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The Active Citizens of Summer

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Through Tisch Summer Fellowships, Tufts students completed meaningful, career-building internships that have already started to shape their professional futures.

Group shot of 204 Tisch Summer Fellows in New York

This summer, more than 60 Tisch Summer Fellows worked full-time in New York, Massachusetts, and Washington, D.C.—as well as in projects around the world—where they refined their professional skills, networked with like-minded peers and mentors, and took another step in their education for active citizenship.

The summer internships, created specifically for Tufts students, are one of the signature programs of Tisch College. Our Summer Fellows worked at some of the top nonprofits and government agencies in the country, where they tackled pressing issues ranging from health and education to political engagement and civil rights.

In New York, Fellows interned at organizations like the Fiver Children’s Foundation, the Michael J. Fox Foundation, and Empire State Pride Agenda. In Massachusetts, Fellows worked, among others, with the Young People’s Project, the Boston Area Health Education Center, and the Somerville Homeless Coalition. In Washington, D.C., Tufts students interned at organizations like the Fair Elections Legal Network, the Alliance for Children and Families, and the Pentagon.

The Tisch Summer Fellows program also sponsored a number of independent, international projects, including the yearly dental school service project in Zambia and Community Chlorinators, a student-run social enterprise to fight cholera in Haiti.

Personal and Professional Growth

While working in different fields and, in some cases, halfway across the world, the Tisch Summer Fellows shared a goal of acquiring professional experience and strengthening their civic engagement skills while making a difference in the community.

“My experience as a Tisch Summer Fellow was extremely rewarding in many ways,” says Jewel Castle, A17, who worked to support school capacity-building efforts at The New York City Community Learning Schools Initiative (NYCCLSI). “I was able to develop professional skills and relationships, and more importantly contribute to an organization that has a very meaningful impact on many children throughout New York City where I was born and raised.”

According to Castle, the practical learning was significant but only a small part of what she feels she achieved this summer, as her fellowship became a meaningful, transformational experience.

“I learned so much while working at NYCCLSI,” she says. “Beyond just professional skills, I learned about what it means to truly serve a community and about my own personal goals.”

Castle’s words are echoed by Chelsea Newman, A16, who worked at the Somerville Community Corporation (SCC). “They do a lot of things at once: real estate acquisition and affordable housing development, financial literacy classes, job placement, and career counseling services,” she says. “The organization tactfully navigates the politics of the local government while staying true to the values of the community through advocacy groups.”

Newman’s work at SCC also provided an education about the city, itself, and about a field wholly different from her academic focus.

“The more I worked at SCC, the more I fell in love with the organization and the city of Somerville itself,” she says. “I felt like I was taking an entire class on urban planning and development in Somerville and Boston, and I loved it. I never knew zoning could be so interesting!”

Inspired by their Peers

Like all Tisch Summer Fellows, Castle and Newman also enjoyed opportunities to network with other Tufts students and with Tufts alumni in diverse fields. The alumni engagement was especially strong in Washington, D.C., where the Tufts CASE (Connecting Alumni Student Experiences) Network partners with Tisch College to provide the Summer Fellows with meaningful connections to other current and former students.

“Whenever I talked with another Summer Fellow or mentor I was blown away by the work that they were doing,” says Michael Maskin, A15, who worked at the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (NLHCP) in Washington, D.C.

“At various times during the summer, I was at a CASE event and thought to myself, ‘I am definitely joining the Peace Corps.’ Then, ‘I am definitely going to Law School.’ Then, ‘I am definitely NOT going to Law School.’ Then, ‘maybe I’ll go to Law School!’ I heard from many Jumbos who had such interesting jobs and careers, that I realized how many opportunities and paths are open to me,” he says.

Maskin was also deeply inspired by his own work at NLCHP, which included collaborating on a far-reaching report about the criminalization of homelessness and authoring a related article that was widely shared on major online media outlets. At the end of the summer, he shares, he felt empowered and certain of the way forward.

“Whether as an advocate, social worker, educator, lawyer, or something completely different, I know that I will work in public service,” says Maskin. This summer was one of the most significant of my life, and taught me that I now have the confidence, experience, and tools necessary to carry my values of active citizenship back to campus and into the future.”