Hometown: Birmingham, Alabama
Major: Mass Communications
Minor: Poverty and Human Capability Studies (also studying in the Teacher Education track)
Why did you apply for this particular internship? First, I love working with kids and I'm strongly considering teaching after college. Second, I thought that this particular placement would be right for me because it let me experience different aspects of community outreach. I worked mostly in the summer enrichment program, but I also was able to experience the Center's outreach programs geared towards adults. Getting this variation in my internship really helped to give me a more complete picture of what poverty really looks like in this particular area.
How did your work apply to your studies at W&L? This internship is directly related to my Poverty minor, so obviously it was really enlightening to see my studies come to life, so to speak. I'm also considering working the Teacher Education program into my studies at W&L, so it was both enriching and rewarding to get to work with children from low-income households. It was interesting for me to combine those two academic interests in a real-world setting. I also think that the journaling I did this summer gave me a lot of great material. As I mentioned before, I really enjoy nonfiction writing (part of why I chose a major in the J-school). I think it's rewarding to use writing to share a meaningful experience.
What was the most unexpected aspect of your Shepherd Alliance experience? I didn't expect to be so sad to leave! The summer really flew by, and by the end I was really attached to the kids I worked with. I wasn't expecting to form such strong relationships in such a short time. The kids were practically begging me to stay in Baltimore; some of them invited me to live with them so I wouldn't have to leave. It was very rewarding to know that I made such an impression.
Post-Graduation Plans: After this summer I'm really interested in working for an organization like the Hampden Family Center, something that provides resources for those in need. I'm also really interested in working with children again, so I'm considering teaching.
Favorite W&L Memory: It's so hard to choose! I had a lot of fun at my sorority's Bid Day last year. Since I was the one in charge of its planning, it was really exciting and fulfilling to see the event come together.
Favorite Class: Poverty 101 was really enlightening for me. The poverty program is absolutely fantastic and has been really influential in both my studies at W&L and my general worldview.
Favorite W&L Event: Definitely Parents and Family Weekend. It's both really weird and really exciting to have your home and college universes collide, but it's always a lot of fun! I especially enjoy it because my father is an alumnus, so he always has a blast being back in Lexington.
Favorite Campus Landmark: As typical as this sounds, nothing beats the Colonnade in the spring! It's just so great to take a beach towel and camp out in the grass with your readings when the weather is nice.
Why did you choose W&L? I got to campus and completely fell in love. Not only is it a beautiful campus, but there's a real sense of community, which is something I noticed right off. I think this has to do with both the size of the school and its traditions. The Honor Code and Speaking Tradition were huge draws for me. I came to look at W&L because my father is an alumnus and he wanted me to consider it, but I chose the school because it felt like somewhere I could call my home. I can't imagine being anywhere else.
Why did you choose your major? I've always been interested in writing--particularly nonfiction--and I became passionate about the Poverty program with the first POV class that I took. I feel like I'll be able to make the most of my Poverty minor through my writing, which is why I wanted to choose a major in the Journalism school. I think that with my personal strengths, I'll be able to do the greatest amount of good combining these two fields.
What professor has inspired you? Professor Beckley! He's such a smart guy, and his work with the Poverty program has been amazing.
Advice for prospective or first-year students? Even if you think you know what you want to major in, take a variety of classes. I came into college knowing nothing about the Poverty program and thinking I would be an English major. Now I couldn't be happier with my major and minor, but I wouldn't have chosen them if I hadn't been open-minded when choosing my course load!
What do you wish you'd known before you came to campus? If you go to the library intending to study, keep your head down and head straight to the fourth floor. If you don't, you will absolutely run into a friend and you won't get anything done. Campus is so small that you know practically everyone.
This summer I interned at the Hampden Family Center in Baltimore, Maryland. In this internship I spent my time working with kids between the ages of six and twelve in the summer enrichment program and working in the office part of the center, helping community members apply for food stamps, medical assistance and other similar programs.
Mondays through Thursdays, camp started at 9 a.m., when we served the kids a free breakfast. It was usually just cereal and milk and orange juice. Then we would do one of three things: they would have one of their enrichment classes, they would have free time (pretty much just art and games) or we would take them to the park. Around noon we would serve them a free lunch (milk, juice, a sandwich and a piece of fruit). After lunch we took them to the neighborhood swimming pool. Around 3:00 or 3:30 we would bring them back to the center for a free snack, then they would have a different enrichment class.
The kids had a few different enrichment options. They had weekly golf lessons, which I thought was really great, because I don't know where else the kids would learn to play a sport like golf. They had twice-weekly art classes, where they did things like weaving, landscapes, portraits and a mural. Every two weeks women from the garden club came in to help the kids grow bean plants and make flower-related art.
One day we had a woman from a nearby nature preserve bring in animals and talk about them. She brought an owl, a terrapin, a rattlesnake, a falcon and a hawk, all of which were in the preserve's care because they were somehow injured. A man came in a few times and taught the kids about rap, which was really fun. He also taught them about the history of hip-hop. He also worked with them on rhyme and rhythm and even a little breakdancing. The other intern taught classes on health. I had a creative writing/ literature appreciation class. In my class, the kids learned how to identify the parts of a story and analyze a story's theme and moral.
On Fridays, we took the kids on field trips. We went to an Orioles game, the Natural History Museum, the American Visionary Art Museum, the Baltimore Museum of Art and the Maryland Zoo. It was a lot of fun because the kids got so excited. I think it's very important to show them how much their city has to offer. On these trips, kids would tell me things like "this is on my way to school, but I've never been here before. It's so cool!"
While most of my time was spent working with the kids, I also helped out with the programs for adults, assisting community members with applications for food stamps, WIC, PAC and such. While working in this different part of the center, I was able to help people apply for jobs, create resumes, and apply for medical assistance. I also had the opportunity to serve at a senior luncheon and get to know a few members of the community fairly well.
This experience was meaningful because it was so personal. I really enjoy helping people, and that's exactly what I did this summer. I became very close to the kids, and that really meant a lot to me. I feel like I was able to make a lasting impression on the kids, many of whom didn't have many role models to follow in their home lives.
I found that the best ways to impact the kids were in stealthy ways. I brought in different kinds of fruit so they understood that healthy food was tasty. I was very strict on "please, thank you, yes ma'am and no ma'am." If one child was mean to another, they had to give a heartfelt apology and say three nice things. These small lessons that I taught them are the things I want them to remember. Maybe I'm biased, but I think it did at least a little bit of good.