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Lance Clem Scholarship Winner: Esther Phenna

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Media, Film & Journalism Studies

Article  •

By Esther Phenna, senior, strategic communication and international studies

Edited by Hannah Kipersztok, second-year MA, international studies

Thanks to the Lance Clem Scholarship Fund, the Media, Film & Journalism Studies department is able to award scholarships to a handful of lucky students to help fund their summer internships. This year we awarded scholarships to three MFJS students. Esther Phenna, a strategic communication and international studies double major with minors in Spanish and in leadership studies, shared her experiences.

Esther Phenna

Working as an intern is a common experience among college students like me. It's a box to check off before entering the real work force or earning a higher degree. However, that box is often checked grudgingly while scanning papers or digitizing documents in small rooms, inspiring little excitement for one's future career and providing far less benefit to one's wallet.

My experience, however, was quite the opposite of that status quo summer internship. I was able to take a 30-hour journey to Kampong Cham, Cambodia, where I interned for a grassroots NGO for 6 weeks. Buddhism for Social Development Action (BSDA) works for their community by creating sustainable, meaningful, and impactful changes. I worked specifically on a project called Financing Futures, a program that provides microloans to families wanting to start or improve a small business. These loans are paid back over time with 0% interest, and then are re-dispersed to other community members who could benefit from them. Everything is run by the community, for the community members.

My job consisted of conducting interviews with the project members and then analyzing the data. We wanted to understand how community members ran their businesses, if they liked the loan system, and if they were getting enough help to achieve at least enough financial stability to send their children to school consistently.

BSDA prides itself on its ethics, community focus, and grassroots development work. During my time with them, I was able to get priceless hands-on practice using various strategic communication skills and I experienced what it is like to work for a truly incredible organization. I could not be more grateful to have received the Lance Clem scholarship, which not only provided me with the opportunity to have this particular internship, but also to apply it as credit toward my degree. This internship was the perfect introduction to a potential career path in international development.

In addition to Esther, two other students participated in internships through the Lance Clem scholarship:

Alexandra Duca, a strategic communication and psychology double major with minors in socio-legal studies and marketing, worked as a Summer Communications Intern for Cotswold Industries, a textiles industries organization that does work for companies such as Levi's Jeans.

Morgan Staley, a journalism studies and Spanish double major with an art minor, worked as a Journalism and Communication intern at RockBox Fitness, a kick-boxing gym that started in Charlotte, North Carolina. Staley focused on developing a Spanish information outlet online to connect with the Spanish speaking populations near all RockBox locations.

The department of Media, Film & Journalism Studies is so proud of all of our hard-working students and we love to hear about their successful internship experiences.