The coordinated internship program in Women’s and Gender Studies (WGS) enrolled its first students during the summer 2012 semester, but it has already affected the lives of countless individuals, providing 4,000 hours of community engagement with 23 different community partners. This success is due in no small part to the research and preparation invested in the internship program by dedicated director Christie Rinck. On December 4th, Rinck, joined by student interns and their organizational sponsors, proudly showcased the work they accomplished while thanking sponsors for providing valuable mentorship.
Interning with the Crisis Center, the Homeless Coalition, and the League of Women Voters, among other organizations, WGS undergraduates learned not only how to apply academic knowledge in the real world, they also acquired professional skills, built social networks, and gained other intangibles that will help them succeed in graduate school and/or on the job market. Elizabeth Bell, Chair of WGS, observed that the internship program allows students to develop skills that they will use for the rest of their lives.
WGS interns also help strengthen the USF student community. For example, Kiyanna Sawyer interned with the USF Office of Multicultural Affairs, advocating for LGBT students and encouraging them to become more involved in the campus community. As Kiyanna commented, her internship “allowed me to go out and talk to students to see what they needed” in terms of LGBT resources as she served as a liaison between Multicultural Affairs and student organizations such as the P.R.I.D.E Alliance, Transgender Student Union, and the GLBTA Pre-medical Student Association.
Mary Catherine Bertulfo interned with Youth Education Services (Y.E.S.), where she says she “learned the true meaning of compassion and understood the importance of advocacy.” While at Y.E.S., she earned State certification training for HIV testing and counseling. She also designed a toolkit for youth transitioning into adult HIV+ care.
Jackie Horwich, having interned with the Homeless Coalition, as well as Women’s and Gender Studies, explained that when she gets asked what she’s going to do with a WGS degree, she now answers, “Help my community by making a difference.” Her experience in the WGS internship program has inspired her to pursue a Master’s degree in Social Work.