collage of 9 students who did experiential learning with text summer experiential learning and trinity logo
Experience Something New
Nearly 150 students research, intern, and build their own companies in Summer 2020
Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Even a massive shift in the ecosystem of learning and student opportunities can’t stop Tigers from making the most of their summers. 

This summer, despite the challenges COVID-19 presented, Trinity students still innovatively took on internships, launched businesses, and discovered new truths about themselves and the world through undergraduate research. Almost 150 students engaged in summer experiential learning, mentored by 67 faculty members across 27 academic departments.

At Trinity, experiential learning is more than words on a whiteboard: it’s a spirit of collaboration and enterprise that has remained rooted in Trinity’s culture for more than a century. See how Trinity used experiential learning this summer to cultivate a community of lifelong learners, even if most of it was remote.

collage of 13 students who did undergraduate research in summer 2020 with text undergraduate research

Undergraduate Research

At Trinity, undergraduate research is about more than crunching data doomed for the dusty back pages of an academic journal. From the University’s very first steps into undergraduate research, our students have made breakthroughs that enact real change.

These breakthroughs aren’t limited to fields in STEM or the humanities; in some cases, our students have tackled projects that bridge both! Regardless of academic field, Trinity’s support for undergraduate research empowers Tigers to dig deeper, all under the tutelage of qualified professors.

Grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Murchison Fellowships, among others, provide funding for summer projects in a variety of academic fields. This summer, more than 90 undergraduate students collaborated with more than 50 faculty members to conduct research, despite being off campus for the work.

charles davis in front of computer screens with textbook

This summer, Charles Davis ’21 got to realize his dream of being a geologist by conducting geoscience research alongside professor Dan Lehrmann. Supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation, Charles studied rocks from the Mayan Dude Ranch and Starkville sites remotely, looking to interpret the environments and paleoclimate that existed as dinosaurs walked along the ancient shorelines of central Texas. He then analyzed the rock sections meter by meter, discovering fossils such as bivalves, foraminifera, echinoderms, and burrows.


tryne vander-straten holding her computer screen with research on it

On another front, Tryne Vander Straten ’21 used Yelp as a tool for her summer research alongside history professor Gina Tam. Having noticed that many Chinese immigrants own restaurants that serve a variety of Asian cuisines, Tryne researched how these immigrants have crafted a pan-Asian fusion identity for their restaurants separate from their own identity. In addition to reading scholarly articles and looking through archives, Tryne used Yelp to look through menus of Chinese and Asian restaurants owned by Chinese immigrants in Texas. 


collage of 10 students who did internships in summer 2020, with text internships


At Trinity, internships are about more than literally—and figuratively—making copies. Even remote internships help Tigers unleash talent that is tough to replicate.

For generations, Trinity has connected its students to career opportunities through internships across Texas, the United States, and the globe. Regardless of their major or presumed career field, Trinity interns have discovered why the University prides itself on experiential education: because there’s no teacher like experience.  

This summer, more than 40 students completed internships through a variety of programs facilitated through Trinity.


Founded in 2013, the Arts, Letters, and Enterprise (ALE) program is Trinity’s one-of-a-kind connection between the liberal arts classroom and the professional world. The program connects humanities and arts students with area nonprofits for highly competitive, coveted internships. 

brandon niday recording himself for his boy scouts internship

This summer, more than 25 students took on unconventional work experiences with remote ALE internships. For example, Brandon Niday ’23 (right) interned with the Boy Scouts of America, Alamo Area Council, as a public relations and marketing intern. He helped create content for the organization’s website and YouTube channel. 


Housed within the Center for Experiential Learning and Career Success, TigerWorks launched at the outbreak of the virus to help meet the changing needs of the Trinity community while providing students with opportunities to continue their professional growth.

The program connected more than 30 students whose summer internships had been negatively impacted by COVID-19 with 37 organizations that needed assistance with short-term, remote micro-projects. The 60 small projects ranged from developing public service announcements, revising business plans, and creating marketing content, to website updates and development. 

collage of 9 students who did entrepreneurship in summer 2020, with text entrepreneurship


At Trinity, entrepreneurs don’t have to wait to gain experience in the world of startups. In fact, to date, 84% of student-launched companies at Trinity are still active! From our on-campus powerhouse of entrepreneurs to the ever-expanding group of start-ups just outside our door, Trinity students have no limits in mentorship or opportunities.

Summer Accelerator

Part of Trinity’s annual Stumberg Venture Competition, the summer accelerator program gives the winners of the competition’s first round a 10-week boost for their developing businesses. 

These teams refine their products over those ten full-time, paid workweeks, as well as through workshops with seasoned entrepreneurs who specialize in the areas where the teams need to grow. These teams then compete for the grand prize of $25,000 in the final round the following fall.

This year, keep an eye out for coverage on the six finalists: Chiropack, CompassVet, Empower Media, Revive Snacks, Sapphire, and Tacos Papi, which represent an incredibly diverse set of products, services, skills, and interests. The products and services range between backpacks for back, neck, and shoulder pain, pet euthanasia, customizable portable charging and storage devices for massive gatherings, healthy snack options, hydration technology, and Mexican street tacos. 

New Student Venture Program

The Student New Venture Program is a new pilot program that supports an early-stage venture concept from an academic department underrepresented in Entrepreneurship. Drawn from innovative initiatives coming out of academic departments such as English or Chemistry, one student each summer participates alongside Stumberg Venture Competition finalists in the Summer Accelerator on a parallel track. 

This summer, Josefina Hajek-Herrera ’22 participated in the New Student Venture Program to determine the feasibility of patenting and selling an electrodynamic balance, a device she is working with the chemistry department to create that studies aerosolized particles, such as ones found in COVID-19.

Students + Startups

Since 2016, Students+Startups has placed Tigers right in the middle of San Antonio’s exploding startup scene. The program looks a bit different this year, but Trinity students are making just as big of an impact while working from home.

The program matches students with internships at a variety of San Antonio startups for the summer. This initiative is funded by the 80|20 Foundation and run in partnership with Geekdom, a unique coworking space in downtown San Antonio. This year, more than 20 Tigers are interning with local startups.

These companies include firms in engineering, coding and development, finance, accounting, data analysis, research and operations, marketing, communications and content, user experience and user interface design, and food science.

ethan jones, rylie snell, natalia salas, and a utsa student walking outside wearing masks

One particular group of students worked with Alamo City Studios as associate producers on an upcoming documentary about Gandhi’s grandson, Arun Gandhi. Ethan Jones ’21, Rylie Snell ’21, and Natalia Salas ’21 spent the summer working through almost 90 hours of footage, creating B-roll and transcribing dialogue for the film. They worked in teams, operating software and meeting with award-winning cinematographers and soundtrack writers, gaining genuine applicable experience in the field.

Venture Mentoring Service 

Trinity’s Venture Mentoring Service (VMS) connects entrepreneurs from the community with San Antonio mentors to promote the long-term growth and sustainability of the venture. 

The VMS is the first implementation of the internationally recognized MIT VMS in San Antonio and the 3rd in Texas.

No matter the stage of the venture’s development, the VMS can help provide guidance that covers a wide range of topics and offers objective business advice for the entrepreneurs. The VMS also uses mentors that are selected for their experience in areas relevant to the needs of entrepreneurs and their enthusiasm for the program. 

Teams meet with their mentors for 90-minute sessions at least every 4-6 weeks to develop their ventures. Currently, 21 mentors serve 15 ventures, including all of the Stumberg finalists. 

At the end of the summer, Trinity's Center for Experiential Learning and Career Success held a virtual symposium for all of these students to showcase their work. View their recorded presentations and posters online.

Sydney Rhodes '23 helped tell Trinity's story as a writing intern for Strategic Communications and Marketing.

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