Occidental College Students Awarded Community Development Internships
This summer, three Occidental College students are helping to improve Los Angeles neighborhoods through the College's community development internship program.
• Sarah Barton '11, an urban and environmental policy and economics major from Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., is working with the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, a nonprofit organization that works to lift people out of poverty.
• Michael Clegg '12, a politics and economics major from Trenton, N.J., is interning at LA Voice, an organization that works with local religious communities to build healthy neighborhoods, help the homeless and otherwise improve citizens' lives.
• Xiomara Pedraza ‘11, a critical theory and social justice major from New York City's East Harlem, is interning at the East Los Angeles Community Corporation in Boyle Heights.
One project Pedraza is working on is a June 30 community fair to kick off "Plan del Pueblo," a land-use and mapping tool to assist in a Boyle Heights revitalization plan. Pedraza says she's learning valuable career skills such as organization and time management.
"I've been given a lot of responsibility, so I feel like a staff member, not just an intern," Pedraza said. "Compared to my other internships, I'm learning a lot more."
These students were selected out of 40 who had applied for the full-time, 10-week program, said Peter Dreier, E.P. Clapp Distinguished Professor of Politics.
"Xiomara, Sarah, and Michael truly reflect Oxy's mission of linking the campus and the community, as well as reflecting Oxy's diversity. They not only talk the talk about social justice; they walk the walk," he said. "This internship will help give them the skills to be more effective citizens and leaders, to learn about the world of non-profit community organizations, and to test themselves as thoughtful activists and scholars."
The students' work involves researching public policy, and implementing projects in urban planning, real estate development, job creation, social services, and other areas. The internships also have an academic component: The students must complete reading and writing assignments related to their work, and meet weekly with Dreier to discuss their internship experiences.
The interns receive a stipend and room and board for the duration of the program, which is now in its seventh year. It is funded by a grant from the Union Bank Foundation as well as supported by the Politics Department's Anderson Fund and the Occidental president's office.