on a number of different subjects!

Q: What are you looking forward to gaining through this opportunity?
A: I am hoping to get to know myself more, since internships have that way about them that helps you realize your interests. The classroom is different, where most things are learned through the lenses of your textbook and not through the application of that knowledge. There’s also that heightened opportunity to gain full employment after completing the internship, which I’m very excited about!

Q: How has Chatham helped prepare you for this program?
A: My finance and accounting classes as well as my volunteer experiences at Chatham have definitely helped prepare me for this program. During my time here, I have been nominated to attend a number of different conferences that have helped prepare me for this program as well. One was the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders where I met leaders like Chelsea Clinton and engaged in conversation about leadership, networking, activism, and making the most out of your career.

Q: Who have been your mentors here at Chatham? What kind of influence have they had on your perspective towards your future?
A: Dr. Sean McGreevey (Assistant Dean for Career Development) has been a mentor of mine since I started at Chatham. Like so many other students, I frequent his office for advice whether it’s for my career or my finances. He really knows his stuff.

Q: What do you see yourself doing after graduation?
A: After graduation, I see myself working to attain my Masters of Accounting, and going on to pass the CPA.

Q: How do you feel you’ve grown since beginning Chatham? 
A: I have grown to feel more confident with my opinions and how to foster healthy dialogue with people surrounding ideas that I feel passionate about and ones that I don’t.

Q: What are your favorite things to do on campus?
A: For many reasons, I really like spending time in the Carriage House. My latest obsession with the newly renovated space is the massage chairs. I can sit there for hours either studying or, less productively, napping in the chairs between classes and work. I also love studying by the fireplace there or getting a smoothie at the smoothie bar. My favorite Chatham tradition is the Moonlight Breakfast, where our professors and professional staff members serve us breakfast at night in the dining hall. I’ve never won a prize there but the free breakfast is a good enough incentive to get me out every time!

Q: What do you appreciate most about Chatham?
A: I appreciate all of the little things that Chatham does such as moving all of the first-year students’ belongings into their rooms their first semester for them. Another thing that I appreciate here is having an environment where so many voices feel comfortable sharing their perspectives, experiences, and opinions. I have learned so many things in and out of the classroom.

Watch a video about the UPMC Summer Associates Program. 

Much better Tips for a Successful Internship

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When it comes to acquiring hands-on work experience, learning about which professional environments suit you, and making industry contacts, there’s not much better than an internship.

Employers are keen on them as well – in fact, a recent survey of employers who hire recent college graduates conducted by The Chronicle of Higher Education and American Public Media’s Marketplace has found that:

  • An internship is the single most important credential for recent college graduates to have on their resume in their job search among all industry segments.
  • All industries and hiring levels place slightly more weight on student work or internship experiences than on academic credentials.
  • Employers place more weight on experience, particularly internships and employment during school vs. academic credential when evaluating a recent graduate for employment.
Chart from “The Role of Higher Education in Career Development: Employer Perceptions”, by The Chronicle of Higher Education and American Public Media’s Marketplace, December 2012

It can be daunting to begin an internship, especially if it’s your first one. Here are a few tips to make it the rewarding experience that it should be!

1. Develop a professional persona.  Create a professional image, dress appropriately, and avoid “office gossip”. Be respectful, genuine, helpful, and always show gratitude.  Respond to constructive feedback in a positive manner  by reflecting, learning and growing.

2. Set personal goals. Think about what it is you want to have on your resume or to be able to talk about in future interviews with employers. Discuss these goals with your site supervisor, mentor(s), and your faculty supervisor. The more your supervisors know about your goals, the more they will be able to support you in reaching them.

Think of your internship as a long interview.

3. Maintain open and continuous communication. Ask your supervisors how they prefer to maintain communication with you. Try to set regular meetings, and spend them discussing and reviewing your goals, strengths, and areas of opportunity. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Supervisors prefer that you ask rather than guess or assume. This willingness to learn typically leads to more hands-on experiences and projects, leading to even more tangible accomplishments. Show your curiosity!

4. Have a positive and flexible attitude. Employers appreciate an enthusiastic, can-do attitude because it really impacts the office moral and environment. Keep in mind that things don’t always go as planned. Every experience is a learning experience. See unexpected situations and new projects as an avenue for developing more of your skills and adding to your professional experience.

5. Take initiative. As a student, it is easy to think of yourself as “just the intern.” Yes, you are the intern, but that doesn’t mean you should sit back and wait for projects to be handed to you. Your internship is technically a long-term interview, and your supervisors and colleagues are paying close attention to see if you have what it takes to be hired on permanently after the internship. Ask to take on big projects, or come up with your own project! As a student, you can offer new innovative ideas that may greatly impact the organization. By taking this type of initiative, you will make yourself known and will be remembered.

Treat your internship as though this is your career and think of yourself as part of the team.

6. Network network network. Studies have found that 80% of today’s jobs are landed through networking. This internship is your opportunity to develop and strengthen lasting professional connections that will give you that “edge” to your future career. If you leave a lasting impression with your supervisors and colleagues, these professionals will be more than willing to speak on behalf of your strengths and competencies to others. Leave your colleagues on a humble, thankful note, and give them a genuine goodbye, keeping the relationship open for your network. Send them a thank you card in the mail, expressing your appreciation and your interest in keeping in touch. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is updated and request to connect with your supervisors, colleagues, and anyone else you networked with during your internship. Most importantly, keep in touch, especially with those who will help you get to where you want to be!

 Crystal Vietmeier is Assistant Director of Career Development, Internships, and Experiential Learning at Chatham University, where internships are a vital (and required) part of a larger approach to professional preparation (learn more at This summer, Chatham students are interning at companies including the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The League of Women Voters, Pittsburgh Public Theatre, UPMC, Forbes Regional Hospital, Pittsburgh Pirates, The Carnegie Museum of Art, Quantico Marine Corps Base, Ketchum Inc., The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh, Table Magazine, GNC Inc, Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse, Animal Rescue League and Wildlife Center, the Borough of Swissvale, the Musuneggi Financial Group, Drew Designs, Ltd, Mariani Landscape, and the University of Pittsburgh.