For the love of learning

Portrait: Mary HicksMary Hicks
Photo by Everett Ayoubzadeh

I have a friend who is a confirmed pessimist. She just can't help fretting—and waiting for the next shoe to drop. Call me a Pollyanna, but I can't help looking for ways to make things better, and I don't mean shopping for a new pair of shoes.

I know these are challenging times. But there are bright spots all around us, beginning right here on campus, a place where dreams take root and blossom into bright new beginnings every day.

One of my favorite rites of spring is the unceasing procession of students being recognized for their accomplishments. These accomplishments grow out of talent, promise, and determination nurtured by opportunities. In CLA, those opportunities are all about connection. They include programs that pair students with faculty for research and mentoring, with communities for outreach and service, with organizations for internships, and with alumni and donors for the support to make it all happen.

Internships can transform students' lives

In just the last few days, I've heard students fairly gush about their first research experience with a faculty mentor (through our Undergraduate Research Opportunity program); about the inestimable value of their internships; and about the many rewards of working with people in communities (through our Community Service-Learning Center).

These experiences are truly transformational. Not only do students grow intellectually, they also come to see more clearly the world beyond their classrooms. They connect with the needs and concerns of communities. They become more creative and thoughtful citizens.

I recently returned pretty jazzed up from the annual reception for recipients of CLA's internship awards. I was reminded of how accomplished our students are--and how vast their need for support. And I thought about all the talent that might remain untapped if that support isn't there.

You can help open doors

It's no secret that internships are invaluable. They open doors to employment after graduation. They help students make career choices. They connect the classroom experience to real-world work environments that are laboratories for experiential learning. But far too many students seeking internships can't afford to spend ten or more hours a week working without compensation. Many internships are unpaid—and only a lucky few receive CLA awards of roughly $1,200-$1,500 for a semester.

But the rewards of internships don't stop with the students. Talk to community hosts and partners, and you'll see what I mean. "It gives us hope for a better world," said one. Said another, "They brought their own skills and abilities and found a place to share them. They help me think outside the box."

"Interns who work as mentors to youth widen their own horizons; and they show our young participants what is possible for them, too, and give them an incentive to persist through obstacles." "We love them. They are professional, fun, and dependable." "It's been a pleasure! We truly could not provide the services that we do with out our interns."

So how can you be a part of this extraordinary life skill-building experience for our students?

Here's how you can help:

  1. If you are in a position to offer an internship in your work place, please send me an email or a give me a call. I'll connect you with the appropriate people to help determine whether a match can be made.
  2. Contribute $1,200 or more to our CLA internship fund (#2341) so that we can offer more paid internships to our students.

If you have any questions at all, or want to know more about how you can support our students, please give me a call at 612-625-5541 or email me at hicks002@umn.edu. Thank you! Our students thank you!

Mary Hicks
Director, Development and Alumni Relations
612-625-5031

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by CLA Reach Magazine published on May 18, 2012 2:48 PM.

Interview with Alan Bjerga, author of Endless Appetites was the previous entry in this blog.

The lives they led is the next entry in this blog.

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