(Posted February 27, 2017)

Lauren Bowen, provost
Photo by Nahui Twomey '18
Lauren Bowen, provost
Photo by Nahui Twomey '18

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Juniata College students intent on studying the causes and consequences of poverty will be able to receive important internship experiences while Juniata faculty will be able to more easily develop poverty-based courses as the college joins the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty.

            “A critical examination of the various dimensions of poverty remains a pressing issue for our time; moreover, such a focus is consistent with our values and mission,” says Lauren Bowen, provost at Juniata. “Understanding poverty and seeking to ameliorate its effects is an interdisciplinary inquiry which also suggests that Juniata, given our longstanding commitment to such methods is especially well suited to support our students in this endeavor. Existing courses as well as new ones to be developed as part of the program will complement the experiential learning opportunities our membership in the group can provide.”

            “Our location in rural central Pennsylvania also means we will complement the Consortium’s current internship placements as we will host interns from other campuses,” she added. “Rural poverty is sometimes overlooked by scholars and activists; participation in the Consortium is mutually beneficial for the College and existing consortium members.”

            The Shepherd Consortium is a 23-member organization of colleges and universities that helps institutions explore poverty as a social issue by expanding and improving educational opportunities for students on member campuses. Membership in the group provides Juniata the capability to work with member institutions to develop and integrate curriculum focused on poverty while offering specially designed internships and outside activities during the academic year.

            Five Juniata students received internships, which will begin in summer 2017. The recipients are: Jessica Eades, a junior from Colorado Springs, Colo.; Kien Le, a junior  from Huntingdon, Pa.; Daisie Rodriguez, a senior from Weslaco, Texas; Nicholas Guillermo, a junior from The Bronx, N.Y.; and Mai Hoang, a sophomore international student from Hanoi, Vietnam.

"Rural poverty is sometimes overlooked by scholars and activists; participation in the Consortium is mutually beneficial for the college and existing consortium members."

Lauren Bowen, provost, Juniata College

“Working in a not-for-profit organization has always been my personal interest and passion, and I’m glad that Juniata has brought this great opportunity to me,” says Hoang. “I’m excited about the chance to observe numerous aspects of poverty reduction and to meet with people of different backgrounds who have the same passion.”

“The most exciting thing for me is the actual opportunity to help people who were once like me,” says Guillermo. “Aiding people is one thing, but when you can help people in an area of misfortune that you may have experienced, the reward for me is so much greater.”

            “Social agencies and educators are most attuned  to how poverty can affect academic performance, health and wellness, housing and employment,” explains James A. Troha, president at Juniata. “Our membership in the consortium will give our students invaluable experience in studying the challenges poverty represents.”

            The Shepherd Consortium was founded in 1998 as the Shepherd Poverty Alliance at Washington & Lee University, in Lexington, Va., to prepare students in professional, civic and political career fields by experiencing a wide range of perspectives, both inside and outside the classroom. Students perform summer internships in such areas as health, education, law, business, economic development and social service. Students also are asked to use their internship experience as a foundation for a senior capstone research project.

            “The Shepherd Consortium welcomes the robust plan for poverty studies that Juniata College has proposed for its membership,” says Harlan Beckley, executive director of the consortium and a former professor of religion at Washington & Lee. “We are confident that this initiative will serve the Juniata students superbly as well as the communities in which they work currently and in the future, especially Huntingdon.”

            Each summer the group supports more than 100 interns serving in jobs in nonprofit and governmental agencies. Each intern chosen for the program must attend an orientation conference. At the end of their internship each student must attend a national symposium focused on a specialized topic.

            The 2017 SHECP Symposium, “Criminal Justice, Poverty and Race,” will take place at Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Va.

            Juniata joins 22 other colleges and universities in the consortium, including Baylor University, Berea College, Birmingham Southern University, Bucknell University, Centre College, College of Wooster, Elon University, Furman University, Hendrix College, John Carroll University, Lynchburg College, Marymount University, Middlebury College, Millsaps College, The Cleveland Clinic Lerner College, Niagara University, Ohio University, University of Arkansas-Little Rock University of Notre Dame, University of Vermont, VMI and Washington & Lee University.

            The program partners with more than 130 nonprofit and governmental agencies to provide internship opportunities.

Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.