Behind all the Gephardt Institute does is a team of student staff doing vital work to drive the institute’s efforts.
Through internship positions for both undergraduate and graduate students, the institute offers students the ability to develop and practice skills in a workplace environment on campus. These internships are perfect opportunities for students to explore St. Louis and learn about civic and community engagement.
Emily Hu ‘24, for example, is pursuing a BFA in Communication Design and applies her creative passion to her role as the graphic design intern at Gephardt. As a part of Gephardt, Hu has learned to apply her skills to the greater cause of community engagement.
“I’m lucky to be able to craft graphics that contribute to the overall experience and communication surrounding civic engagement initiatives. I love that I can convey information to a broader community and hopefully spark positive action,” Hu said.
These engagement efforts are achieved both creatively and systematically, as St. Louis Impact Fund Intern Talia Stein ‘24 exemplifies.
“Last semester, my primary role was to facilitate the grants process for the St. Louis Impact Fund, from application to implementation. The bulk of my work focused on developing a workshop series for applicants to the Transform Grant, under which project groups have the potential to be awarded up to $10,000 for a transformative, comprehensive, and sustainable project with a community partner,” Stein said.
Stein’s commitment to the St. Louis community continues outside of campus, as she also works with Solidarity Economy STL, an organization dedicated to building an informed and equitable economy. The methods may be different, but both Stein and Hu are able to work toward a common goal of civic impact. The internship experiences serve both students through valuable experience in a professional environment where they practice skills that will serve them well beyond their time at Gephardt.
“I’ve learned the importance of approaching goals with intent and dedication. Seeing the passion and enthusiasm of the Gephardt staff and those who are active participants in Gephardt events inspires me greatly,” Hu said.
Stein works closely with her supervisor Sam Babb, Associate Director for Community Engagement, to facilitate workshops that ensure community projects funded through Gephardt address a community-identified need and incorporate community voices and leadership.
“Talia has been a key component of building the St. Louis Impact Fund. She came into the role with significant knowledge about creating mutually beneficial partnerships and adds a valuable student perspective to our processes,” Babb said.
The symbiotic relationship, likewise, provided Graduate Assistant for Student Civic Learning Supriya Sthapit, an MPH student in the Brown School, with invaluable insight and experience.
“From my perspective, our work is providing WashU students and community members a platform to learn about the St. Louis community and governance, develop their civic and community engagement skills as well as build personal and professional connections. I believe this is an excellent opportunity for the participants to practice their interpersonal communication skills and harness their true civic potential,” Sthapit said.
Hu, Stein, and Sthapit have the unique opportunity to see their work come to fruition before their eyes. Their work remains even after they part ways with Gephardt Institute. Stein reflected on her hopes for the projects she work on at Gephardt this past semester.
“It is my hope that the work I’ve done through the Transform Grant workshops will contribute to the development of truly impactful, sustainable, and community-driven projects in St. Louis which respond creatively and comprehensively to community-identified needs,” Stein said.
Sthapit’s hard work is showcased through the Civic Café series which she hopes will engage others the same way it engaged her as a new student in the United States.
“As an international student who just moved to the United States from Nepal, Civic Café has been an amazing space for me to delve into civic and community engagement in St. Louis and learn about how local government works here.” Sthapit said.
While the Gephardt Institute benefits in myriad immeasurable ways from interns, the students who take on these roles exercise and develop their developing skills while gaining key knowledge in civic and community engagement.
If you would like to make a gift to support the Gephardt Internship Program, please contact Colleen Watermon at firstname.lastname@example.org.