Davis Center, Student Life launch new summer fellowship

The Davis Center and Office of Student Life will introduce a pilot “Leadership and Community Development Internship” this summer. After consulting with Peer Health, the Zilkha Center, the Junior Advisor Advisory Board and Associate Dean of the College and Dean of First-Year Students Dave Johnson ’71, the Davis Center and Student Life built the new internship “to develop a structure that begins to think of the whole first year as an orientation to membership in an intentional and diverse community,” according to the proposal. Director of the Davis Center Lili Rodriguez ’01 said that the paid student interns will work to answer the question: “What is an intentional community?”

The eight-week internship will pay approximately $10 an hour for 20 to 30 hours per week and run from mid-June to early August. According to Assistant Director for Student Involvement Ben Lamb, the program will begin with two weeks of a “very structured” curriculum for approximately six hours per day to provide students with a framework of advanced, shared knowledge. Interns will be given supplemental information on psychology and other fields applicable to their task. The goal of these first two weeks will be to “turn these student developers into professionals,” Lamb said. The remaining six weeks will be much more flexible to allow students to begin to create innovative and intentional programming.

Interns will focus on improving the first-year experience during the formative years of the new program. After that, Rodriguez expects interns will move on to enhance neighborhoods and residential life in general. For now, interns will work to create “experiential learning [for first-years] that can lead to conversations.” Rodriguez recognizes the challenges of the entry system: that “what we do now is really important but may not be the most effective” and mentioning the feeling that many first-years may have of being “talked at” about important issues. She hopes the interns will help build the first-year experience to be more engaging and fun. Rodriguez also recognized the individuality of each entry and emphasized that interns would be tasked with providing Junior Advisors (JAs) many options so that they may tailor these new programs to their unique entries.

Applications were released on April 19 on Student Life’s website. The Davis Center encourages students of any class year and with any range of leadership experience to apply for the paid internship. Rodriguez expressed interest in future JA participation.

“It would be awesome to have insiders,” Rodriguez said, but added anyone who is genuinely interested in impacting change and building inclusive communities is encouraged to apply. Likewise, Rodriguez encourages both those with “a very positive view of our current system” and those with “a constructively critical view” to apply to further broaden the scope of perspectives represented among the 10 interns. Ultimately, Lamb encouraged anyone “dedicated to improving your world here [at Williams]” to apply.

The internship was among several products of monthly meetings between the Davis Center and Student Life. Other joint initiatives include the establishment of modular training to eliminate redundancy in training for campus leaders and a local alternative spring break project on leadership development and community service. Lamb explained that Student Life and the Davis Center noticed a lack of leadership training during the summer at the  College and created the  “Leadership and Community Development Internship” to fill the gap. The Davis Center and Student Life hope to institute the internship as a fellowship if its first few years prove successful.

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