Nurturing the seeds of a future career in poverty relief, Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty (SHECP) intern Beka Bruner ‘18 worked with the Vermont Community Garden this summer.
In gardens surrounding Burlington, Bruner organized classes and activities, wrote a monthly blog, coordinated social media and created a recipe book with the community’s stories and favorite meals.
As SHECP helped with many of the logistics of her internship, including some costs and transportation, the program greatly enhanced her summer.
Even more, she describes how SHECP made her think more deeply about the larger issues affecting the local community.
“[SHECP] pushed me to think critically about issues within the community which may cause or perpetuate its poverty, while also challenging me to think of possible solutions,” she explained.
Bruner also remarked that SHECP placed her in housing with interns working on similar poverty-related projects, an aspect of the program that fueled her passion and helped her think creatively.
“The opportunity to live with other interns who worked in non-profits and who also had a passion for poverty relief, was incredibly beneficial,” she said.
“We were able to talk about how our realms of work connected and what kinds of problems or solutions we saw within the community,” she continued.
Foundational to her time with SHECP and the Vermont Community Garden, Bruner notes that Centre College prepared her well. She cites her traditional Environmental Studies classes and the College’s devotion to rigorous learning.
“Centre had prepared me for this internship by its devotion to critical thinking. Because Centre taught me how to ask questions and search for answers, I felt very prepared in that respect when faced with a challenge,” she said.
With SHECP’s and Centre’s support, Bruner learned from and enjoyed her internship, the new people she met and the communities with which she engaged.
“I’ve also learned that community gardens are so much more than just food,” she added. “They are a means of cultural expression, they are an opportunity for healing and they are an environment of support and family.
“I can’t say enough how incredible this internship has been,” she added. “I’m not quite sure of where I’ll go after school, but I do know that if it’s with community gardens, I’ll be very happy.”
By Kathleen Murphy ’18
August 18, 2017