From left: Students at EMU's Washington Community Scholars' Center this spring include Tajah Upshaw, interning with DC Public Defender Service; Tahj'ae Coleman, with Covenant House; Elizabeth Nisly, with Catholic Charities Immigration Legal Services; Philip Park, with the Smithsonian; Sienna Sullivan with the DC Attorney General; Blake Hershberger, Mennonite Central Committee; James Dunmore, with LA RED; Noah Yoder, with Joseph's House; Professor Kimberly Schmidt, WCSC co-director; and Clover Cooper, with Archbishop Carroll High School athletics. (Photo by Jamie Reich)

WCSC interns work in athletics, criminal justice, legal services, Smithsonian, and more

Eight students from Eastern Mennonite University and Bluffton University are gaining professional, community and cultural experiences in EMU’s Washington Community Scholars’ Center (WCSC) this semester.

The program, in Washington D.C. since 1976, provides students with professional internships in fields from youth work to immigration services to health care. It 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.

  • Clover Cooper, a recreation and sports management major from Barboursville, Va., is interning as an assistant to the athletic trainer at Archbishop Carroll High School. While observing and shadowing, she also  helps with pre-game preparations and various tasks related to injured athletes. 
  • James Dunmore, a liberal arts major from Queen, Pa., is working with LA RED, a platform of Faith in Action focused on immigration issues and policy. He’s traveled to New Mexico and Nevada to participate in activism and training, and provided research support on projects related to law enforcement collaboration with ICE and presidential candidate platforms. Over his time there, he looks forward to seeing “how the political climate informs and changes the work we do, whether on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.” 
  • Philip Park, a computer science major from Gainesville, Va., is interning with the Smithsonian’s Office of the Chief Information Officer, which equips members of the Smithsonian community with the technology tools, services, and applications they need to carry out their responsibilities effectively. He is learning about “IT and infrastructure planning, setting up computers and peripherals to work in a network, troubleshooting and testing/implementation of new technology,” he said, along with participating in meetings, documenting status of projects and reporting problems to colleagues.
  • Elizabeth Nisly, a writing studies and Spanish major from Bluffton, Ohio, is interning with Catholic Charities Immigration Legal Services, learning “the inner workings of our legal immigration system,” she said. She is also translating legal documents, improving her Spanish vocabulary, providing interpretation and helping with prescreening interviews. This work builds upon her experiences during EMU’s semester cross-cultural to the U.S./Mexico border and to Guatemala, and a subsequent summer internship with Frontera De Cristo. Read more.
  • Noah Yoder, a social work major from Freeman, South Dakota, is interning at Joseph’s House, a medical and social service organization serving the needs of homeless individuals with HIV and terminal cancer. “Many residents live there temporarily while receiving medical treatment and assistance finding permanent housing,” Yoder said. “Others are there for end-of-life care. My internship has involved taking residents and former residents to appointments, building relationships with them, and assisting with the process of getting them personal documents such as birth certificates and identification cards.”
  • Sienna Sullivan, a criminal justice and prelaw major at Bluffton University, is in the DC Office of the Attorney General. She is from Columbus, Ohio. Her responsibilities include organizing cases and paperwork for three courtrooms, observing in the courtroom and digitizing cases for the database. Delving into court cases and understanding legal rationales has been an important learning experience that will help her preparations for a career in law. 
  • Tahj’ae Coleman, a psychology major from Willingboro, New Jersey,  works with homeless youth at Covenant House , which provides educational programs, job training and placement, medical services, mental health and substance use counseling, legal aid and beyond to homeless youth. Her internship encompasses building relationships with the teenagers, assisting in activities, and donor relations.