Tell us a little more about yourself. What are you studying/did you study in college and what do you want to use that degree and experience to do in the future?
I'm a college senior at Oglethorpe University, majoring in biopsychology, with dreams of becoming a pediatric nurse. I have always been fond of children and love engaging with them. Taking care of people is something that comes natural to me. Beyond being part of a healthcare team at a children's hospital, I really want to find myself doing medical relief work abroad in South America. Specifically, I would like to find myself in Guatemala learning more about holistic healthcare. They have some amazing practices that do not involve westernized medication. I am so interested in learning about procedures that involve natural medicines. I also love to dance. I have been dancing and teaching dance for over 18 years. As I get older, I found that I have to keep dancing on a regular basis. I have to keep my body engaged. Dance gives me so much freedom and safety. I feel a sense of welcome in a space where there is no judgment each time I step foot on the dance floor.
What is the source of inspiration for the work you do?
Source of inspiration comes from many different avenues. One of my biggest inspirations being my hometown and its people. Growing up in Memphis, TN there was a wide range of people. They say we are home to the most dangerous, but I know us to be home to the most passionate hardworking people. At an early age, I was surrounded by people who understood the logic behind hustle. Memphians have a different kind of work ethic. We think differently, move differently and grind it out like no other. My city inspires me to hustle, work for what I want and never take anything for granted.
How did you get to where you are today?
I owe a lot of my success to God and my family. Holding onto my faith while in school was crucial for me to my success. I had to stay prayed up and remained focused. I also got to where I am by focusing on myself for once. It’s amazing how much you can accomplish if you focus on your path rather than worrying about what someone in your circle may have accomplished. Everyone’s path is different, so don’t expect your path or journey to be like someone else’s.
What brought you to the center?
During my college career and even looking back at my high school years, I was always involved in some form of community service or engagement. For the past 4 years of college, I have worked in my university’s office of community service and outreach, the Center for Civic Engagement or the CCE. Planning campus-wide days of service and service-learning trips have been my thing. My biggest project has been Alternative Breaks. Alternative Breaks give students an opportunity to learn and engage with a community they are foreign to. These experiences are created in the U.S. and abroad. My advisor brought to my attention this intern position at the CCI. I had heard of the CCI before in relation to their food fellowship program. I had some time in my fall schedule, and I said it is worth a shot to apply! I know about civic engagement and the importance of supporting your local businesses, so why not apply for an opportunity where I could learn even more. Who knew I would actually get it, I was beyond excited. I was screaming up and down the stairs of the student center when I got my email, maybe a little over the top but who cares I was happy.
Life at CCI
I work with the People Happiness and Experience team. If there was ever an opportunity to be on a team named after three things I love this was the time. Dayle, Alex, and I have a very special job. If I could describe our team in one song lyric it would be “Real G’s move in silence like lasagna”- Lil Wayne. The people, happiness and experience team are the behind the scenes folks. We are the real movers and shakers of the center, keeping the center running like a well-oiled machine. But not many people know who is responsible for day to day managing of the center and all its components. From events, volunteers, to simply making sure the coffee is hot and ready, no task or project is beneath us, this team does it all. The People, Happiness and Experience Team is the best-kept secret. I have been in some job positions or internships where staff or supervisors were not supportive. It feels amazing to know that you have a great support system. It just makes me think about how so many individuals are in positions where they are miserable and hate coming to work every day and a lot of that has to do with the work environment. You may work for a company or organization, but that company should also feel like a community. The environment you work in has a big effect on your work productivity. I believe Dayle and Alex have done an amazing job at the community they have created and welcomed me into. Every day I come into the Center I feel a sense of openness. I become very at ease and refreshed. It’s great to come into a space where people are genuinely excited to see you.
What's one thing you learned about civic impact during your internship?
One thing I learned about civic impact was the amount of patience it involves. It takes a great deal of patience to work with various types of people every day, but it also takes a great deal of patience to wait for things to start changing. Yes, I know change doesn’t happen overnight but when you have been working towards change in your community or even to make a difference in your own personal life for quite some time, it can be difficult to stay motivated. I really applaud those entrepreneurs and small business owners for staying motivated no matter what their journey has looked like. Another thing I learned about civic impact is how hard it is to reach people. This is due to several reasons, one being that people are connected. And it is how job to find out how to fill that gap or figure out what caused this unconnected energy to occur. I just remember participating in working the Vote Local table during the A3C festival and people were very unengaged with the idea of voting in general. People feel as if their vote does not matter. I think people have sort of lost hope or have no faith in the system of voting which makes it hard for organizations like CCI that have voting initiatives to do their job. In general, not even with just voting it can be difficult to gain interest when trying to have a successful civic impact. I see this first hand on my campus. It is insanely difficult to get students engaged or involved with community work. Having food at events used to do the trick, but that doesn’t even work these days. I find myself contemplating very frequently as to what creates the space as to why people are not receptive to community involvement opportunities.
What has been your experience interning at the center? Name some highlights of your time here.
It is so hard to pick one experience because every day is so different. One of my biggest pet peeves is when things become too predictable. Interning at CCI is never predictable. Every single day is different, and projects are always different. Dayle and Alex always keep me on my toes because I never know what direction we are moving next. I really appreciate the element of surprise. One event, in particular, happened during the 2nd week of my internship, where I help set up for and attended an event titled, Our Future Atlanta Discussion Panel: Who Holds Local Government Accountable?. It was awesome because it was my first time listening to Atlanta residents talk about what was wrong with Atlanta. So often we get this glamorous image of ATL, Hollywood of the south, and those images overshadow what is really going on in the heart of the city. It was very eye-opening to understand more details behind some of the large land developments the city has undergone and how it is affecting residents.
What advice do you have for future CCI interns?
I strongly encourage future interns to be yourself. Always remain professional but be yourself. I have done internships in the past where I felt like I had to carry myself a certain way and I was losing my authentic self. I feel as though at CCI I am able to be myself while also adding a different layer to my professionalism. I think I am able to produce a greater quality of work when I am in an environment that allows me to be comfortable. I also encourage future interns to ask lots of questions. Ask not only about how the CCI operates but also about the co-workers and partners. You never know if there could be an opportunity for you to network and learn in other areas.
How has your internship made you think about the role you and others have in the community?
This internship has really heightened my awareness of the Atlanta community as a whole. I have lived in Atlanta going on 4 years now and the only thing I could tell you about Atlanta government is that the mayor is Kasim Reed and that the idea to move the Braves Stadium to Cobb County was a terrible idea. After being at CCI for not even a week I found myself becoming more well-versed in the language of local Atlanta politics. I have learned how important voting is on a local level. True systemic change starts at the bottom and filters its way up to the top. We focus so much on huge elections, when so much good work can be done in our own cities.
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