Internships Abroad Turn SU Students into Civic Change Leaders

Internships Abroad Turn SU Students into Civic Change Leaders

September 10, 2019

Picture this: a rising senior spends the summer in Argentina interning for a local nonprofit to help families that have children with autism lead a happier life; a graphic design major takes her skills across the Atlantic to spread the word about public projects in Germany; and an environmental studies major spends her summer in Hong Kong interning at an innovation lab that raises awareness about climate change.

This was how three Susquehanna University students — Katherine Moronta, Katy Grubb and Malia Simon — spent the summer of 2019 as participants of the prestigious Cultural Vistas Fellowship, a fully funded summer internship program designed for students who have been traditionally underrepresented in study or work abroad opportunities.

Susquehanna has one of the highest representations among Cultural Vistas Fellows and alumni. Katherine, Katy and Malia made up one-fifth of a 15-student, 2019 cohort that spent eight weeks this summer completing professional internships and learning from the experience of living in Argentina, Germany or Hong Kong.

Get Inspired by Katherine Moronta

Junior and Service Leader Katherine Moronta spent her summer in Buenos Aires at BRINCAR, a nonprofit that supports children with autism and their families.

“I was in charge of writing fundraising appeals. Seeing how the work impacted the lives of children with autism and their happiness made me stay focused,” Moronta said. “It made me realize how small efforts make an impact on the lives of special children.”

Moronta, a finance major from Philadelphia, tried to turn challenges of living in a new country into an opportunity to learn. “I would look at the bigger picture and try to push myself out of my comfort zone. Soon I started making my own decisions and feeling independent, which is a great achievement,” she said.

Moronta wants to use her experience in Argentina to bring communities closer together. She hopes to create a tool for freshmen Service Leaders at Susquehanna to help them seek opportunities abroad so they can experience different cultures, see the world and bring back the best of what the world has to offer.

“Only by working together can we address challenges that we face together,” she said. “There is great power in unity.”

The next place Moronta intends to bring people closer together is Cuba. She was recently awarded a $2,000 scholarship to help fund a study abroad experience on the island nation this fall.

Meet Katy Grubb

Katy Grubb
Katy Grubb, far right

Grubb is a senior who spent her summer in Berlin interning at Plane-Site, an organization that focuses on media and communications management for architects, urban planners, designers and architects. Among other tasks, she assisted the team with design and communication projects by working on the design of press releases, web maintenance, presentations and social media posts.

The experience increased Grubb’s belief in the power of design and how it helps convey messages in a busy world. She now wants to focus her design work on the field of entertainment and marketing, hoping to work on a project that showcases some of the best design work she did this summer with other students.

Building on her work from Berlin, Grubb, a graphic design major from  Coatesville, Pennsylvania, hopes to “express to others the importance of spreading the word about public projects and petitions through effective marketing and content creation.”

In addition to providing her a foundation from which to launch a future career in media and communications, Grubb’s experience in Berlin enabled her to immerse herself in a new culture and gave her the opportunity to explore a new place every day.

“I have spent most of my life in one area and being in a city like Berlin gave me the opportunity to explore and discover,” she said. “I’ll always cherish that.”

Learn from Malia Simon’s Experience

Malia Simon
Malia Simon

Simon, a junior environmental studies major from Bloomfield, New Mexico, grew up in a family where elders spoke to youth with wisdom and guidance, using teachings passed down from generation to generation. The teachings passed on by her elders opened her eyes to the importance of one’s role in the community and instilled in her a passion for civic engagement.

Thanks to the Cultural Vistas Fellowship, Simon had an opportunity to put some of those teachings into practice.

In Hong Kong, Simon interned at Carbon Care InnoLab where she was involved with communication and advocacy efforts that create awareness and contribute to solving global climate challenges. Through digital media, she raised awareness about how climate change is affecting different cultures and how everyone has a role to play in creating a sustainable change.

“There are many signs that the Mother Earth is calling out to us and it is now time for us to respond,” she said.

Simon’s summer internship also spawned new personal career goals. In five years’ time, she hopes to be working with tribal nations and the government on implementing policies and regulations to protect the environment and lands sacred to Native American tribes.

“Seeing climate change affect coastal cities across the world has encouraged me to work on this issue and get global attention,” she said. “It’s more important now than ever before.”

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