During the summer of 2011, the Lilly Center for Vocation and Values at Catawba College provided funding and facilitated the placement of 16 students as interns in the nonprofit sector. On September 15, the interns came together in Tom Smith Auditorium on campus to share highlights from their summer experiences. The evening's program was entitled "My Summer of Service."
The Summer Internship program is just one of many initiatives of the Lilly Center that encourage students to explore the employment of their unique gifts and talents in service to others - thereby opening the door to a more meaningful future.
Lindsay Smith (a junior from Salisbury majoring in Athletic Training and Exercise Science) served 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. A registered nurse, certified nursing assistants, and activity personnel offer medical monitoring, personal care, daily activities, and meals in a safe and supportive environment. The program is certified by the Department of Health and Human Services Division of Aging.
With plans to pursue a career in physical therapy, Lindsay felt the internship would provide her "an opportunity to work hands on with the elderly with an emphasis on activity and exercise." In addition, Lindsay had been instrumental in the care of her grandparents who were diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and had both lived in her family's home in their later years. Barbara Garwood, Executive Director of Abundant Living, felt that Lindsay's career goals and personal experience were indicators that she was uniquely qualified for the position.
Throughout the course of the summer, Ms. Garwood's intuition proved to be true. "Lindsay jumped right in as our summer activity intern. She was truly a natural working with the geriatric population. Our program was greatly enriched by her creativity and positive energy. Everyone – participants and staff - benefitted from her presence. We miss her so much," said Garwood.
Lindsay shared similar feelings, adding, "Every moment I spent with them, I loved and will cherish for the rest of my life. They all touched me in some way or another. It wasn't all fun and games. We did have some rough days, but it was well worth it. I'd love to do it again next summer!" Just a couple of days after her internship ended, Lindsay returned to Abundant Living to visit program participants – an indicator of the lasting impact they have had on her career path and life.
Adam Ridenhour (a senior from Advance majoring in Religion and Philosophy) served as a chaplaincy intern with Rowan Regional Medical Center and Hospice of Rowan County. In this capacity, he had the opportunity to explore pastoral care in a hospital setting for the first time. He had completed previous pastoral internships in church settings, but wanted to gain a greater understanding of his vocational calling.
"During my internship, I had numerous experiences that caused me to wrestle with my faith, my vocation, and the meaning of life. Before the internship, I knew I wanted to enter pastoral ministry, but I was looking more towards the parish setting. After this summer, I believe my true calling is in chaplaincy, where I can help meet the needs of people during the worst times of their lives," said Adam.
While working as an intern, Adam was supervised by the Rev. James Cook, Director of Chaplaincy Services at Rowan Regional, and Rev. Harold Jordan, Chaplain for Hospice of Rowan County. Rev. Cook shared, "Certainly I'm not the first person to describe Adam as being mature beyond his years. It was an absolute pleasure having him on our team. He was an asset to our program and consistently demonstrated a real desire to better understand the dynamics and complexities of patient care. He genuinely wanted to know patients and their families, so he could help meet their needs. His tremendous faith, compassion for others, and delightful sense of humor will continue to serve him well as he ministers to patients and families experiencing illness, trauma, tragedy, and loss."
As one might expect, Adam is a strong proponent of the Lilly Center's Summer Internship Program. "This wonderful experience allowed me to gain knowledge in my area of vocation, my studies as a Religion and Philosophy major, and my faith. I would recommend the program to any student seeking a greater understanding of his or her vocation. Interning exemplifies the interconnectedness of theory and application, forcing us as students to reevaluate our educational and life experiences," he said.
Lizzle Davis (a junior from East Bend majoring in English with minors in Creative Writing and Elementary Education) served as a summer intern with the Center for Faith and the Arts, whose mission is to strengthen the relationship between the arts and one's spiritual life. She stated that her summer internship provided "a great opportunity to fully immerse myself in the work experience, exploring a prospective vocation to see if it's a good match for my passions, skills, and what I feel is important and vital."
Sarah Hall, Executive Director of the Center for the Arts, stated, "Lizzle has been ideal intern for the Center for Faith and the Arts. Our summer plays and art galleries were successful, largely due to her efforts. She was also instrumental in an extensive reorganization of our organization's library. Quite frankly, we couldn't have completed any of these projects without her. She was extremely conscientious in carrying out every single assignment, and her commitment to excellence was obvious. Every organization should be blessed with an intern like Lizzle!"
Lizzle reports that "the most of the rewarding moments of my summer internship were made possible by encountering and overcoming challenges, particularly those related to our two summer plays." She explained, "The theatre profession was a whole new language for me, and it was difficult at times to find my bearings. There were moments in which I had to use intuition and attentiveness to be able to keep up. I learned to be willing and ready to ask questions, to listen and absorb advice, and to not be afraid to admit when you don't grasp something fully. The cast, crew, producers and directors of both plays had the utmost patience with my lack of theatrical experience, and by the end of the summer, I had gained a good sense of the business of theatre."
Steven Jordan (a senior from Salisbury majoring in Business Administration) reports that, when he heard about the Lilly Center's Summer Internship Program, he "immediately jumped at the chance to apply." Steven was selected as the summer intern for the YMCA of Rowan County's Corporate Office. "The YMCA Corporate office was the most directly business-oriented internship of the bunch, and seemed like it would best fulfill my interest of getting my feet wet in a business environment," said Steven.
During his internship, Steven's formal job description was primarily focused on three different areas: accounts payable (preparing/entering invoices into the system), personnel/benefits (new hire documentation), and records retention (sorting/indexing/storing financial records). While he did get significant experience in all three of those areas, the bulk of his duties were related to the management of the YMCA's newly created Summer Backpack Program. Steven was instrumental in this program's growth as partnerships were developed with Rowan Helping Ministries and Main Street Mission.
Laurie Ward, Human Resources/Development Director at the YMCA stated, "Steven was quickly immersed in the chaos of our brand new Summer Backpack program, which provided food for needy children in our community. He faced multiple challenges head-on as this program grew beyond our original projections to meet the ever-growing needs or our community. Had Steven not been with us this summer, there would not have been enough hours in the day to complete the necessary tasks. Amidst all of this chaos, Steven took initiative and developed confidence."
Of his summer experience, Steven said, "My Lilly Center Summer Internship definitely stands out as one of the most rewarding experiences I've had at Catawba, and as one of the best decisions that I've made in my college career. I would certainly encourage anyone who desires to gain real-world experience in one of many different fields available to apply. My experience was invaluable in helping me determine what I want to do after I graduate."
Casey Baucom (a junior from Marshville majoring in Elementary Education with a minor in Sociology) served as a summer intern with Partners in Learning Child Development Center, an organization whose mission is to "model the highest quality learning environment and stimulate families and the community to provide opportunities for the optimal growth and development of children." Casey stated that she chose to pursue a position with Partners in Learning because they operate the only five-star NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) accredited school in Salisbury. She felt the internship would provide "the perfect environment in which to gain experience working with young children."
During the majority of her summer, Casey was assigned as a "floating teacher," working under the supervision of Norma Honeycutt, Director of Partners in Learning. The flexible nature of her position required that Casey work in a different classroom nearly every day of the week. While constantly changing environments was, at times challenging, Casey was undaunted. "It was an awesome experience, because I got to know nearly every child by name, their behavioral tendencies, and the things they enjoyed."
Clearly impressed with Casey's contributions, Honeycutt added, "During her time as our summer intern, Casey demonstrated the highest level of integrity and possibly the strongest work ethic I have ever seen. She's extremely passionate about children and made a tangible difference in their lives and the lives of their families. Working with her was an absolute joy! As soon as her internship ended, we were excited to be able to offer her a part-time employment while she continues college. Clearly, we didn't want her to leave!"
Casey was particularly drawn to those students in the program who had special needs. Several faced challenges associated with autism, mental retardation, and other development disabilities. She has been impressed with philosophy of inclusion practiced by Partners in Learning. "Children with special needs are put in the same classrooms as those without. I think this is important because it teaches children at a young age that it is okay to be different. It touched my heart to go out to the playground and see how a child who could have been running around with the rest of the kids, would instead chose to guide and hold the hand of a child with special needs. This concept teaches all children to accept and befriend their classmates with differing levels of need. It also teaches those with special needs that they can do anything that other kids can do," said Casey.
In summing up her Lilly Center Summer Internship experience, Casey excitedly shared, "There is no greater joy than going into work every day and receiving welcoming hugs from these kids. This experience has left me with an aura of excitement for what my future holds as someone who looks to impact children as a way of life. I could not have been happier with the way I spent my summer!"
Brittany Moore (a senior from Harrisburg and an Environmental Science major) and Josh Owens (a senior from Mt. Pleasant majoring in Business Administration) both served as summer interns with Faithful Friends Animal Sanctuary, a no-kill animal shelter in Rowan County, which just completed construction on a million-dollar facility for providing care for abandoned dogs and cats awaiting adoption.
As an environmentalist, Brittany considered it a plus that Faithful Friends was constructing an environmentally friendly, green facility. The building's design incorporates energy efficient heating, cooling, and lighting systems. Numerous recycled materials were used in its construction, and much of the land surrounding the shelter remains in its natural state. During construction, Brittany was given the opportunity to participate in meetings with contractors, attorneys, insurance agents and representatives of the Department of Agriculture. "I really enjoyed the diversity of my tasks, the job never became routine. There was always something new and exciting to see, do, or learn. I was especially excited on the days I got to work directly with the environmental analyst from the Department of Agriculture. Through this hands-on experience, I learned the specific rules and regulations that animal shelters must comply with before they can even open their doors and why."
While Brittany's position with Faithful Friends was more administrative in nature, Josh's duties were involved more manual labor – but were no less rewarding. "I knew I wanted to be placed with an organization that made a difference in the community. One day, I recalled an article that I had read a few months earlier in The Salisbury Post. It told the story of a young girl who asked that those attending her birthday party make a donation of pet food and toys to Faithful Friends, rather than giving her presents. At that point, I decided to check out the organization." Josh assisted with numerous projects during the summer including the aluminum can collection fundraiser, the annual "Pick of the Litter" Yard Sale, and the transformation of an old building on the Faithful Friends property from an eyesore to a functional storage facility for the organization to use.
A two-time summer intern, Josh stated, "The Lilly Center Summer Internship Program is a great program for Catawba and certainly helps to emphasize the word, service, in the college seal. My experience with Faithfull Friends has fed my belief that I need to go into a line of work where I can truly make a difference."
Mackenzie Westbrook (a senior from Charlotte majoring in Theatre Arts) chose a summer internship in the events and cultural development department of the Latin American Coalition of Charlotte. "I applied there because I wanted to work with an organization whose mission benefitted the Charlotte community and provided services to the underprivileged and those in need," Mackenzie said. She very quickly added, "I also wanted to improve my Spanish skills!"
The mission of the Latin American Coalition is to promote full Hispanic participation in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg region, by informing, educating and advocating for the Latin American community. The Latin American Coalition is dedicated to serving Mecklenburg County's 75,000 Hispanic families with the services that allow them to overcome language, economic, educational and cultural barriers while offering the wider community opportunities to learn about and connect with the Latino population. They are striving to help build a diverse and vibrant Charlotte-Mecklenburg community that embraces, supports, and respects people of all cultures and backgrounds.
Much of Mackenzie's time was spent assisting with preparations for the 21st Annual Latin American Festival. She contacted prospective corporate donors regarding sponsorships and reached out to local Latino artists and food venders to encourage their participation. She submitted promotional information to various media outlets, and worked on the logistics related to the festival site and utilization of volunteers.
"This internship experience has opened my eyes to many career opportunities that I did not previously know existed or think were a possibility for me. I had never thought about completing a major in Spanish or pursuing a translating certificate, but now I intend to do so."
Julie Gilley (a senior from Dobson majoring in History and Secondary Education) spent her summer internship outdoors, serving as a Day Camp Counselor with the Children's Center of Surry and Yadkin. The mission of the Center is the prevention and treatment of child abuse and neglect. A variety of programs and services are offered to children and youth who have been abused, neglected, are undisciplined, delinquent, or are at risk of court involvement.Julie said, "I chose to apply for this position because I wanted to gain more experience working with at-risk children. I felt that working with a local organization would be beneficial not only to me but also to my home community."
Julie worked as a floating counselor with two of the Center's summer day camps: "All about Respect" for males and "Ladybugs Camp" for females. Most of the young people attending these camps came from traumatic backgrounds, which had lead them to make numerous bad decisions in life. Through this experience, Julie says she learned "to have patience with children who have emotional/behavioral issues. They truly are good kids. They just react to things differently because of their past experiences. Any child is teachable! It was extremely rewarding to work with so many kids who otherwise may not have had the positive summer experience these camps offered." Julie expressed appreciation to the Lilly Center for allowing her to work with a nonprofit organization that is "close to my home and close to my heart."
Likewise, Julie's host organization benefited from her presence. Robin Testerman, Director of the Children's Center of Surry and Yadkin, shared, "It was an honor to have Julie as our summer intern. As she helped with our summer camp for disadvantaged children, her enthusiasm and dedication were like a breath of fresh air! She worked well beyond her required hours and always had a positive attitude!"
Whitney Mullis (a junior from Kannapolis majoring in English) spent her summer working as an administrative intern with the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association & Hall of Fame. The mission of the NSSA is to pay tribute to those sportscasters and sportswriters who bring joy to sports fans everywhere, and also to provide an environment for aspiring sportscasters and sportswriters to mold their talents and learn more about the media industry. While at NSSA, Whitney assisted the administrative team with the day-to-day operation of the organization.
Dave Goren, Executive Director of NSSA stated, "We could not have been happier with Whitney's contributions. Anything we threw at her, she was able to handle with flying colors! If other students who walk through our doors from the Lilly Center are anywhere near as competent as Whitney, we will be in excellent shape!"
Ashley Sherrill (a senior from Troutman majoring in Business Administration with a concentration in Information Systems) worked this summer as a Banner Reporting Intern with Catawba College's Information Technology Department. The department is responsible for creating and maintaining the information technology infrastructure of the college. This includes the data, voice, and cable networks, as well as all related computers, devices, software systems, and databases. The mission of the department is to provide secure and reliable technology that advances teaching and learning and streamlines administrative business processes. Ashley was assigned to assist the Office of the Registrar and was responsible for the creation of a Cognos reporting system.
Ashley reports that her internship experience challenged her to grow as an individual and convinced her that she has what it takes to pursue her chosen vocational path. "The first challenge I faced was a very personal one. I am, by nature, a shy person. I had to overcome my shyness and learn to interact with people confidently. In my position, I had to be able to communicate well with users of the reporting system in order to get exactly what they wanted in the reports. This experience reassured me that, as I move forward, I want to do something involving computers."
Of Ashley's contributions to her team, Carol Gamble (Catawba College Registrar) said, "We were so fortunate to have Ashley assigned to us through the Information Technology Department. She was instrumental to the success or our department's transition to Banner, the college's new information management system. She designed all of the reports needed by our office. She was fast, intuitive, and an incredibly hard worker. If we had a permanent position available, we would love to keep Ashley on our team!"
Rachel Abbatiello (a junior from Midland majoring in Vocal Performance and Music Education) split her time this summer between two distinctly different internships. She began her summer with the North Carolina Summer Institute of Choral Art, whose goal is to inspire young singers to develop an appreciation for choral art. She then ended her summer as an intern with Cabarrus County KIDS: PLUS, a before and after school child care program in Cabarrus County. "I am double majoring in Vocal Performance and Music Education, and plan to teach music in a public school setting after graduation, so these two organizations were very applicable to my future career plans,'" said Rachel.
At NCSICA, Rachel served as a collegiate intern during the organization's summer camp for middle and high school students, which brings in nationally recognized choral conductors to serve as clinicians for the week. As a past camper and counselor, Rachel shared, "I feel very strongly about the importance of what this camp stands for and what they do for children who are interested in singing. I was very excited to get more involved this year in helping to make sure the camp ran smoothly. I also developed important contacts and references that I'll be able to use in my chosen field, and as a musician in general." A highlight of Rachel's time with NCSICA was being featured as the faculty soloist in the talent show, in which she sang Das Verlassene Magdlein by Hugo Wolf. "The support I received from my colleagues and campers was uplifting. It is wonderful to get feedback from people who have heard my vocal progress over the years!"
Rachel relied on an entirely different set of skills while working with younger children at KIDS: PLUS. Depending upon the age group and the moment, she could be found serving meals, mediating arguments, reading books at story time, putting on band aids on "boo-boos", taking out the trash, tying shoes, encouraging children to walk in a straight line, or asking them to keep their hands to themselves. "Since I'm planning to work as an elementary school music teacher, this provided me the practical classroom management experience I need," said Rachel.
This combination of two internships solidified Rachel's aspirations of being a music teacher. "I had wonderful musical experiences, and vital practice with managing large groups of children. The Lilly Center Summer Internship Program helped me have the most fulfilling summer of my life. It was a lot of hard work, but I feel a sense of accomplishment and am now much more prepared to move forward in my career."
Bridgett Henderson (a senior from Statesville majoring in Mathematics) served as a summer intern with Shepherd's Watch, a summer day camp for children ages five to 13. The mission of the camp is to provide a safe, fun, Christ-centered camp environment. The majority of the children attending the camp have been impacted by issues such as poverty, neglect, abuse, or family medical problems. This was Bridgett's fourth summer working at the camp, and she is a firm believer in its mission. While there, she assisted with a variety of activities including archery, games, swimming, kayaking, animal care, a challenge course, horseback riding, science and nature classes, devotions, and music.
An unforgettable memory from Bridgett's summer experience involved a chance encounter with a camper and her mother one afternoon. "I was tired after a long, hot day at camp and had gone to a local store to pick up a few things. While I was shopping, I heard a little voice say my name. I looked down the aisle to see one of my campers. She was so happy to see me that she ran to me, jumped up, and gave me a big hug! Before I could even say hello, I looked up to see her mother smiling at both of us. Standing there – pale and bald - clearly she was a cancer patient. The little girl began to tell her mom all about the things we had done together at camp. I could see the joy on her mother's face as she thanked me repeatedly for taking care of her daughter. I consider it a privilege to be given the opportunity to serve children like this and to be a part of their lives."
Not surprisingly, the staff of Shepherd's Watch spoke glowingly of Bridgett's work as intern: "She is a truly great person, leader, and role model for children. She's very responsible and interacts wonderfully with children and parents alike."
Jessica Gaskill (a senior from Salisbury majoring in Marketing and Communication Arts) spent her summer working with Lutheran Services for the Aging. The organization 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 to those we serve by: providing multiple services for seniors including nursing care, adult day care, and retirement living; ministering to their needs in traditional and innovative ways; and demonstrating responsible stewardship."
Upon beginning work, Jessica was excited to receive an official nametag with her title – intern!Under the immediate supervision of Mary Ann Johnson, she helped to market the various ministries that are governed by Lutheran Services for the Aging. Ms. Johnson described Jessica as "poised, fearless, driven, self-motivated, trustworthy, and willing to take on absolutely any task – large or small – for the benefit of Lutheran Services for the Aging." She then interjected, "When I grow up, I want to be just like Jessica!"
During the summer, Jessica traveled to various sites and events, returning with photos and video, which were utilized on the organization's website, in its newsletter, and to enhance its presence through social media such as Facebook. Traveling from place to place and working on a variety of tasks this summer challenged Jessica's desire for order in her life. "I was surprised how flexible I was and how I dealt with the stress. I usually have to complete one project before beginning another. This summer, I learned to multitask and work on different projects simultaneously," she shared with confidence.
Jessica was also given responsibility for a special project, which involved conducting interviews with veterans of World War II and capturing the interviews on video. The videos and related artifacts will be displayed in November, in honor of Veterans Day. Some videos were also submitted to the Library of Congress as part of the "Remembering War" initiative. Of the experience, Jessica said, "This assignment was one of the best I have been given in my entire life. I learned so much about World War II that I never knew before. I have much more appreciation for the men and women who have served our country."
Jessica believes her summer experience has helped to clarify her prospective career path, and says, "I would love to work with a nonprofit when I graduate, because I would be able to use my degree and help others. I am so fortunate to have had this opportunity. Thank you Lilly Center!"
Students Katie Carpenter of Hickory and Canaan Cox of Hendersonville also completed summer internships funded by the Lilly Center, but were unavailable for the "My Summer of Service" program. Katie worked in the Theatre Education Program at the Beck Center in Cleveland, Ohio, and Canaan served as an intern in the Summer Education Program for Waterworks Visual Arts Center in Salisbury.
For more information on the Lilly Center's Summer Internship Program, please contact Jay Laurens, Coordinator of Outreach Programs at (704) 637-4725 or email@example.com.
The Lilly Center
The Summer Internship Program
Internships at Catawba