Verizon Grant Funds Internship

Written by Alma Aguilar
Megaphone Staff Editor

Earlier this semester, Southwestern received a $66,000 grant from the Verizon Wireless Foundation in order to fund a summer internship program on campus.

Students who participate in the internship program will become more familiar with the issues that surround people who suffer from domestic abuse.

Ten students from the application pool will be chosen to take part in the internship program. They will work with various organizations, such as SafePlace, STARRY, Hope Alliance, LifeSteps and the Williamson County Children’s Advocacy Center.

These nonprofit agencies provide support to community members and their families who suffer from domestic violence.

“These are well known in the nonprofit community and are agencies whose
missions and practices I respect,” Suzanna Pukys, part of Southwestern’s Office of Civic Engagement, said.

According to Ellis Davis, director of communications, the students will work with the agencies to assist with the services they provide. They may also find themselves working closely with domestic abuse victims.

Since every organization’s needs vary, however, each intern will experience something different during their participation.

“The students will help answer domestic violence emergency hotlines, provide care to children living at domestic violence shelters, work with law enforcement officials to provide support to victims, teach English as a second language to victims, assist agencies with grant writing efforts and help with public awareness campaigns such as Domestic Violence Awareness Month,” Davis said.

Students participating in this internship program will be able to comprehend the issues of domestic violence on a more personal level.

“Students with genuine interest in taking an in-depth look into the complex issue of domestic and family violence, in working to understand the issue from a personal to a
systems level, I believe, will reap great benefits from this experience,” Pukys said.

Not only will interns be a part of organizations that are offering relief to domestic abuse victims, they will also become knowledgeable with the procedures and unique situations that nonprofit organizations have to face.

“They will learn about the inner workings and challenges of running a
nonprofit,” Pukys said.

Pukys explained that many students who feel strongly about domestic abuse do not have the opportunity to take part in the relief efforts.

“Over the last three years, I have spoken to many students who are
interested in getting involved with organizations like these, but do not have time to
commit to them as much as they’d like during the academic year,” Pukys said.

Therefore, this grant money will allow Southwestern to pay these students for their contributions.

“This opportunity, offered in the summer, will pay students a decent wage for their work and will cover their on-campus housing,” Pukys said.

This paid internship will allow students to focus on the needs of their organization instead of worrying about outside interferences.

“Concerns about earning wages, balancing work as a full-time student and
managing living expenses will be gone. They can focus completely on the task at hand,” Pukys said.

Without the help of Larkin Tom, director of foundation relations in the Development Office, Pukys may have never known about the Verizon Foundation grant money.

“He brought the grant opportunity to my attention,” Pukys said.

Each year, agencies from around the country apply for this grant money. Thanks to Pukys, SU was selected by Verizon to get their unique plan into action.

“Many agencies apply for the Verizon Foundation funding every year, but I’m not sure whether the Verizon Foundation has funded a program like this before” Pukys said.

In order to be granted this money, the Verizon Wireless Foundation had some conditions that Southwestern’s summer internship program had to follow.

“The conditions were simple and clear: the program had to relate to the issue of domestic violence and there had to be a technology component, which will be satisfied by profiling the program and sharing resources through the SU website,” Pukys said.

All students will be allowed to apply for this summer internship, as long as they are interested in helping victims of domestic violence.

“I hope to find the students who are most qualified and most passionate about this work, regardless of their age or class year,” Pukys said.

Interns will be given the opportunity to receive internship credit for their efforts.
“Students accepted into this program who want to receive academic credit will work with Maria Kruger, internship coordinator in Career Services, to convert this experience into an academic internship,” Pukys said.

Applications will be available Feb. 15 in Pukys’ office, located at 305 in the Mood-Bridwell building.

If you would like for her to e-mail you an application or would like more information about the internship contact her at pukyss@southwestern.edu.

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