During the summer, many SIS students embark on new and rich experiences to broaden their perspectives and further their careers. After more than a year of remote work and extensive travel restrictions, some of these experiences now can take place in person as the world continues to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic. We chatted with a few of our students to learn more about their plans this summer.
Giselle Coleman-Martinez, SIS/MA ’22
Giselle Coleman-Martinez, a master’s student in the Comparative and Regional Studies program, will join Projects for Haiti (P4H) as a global programs support intern this summer. After majoring in history and international affairs as an undergraduate, Coleman-Martinez came to SIS with an interest in studying Latin America. She was drawn to the prestige of SIS’s program and competitive scholarship offers from AU.
“I feel like a lot of times in international affairs and policy conversations in general, we seem to lack a sense of empathy and compassion based on history,” says Coleman-Martinez. “Who takes the time in policy making to understand what makes these regions the way they are? I think regional studies adds value to policy making.”
Coleman-Martinez will be engaged in project development and program evaluation, furthering P4H’s mission to develop partnerships that support and empower local Haitian leaders to develop sustainable education systems within their communities. While her internship this summer is largely remote, P4H interns will have the opportunity to travel to Haiti at the end of the summer and see their work implemented on the ground.
“Through this internship, I’ll get to learn how to make and evaluate a program—project evaluation and development is what I’m going to be learning—and that’s a huge professional skill that seems to be really hot right now in international affairs,” says Coleman-Martinez. “This summer, I know we’re going to be working really hard in making sure we have the right programs, so I’m really excited to see them manifest once we get to Haiti.”
Nina Ellard, SIS/BA ’22
Since the beginning of January 2021, Nina Ellard has been interning at the nonprofit South North Nexus, which works with communities on issues facing the Latin America and Caribbean region and other regions in the Global South. This summer, she will be travelling with the organization to Brownsville and El Paso in Texas and Matamoros and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, in preparation to conduct a nutritional assessment on migrant children and pregnant women at the US/Mexico border to evaluate their health needs and the gaps in food access.
“I have always been interested in migration issues within my primary concentration of justice ethics and human rights in SIS, and because my secondary thematic area is global health, this internship seemed like the perfect intersection between these topics. It’ll also be a good opportunity to use my Spanish language skills,” says Ellard.
In order to make this trip, Ellard applied for and received a grant from the SIS Internship Fund. She cites David Fletcher, SIS senior career advisor at the Career Center, as having been very helpful during the application process.
While at the border, Ellard will assist the South North Nexus team in collaborating with local organizations that focus on providing food and basic needs assistance to migrants. She’ll also help conduct a survey on a future trip, which will then be given to the local organizations so they can better assist in improving nutritional circumstances at the border.
“I read about the migration situation in the news, but I’m really interested in being able to go there and see what’s happening firsthand,” says Ellard. “I’m also excited to be working with and supporting the local aid groups at the border because I know they do amazing work there.”
Ellard sees this internship as a stepping stone in her career. After graduating next spring, she plans to attend law school with a focus in international law in order to continue working on migration and refugee issues.
Jonelle Palmer, SIS/MA ’22
Jonelle Palmer is the recipient of this year’s Mehdi Heravi Internship Fund, which is awarded annually by the SIS Office of Career Development to support SIS graduate students who secure summer internships. Palmer, a master’s student in the Natural Resources and Sustainable Development program, will be interning at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), where she will collaborate with humanitarians in the field of environment and disaster management. She will primarily conduct research on the Green Recovery and Reconstruction Toolkit, a resource made specifically for humanitarian response organizations to take a more resilient and sustainable approach to disaster reconstruction, and on climate change adaptation in general.
“I was ecstatic when I learned that I received this award to support me with the opportunity at the World Wildlife Fund. I’ve been trying to step into and better understand disaster response, and I’m really excited to get some hands-on experience with the process,” says Palmer.
Palmer was introduced to WWF’s work in this space while taking a course on water governance with SIS professor Ken Conca. She wrote a paper in which she applied the WWF’s environment and disaster management team’s toolkit to a conflict setting to understand how it could be used to reduce water tensions in the Lake Chad Basin.
Conca connected Palmer with Anita van Breda, who is the senior director of the team, and during a phone call with van Breda, Palmer discussed her résumé, past projects she’d worked on, and the findings of her paper. Later, van Breda sent Palmer a link to the internship opportunity once it became available.
“I came into grad school wanting to explore how forced migration and displacement was happening in conjunction with climate change,” says Palmer. I’m really interested in adaptation to climate change, which is a lot of what the World Wildlife Fund’s work is related to. It’s going to be great to learn a new skill and gain new connections to a big organization.”
Sara Salinas, SIS and WCL/JD/MA ’22
Sara Salinas, a student in the JD/MA program, will join the US Department of Labor as a legal intern in the Employment and Training Services Division. In this role, Salinas will conduct research and writing for the Department’s annual International Child Labor and Forced Labor Reports, which examine worldwide compliance with international labor and trade obligations.
“Through this internship, I’ll be looking at country profiles and comparing their labor standards with international labor standards and creating a report,” says Salinas. “I’m really interested in that and in seeing what I wrote be put into practice.”
A student in the International Peace and Conflict Resolution program, Salinas came to SIS and WCL interested in policy implementation: “I thought, ‘How can I create change to policy and laws?’ And that’s where SIS came into play. If you want to make laws, create better policy, and have them implemented, that’s where the MA degree comes in—the policy aspect and the social, economic, and global effects of these laws.”
Through a career and résumé workshop hosted by the Latina/o Alumni Association of WCL in the spring, Salinas met a contact who put her in touch with a friend who worked at the Department of Labor. They spoke with Salinas about their experience working at the department. Salinas is looking forward to building skills through this internship that she can use throughout her career, including honing her research skills and mastering the art of networking in DC.
“I went into the joint master’s and JD program interested in human rights but not really knowing how to put that into practice,” says Salinas. “So, meeting all those people currently in that field who do that labor enforcement and actually work on these labor laws and labor policy is the most interesting to me.”
Tyler William Dewey, SIS/MA ’21
International Peace and Conflict Resolution student Tyler William Dewey aims to become an international mediator, and he believes his summer internship at the Institute of World Affairs (IWA) will help him build more skills to achieve this goal. He will work under the direction of Joyce Kaufman, director of the IWA Women, Peace, and Security Program, to help implement online simulations developed by IWA and the Alliance of Concerned Men (ACM).
These simulations allow participants to play out different real-world conflict scenarios in a safe and supportive environment. In the program on which Dewey will work, simulation participants will be high schoolers from violence-prone communities in DC. The ACM is leading the program, and the IWA and the University of Maryland team that developed the negotiation software will help with its implementation.
“It’s important to me that we’re not just going into a community and saying, ‘Here’s what you need,’” says Dewey. “The process involves listening to what folks in the community say they need and want to work toward and supporting them with that.”
In order to apply for the internship, Dewey spent time carefully revamping his résumé under the guidance of Shaine Cunningham, director of career education and employer relations at SIS’s Office of Career Development: “She helped me understand how to build a really great résumé, and it turns out that my experience was a great fit for the program.”
Dewey will help hire and train facilitators using a framework that Kaufman developed with the ACM. He will also assist in writing the simulation exercises and interfacing with the UMD negotiation software team. He looks forward to having Kaufman as a mentor this summer.
“Dr. Kaufman has done a lot of work with peer mediation, is a prolific writer, and has taught at the School of International Service,” says Dewey. “She inspires me and has an ethical framework of how to do research and move forward cooperatively with others.”
Cindy Zheng, SIS/BA ’22
Undergraduate student Cindy Zheng will join the Center for East Asia Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution as a research and events intern this summer. She will expand her knowledge of Asian affairs, work with top scholars in the field, and conduct research on various topics related to East and Southeast Asia.
She believes her professors at SIS were instrumental in her landing this internship, including one who read over her application materials and connected her with scholars in this field, both at Brookings and other think tanks: “The professors that I’ve met at SIS have been really influential on the career path I want to go on.”
Zheng, who has previously interned at the Wilson Center and in the office of Congressman Ami Bera (D-CA), chair of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, Central Asia, and Nonproliferation, is looking forward to gaining analytical skills and in-depth regional knowledge that she can use after graduating next spring.
“I’m still deciding what I want to do in the future, whether I want to go the government route or the non-government route, but I know I want to focus on Asia policy,” says Zheng. “I think this internship at the Center for East Asia Policy Studies is going to give me a really strong foundational knowledge of Asia, which is really important in creating policy.”