The Cook Family Foundation partners with local nonprofit organizations to provide internships for University of Michigan students. These internships are for graduates from Shiawassee area high schools who have been awarded scholarships to attend the University of Michigan. Here are accounts from recent internships:
Shiawassee County Health Department was the summer home of UM senior and Owosso High School graduate, Madison Van Epps. Madison was responsible for the social media campaign in the county’s quest to raise awareness about Hepatitis A, as well as the data entry. In addition, she also handled the department’s “How did you hear about us” family planning survey, and enhanced the department’s social media and community presence by creating an Instagram account, as well as posters and videos, and even some give-aways. Another key duty involved interviewing local community stakeholders in order to conduct a needs assessment regarding what the Health Department could help with in the ongoing county problem of obesity. And lastly, Madison designed a new poster and rack card to give away at outreach events with the local SafeCenter called, Smart 911. “She did it all!” notes Larry Johnson, Shiawassee County Health Department Director.
Shiawassee Arts Center provided an important experience for University of Michigan Sophomore and 2017 Corunna High School Graduate, Hunter Glew. She spent her summer helping the SAC’s Arts Education Director, Linda Ruehle, plan and implement classes for both the senior’s and children’s art program. Hunter is studying Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience. She intends to eventually attain a doctoral degree to work as a professor and researcher with a focus on deaf culture, or her new-found interest–art therapy. Hunter noted, “I’ve now been able to see firsthand how the various art programs can take students away from outside stresses, and how it can create an outlet for all those participating. I am so thankful to have helped create that for so many people this summer.
DeVries Nature Conservancy provided an opportunity for 2016 UM graduate Evan Klinkoski to put his research and writing skills to work to tell an important history of Shiawassee County. Evan, an Owosso High School graduate, researched the artifacts in the Historic Carriage and Sleigh Museum that are part of the DeVries legacy. He helped curate and catalog the collection, developed a digital database, wrote new descriptions of the historical vehicles, and helped put on an exhibition as part of the Made In Owosso event in the summer of 2016. Evan also investigated and wrote several grant proposals to help preserve this unique collection of carriages and sleighs which are part of the birth of the automobile industry. His summer internship has led to on-going employment with DeVries Nature Conservancy.
Owosso Community Players (OCP) were fortunate to be able to employ the technical and organizational skills of Hunter Charvat, a graduate of Ovid-Elsie High School and now student at UM’s School of Information. Here’s his account of working to help OCP update their website, database, and complex ticketing services over the summer of 2016: “The most valuable thing I experienced at OCP was exposure to and practice working in a non-profit environment. My understanding of the workflows, command chains, and decision-making processes is far beyond what it was before, and I believe that this exposure will help me a lot in whatever organization I work at next. Similarly, working at OCP was an excellent opportunity for me to practice my professional writing skills. Organizations prefer concise, clear, and easy to digest reports and memos, and this is especially true when describing technical issues to decision makers. This was very different from the style of writing that much of my academic career has taught me, so it was also a learning experience.”
“As far as my feelings about working at OCP and in Owosso, The staff at OCP are so dedicated and kind, I can only hope that I find myself with co-workers like that again. Being from Ovid, I hadn’t thoroughly explored downtown Owosso prior to my internship, and I found it to be incredibly charming. Foster Coffee is on my list of places I must take people when they visit Mid-Michigan now! All in all, I learned that I wouldn’t mind working in a small town as much as I thought I would.”
The Owosso Fellowship Program
In the summers of 2013 and 2014, the Cook Family Foundation operated the Owosso Fellowship with college students from diverse backgrounds and interests. The fellows spent their summer learning about how to build a strong community while lending their skills to local organizations.
Below is a summary of the 2013 fellows’ experience during their time in Owosso:
“The Cook Family Foundation Fellowship allowed me to engage in my community and interact with its members in ways that I never have before. I learned valuable community building skills, completed a major project for the City of Owosso, and created great friendships with people I would have never gotten to meet without this program.”
An Owosso High School graduate and recipient of a scholarship to attend the University of Michigan, Sarah worked for the City of Owosso on downtown historic preservation.
“The Owosso Fellowship helped me develop the goals I have for my life and work. The balance between working on a self-directed project, spending time with my host family, engaging with others in the program, and meeting passionate community leaders made my life in Owosso fulfilling and fun.”
A pre-med student from the University of Massachusetts, Jenny analyzed several early childhood healthcare initiatives undertaken by Great Start Shiawassee.
“The Owosso Fellowship has been an incredible experience that has exposed me to how a community runs and how one passionate individual can make a significant impact. Living in Owosso has given me the opportunity to work on an independent project in a field I love and meet incredible people!”
A geology student at Yale, Beata helped DeVries Nature Conservancy look at ways to promote sustainability at their facility.
“This fellowship has been one of the best experiences of my life. Everyone has been very kind and welcoming and I have learned so much. Owosso is a great city and I am happy to be doing work that I love within such a supportive community.”
A film student at Yale, Katrina explored her interest in visual media and communication by helping plan the ArtWalk and working with the Owosso Community Players to plan their future programming in the new Shiawassee Performing Arts Center.