George Mason University
George Mason University Mason
George Mason University

Mason sprinter off and running in summer internship

July 25, 2016   /   by Damian Cristodero

Sharon Dorsey, a rising junior and track team member, has a summer internship at the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. Photo provided.

The perks of Sharon Dorsey’s internship at the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge include the beach and wilderness trails, which are just perfect for the morning runs that keep her sprinter’s legs in shape.

“I bike the trails, too,” said the scholarship track athlete at George Mason University who competes in the 400-meter dash and 4x400 relay. “There’s also a workout room connected to the administration office.”

It is Dorsey’s love of the environment, though, that is getting the real workout.

An environmental science major with a concentration in ecology, the rising junior is not only doing fieldwork, she is going behind the scenes in the refuge’s facility maintenance and visitor services departments as well.

All of which confirms what Dorsey already knows.

“I really see myself working for fish and wildlife services in the future,” she said. “They’re passionate about protecting wildlife for future generations. I really admire how they live their mission statement.”

Dorsey’s interest in environmental science began at Western School of Technology and Environmental Science, a Baltimore, Md., magnet school, where she helped manage the school’s greenhouse and gardens, constructed birdhouses and maintained nearby walking trails.

“It was hands-on,” Dorsey said.

As are her classes at George Mason. In fact, she said, the freshwater assessment she did in a biological diversity and ecosystems class was similar to the saltwater and salt marsh integrity study in which she participated at Chincoteague.

“She thinks about the material, she synthesizes it and asks really good questions,” said Environmental Science and Policy professor Cynthia Smith. “She’ll be a tremendous environmental resource manager someday.”

A member of Mason’s Honors College and recognized on the Dean’s List in her first four semesters at the university, Dorsey also is attempting to be a publisher, of sorts, by developing Chincoteague’s first monthly staff newsletter.

Kevin Sloan, the refuge’s project manager, got the idea. Dorsey ran with it (no pun intended).

“I’m leaving [Chincoteague] at the end of August,” she said, “so, hopefully, I can have the first issue out by the beginning of August, and then leave an easy-enough template and procedures for the next intern to follow.”

“She is always eager to try new tasks and learn new things,” Sloan said. “She’s always a step ahead and looking to maximize her contribution.”