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Internship with The Malini Foundation
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Alyssa Gurklis

Alyssa Gurklis

Paterno Fellow
Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA
Major(s): Sociology & Global and International Studies
Minor(s): Civic and Community Engagement & Psychology

How did you learn about this opportunity?

I learned about this opportunity after traveling to Sri Lanka with a program facilitated by the Malini Foundation in partnership with the Schreyer Honors College. By connecting with Valerie Handunge, my supervisor and mentor while in Sri Lanka. We decided to collaborate on visual development and marketing projects over the summer. At the beginning of the Fall 2014 semester, I decided to continue working with the Foundation as the senior program development intern.

Tell us a little about your experience.

My internship roles included working with our graphic designer to develop the Malini Foundation’s visual aesthetic, creating a library of photos taken over the course of the Summer Fellows trip, and developing the Foundation’s new website. I also worked to develop and expand upon the Foundation’s international programs designed for students and professionals. Having no formal training or experience with graphic design, marketing, or program development, a lot of the projects I worked on really pushed me outside of my immediate comfort zone. With some guidance from my mentor and my team, I have been able to explore and analyze what want to get out of my college education.

How did this experience impact you academically?

Being in Sri Lanka and working on projects that I became deeply invested in encouraged me to make my passions the focus of my academic career. I am now majoring in Sociology and Global and International Studies and I plan to focus on domestic and international civic and community engagement. Through my work, I also continue to learn about the issues that confront women and girls around the world along with the complex challenges that one encounters in trying to effect social change. I have also acquired insight into the effects of volunteer tourism, philanthropy, and aid on developing nations.

This experience has helped me to grow in ways that I could never have imagined.

What are your career goals and plans? How did this experience impact them?

As a result of my experiences I realized that I wanted to work in the social sector. Though I am still exploring, I hope to work with a nonprofit organization and I am exploring career opportunities in community development.

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students? If yes, why?

This experience has helped me to grow in ways that I could never have imagined. I have been exposed to new opportunities and challenged in a multitude of ways. I have learned new skills that pertain to my academic interests as well as professional development.

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