This summer, Shepherd intern Hannah Gibbs ’19 (London, Kentucky) is working at Capstone Community Action Vermont in Barre, Vermont, where she is developing a series of surveys that will attempt to determine the opinions of low-income Vermonters on climate change and related environmental issues.
With the information Gibbs is gathering, she will attempt to create an effective model for Vermonters with low incomes to be able to advocate for themselves in the political sphere in terms of environmental policy changes.
The Shepherd Internship Program pairs students from the colleges and universities that make up the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty (SHECP) with agencies across the country. During the eight-week program, students learn how to address such issues as community building, economic development, healthcare, homelessness, job placement and nutrition.
Gibbs isn’t new to the Shepherd Internship Program, as she learned of it at a very early age.
“I have known about the program since I was about four-years-old when my dad started serving as a site supervisor for Shepherd interns out of the public defender’s office,” Gibbs said. “So, I’ve always been aware of what the program was and what its goals are.
“When I was applying for colleges, one of the colleges I looked at was Washington and Lee, where I met the director of the Shepherd program at the time, Harlan Beckley, and learned more about the intensive work they do with poverty alleviation and assisting people, some of which I knew from my father’s experience with interns,” she continued. “It wasn’t until this year, after two summers spent learning about Eastern Kentucky—where I’m from—and the extreme poverty there, the result of environmental degradation and exploitation, that I knew that I really wanted to do the Shepherd program.”
For Gibbs, she said that the Shepherd program represented a sincere obligation that if she was serious about spending her life combating the poverty and injustice that comes with environmental destruction, it was something she needed to get involved in.
“I think it is one of the best programs to prepare people for careers in poverty alleviation, and I am looking forward to both my internship and what comes after,” she added.
Gibbs explained how she was excited about this opportunity, as it directly connects with what she would like to do as a career after Centre. By the end of the internship, she hopes to learn new skills related to the field and the people she’s working with.
“To participate in SHECP is to believe that you have the potential to be a catalyst for change and to also believe that the world has the direct capacity to change to help those who are most in need of it,” she concluded.
by Kerry Steinhofer
June 28, 2018