Alumni gifts expand funding for A&S student summer experiences

While students in some fields easily find paid summer positions, others interested in non-profits, health care, government or other areas often need to take internships or summer positions that provide valuable summer career experiences but don't offer much in terms of a paycheck.

The Student Assembly Summer Experience Grant helps students afford these experiences, and this year an expanded fund of $300,000 will be available to Arts & Sciences students through A&S Career Development.

The additional funding, which comes from alumni donors, will help students who would not be able to take on a summer career-related experience because of financial constraints, said Nicole Moss, A&S Career Development Program Coordinator.

“This additional funding means that when an A&S student applies for the Summer Experience Grant, they are not only considered for the Student Assembly funding, but they are also considered for the A&S specific funding,” Moss said.

Last summer, with the help of a Summer Experience Grant, Amarachi Abakporo ‘19, a government major, interned with the legal division of the New York City Department of Corrections. The grant allowed Abakporo to afford the expenses of living in New York City and paying for transportation to courts around the city.

“This was an eye-opening, incredibly valuable experience,” Abakporo said. “By helping me fund this experience, this grant was instrumental in helping me confirm that I indeed want to become an attorney in the future.”

Abakporo accompanied attorneys to court and observed them argue cases. During her internship, she also visited the Riker’s Island Prison Complex, which holds more than 8,000 inmates.

“I found myself paying more attention to the inmates,” Abakporo said. “Rikers was a miserable, horrible place, and you could see it on their faces. They were people too, which society oftentimes seems to forget. It would break my heart when an inmate would walk into court and hear that his release date has been pushed back, usually for reasons he does not seem to understand, and then walk back in handcuffs, crushed.”

She also visited inmates’ living spaces, talking with them about their life stories and the criminal justice system.

“Through interacting with inmates, I was able to see firsthand the ills of our criminal justice system, and what role I can play within the movement to remedy them,” Abakporo said. “I left this internship with an in-depth, personal knowledge of where change is needed and how best to effect that change.”

After graduating, Abakporo plans to  attend law school to study criminal justice. She hopes to work with incarcerated people and establish her own non-profit to help empower those who cannot afford legal counsel.

Students can apply for Summer Experience Grants until April 17.

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 Headshot of Amarachi Abakporo