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Tisch Summer Fellowships Shape Students’ Paths

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Tisch Summer Fellows who completed transformational internships in New York, Boston, and Washington, D.C., reflect on their experiences.

Group photo of Tisch Summer Fellows in New York City

Nearly 50 graduate and undergraduate Tufts students spent ten weeks this summer as Tisch Summer Fellows: building skills and networks while serving communities through substantive internships in the nonprofit and public sectors.

The internships, funded by Tisch College in Greater Boston, New York, and Washington, D.C., combine meaningful work with mentorship by Tufts alumni and opportunities for reflection. This summer placements were as wide-ranging as the National LGBTQ Task Force, Somerville Public Schools, the Chinese Progressive Association, the League of Women Voters, and the Pentagon. While these varied internships allowed Fellows to have an impact on issues as diverse as community development, education, and civil rights, many had one thing in common: they offered transformational opportunities for Tufts students that in some cases changed their perspectives and altered—or reaffirmed—their future paths.

That was the case for Stephanie Yin, A17, who spent her summer as a Program Assistant at The GO Project in New York. This education nonprofit strives to provide holistic support, at home and in the classroom, for under-resourced students. Through her work institutionalizing protocols that would ensure the long-term sustainability of GO’s summer program and of the broader organization, Stephanie made meaningful contributions while building new skills and strengthening her commitment to education.

“The support of the Tisch Summer Fellows Program this summer empowered me to ask questions, problem-solve, and network with others,” she says. “I now feel an impending social responsibility to make a difference in the lives of children and families around me, and to more confidently pursue education and counseling as future areas of study.”

For other Fellows, like Michelle Nguyen, A16, the summer’s work brought them closer to a group of peers and mentors with whom to share a personal passion and a vision for how active citizenship can improve communities. Michelle was a Learn 2 Teach, Teach 2 Learn College Mentor at the South End Technology Center, where she worked to give high school students the tools they needed to both acquire and pass on technological skills and knowledge like coding. The people she met through her work are already making a difference in her life beyond the internship itself.

“Being an active citizen has brought me a community that’s passionate about technology and change. It’s brought me a community that I still stay in touch with,” says Michelle. “Unlike other internships where there’s a very real start and end date to the experience, I don’t foresee an end date for this one.”

Keren Hendel, A17, had a similarly transformational experience at the Anti-Defamation League in Washington, D.C. As a Legislative Intern, she contributed to the organization’s work in areas like education policy, policing reform, and the Middle East. “My summer as at the Anti-Defamation League through the Tisch Summer Fellows program was an invaluable experience,” says Keren. “I learned, grew, experienced, and developed relationships and skills in more meaningful ways than I could have anticipated.”

Perhaps the student who found her internship most personally impactful was the one whose project was most personal. At the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center, Alexandria Grant, G16, interviewed people whose lives have been transformed by the organization’s work in order to collect and share compelling success stories. By listening to and telling these stories, often of people’s struggles and triumphs, Alexandria believes she gained something much more profound than professional connections and a new line on her resume.

“As a result of my experience at BCNC taking in stories and reflecting them back with an eye to fidelity and elegance, I feel more deeply human,” she says. “That is the essence of civic engagement for me.”