I participated in mission trip and volunteer experiences during high school, so when I came into college I knew that I wanted to devote a significant portion of my career to working in impoverished communities and alleviating poverty. When I heard about the Shepherd Poverty Program, I knew that it could help me accomplish my future career goals, and I needed to be a part of it.
My internship in Arkansas was definitely an eye-opening experience. I had never lived in a rural area and I knew little about rural poverty or the issues that small, rural populations face. My internship definitely helped me to understand these problems, and in the process, I was able to build great relationships with people in the community. After participating in this program for the past several years, I have learned that poverty is not about statistics, it's about people. Anti-poverty efforts are not about making one's self feel good or accomplishing a goal so one can pat himself on the back. It's about empowering people and raising people out of poverty so that they too can help others. When I focus solely on statistics and numbers, the task of alleviating poverty seems daunting, insurmountable and impossible. But when I focus on how individual lives are being changed and positively affected, the task seems attainable.
The Shepherd Alliance internship made me realize how important the Shepherd Program is to Washington and Lee because it helps students to view poverty from different perspectives. By giving students an opportunity to critically evaluate different approaches to alleviating poverty, engage in efforts to alleviate poverty and form their own anti-poverty programs, the Shepherd Program adds great value to Washington and Lee's liberal arts education. I plan to continue to engage in the issues of poverty that interest me most and volunteer with organizations that are effectively tackling these issues.
Capstone Paper Title: Universities and a Living Wage: Much More than a Minimum Wage
• Parry McCluer Middle School Tutor
• Rockbridge Area Free Clinic Volunteer
• Nabors Service League