Summer break is serious work for 20 students selected for the Summer Service Internship Program

The program puts students into jobs at social justice agencies in Cincinnati while living on campus | June 12, 2012

While most college students use summer to work at part-time jobs or travel and relax, a select group of Xavier students are dedicating their time to serving at and learning about the non-profit service community.

Twenty students selected for Xavier’s Summer Service Internship Program are living on campus and working at area non-profit and government service agencies. Now in its 18th year, Xavier’s program offers interns stipends and free housing in Brockman Residence Hall while they gain experience doing the kind of service work that develops students who are “men and women for others.”

The interns—five men and 15 women—spend nine weeks from May 29 through July 27 working at 20 different agencies for 35 hours a week. The work sites include Working in Neighborhoods, St. Vincent DePaul, Starfire, Ohio Justice & Policy Center, the Cincinnati Recreation Commission, Catholic Charities Refugee Resettlement Program, Drop-Inn-Center homeless shelter, United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Cincinnati, Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and Healthy Moms and Babes.

"This program challenges students to think critically about the social issues that they witness at their service sites. Eventually they develop a critical framework for thinking about systemic oppression,” said Laura Wallace, program coordinator. “As a result, they often redefine justice for themselves and intentionally engage with the Cincinnati community and their communities at home."

Students keep journals to reflect on their work and attend weekly dinner and community reflection sessions. The students prepared for their work experiences learning about diversity, service, safety, and sense of place and purpose.

“While providing services to meet immediate needs, the students grapple with big questions about society, injustice and what it means to be people for and with others. They are gaining valuable job and life skills they can carry into the future,” said Angela Gray-Girton, associate director of Xavier’s Dorothy Day Center for Faith and Justice.

A survey of program participants found students value the chance to have such a unique experience and to make a difference in the lives of others.

“The Summer Service Internship Program is making a positive impact on the lives of our students and on the people in the agencies served by the program,” said Xavier president Michael J. Graham, S.J. “We greatly appreciate the support of our funders and look forward to continuing this service to our community in the future.”

Supporters include The Charles H. Dater Foundation, John & Francie Pepper, Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America and Xavier’s Women of Excellence Giving Circle.