Anya Henry, Kayla Bey, Ryan Doan-Nguyen, and Mira Alpers.

Anya Henry (clockwise from top left), Kayla Bey, Ryan Doan-Nguyen, and Mira Alpers.

Photos of Kayla Bey and Ryan Doan-Nguyen by Jon Chase and Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographers

Arts & Culture

How do humanities prepare students for the real world? Here are four examples.

5 min read

College interns find outlets for creativity in fields ranging from journalism to theater

Anybody worried about the future of the humanities need look no further than College students’ summer internships. From planning a film festival to researching arts-based sex education, students are combining the creativity of their chosen passion with real-world work experience.

Here’s how four students are spending their summer.


Mira Alpers.

Photo courtesy of Mira Alpers

Planning a film fest in Sweden

Mira Alpers ’24
Concentrations: Art, Film, & Visual Studies and History & Literature

At Nordisk Panorama Film Festival in Malmö, Sweden, Alpers works with the production team on tasks like creating a schedule and ensuring that each event, from screenings to parties, runs smoothly.

“It combines two things I really love, which are event planning and a passion for film, particularly documentary films,” Alpers said. Nordisk Panorama focuses on documentaries and short films.

The rising senior, in Sweden for the first time, said she is gaining a better understanding of the Nordic film landscape — and trying to learn the language.

“It’s been a really great opportunity to work closely with people who have been working in the film festival circuit for a while, and to learn from and collaborate with them,” Alpers said. “I’m doing something I’m really liking, and I’m being given a lot of responsibility.”

In the final weeks of summer, Alpers will intern at Telluride Film Festival in Colorado. She’s being supported with funding for the international internship from the Mignone Center for Career Success within FAS.

Kayla Bey.

Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer

Researching, workshopping at A.R.T.

Kayla Bey ’25
Concentration: Theater, Dance & Media

At the American Repertory Theater at Harvard University, Bey is researching dramaturgy for an upcoming show while learning about the inner workings of a professional theater.

The rising junior said the internship has allowed her to see real-world examples of the theory she has learned in some of her Harvard courses.

“The internship is essentially an introduction to the professional theater world, what it takes to run a professional theater, the different departments such as marketing and dramaturgy,” Bey said.

Bey, co-president of the student-run theater organization BlackC.A.S.T. on campus, is working on a 90-page play about two Black women navigating a long-term queer relationship. As part of the internship, she has gotten the opportunity to present and workshop her writing with A.R.T. professionals.

“A big part of this internship is expressing your own ideas and having them build off of other people’s ideas. It’s entirely a creative space,” Bey said.

She’s being supported with funding from the Weissman International Internship Program.

Ryan Doan-Nguyen.

Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

Honing investigative reporting and storytelling skills

Ryan Doan-Nguyen ’25
Concentrations: History & Literature and Government, with secondary in Ethnicity, Migration, Rights

Harvard Crimson writer Doan-Nguyen stacked his summer with three fellowships that are giving him additional hands-on experience in journalism.

As Steiner Undergraduate Fellow at Harvard Magazine, he has written stories about the University’s affinity celebrations, faculty research, student activities, and more. “It’s making me grow as a journalist and writer and storyteller,” Doan-Nguyen said. “I get to speak to awesome researchers and academic scholars who are doing important work on issues relevant to our times.”

Doan-Nguyen is one of 22 students from across the country doing long-form investigative reporting as an Asian American Journalists’ Association VOICES Fellow. He worked on a piece about gun violence and mass shootings in Asian American communities in California and presented it at a conference in Washington, D.C., in mid-July. He said the experience has taught him a lot about the importance of reporting with sensitivity and responsibility. “I just find it so important to understand or tackle issues from as many angles as we can, to bring them to light.”

The rising junior is also a 2023 Leaders in Public Service Journalism Fellow with the Phillips Brooks House Association, where he has been writing alumni profiles.

Anya Henry.

Photo by Hannah Kim

Exploring arts and entertainment as teaching tools

Anya Henry ’24
Concentrations: History & Literature, African American Studies

At the UCLA Art and Global Health Center in Los Angeles, Henry has been doing qualitative research on the effectiveness of arts- and entertainment-based education to teach a concept.

“[Arts-based education] just activates a different part of your brain and doesn’t feel quite like school,” the rising senior said.

Henry is exploring whether arts-based education can be useful when teaching sex education and healthy relationships to young adults who have been impacted by the justice system.

“Obviously talking about sexual health can be uncomfortable and it’s something that, for a multitude of reasons, people shy away from talking about,” Henry said. “But there’s something to be said about entertainment and theater adding in a sense of humor that breaks people’s walls down and opens the space for vulnerability and a comfort with being uncomfortable.”

Henry also has been learning website coding and video editing.

“I’ve learned how much public health can benefit from more of a holistic approach to learning and I think that in the same way, art can really benefit from having the logical structure of public health,” Henry said. “It’s really cool to see how melding the two can have the impact of helping real people.”

She’s being supported with funding from the Mindich Service Fellowship Program, Harvard Global Health Institute, and Priscilla Chan Summer Service Stipend.