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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Sharing is Caring

I have arranged (finally) a summer internship in Cinci!! I thought you might like to read my application essay to see what I am doing. (if you find spelling or grammar errors, let me know!)

Interest in Public Service
My first experience in public service was through my church youth group. We collected blankets and made brownbag dinners for the homeless. While the act of collecting was important, it was interacting with the homeless that changed my world view. I remember meeting men who lived under bridges and in abandoned buildings year round. Because of mental or physical illness, many of them depended on the kindness of strangers and work of organizations to survive. I remember being cold and angry. These two feelings spurred a lot of conversation about our societal constructs and what it means to have a just society.

The lessons I learned about serving those in need have evolved over time. As an undergraduate student at the University of Dayton, I studied Human Rights and Economics. Through-out college, I spent a large portion of my free time teaching English, publicizing housing inequity and volunteering in impoverished neighborhoods. These experiences further provoked contemplation into the question of social justice. As a result of doing direct service as well as questioning the systems that create inequality, a strong framework for my professional career centered in public interest work has been built.

I tend to seek opportunities that allow me to utilize my talents by assisting those who are most underserved. For example, my first “real job” after undergraduate school was as a full-time refugee resettlement case manager, funded by an AmeriCorps grant. This year-of- service launched my career in refugee resettlement work and helped me to form a professional path. At the root of this path is a continued commitment to service through action. I have spent the last three years working at non-profits which serve the needs of at-risk immigrants. Because of my passion for this work, I have had the fortunate experience to be quickly promoted from case manager, to community organizer, to legal services coordinator and development director. The world of non-profits, from my experience, is one where you can do as much as you can dream.

Summer Internship Opportunity and Community Impact
This summer I will be working at the Ohio Justice and Policy Center in Cincinnati Ohio. The organization is highly respected for its work in prison reform. There are a variety of programs I will be assisting. First, the Race and Justice Project, funded by the Ford Foundation, addresses public education system, policy reform in prisons and serves litigation needs of inmates. Here, there is an opportunity for interns to assist during legal clinics as well as teaching small classes in satellite locations. Next, the Human Rights in Prisons (HRP) project seeks to ensure that prisoner’s civil rights are not compromised. Specifically the HRP program has helped to bring legislative changes to health care within the prisons. The result from this legislation creates ample opportunity for interns to assist in the implementation of health care reform. Finally, the Second Chance program helps to ensure inmates are connected to resources which aide in their transition back to the community. With Governor Strickland’s proposal to reduce the number of Ohio inmates along with doing substantial legislative work surrounding the reporting requirements for sex offenders, the opportunities for interns to do substantial and important research as well as direct client service is endless. The impact on the inmate population varies with each project. Because this is a generally underserved group, all positive changes make a large effect in the prison system.

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