Shepherd Internship Program brings students together to work with immigrant families

Posted by Centre News in Internships, News 15 Aug 2014

shepherd_consortium_kidsWhile students at Centre College have unique backgrounds and aspirations, one common thread that unites them is a desire to make a difference in the world. Centre’s participation in the Shepherd Internship Program (SIP) has allowed students from Centre as well as other institutions of higher education to fulfill their desire to help their communities.

Three Centre students are interning with SIP this summer at social service and advocacy agencies in Austin, Texas, Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia, Pa. In addition, Centre hosted Arriana Nastoff from Washington & Lee University and Julianne Pearson (pictured above, back row, left) from Bucknell University as they completed SIP internships with Centro Latino, a non-profit organization based in Kentucky that seeks to help local immigrant families find work and have access to basic standards of living.Shepherd Internship Program classroom

While only Nastoff and Pearson were a part of the Shepherd Internship Program on campus, two Centre students, rising senior Livi Leftwich (pictured above, second from left) and rising junior Nicolas Montejos (pictured above, third from right), worked with the two Shepherd interns at Centro Latino.

All of the students who participated share a desire to work with non-profits and to have an impact on local communities.

Pearson lived in the Social Justice Residential College during her first year at Bucknell, which she described as an eye-opening experience to “major issues that plague our nation’s underprivileged communities.”

Pearson then traveled to Nicaragua her freshmen year for a service-learning trip, which she credits for her desire to make a difference. “This experience absolutely captivated my heart and stirred my thoughts regarding what more I could be doing to change this world for the better,” she says.

Nastofff had a similar desire to work with non-profits. “Washington & Lee, where the Shepherd Consortium was first developed, has a very pervasive poverty minor. I took two poverty classes and thoroughly enjoyed the experience,” Nastoff explains. “SIP was the kind of meaningful summer experience I was hoping to find.”

Students worked with both children and adults in immigrant families. “For about four weeks we worked with children at summer camps that we ran,” says Montejos. “We had a lot of different activities for them, just trying to make the experience as fun as possible.

“The other four weeks we assisted the local immigrant community with things like attaining health insurance and helping them with applications for deferred action,” he continues. “We would also help Centro Latino by applying for grants and other administrative tasks.”

While their work was “both challenging and rewarding,” as Nastoff says, all four students expressed a larger sense of duty and gratefulness for their time working with the families.

“This experience has really impacted my sense of vocation,” says Nastoff. “I hope to continue to lead a service-minded lifestyle, one that holistically approaches relief of poverty.”

Pearson shared a personal story that she says will stick with her long after her time in this program. “There was a timid little boy named Iann who was hesitant to join our group circle, and barely nodded his head when we talked to him. Turns out, he and his family had just arrived from Mexico just two months ago.”

The most rewarding moment for Pearson was seeing Iann learn some basic English and participate in the group by the end of the camp. “It was absolutely remarkable to witness how far our little Iann had grown over the course of five days.”

Leftwich expresses similar emotions about the internship and says it has made her consider a future career as an ESL teacher. “Knowing that I was an influential part of the kids’ summer was incredibly rewarding.”

Read about other Centre College Shepherd Internships at locations in Austin, Texas, Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia, Pa. here.

by John Ross Wyatt ’15

photo credit: Arriana Nastoff

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