Students fight violence, support NYC artists during summer experiences

Isis Encinas ’20 spends most of her summer days working to help survivors of violence around the world. As an intern with International Justice Mission (IJM) in its Washington, D.C. office, “I’m able to directly impact the mission and be involved with work that is going to make a real difference in the lives of people who are being violently oppressed,” she says.

Encinas is one of many students in the College of Arts & Sciences who are taking advantage of Summer Experience Grants to help non-profit organizations around the country.

The Summer Experience Grants, which students can use to cover living and travel expenses when they are taking unpaid or minimally-paid positions, are available to students thanks to funding from the Student Assembly and to donations from a group of generous Arts & Sciences alumni, who understand the need to support students as they explore career possibilities. This year, 181 students applied for funding and 117 grants were awarded.

Isis Encinas and Teresa Derr, another intern
Isis Encinas, left, with fellow intern Teresa Derr

Encinas, a psychology and classics major, is working as an “aftercare” intern, developing a manual for professionals dealing with survivors of violence and supporting a new Global Survivor Network, which will allow survivors to speak out in their communities and support others going through similar experiences. IJM works to protect the poor from violence and fights modern-day slavery throughout the world.

“The culture within IJM is truly unique, and I have been inspired every day seeing how this organization works and seeing the passion that everyone has for this fight for justice,” she said. “Everyone gives their all, and IJM has seen so many rescued because of that effort. While many people are still trapped in different forms of slavery and oppression, it is amazing to see the progress that IJM has made and the direction they’re heading in.”

Encinas said she is using summer experience grant money to pay for housing, transportation, food and the professional clothing she needs for her job.

“Knowing I can come in to work and give 100% of myself without having to stress over money is the best gift and has allowed me to really flourish here,” she said.

Tomás Reuning ’21 is using his summer to support the work of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in New York City, which has served as home for a diverse group of rising poets, actors, filmmakers and musicians for the last 40 years.

“As a Latinx member of the LGBTQ community and a poet, it is an honor to contribute to the long-term success of such an important cultural center,” Reuning said. “Moreover, as an English major with minors in Latina/o Studies and Spanish, I am exposed to the art and culture I study at Cornell at its rawest source.“

Reuning has focused much of his time on improving the café’s social media presence, including creating new promotional material.

“The most exciting aspect of working at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe is having the opportunity to meet so many successful and talented artists in New York City,” said Reuning, who is from Miami, Fla.

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 Rebecca Reuning