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The Experience of an Internship and the Ability to Make a Difference


logo_lillycenter.jpgFourteen Catawba College students employed their unique gifts and talents in service to others as interns with tax-exempt nonprofit organizations during the summer of 2012. Funding and coordination for the program were provided through the college's Lilly Center for Vocation and Values.

While these students clearly benefitted from the experiential learning opportunities offered through such internships, they also filled vital roles within the programs they served. Representatives of host organizations involved in the program consistently indicate that they are better equipped to meet the needs of the community because of the talent and commitment that Catawba students "bring to the table."  The impact of the interns has been particularly valuable in these difficult economic times, as nonprofits struggle with limited budgetary and staff resources.    

Two Catawba College students were placed as interns with Rowan Helping Ministries, which provides assistance  in meeting basic human needs  for those finding themselves in crisis in Rowan County. Yakir Malul (a 2012 graduate, who majored in business administration with a concentration in accounting, and minored in sociology) served as a Compliance Auditing Intern. Yakir's efforts were focused on ensuring that the organization accounted for its expenditure of funds and allocation of resources as required by private grants and state and federal programs. Melissa Fields (a senior majoring in sociology) worked as a Shelter/Transitional Housing Case Management Intern. Her efforts were vital to those served by the organization, as she helped link them with much needed assistance - not only at Rowan Helping Ministries - but in the community-at-large.  

Kyna Foster, herself a 1989 Catawba alumna and the Executive Director of Rowan Helping Ministries, proudly exclaimed, "We certainly hope to be considered again next year when Catawba's Lilly Center seeks placement for interns. This year's interns were an invaluable part of our RHM team. Yakir completed a much needed special compliance auditing project that will help us more effectively and efficiently operate our crisis assistance programming. Melissa's assistance in our Shelter Services program helped link our guests to valuable services in the community and provided an opportunity for our full-time staff to focus on developing new program ideas. Thank you again for allowing Rowan Helping Ministries to benefit from the knowledge, talents and heart of these Catawba students!"

Bristol Glass (a senior majoring in theatre arts education, with a minor in Creative Writing) worked as the Summer ArtVentures and Volunteer Coordinator for Waterworks Visual Arts Center, one of only 12 nationally accredited non-collecting art museums in the state of North Carolina. Her internship focused on the coordination of the museum's summer education programs, which included more than 30 classes and special workshops.

One of the first requirements listed in Bristol's job description for the position at Waterworks stated that she must be "a mature, well organized, self-starting individual who is energetic and dynamic."   By all accounts, Bristol proved to be just that. Anne Scott Clement, Executive Director of Waterworks, reports that Bristol demonstrated a maturity beyond her years and handled her duties so responsibly that she was offered part-time employment with the organization while she continues school. "Her work has been superlative, and she is an asset to our program," said Clement.

Lauren Reavis (a sophomore majoring in elementary education with a minor in English) served as a summer intern with Rowan County YMCA Metro Office. The bulk of Lauren's duties were related to management of the YMCA's Summer Backpack Program, which provided more than 130,000 meals to nearly 2,000 Rowan County children through a partnership with Rowan Helping Ministries, Main Street Mission, and other organizations. Lauren's hard work and dedication were essential to ensuring that these children did not go hungry. Laurie Ward, Human Resources/Development Director at the YMCA stated, "Our summer backpack program served 72% more children in poverty than last summer!   We definitely could not have done that without Lauren! She was so compassionate and willing to do anything she was asked, and she was simply spectacular with kids!"

InternsMatt Laurens (a sophomore majoring in religion and philosophy) had a rewarding experience as an intern with Habitat for Humanity of Rowan County. The nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing ministry is committed to the belief that "every man, woman and child should have a  simple, decent, affordable place  to live in dignity and safety."   As Matt worked side-by-side with volunteers and future homeowners in the construction of four different homes, he was immersed in the organization's mission and became an integral part of building not only homes, but a sense of community.

Matt was interested in the position with Habitat because he had been on nine construction–oriented mission trips with his church youth group, and had also previously volunteered with Habitat. He states, "Working with Dave Rowh, Habitat's Construction Supervisor, was an incredible learning experience. I never did the same thing two days in a row and sometimes worked on multiple projects within a single day. I met so many good people and learned valuable, life-long lessons. I really believe this experience brought me closer to God. I'm hoping to pursue a career in nonprofit service or mission work of some type. " Jane Hartness, Volunteer Coordinator for Habitat, had the following comment about Matt's impact as an intern: "The family members who were assisting in the construction of their future homes have expressed great appreciation for Matt's hard work and his dedication to the ministry of Habitat for Humanity. He has certainly paved the way for future Lilly Center Summer Interns!"

Brad Maness (a senior majoring in business administration with a concentration in general management) was assigned as a summer intern with the corporate office of Lutheran Services for the Aging. LSA operates nine skilled nursing and assisted living facilities, two retirement homes, and an adult day services program. Its mission is "to express God's love in Christ by providing multiple services for seniors, including nursing care, adult day care, and retirement living."  

Brad pursued the position with LSA because it seemed a perfect fit, given his major and interest in a career in business. Brad quickly became a valuable member of LSA's Finance Department team, assisting with such vital functions as capturing remote deposit data, completing source documentation, making journal entries, maintaining accounting spreadsheets, processing accounts payable, and completing and distributing financial reports. Sharon Miller, LSA's Controller, stated, "As Brad quickly adapted to the position, we did not hesitate to increase his workload and level of responsibility. He represented Catawba College, its business program, and the Lilly Center extremely well. We look forward to future interns being placed with our organization!"

Eli Wittum (a sophomore, double majoring in environmental science and biology with a minor in Business) spent his summer roaming the rural landscapes and natural areas protected by the LandTrust of Central North Carolina. Eli felt that the experiential learning opportunities provided through this summer internship with the LandTrust meshed wonderfully with his passion for the environment, his course work, and his career focus. Jason Walser, Executive Director of the LandTrust, reports, "Eli was a tremendous asset to the LandTrust for Central North Carolina, as he helped perform essential monitoring visits, collected data, and took photographs of our protected properties. He is a hard worker who always started the day early. Eli often returned to our office, drenched with sweat from the oppressive summer heat, but he never complained. His work has been essential to our conservation efforts."

InternsJordan Raye (a senior majoring in physical education) spent her summer working as an Activity Intern with Abundant Living Adult Day Services, a ministry of Lutheran Services for the Aging. This day activity program enables frail older adults and adults with various disabilities to remain in the community through the use of supportive services. As an intern, Jordan assisted staff – including a registered nurse, certified nursing assistants, and activity personnel – in offering medical monitoring, personal care, daily activities, and meals in a safe and supportive environment.

One of Jordan's primary responsibilities was the development and coordination of small group and individual exercise activities for participants dealing dementia, stroke, Parkinson's disease, and other conditions related to aging. In planning these activities, Jordan had to consider each person's cognitive and physical ability levels to foster participant engagement. For some, this meant working one-on-one and providing hands-on assistance. Others could function well as part of a group activity.

Jordan's outgoing personality was an asset on the job and allowed her to connect with those she was serving. Lydia Johnson, Activity Director at Abundant Living stated, "Jordan is such a people person, which is very important in the work we do. We thank Catawba College for sending Jordan, and also past Lilly Center interns, our way!"   Likewise, Jordan expressed her gratitude to the Lilly Center and to her host organization by sharing, "I want to thank the Lilly Center for giving me the opportunity to give back to the Salisbury community. I truly feel blessed to have worked with such an amazing group of people at Abundant Living. I will forever cherish the memories I made there."

InternsAs a summer intern with Partners in Learning Child Development Center, Whitney Corriher (a senior majoring in elementary education with a minor in Spanish) worked in the only five-star NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) accredited child development center in Salisbury. The flexible nature of this position required that Whitney work in a different classroom nearly every day of the week and with a broad range of students of varying developmental levels. "Being in such a diverse classroom environment helped open my eyes and prepare for the challenges I will encounter within my own classroom when I become a teacher," said Whitney.

InternsMichelle Chaffee (a senior majoring in vocal performance and English writing) served as a summer intern with the Center for Faith in the Arts.     The mission of this faith-based nonprofit is to strengthen the relationship between the arts and one's spiritual life. Michelle helped further this mission by coordinating summer programming. A particular highlight was "Wake up Leonardo!," the Center's summer arts academy. Through the academy, Michelle had to opportunity to work with an incredible diverse array of students, 80% of whom were granted need-based scholarships. Some of these students were affiliated with other local nonprofits, including Nazareth Children's Home and Partners in Learning Child Development Center. She also handled set preparation for two summer theatre productions, and worked in the box office and with the crew for both shows.

Michelle assisted with marketing efforts by lending her considerable writing and editing talents to the production of the Center's newsletter, the "Muse and Spirit." In between these duties, she found time to serve as a general office assistant. Center staff member, Kris Watson, enthusiastically offered, "Michelle was a tremendous asset to our program. With her help, we were able to achieve so much more this summer than we could have imagined.  The Center for Faith and the Arts is thankful to have been included in this program, and we hope to participate again next summer."

InternsKatie Barbee (a junior, double majoring in communication arts and English) served as an Education Intern with the "Summer of the Arts" Program of the Preschool of the Arts, a five-star, nationally accredited program in Kannapolis. The mission of the preschool is to provide the highest quality care for young children in an environment that utilizes the arts as a learning tool, while partnering with families to nurture children's cognitive, physical, social and emotional development.

Katie's first order of business was to assist with the relocation of the Preschool of the Arts to a new eco-friendly facility at the beginning of the summer. After settling in at the new site, Katie provided leadership for various hands-on, project-based learning modules designed to meet the needs of her enthusiastic young students. Donna James, Board Chair for the Preschool of the Arts, shared, "Katie was extremely reliable and was very interactive with the kids. They will truly miss her - particularly the conversations and personal attention she gave each of them each day."

InternsLee Martin (a senior majoring in business administration) coordinated a mission trip through TEAMeffort, a non-profit, inter-denominational Christian youth mission organization dedicated to providing opportunities for both youth and adult leaders to reach out to others through Christian service. The mission trip was designed to be a mixture of hard work, spiritual growth, and good clean adventurous fun. Lee and his team put faith into action as they completed major renovations to the home of a family struggling in poverty.

Lee states, "Watching these young people work, seeing the finished project, experiencing the reaction of the children who live in the home, and knowing I had something to do with that was incredible! I would highly recommend the Lilly Center Summer Internship experience, because it gives students the opportunity to