From web work at the world-renowned Smithsonian Institute to digital media production for a thriving creative agency, ten students are gaining professional experience this semester at Washington Community Scholars’ Center (WCSC). The center, located in D.C. since 1976, is a program of Eastern Mennonite University and open to students from Bethel College in Kansas and Bluffton University in Ohio.
Now 10 students, including two from Bethel, are living and working in Washington D.C. in a range of professional internships in fields from youth work to immigration services to health care.
The semester-long experience is also a “community-building endeavor,” with students living together in the Nelson Good House in the Brookland neighborhood of Northeast Washington D.C. They explore Washington’s cultural and historic attractions, and learn about urban issues such as gentrification.
This semester’s placements include several organizations that are long-time hosts of EMU students, highlighting WCSC’s deep ties within the region. Many alumni can trace their careers back to a pivotal experience at WCSC.
Read on to learn more about the students, their placements and the organizations they are involved with.
Chelsea Brubaker, a biology major from Lancaster, Pa., is with Bread for the City’s medical clinic. She helps to coordinate the free COVID-19 testing twice a week and reports results to health agencies. Bread for the City helps Washington, DC residents living with low income to develop their power to determine the future of their own communities.
Diana Crespin-Gomez, a liberal arts, Spanish language and Hispanic Studies major from Woodbridge, Va., and Edith Ortega-Sanchez, a peacebuilding and development major from Harrisonburg, Va., are interning with Catholic Charities Immigration Legal Services. Both are working with attorneys to assist in the intake process, translate legal documents and write declarations for client cases.
AJ Derricott, a sociology major from Bowling Green, Va., is with Voices for a Second Chance. The organization helps to address the challenges of reentry following incarceration.
Anna Wiens, a graphic design major at Bethel College from North Newton, Kansas, is with Hyattsville Community Development Corporation on a “Mapping Racism” project. She will help to design web material including a map that documents property deeds in Hyattsville with racially restrictive covenants, building her knowledge both of graphic design and the history of systemic racism. The organization is dedicated to the revitalization and sustainable development of Hyattsville and is involved in a range of initiatives around civic, social and economic development.
Stephanie Gilbertson (see photo below) is a digital media major from Manassas, Va. She is working for Washington Digital Media. [Read more about WDM owner Ricardo Villalba and other digital media internships in this 2018 article.]
Audrey Hershberger (see photo below), a peace and development major from Millersburg, Ohio, is interning at Museum of the Palestinian People. She will be involved in visitor services as well as administration. The museum was founded in 2019 by Bshara Nasser MA ’14.
Gwen Mallow (see photo below), an English major from Quicksburg, Va., is working on several projects for the Smithsonian Center of Folklore and Cultural Heritage and their digital magazine, “Folklife.” She’s lately been researching agricultural philosophy and Appalachian cultures. Mallow is also interfacing with two other teams: the accessibility team on producing alt-text and image descriptions for the website and the production team to summarize online events. [Read an article about a past intern with the Smithsonian.]
Sophia Minder, a social work major at Bethel College from Lawrenceville, Kansas, is interning with Faith in Action-Congregation Action Network. She is working with area congregations to “bring awareness to immigration issues through organizing actions and meetings with legislators.”
Jakya Jones, a social work major from Front Royal, Va., is with Little Friends for Peace, which offers peace education, group activities and a safe environment away from violent surroundings for children.