Intern Spotlight: Priya Kanajam - ACR Homes Skip to content

Intern Spotlight: Priya Kanajam

After starting a Direct Care job at ACR as a freshman at the University of Minnesota, Priya started her Internship at ACR as a senior after fulfilling years of direct care experience at her home.

Attends: Senior at University of Minnesota- Twin Cities

Major: Biology

Career Path: pre-med

“Starting to work at ACR was probably one of the best decisions I have made in college. I applied November of freshman year, which was completely outside of my plan for my first year of college, but ACR has become the most consistent part of my college experience.

Research and Implementation

My overall internship topic was a blend between research and an implementation component. I have always been interested in research and getting to know more about the scientific aspects of the human mind and body, so I was inclined towards doing a project that let me explore that field more. When I first started at my ACR house, I did not know a lot about my residents’ backgrounds and diagnoses. Information about their history was sparse, so my main drive was wanting to learn more about them and their medical history. Two of my residents are siblings, and I wanted to pursue the topic of nature vs nurture. As a biology major, I had learned about that all through college, but it’s really interesting to be in a place where that happens naturally and not in an experimental setting and experience the impacts of it on the everyday life of my residents.

Sharing Knowledge

By the time I started my internship, I knew my residents very well and I wanted to put my knowledge of them to use. I reviewed medical records, researched more about their diagnoses, family history, genetic components, behavior patterns, and used that info to educate staff and to give staff better understanding of who they are. Both of the individuals I focused on are non-verbal and cannot directly share their own life story and background with us, so it is up to us as staff to pass along the things we know to other staff that come in. I took that role to be the messenger between residents and the staff and help bridge gaps in knowledge about my residents so that they could get the best care possible

Advice for Future Interns

Figure out what you want to focus on or what you’re passionate about. Interested in music? Consider music therapy. Find things that align with your residents and mutually benefit someone at your house. Don’t just do an internship for the sake of doing it. If you’re actually passionate about it, you’ll have all the more time and energy to put into that process. The biggest thing that pushed me was focusing on what I was interested in, and finding small things that I didn’t know before was really exciting–that’s probably why I’m most interested in pursuing medicine. I want to do patient care, but I also want to be really knowledgeable in my given field and be able to learn something every day. I definitely lucked out on choosing a really great topic that drove my curiosity. That was my motivation through it all.”


ACR Homes Internship Advisor Jon Moe states:

“Priya has a contagious desire to learn. Throughout her internship, she was constantly challenging herself to learn as much as she could about her residents, making connections between how their diagnosis impacts their day-to-day activities. Her pursuit of knowledge exemplified the idea that enhanced knowledge leads to enhanced care. ACR internships challenge interns to combine their academic skills learned in undergrad with their direct care experiences to investigate and make connections that can benefit the lives of those we serve. Priya went above and beyond in this manner, and we are incredibly grateful for her dedication to improving the lives of the residents she cares for.   ”

Thanks for making a difference, Priya! 

Considering doing an ACR Internship? Check out other featured interns in our video series hereTo get started and join Priya in making a difference for her residents as well as her future career goals, email