(Posted May 9, 2023)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. – Four Juniata College students are participating in internships this summer with the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty (SHECP), where they learn about dimensions of poverty in the U.S. and assist in the improvement of distressed communities. 

Participants include Abby Sunchen ’26 of Kunming, Yunnan, China; Kaylin Bishop ’24 of Scurry-Rosser, Texas; Axel Grater ’24 of Elizabethtown, Pa.; and AlexSandra Sanna ’24 of Lititz, Pa.

Sunchen, who is studying psychology, will partner with Mosaic Health in Utica, NY. 

“I will support my colleagues in assessing and addressing patients’ social determinants of health needs,” said Sunchen. “This will involve collaborating with the care team to evaluate, coordinate, advocate for, and refer individuals to services and programs that can help meet their needs.”

She looks forward to the opportunity to expand skills essential to the internship and her future career as a psychologist.

“I hope to gain a better understanding of diversity, poverty, mental health, and charity. With a deep respect for diverse communities, awareness of poverty issues, and a strong sense of civic responsibility, I hope that I will be able to tell valuable stories and conduct meaningful research in the future,” Sunchen said. “I also look forward to connecting with peers who share my passion for social justice, so we can find innovative ways to fight poverty.”

Bishop, who is studying psychology, will work with the Family Health Center in Louisville, Ky.

“I will be working with the homeless population in the area to coordinate healthcare for them as well as working in organizations in the community like the local food bank,” said Bishop.

Her adviser, Kathy Westcott, Charles A. Dana Professor of Psychology, recommended that McLeod consider applying for SHECP. 

“I plan to go into social work, so I’m hoping this experience will give me some insight into the field of poverty studies,” Bishop said. 

Grater, who is studying biology, will partner with the Bradley Free Clinic in Roanoke, Va.

“During my internship, I will assist medical staff with patient intake and triage, pulling and analyzing data for grant reporting purposes, creating vaccine recommendations, and assisting other clinic members,” Grater said.  

He learned about SHECP from Sarah Worley, associate professor of communication and director of community engaged learning. 

“I hope to gain a lot of experience working with underprivileged people and understanding the health networking system for people who are unable to afford healthcare and other necessities,” said Grater.  

Sanna, who is studying environmental policy and economics, will be working with the Guilford County Office of the Public Defender in Greensboro, NC.

“I’ll be interning at the Guilford County Public Defender’s Office in Greensboro, NC, where I’ll be allowed to shadow the attorneys there and see what working in a public defender’s office is like,” said Sanna.

One of Sanna’s friends participated in SHECP last summer and recommended she investigate the internship as well. 

“I hope to connect with attorneys and gain an understanding of what the work is like before I go to law school,” Sanna said. 

The SHECP is a non-profit organization, founded in 1998 as the Shepherd Poverty Alliance, that promotes poverty studies programs in undergraduate and professional schools, supports a summer internship program integrated with coursework throughout the academic year, and enriches various areas of study to prepare students for many different professional and civic goals.

In addition to Juniata College, the organization is made of 18 other collegiate institutions: Baylor University, Berea College, Birmingham Southern College, Bucknell University, Centre College, Elon University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Hamilton College, Manchester University, Marymount University, Middlebury College, Millsaps College, Ohio University, University of Lynchburg, University of Notre Dame, University of Vermont, Virginia Military Institute, and Washington & Lee University.

SHECP partners with more than 130 non-profit and governmental agencies to provide internship opportunities for students. The agencies in both urban and rural sites focus on categories such as education, healthcare, legal services, housing, nutrition, social and economic needs, and community-building efforts. According to SHECP, “students work with agencies that fit their intellectual interests to develop professional experience and skills for future civic involvement and employment.”

To learn more about the internship opportunities via the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty, visit https://www.shepherdconsortium.org/about-internships 

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