By Mia Gwirtzman || Contributing Writer

By the time 6:30 rolls around each morning, I feel the sunshine creeping in through the window next to my bed. The light reflecting off the disco ball hanging in my tiny College Row apartment reminds me that it’s time to wake up and begin my day. I’m the type of person who enjoys the quietness of the morning. As I drink my coffee, I make a list of all the exciting tasks I must do throughout the day: go to work, drive to Wegmans, buy cutting boards at Target, do laundry. You know, all the fun things about being an adult. 

This summer, I am interning with the Ware Institute, part of the Public Service Summer Internship (PSSI) cohort. Every student within the 15-person group is paired with a different local non-profit organization, where we work four days a week. On Wednesdays, however, we congregate in Harwood 119 to share our experiences and learn about local government together. 

The 2023 PSSI Cohort at City Hall with Mayor Danene Sorace. Image Courtesy of Mia Gwirtzman.

I am paired with Mental Health America of Lancaster County. The mission of the non-profit is to advocate for those in need of mental health services, as well as educate individuals about topics related to emotional well-being. Day-to-day assignments at MHA vary drastically. Each morning, I come into the office with my packed lunch and my homemade cold brew excited for what the day will bring. My coworkers bring me to meetings sometimes, where I take notes. We talk about planning events such as the annual Suicide Prevention Conference, organizing important breakfasts, and advocating for those in need of mental health services. Meetings are perhaps my favorite part of the job, whether they are on Zoom or in person. I spend my downtime at the office researching the effectiveness of various mental health-related policy implementations, a skill I learned through Professor Tripp’s GOV200 class in the spring.

I truly enjoy my time at MHA, but Wednesdays provide a nice change of pace each week. The Directors of the Ware Institute, Jen Nell and David Bazow, begin each week with the best snacks (hot take, but my favorite is the Black Forest Juicy Burst Gummies). We discuss the “good, bad, and ugly” of our weeks, relating to our peers with organic conversations. We have the opportunity to ask questions to Lancaster County government officials, asking them about “hot button” topics about what got them into politics. 

No matter where I am that day, I work about seven hours. I get home from a long day of work and immediately veg out in my room, binge-watching the show Never Have I Ever or Arrested Development. It feels nice to complete a full day’s work, and I have  definitely earned my relaxation time. In fact, when Fridays eventually roll around, I joke with my coworkers that I now truly understand the meaning of TGIF. I often spend time with my friends after work as well. We go to the gym, thrift clothes we certainly don’t need, and just enjoy each other’s company without the stress of homework. Being in Lancaster over the summer is a special experience. Surprisingly, there is a lot to do! I always enjoy the vegan food festival and the vintage sale in Buchanan park, and First Fridays downtown at the beginning of each month are a blast. 

Being a summer employee is a glorious job. Although it may seem mundane to the average person, I value the lessons that working in the community has taught me this summer. 

Rising Senior Mia Gwirtzman is a Contributing Writer. Her email is