SPARK Stories

Nazareth invests up to $4,000 to make amazing experiences possible for you. Eligible students can use a $1,500 Nazareth SPARK Grant for:

  • an international experience during the school year
  • an otherwise-unpaid/underpaid summer internship or summer research experience — plus for-credit summer experiences can get tuition waived, an additional benefit worth more than $2,500 (for three credits).

See SPARK Grant eligibility and details »

Summer research on tech and society

A SPARK Grant funded a summer research experience for Aziza Simpkins ’24 with Wendy Norris, assistant professor of social computing, combines the study of technology, artificial intelligence, and society with sociology and social research.

Sydney Campbell

Combining interests for a choreo internship

A Naz SPARK grant enabled Sydney Campbell '26 to complete a great internship as an assistant choreographer, building on her two majors and her three minors — including dance studies.

Tavione Griffin, seated in a courtroom at her internship.

Seeking to make a difference in court

Tavione Griffin '24 said a SPARK Grant made her legal internship possible, and the experience advanced her career goal.

Story & video »

Joe Nettles poses alongside his Duke U. medical oncology intern ID card

Summer oncology research at Duke U.

A SPARK Grant made it affordable for biochemistry major Joey Nettles '26 to research the BPA plastic additive in a medical oncology internship at Duke University.

Read his blog post »

Karlee Robb and Naz friends explore Emory campus at conference

Advancing Nazareth's Alternative Break program

A SPARK Grant paid for Karlee Robb '25 to attend an Alternative Break conference in Atlanta as part of a summer internship focused on enhancing alternative break student experiences for Naz students. "Honestly, without the SPARK Grant, I would not have been able to have this experience.... I was really grateful to have the opportunity, and I am very excited that I was able to update our curriculum so that the (Alternative Break) program can thrive," said Karlee (center). 

Read her blog post »

Nathan works in the foreground as a musician plays guitar in recording studio

Summer of Sound Recording

Nathan DeJoy '26 (music business major) jumped into a sound recording internship the summer after his first year at Naz.

See his experience »

Learning to run a vet business

    Kiara Roman ‘24


    SPARK grants provided, spring 2018 - spring 2023

    Ayat Al Sallami holds an American flag at her internship at Mary's Place

    Advancing skills while assisting refugees

    Social work major Ayat Al Sallami '24 used her SPARK grant in the summer to intern as a case manager at Mary's Place, a non-profit refugee outreach center in Rochester. "It definitely helped me know myself better and where I want to work and with whom," she writes in a blog post. "I have learned that I am capable of working with people who speak different languages. I have to build good communication skills with all different kinds of people."

    Matthew Reimann

    Building empathy while working with refugees

    Interning with a refugee service agency was life-changing for Matthew Reimann '24, a political science major in Nazareth's 3+3 program with Syracuse Law. In a blog post, he shares what shocked him and how he built empathy during his experience, supported by a Nazareth SPARK Grant and summer housing on campus.

    Kevin Leysath

    Immersed in screen music

    After composing music for student filmmakers, junior Kevin Leysath II used a Nazareth SPARK grant during summer 2021 for a screen music program taught by visiting artists and special guests from around the world — toward his goal of a film scoring career. Along with lessons on mixing and mastering, he said he gained useful insights — such as how to approach gigs and collaboration and how to make a live recording more successful. "This experience has given me great things to enhance my craft in film and video game scoring in all aspects," he wrote in a guest student blog post.

    Leanna Restani used SPARK support for a Deloitte internship

    Combining accounting, analytics, and psychology

    A Naz SPARK Grant made it possible for Leanna Restani '22 to pursue a for-credit accounting internship with Deloitte that also tied into her minors in analytics and psychology.

    Q&A on the student blog »

    Meredith Rasey

    Pre-med experiences in Chile advance student's goals

    A Nazareth SPARK Grant made it possible for Meredith Rasey '21 to pursue a 6-week pre-med summer program in Chile — where she realized she wants to specialize in obstetrics. Read Meredith's story.

    Interning in music publishing (NYC)

      Sean Saville '20 spent the summer at Carl Fischer Music and a SPARK Grant supported his housing.
      Prof. Ed Wiltse and English and education major Yaliza Frank

      Tackling a literature research project

      Double major: education and English

      Project: Yaliza Frank researched prison-related books for children and young adults. She cataloged each book's theme, topic, and information provided and created a chart that can guide teachers and librarians to put the right books into the hands of the kids who need them.

      Having an incarcerated family member "can be a rollercoaster of emotions," she says. "Some of these books do a good job telling kids how to address their feelings." Other books give really specific and practical details, such as for a prison visit: "One of my favorites explained how to be checked in and what to wear."

      Her research mentor, Professor Ed Wiltse (pictured), says: The books “help kids deal with the trauma that is the experience of incarceration.”

      SPARK Grant linked to college success

      SPARK participants:

      • do more high-impact experiences (global learning, community engagement, student leadership, professional experience, conferences, research)
      • have higher grade point averages
      • are more likely to graduate in four years

      Underrepresented minority students participate in SPARK at the same rate as majority student populations.

      Griffin Bond studying abroad in Cuba 2024

      Cuban history, culture, & connections

      Griffin Bond combined his love of history with his SPARK Grant for a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" to study abroad in Cuba, one of a dozen students and two professionals from Nazareth University who traveled together. Read his blog post.

      Katie Eipert

      First-summer internship boosts student

      After just one year of college, nursing major Katie Eipert '21 gained knowledge, confidence, and more from an internship in geriatrics at Highland Hospital. The SPARK Grant provided funding and a no-cost internship credit. Read about her experience.

      Communication and Media

        Emily Virgil interns in social media at Symphoria musician-run orchestra.
        Stefanie Bunnell

        Educating with an owl and vulture

        Caring for animals such as Sophie the owl (pictured) and Wilbur the black vulture and educating people about them at Tanglewood Nature Center has confirmed plans by Stefanie Bunnell '20 to become a teacher. "I never thought I would find a career path that makes me excited to wake up on a Monday morning to go to work, but I did! I also know now that it is possible to merge education with environmental conservation in a career, which is great because I am an education and biology major!" She'd like to become an elementary teacher and continue with conservation work, research, and working with animals. "I have always had a passion for the environment and a deep interest in all the animals in it..... Showing people the importance that particular species hold in the ecosystem hopefully makes them aware of the value in preserving those species and the planet they live on." She said her SPARK Grant allowed her to focus on this internship all summer, without struggling to also fit in a part-time job.

        Other Summer Experiences

        Examples of SPARK Grant-supported summer student experiences:

        RESEARCH mentored by faculty

        • An English and education major studying incarceration narratives in children's literature to identify books that help children understand/cope with a parent's incarceration
        • A social work major doing a qualitative project on postpartum depression
        • A biology major studying the effect of growing medium on the health of plant seedlings


        • A music/business major at Carl Fischer Music sheet music publishing company in New York City
        • A music education major teaching music in Spain 
        • A finance major at Northwestern Mutual in Syracuse, NY
        • An occupational therapy major at Northwest Association for Blind Athletes (NWABA) Camp in Oregon.
        • A dance and social work double major at Dancenter dance school in Utica, NY
        • A communication and media student with a minor in music performance providing social media and photo/video work at concerts at Symphoria Orchestra in Syracuse, NY
        • A legal studies major at the Indiana County District Attorney's office in Indiana, PA
        • A public health major at Madison County Department of Health, NY
        • An English major at 585 Publishing in Rochester, NY
        • A music/business major at Boston Crusaders Drum and Bugle Corps in Boston
        • A psychology major at Compeer in Rochester, NY
        • A musical theatre major at Fingerlakes Musical Theatre Festival
        • A business management major with an art minor at Rev Marketing in Victor, NY

        Student deadline: You must apply before the experience starts, but after you've lined it up. See SPARK Grant eligibility and details »

        Farida (at right) and another international student enjoy costumed people at Pecs city carnival

        Forming a second family in Hungary

        Studying in Hungary for a semester allowed Farida Hosaini '22 to overcome her fear of being so far from home. "After settling into my apartment, taking the time to navigate throughout the city, and speaking to so many people, I realized that within less than a month, I have truly formed a second family far away from my hometown of Rochester."

        Farida — a global studies major with minors in music and studio art — was able to study political science and international studies as well as visual arts and music at the University of Pécs. "Being in Hungary has taught me how important it is to learn how to live independently and adapt to a whole new environment, as your hometown may or may not be the place you would stay in for the rest of your life. It has taught me the importance of being patient, persistent, and a risk-taker." Farida, who's the first in her family to go to a four-year college, says she would have not been able to make the trip without the help of Nazareth's SPARK Grant. She also received a prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship from the U.S. Department of State.


        Joy surrounded by Renaissance art

        Major: visual communication design
        Minor: dance
        SPARK experience: studied at the Santa Reparata International School of Art in Florence.

        "Getting to study art in a city full of work by Renaissance masters is so incredible," said Megan Ruffalo '22 — calling it unbelievable to see in person, up close, the artworks she has read and learned about. Among her favorite experiences: seeing Michelangelo's sculpture David, climbing all 463 steps to the top of Florence's Duomo, and taking day trips to explore other beautiful Tuscan cities like Siena, San Gimignano, and Viareggio. Her spring 2020 stay was cut short due to COVID-19, but she's so glad she went. Months later, Megan said: "I think back to my time in Italy often, and when I do, I feel nothing but joy and gratitude to have gotten the opportunity to learn and grow there. I treasure the two months I had there — it was genuinely the best experience of my life. The places I explored, the sites I saw, the people I met — I wouldn't trade that for anything."


        For students who used SPARK their first year, 99% successfully moved on to their second year at Nazareth.

        Nick Lenhard

        Inside radio as a summer intern

        Nick Lenhard '22, a music/business major and jazz lover, pursued an unpaid summer internship at WGMC Jazz 90.1 with financial support from a Nazareth SPARK Grant. "I really like working at a radio station because I get to share the music that I'm passionate about to a larger audience," said Nick, who's interested in radio DJ and station management work and appreciated the insider views of how a radio station functions. "One of the most interesting parts of my internship was getting to go along on a sales call with my supervisor at a local jazz venue, discussing the venue becoming an underwriter ... forming a symbiotic relationship between the business and the station that benefits both parties."

        Researchers Rebecca Rouland & SPARK-funded student Izabella "Izzy" Zimber

        Researching postpartum depression with professor

        Major: social work

        Project: Izabella "Izzy" Kimber '21 researched how to best identify, screen for, understand, and treat postpartum depression, a collaboration with Prof. Rebecca Rouland, Ph.D. (social work), pictured (at left) with Izzy.

        Goal: Use the findings to promote evidence-based practices among all types of health care providers who work with parents experiencing postpartum depression.

        Izzy says that the experience was helpful as she prepares for graduate school. "Doing something that interests me and that I am passionate about is when I do my best work. Knowing that fuels me to follow what I love, even if it will take a long time to reach all of my goals," she says. She hopes to someday initiate her own research projects. Her future career goal: forensic interviewer

        Honor: The work earned Izzy the 2019 New York State Social Work Student of the Year Award

        Erich D'Eredita

        Making discoveries during research project

        "There's a joy in finding information that hasn't been known before," says biology major Erich D'Eredita '20, who spent 6 summer weeks on campus analyzing the caloric value and composition of northern crayfish. The role was paid, but commuting 45 minutes both ways from home would have been an obstacle — until he got on-campus housing at very low cost through Nazareth's SPARK Grant program. He said the summer research advanced his proficiency with laboratory procedures and machinery, including computerized calorimetry, which is a plus for his plans to pursue grad school and future research. He would love to research the way life exists in the Great Lakes or Finger Lakes area — where he's from — and find a way to remove contaminants that are inhibiting life. "That's what I want to do. I've always loved nature." Considering climate change, he adds, "There's definitely an urgency."