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An Inside Look at Domestic Violence

  • News Image
    Participants in the 2010 Verizon domestic violence summer internship program stand with Suzy Pukys, director of civic engagement (center, front).
  • News Image
    Senior Latin American Studies major Paige Menking spent the summer doing an internship at Hope Alliance in Round Rock through the Verizon program. As part of her internship, she taught a course in non-violet conflict resolution at Georgetown's Boys and Girls Club.
  • News Image
    Suzy Pukys, director of civic engagement, meets with the Verizon summer interns to discuss their experiences at local agencies that serve victims of domestic violence (Photo by Carlos Barron).

$50,000 grant from Verizon enables 11 students to do summer internships with agencies that serve victims of domestic violence

Eleven Southwestern University students will have the opportunity to learn more about domestic violence this summer, thanks to a $50,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation.

The grant will enable the students to do internships at six area agencies that service victims of domestic violence. Two of the agencies are in Round Rock and four are in Austin.

The students will begin work at the agencies May 24. They will help with patient intake, hotlines, referrals and case management. They also will help lead discussions and activities with families directly affected by violence, and assist with public policy research.  

Senior Latin American Studies major Paige Menking will work at Hope Alliance in Round Rock, which is Williamson County’s domestic violence and sexual assault response and prevention program. This is the first time the agency has had an intern who focused on preventing domestic violence. As part of her internship, Menking is teaching a class in non-violent conflict resulution to children at Georgetown’s Boys and Girls Club.

Menking said she wants to work with a nonprofit organization after she graduates and the internship has been a good opportunity to get hands-on experience working at a nonprofit. She has used her Spanish skills to translate some brochures for the agency and also to translate for clients.

Toni Nietfeld and Lauren Hodgin will work at Services to At-Risk Runaway Youth in Round Rock.

Diana Diaz, Chelsea King and Charlotte Law will work at LifeWorks, a nonprofit organization in Austin that provides housing and counseling to homeless and runaway youths.   Kylie LeBlanc and Alex Overton will work at the Love Is Respect-National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline in Austin. 

Megan Satterfield and Kelsey Kurth will work as shelter interns at SafePlace in Austin.   Margaret Durham will work as a Public Policy Team intern for the Texas Council on Family Violence.

This is the third year the Verizon Foundation has funded this summer internship program. The internships at LifeWorks, the Texas Council on Family Violence and the Love Is Respect-National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline are new this year.

“I am delighted that our students will have the opportunity to work with organizations like these that are working to ameliorate domestic violence at state and national levels,” said Suzy Pukys, director of civic engagement at Southwestern.

Pukys said summer is an ideal time for students to do internships such as these, but most students cannot afford to work without pay. The funding from the Verizon Foundation - which now totals $166,000 - solves this problem and also provides much-needed help to local non-profit agencies.

“This partnership with Southwestern University allows us to continue to use our resources to support community organizations that have proven records of success in domestic violence awareness, prevention, and survivor support”, said Carl Erhart, president of central region at Verizon Communications Inc.

Pukys will help students participating in the program process and reflect upon their experiences.  She hope to provide venues to share their learning via regional or national conferences that focus on civic engagement in higher education, experiential learning or internships, and plans to hold a special event on campus in spring 2011 through which the student interns and local domestic and family violence advocates discuss and educate the campus and greater community about this pressing social issue.