Baylor seeks students to combat poverty

IMG_0072 FTWBy Ada Zhang
Staff Writer

The Baylor Division of Student Life is currently accepting applications for the Shepherd Internship Program at Washington and Lee University.

This is a summer internship offered to anyone interested in using what they have learned in the classroom to improve the lives of others.

The Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty, led by Washington and Lee, includes different universities from across the nation. The consortium’s efforts are focused on preparing students “for a lifetime of professional and civic efforts to diminish poverty and enhance human capability.”

The program teaches students about poverty by placing students in agencies across the U.S. “that work to benefit impoverished members of society.”

Rosemary Townsend, director of business affairs and community relations, said a deadline for submitting applications has not yet been set. Five students from Baylor are accepted each year, Townsend said.

In terms of qualifications for this program, Rosemary said she will look at the students’ grade point averages and previous community service experience. Students also need to write a one-page paper about why they think the internship is a good fit for them.

A complete list of internships and the disciplines they match can be found on the program website A faculty recommendation letter is also required.

To get started on the application, Townsend said students need to email her to introduce themselves. She said from there, she can give them guidance on how best to apply.

Sherman senior Rachael Bell was an intern for the Shepherd Internship Program this past summer and called her experience “rewarding.”

Bell was placed at the Atlanta Community Food Bank, which she said was a perfect fit for her since she is a nutrition sciences major.

Bell stayed in a dorm at Emory University and drove 30 to 40 minutes to work every day. Students who did not have a car took public transportation, Bell said.

Bell’s job varied from day to day, she said.

“Every day was different,” Bell said. “Some days, I worked in the garden. I’d harvest food in the morning. Anywhere from that night to the next few days, it goes on trucks to go out to churches that distribute food to people. The food I picked in the morning could have been dinner for people the next night.”

Bell said in addition to working hands-on in the garden, she was also in charge of the Plant a Row for the Hungry campaign.

She called different local organizations, Bell said, asking them to plant an extra row in their gardens to donate food to the needy.

“It encourages people to plant extra food,” Bell said. “We wanted people to be fed.”

Bell said students should apply for this program.

“Go in with an open mind,” Bell said. “It’s challenging because of the manual labor, but it’s enriching and gratifying. I didn’t know how to garden before, now I do. I’m a completely different person now.”

Townsend said students should seriously consider the length of the internship before they apply.

“It’s important that students think very seriously about their summer,” Townsend said. “This is an eight- to 10-week commitment.”

Students from across the U.S. who are accepted into the program have to attend an opening symposium at Washington and Lee, which is located in Lexington, Va.

At this first symposium, students will meet the other students they will be working with, Townsend said, and they will be given an overview of their job assignments and expectations.

Another symposium is held at the end of the program. Townsend said this closing symposium is where students show what they have learned.

They are required to deliver a presentation in the form of a paper or a PowerPoint to the Washington and Lee Shepherd International Program board of directors and faculty, Townsend said.

“Students are presenting to high-level people from national organizations,” Townsend said. “It’s an extraordinary resume builder to advance admissions to professional schools or jobs. That’s a distinct benefit.”

Townsend said the program gives students a stipend, an allowance they can use to buy food, clothing or whatever else they might want or need. Housing is also arranged by the program, Townsend said.

“Baylor’s part in this is that we underwrite the cost of their transportation,” Townsend said.

Baylor pays for transportation from the student’s hometown to Washington and Lee, and from Washington and Lee to the student’s assigned agency.

As the eight weeks comes to an end, Baylor also pays for transportation from the agency to Washington and Lee for the closing symposium, and finally, from Washington and Lee to the student’s hometown.

Townsend said the program is life-changing.

“It’s an extraordinary opportunity for people who really care about poverty and social justice and human capability to make a measurable contribution to the places they’re serving,” Townsend said.