Part of the prestigious Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty (SHECP) internship program, Shelby Boyd ’18, a Bonner Scholar, worked with a statewide organization called Kentuckians for the Commonwealth (KFTC) this summer.
The grassroots organization, with 10,000 members across Kentucky, aims to empower individuals to affect change, focusing on tax justice, environmental issues, healthcare and affordable housing, among other challenges.
As a community organizing intern, Boyd spent her time coordinating member meetings, training in tax justice and communication and planning events, specifically the fourth annual Smoketown Getdown for Democracy to celebrate Louisville’s Smoketown neighborhood.
With a member-oriented set-up, Boyd did not advocate for issues herself. Rather, she helped create environments encouraging local advocacy, like the Smoketown Letdown.
“With KFTC, community organizers simply provide the arena for individuals to discuss and advocate for change. This allowed me to learn more about the issues and meet many amazing individuals, for which I am very thankful,” she said.
Boyd feels very grateful that Centre College selected her as one of the nine students to participate in the SHECP program. SHECP matched students like Boyd to internships in their area of interest, provided opening and closing conferences and offered funding to support them throughout their experience.
“Beginning and ending with conferences, the program ensures that students are both ready and reflective of their experience,” she explained. “My internship experience was wonderful because of SHECP’s diligence and consideration. It truly is a great and prestigious program, one in which I was honored to participate.”
While this program is highly selective, Boyd felt more than prepared as both a Centre student and Bonner Scholar. The Bonner Program at Centre consists of sixty community advocacy and service-oriented students and offers scholarships and mentoring to its participants.
“Because of Bonner, I was already quite familiar with several of their primary issues and the causes of them. This preparation made my orientation into the organization much quicker and provided me with a deeper understanding of the importance of KFTC’s work,” she remarked.
Although Boyd does not plan to go into politics immediately after graduation, she hopes to take what she learned about state-level politics and issues into her future career.
“While my internship was mostly political, it emphasized my desire to attend law school after graduation, which I fully intend to pursue,” she noted.
Overall, she thoroughly enjoyed the unique window SHECP and the KFTC internship gave her into the world of Kentucky policy-making.
“Being able to witness individuals become passionate about community issues gave me a sense of hope for the future of Kentucky and the United States of America,” she concluded.
By Kathleen Murphy ’18
August 11, 2017