This September, the Gephardt Institute welcomed four new student staff members to our team: Rose Shapiro, Lauren Ross, Louis Jones, and Jayla Butler. Over the course of the semester, they will focus on connecting students, faculty, and staff with community partners and organizations remotely, and will dedicate a significant attention toward pre and post-election efforts. Though the Gephardt Institute is operating remotely this fall, professional staff have prepared to collaborate with the interns, both new and returning, in a safe and efficient virtual format. Get to know our newest student staff members below.
Louis Jones is a Master of Social Work advanced standing student, concentrating in clinical mental health. Though Louis has lived in a variety of places, he calls the St. Louis Metropolitan region home. With a specific focus on graduate student engagement, Louis works as Engage Democracy Fellow to enliven and increase civic engagement across campus and the greater St. Louis community. This semester, he aims to “increase graduate student turnout, keep up with all [his] coursework, and survive 2020.” During his free time, Louis confesses he’s “a bit of a nerd,” and enjoys reading about political philosophy, public policy, and clinical therapy interventions. And, in the meantime, Louis hopes “to visit as many state parks in the St. Louis region as possible.”
Rose Shapiro, from West Orange, New Jersey, is a first-year Master of Social Work student with a specialization in policy and research. As Civic Education Fellow, Rose works with our Engage Democracy Initiative and Gephardt Evaluation Assessment and Research Team to design, facilitate, and evaluate civic engagement workshop trainings for campus groups. This semester, she looks forward to “empowering the community about civic issues in preparation and response to the national election.” Rose is proud to announce that she has mastered Spikeball during the pandemic—and, at some point this semester, hopes to visit the Miniature Museum of Greater St. Louis.
Jayla Butler, class of 2022, from Naperville, Illinois, is double-majoring in English Literature and Marketing. As Marketing and Communication Coordinator, Jayla is primarily responsible for Gephardt’s communications, outreach, social media engagement, and Opportunities Newsletter. Jayla is eager to “learn more about the incredibly important advocacy work happening in St. Louis,” and emphasizes the importance of civic engagement as a “moral responsibility to recognize and work to dismantle all systems of oppression, especially the ones that we may benefit from.” During the pandemic, Jayla has attempted to master the art of attending several virtual classes in a row without experiencing extreme ‘Zoom fatigue’—which, she admits, is still a work in progress. This year, Jayla hopes to visit the Missouri Botanical Garden.
Lauren Ross, class of 2023, from St. Louis, Missouri, is majoring in neuroscience with a double minor in anthropology and psychology. Lauren will be assisting the Community Advisory Council members as our new Community Engagement Intern. Lauren emphasizes that “without civic engagement, there would be no advancement—no growth within our communities. Civic engagement is the most influential way to improve the communities in which we live, and I believe there is always room for improvement.” During the pandemic, Lauren attempted to make bread, but unfortunately, her endeavor “did not go so well.” Though from St. Louis, Lauren has yet to visit the new ferris wheel at Union Station and looks forward to riding it sometime soon.
In addition to their substantive responsibilities, the team will have routine access to mentorship, training, and professional development opportunities. The Gephardt Institute professional staff is grateful for the energy, talent, and professionalism that our students bring each day. “We take great pride in our Gephardt Student Internship Program,” said Stephanie Kurtzman, Peter G. Sortino Director of the Gephardt Institute. “Our interns have the opportunity for hands-on learning in a professional environment that aligns with their community values, at the same time that we gain invaluable talent that helps us prepare for the academic year and advance our vision.”
Learn more about the Gephardt Student Internship Program here.