By Jackie Brogdon, LA’16, International and Area Studies
Internships are the bread and butter of the college student’s resume, the key to breaking into competitive fields. The nonprofit sector is no exception but they often do not have the funds to pay their interns.
The Goldman Fellows Program is one of WashU’s solutions to this inequity, providing students with a $5,000 stipend. The program was founded by the Goldman family in 2007 after their son, Ben Goldman LA’06, who was interning at the medical school, realized that some of his peers did not have the same financial opportunities to accept a nonprofit or community-oriented internship because of a lack of funding.
Since its inaugural year, the program has provided 85 students with financial support and catalyzed student understanding of their role as citizens of St. Louis through off-campus excursions, discussions with community leaders, and collaboration with other fellows. Students have also worked in a wide range of issues including addressing legal rights, historic preservation, hunger and homelessness, veteran affairs, and the arts. To date, Goldman Fellows have provided over 210,000 hours of service to the St. Louis community. Students walk away from the summer not only with a valuable addition to their résumé, but also a broader view of the St. Louis community and their role within it.
Junior and double-major in marketing and psychology, Lexie Sprague, found this to be the case after her internship this past summer at the Susan G. Komen Foundation of St. Louis, a nonprofit dedicated to advocacy and fundraising for breast cancer research.
She says that because the office is small, her role as the marketing and public relations intern allowed her more contact with the day-to-day functioning of the organization. One of these functions was diversifying the image that the public has of Susan G. Komen. “[We’re] trying to make it known that race for the cure is not the only event. It’s a 365 day battle.”
Lexie’s commitment to her role was echoed by her manager, Janet Vigen Levy, the foundation’s Director of Communications and Marketing: “It was a great pleasure to have Lexie Sprague on our team. Lexie made invaluable contributions to our work in support of our mission of saving lives and ending breast cancer forever. She joined us at an exceptionally busy time, approaching each task with professionalism, initiative and a positive enthusiasm.”
Beyond providing stipends for unpaid internships and capacity-building for area nonprofits, the Goldman Fellows Program is a cohort experience, allowing students to share their summer experiences with other civic-minded students. Sprague says it has been fascinating to hear about everyone else’s internships. The cohort has a chance to bond further on various excursions around St. Louis neighborhoods like Old North and The Grove.
“I’ve seen more of St. Louis in this past month than in the past three years,” Sprague says, adding that their group dinners provide a “setting to talk about things that wouldn’t necessarily come up in conversation.”
The 2015 Goldman Fellows cohort included Hannah Davison (International Institute of Metropolitan St. Louis), Jenna Epstein (St. Louis Mosaic Project), Anisha Glanton (NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri), Amanda Harris (Health Literacy Missouri), William Krueger (Office of the Mayor of St. Louis), Jaydee Lee (Bread and Roses), Adi Radhakrishnan (Alzheimer’s Association), Alexis Sprague (Susan G. Komen Foundation), Nina Stoller (Forum for Youth Investment), Jessica Sun (Operation Food Search), and Nathan Vogt (LaunchCode).
Visit the Goldman Fellows program page for more information or to apply.