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Sidwell Friends School's Student Newspaper Since 1974


Sidwell Friends School's Student Newspaper Since 1974


Sidwell Friends School's Student Newspaper Since 1974


Sidwell Seniors Explore Passions Through Dehejia Internships

Sidwell seniors gain ‘real world’ experience through the Dehejia internship program. Photo: Lee Gillies ’24.

Over the summer, many rising Sidwell seniors participated in internships through the Deheija Internship Program. The program aims to help students find internships at local businesses, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and nonprofit organizations partnered with Sidwell. In doing so, rising seniors gain professional experience working in a field of their interest. 

The Anindya Dehejia Fellows Fund was established in 2001 after the passing of Sidwell alumni Anindya Dehejia ’78. Described as brilliant, curious and groundbreaking, Anidya Dehejia went on to become a molecular geneticist. He was part of the team that created the first map of the human genome. 

A high school internship at the National Institute of Health sparked his interest in biology; hence, the Dehejia family sought to give rising seniors the same opportunities.

Very few schools offer such expansive and broad internships for students at that age.

— Helen Primis '23

“Anindya’s internships were the beginning of his life’s work,” says Vidisha Dehejia ’81, Anindya’s sister. Vidisha and Anidya Dehejia came to the United States from India as young children and quickly became active in Sidwell life. “Sidwell nurtured us and later, when our mother passed away, the Sidwell Friends community wrapped itself around us,” she said. 

“[Teenagers] feel so much pressure to choose what they want to do, yet they have so little understanding of their options,” Vidisha Dehejia said. Her experience as a physiotherapist who saw lots of adolescents compelled her to assist teenagers in exploring future career paths. Though the fund initially provided opportunities for creative and academic pursuits for faculty and students, it eventually grew into the internship program it is today.

“I encourage juniors to take advantage of what the Deheija Internship program has to offer,” said Helen Primis ’23, who completed an internship last summer at the Chronicle of Higher Education, a newspaper that covers colleges and universities. “Very few schools offer such expansive and broad internships for students at that age.” 

Past program participants have interned at a wide variety of organizations, including the nonprofit organization No Labels, the McLean Asset Corporation, Amazon and a Georgetown University research group. The 2022 program had more than 30 participants, establishing itself as a leading program offered to Sidwell students.

The application process includes submitting a cover letter and resume to interested partners by early spring and taking part in interviews with potential organizations. Sidwell offers optional resume-building courses to help students with the process.

“Each year, we are fortunate to partner with a number of DC-area organizations who agree to host a rising Sidwell Friends 12th-grader for a summer internship,” said Assistant Upper School Principal for Academic Affairs Robert Gross. “These internships have formed the basis of very valuable learning experiences for our students over the years.”

The internships come with a stipend to offset food, technology, transportation and other relevant costs of participation and range from four to eight weeks in the summer, with specific dates and hours worked out by the organization. 

The internship program is now part of Sidwell’s new Center for Ethical Leadership, coordinated by Alex McCoy. 

Through funds and programs like the Deheija Internship program, Mak Dehejia, Anidya Dehejia’s father, hopes more students start learning outside the classroom.

“To develop ethical leadership, students need more than intellectual ability,” he said in an interview. “They need experiences that allow them to cultivate and apply people skills.”

When the Dehejia family met with the recent participants last summer, they heard overwhelming positivity but also some honesty in what they learned through these experiences.

“They talked about days on the job when they were thrilled and others when they were angry or felt like they knew nothing,” Vidisha Dehejia said. “I was excited to hear students express their true feelings about the internship experience. Rather than just commenting on what went well, they recognized the ups and downs and were willing to share about them, which I found insightful.” 

“Although I wouldn’t say I found my passion while interning at the Chronicle of Higher Ed, I truly enjoyed my experience and now am able to narrow down my area of study and pursue other things as I enter my time at college,” Primis said.

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