Shepherd intern Margaux Curless ’19 (Lexington, Kentucky) is working at the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity (CVOEO) in Burlington, Vermont, a community action nonprofit that addresses economic, social and racial justice.
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.
“As an economics and finance major, I’ve engaged with the issues of poverty, immigration and community development in some of my major classes; however, an economic perspective alone really isn’t sufficient,” Curless said.
At CVOEO, Curless is a community liaison intern. She is researching, and potentially developing, a mentorship program for new Americans in Vermont considering starting their own business.
“My research will include conducting a focus group of Somali and Bhutanese women interested in starting a business in Burlington, interviewing established new American business owners, utilizing the resources of the local business community and reaching out to directors of similar programs,” she explained.
Curless shared how she’s excited to work with Burlington’s new American populations, whom she describes as some of the hardest working and creative members of the community, and she looks forward to learning from them personally.
“I’m very fortunate to have supervisors at CVOEO who want to help me learn as much as possible,” she concluded. “I have the opportunity to volunteer at CVOEO’s food shelf, go into the field to shadow the weatherization of low income homes, take the financial competency class they offer to the community and meet with the directors of every program. Rather than having me focus only on my assigned project, I’m able to learn about the operations and role of a community action agency.”
By the end of the internship, Curless wants to leave Burlington with a more open mind and wants to be more aware of her own biases. In addition, she wants to have a greater understanding of office culture and how to make the most out of an eight-hour workday.
For Curless, being a Shepherd intern represents stepping out of your bubble.
“It means recognizing the experiences of others and pushing yourself to see class structures in the U.S. as they really are, not just what they might feel like from your perspective.
“I applied to the Shepherd program to gain a more holistic perspective on poverty and start to fill my own knowledge gaps,” she concluded. “My intention is that my experience through this internship will enable me to add more nuance and care to economic examinations of poverty.”
by Kerry Steinhofer
June 26, 2018