Students discuss summer internship, poverty initiative

By Jade Mardirosian
Staff writer

The Baylor Interdisciplinary Poverty Initiative hosted a Summer Internship and Fellowship Open House Monday at the Bobo Spiritual Life Center where six students discussed their work with non-governmental organizations.

“The Baylor Interdisciplinary Poverty Initiative is a catalyst for social change around issues of poverty, social justice and human capability. We try to offer a range of different opportunities for students to get involved in social justice issues,” Amanda Allen, Interdisciplinary Poverty Initiative project manager, said. “Whether it’s a one time service opportunity, continual service or an eight to 10 week internship, we try to offer lots of different ranges of opportunities.”

Eight students completed internships that allowed them to address various social concerns though their work in different types of regional, national and global non-profit and civil organizations.

Waco junior Jake Abell was an intern for the African Wildlife Foundation in Washington D.C., where his responsibilities included working with social media, public relations, and writing various copy for the organization as well as for Africa Geographic Magazine.

“You really can’t overestimate the value of a BIPI internship,” Abell said. “I was only able to do this program because of the financial support, and the community support made it that much of a better experience. Its absolutely something worth doing.”

Cypress senior Marissa Moschetta said she had a similarly rewarding experience. Moschetta completed her internship at the Boys, Girls, Adults Community Development Center in Marvell, Ark. She explained that the city, with a population of 1,091, is still racially divided in some ways and is in one of the most impoverished counties in the state.

“It was a whole new world over there. It was a fantastic opportunity and I loved it,” Moschetta said. “I learned a lot about myself and how I view poverty and how I view my role in that. I also learned that education is crucial, not just school but teaching people about resources they have and what they can do with those.”

Some internship opportunities also helped students further shape and plan their futures and career goals. Waco senior Melissa Casserly interned at the Baylor University Community Garden in Waco and described the experience as the “beginning of everything.”

“I gained a lot of clarity in what I want to do,” Casserly said. “I want to continue building gardens for people. I am doing another internship this fall; part of it is education based. I will be teaching the program I created this summer and also helping to prepare a lab with the environmental sciences department.”

Two students completed internships with Raven + Lily, a design house in Austin that works to bring designs from Africa and India to western cultures. The company works with women in these countries to bring products such as jewelry and journals.

Another student completed a fellowship which included an internship at the Constitutional Rights Foundation in Los Angeles as well as separate research on Supreme Court cases addressing the free exercise of religion.

Rosemary Townsend, director of business affairs and community partnerships, gave a special thanks to the students for their intelligence, service and devotion. “I truly believe this is a life changing experience for our students,” Townsend said. “It doesn’t make a difference what your major is or your interest is, we are very, very interested in growing these opportunities.”

Students interested in completing an internship through Baylor Interdisciplinary Poverty Initiative for summer 2012 should contact Allen for more information.