Second cohort of Rural Internship Initiative doubles number of scholars working in rural counties

Second cohort of Rural Internship Initiative doubles number of scholars working in rural counties

July 27, 2023

By Golden LEAF External Affairs Intern, Karizma Greene

This summer, 49 Golden LEAF Scholars are participating in the second cohort of the Rural Internship Initiative. In its first year, Golden LEAF had 20 interns working in rural North Carolina counties.

Summer 2023 interns are spread throughout 27 different rural counties working within fields such as health care, human services, government, engineering, and education.

The Rural Internship Initiative offers Golden LEAF Scholars the opportunity to gain valuable work experience related to their career field along with additional leadership training provided by the NC Rural Center. Golden LEAF provides funding to pay interns $15 per hour for their work for up to 320 hours over the summer. The internship takes place over a period of at least eight weeks, between May and August.

By engaging with internships through the initiative, scholars are able to develop and practice skills that align with their major and/or career goals in a professional environment.

Read about some of Golden LEAF scholar intern experiences below:

Alexis Jones

Alexis Jones is currently a senior at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. She is studying biology with an interest in being a physician assistant. Jones is from Robeson county where she is working as an intern for Children’s Health of Pembroke.

“Even though I have lived in this community all my life, this internship has opened my eyes to the various health issues that my native people are faced with,” said Jones. “Not only that, but the financial needs as well. Although I was aware that my community was economically disadvantaged, I did not realize how widespread the problem is.”

Jones says that she has grown a sense of community within her workspace.

“The providers here have become part of my medical family,” said Jones. “They are always teaching and mentoring me; getting me prepared for my future career. My coworkers are so welcoming, and I felt as if I was a part of the team from day one.” 

Upon graduating, Jones hopes to make her way back to Robeson County and serve those within her hometown.

“From soothing crying babies, comforting concerned parents, and talking through medical issues one-on-one, I have learned the importance of making personal connections with each and every patient I come in contact with,” said Jones. “I hope to become a Physician Assistant and return back to my native community which has given so much to me throughout my life. Even though I am not sure yet about my field of practice, pediatrics is at the top of my list as a result of this internship.”

Ty’Jae Artis

Rural Internship Initiative intern Ty’Jae Artis attends the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, majoring in political science and history with a minor in data science. Artis has a career interest in government. Therefore, he decided to intern for the City of Goldsboro located in Wayne County, his home county. 

“I am an intern based in the Human Resources department,” said Artis. “I help draft policies, conduct interviews, research information, and inspect facilities for the City of Goldsboro. I feel that I have learned much more about local government and how it operates interning for the city than a book or college ever can teach me. Interning here, you get to see how all the department heads interact with each other and the dilemmas that come about in Human Resources.”

Artis expressed that through networking he has learned more about his community. 

“My supervisor has made an effort to expose me to as many departments as possible and through these experiences I have met so many people working for the city,” said Artis. “One of my favorite parts of this internship is tagging along with the Human Resource director to the department head meetings. It is hard to be excited about Goldsboro when you do not know what is going on, but seeing all the plans for the city makes me excited in a nerdy way.”

Artis also expresses his thanks and goals and giving back to his community.

“While I’m still in college, I will come back to help out,” said Artis. “Being a part of an organization that makes a difference in people’s lives is gratifying.”

Sherra Dickerson

Golden LEAF Scholar and intern Sherra Dickerson is a sophomore attending Western Carolina University. Dickerson is majoring in social work which is also her career interest. As a Swain County native, she is interning with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Family Safety Program. 

“My internship has an integrated model where my responsibilities pivot depending on the day and the team I am collaborating with,” said Dickerson. “At the heart of my work is ensuring the safety of children and supporting adults in our community. Some days I partner with Child Protective Services, conducting investigations, initiating home visits, and finding suitable placements for children in need. Furthermore, I obtain valuable insights on therapy from our colleagues at Analenisgi – Cherokee Indian Hospital Authority. Overall, this internship exposes me to a diverse range of experiences, empowering me to make significant contributions to family safety and community well-being.”

Dickerson also acknowledges the benefits of hands-on experience.

“Ultimately, the internship’s hands-on nature brings a sense of realism and depth that goes beyond what can be learned in a classroom,” said Dickerson. “It exposes me to the raw realities of social work, including the emotional demands, the intricacies of building rapport, and the complexities of navigating systems.”

Dickerson, too, expresses her dedication to her hometown.

“The experience has not only changed my view of my hometown, but also fueled my commitment to serve,” said Dickerson. “This transformation in my perception is one of the most valuable takeaways from my internship, and I am certain it will influence my approach and dedication as I move forward in my career in social work. I am committed to making a difference in my community’s lives and using my knowledge to support the journey towards a better future.”

Follow these links to learn more about the Golden LEAF Scholarship Program and the Rural Internship Initiative.

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