Full Circle

Hi everyone, 

My name is Katelan Newman and I’m a rising senior at Middlebury College, majoring in Sociology. This summer, I spent two months interning at South Bronx United as a development intern. It was an incredible experience that I would like to share with you all. While I did a bunch of development work throughout the summer like writing postcards, securing donations for our Annual Benefit and brainstorming potential donor opportunities, I’d like to focus on the two most exciting parts of my internship. 

When I first joined the SBU team, I noticed that things went missing around the office pretty frequently. Though we had what seemed like an endless supply of great tools and resources available for the kids and office staff to use, we had very little deliberate organization. There were lots of boxes still packed up from the recent move, and there wasn’t much time for staff members to do their designated jobs and organize. I quickly gave myself the task of organizing various parts of the office. I started small, only organizing office supplies but eventually began thinking bigger. After my supervisor Caitie gave me the ok, I was in organization heaven. One area that would remain a primary focus for me was the “Locker Room” on the 5th floor. The locker room is home to a plethora of goods for both students and staff and is undoubtedly the most frequented area of the office. And as such, it gets pretty messy fairly quickly. I immediately scheduled a time to meet with our director of operations, Mario, who listened to my recommendation to invest in heavy-duty clear boxes. These boxes, while a simple solution, would save staff a lump sum of time searching through cardboard boxes for one or two items. As a non-profit with limited space, supplies, and funding, organization is key to ensuring that all resources are noted and easy to access. While it might seem boring to most people, organizing the office was one of the most satisfying things I did this summer.

During the second month of my internship, I chose to be a mentor for our Summer Scholars Program. I was gifted with the opportunity of mentoring the 7th and 8th graders in our program. Mentorship meant that I stayed with the students throughout their class periods and supported them in any way they needed to remain calm and focused in their classes. And that intrinsically meant that we’d have an opportunity to build connections with one another. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that we had some rough days, but they were certainly outnumbered by the boundless moments of joy that were shared between myself and my mentees. Over the weeks, I’d learned each of their personalities and the dynamics that existed in the classroom. I appreciated the complexity of my students. While it didn’t make classroom management any easier, it was the driving force that pushed me to actively engage with them daily. We laughed, shed one or two tears, and probably did far too many plank challenges in-between classes. My kids were witty, devious—in that typical, pre-teen way—and absolutely brilliant. They’ve got big dreams and I can only hope that when they’re doubting their ability to achieve them, they’ll remember my voice in the back of their heads encouraging them to keep pushing those boundaries. 

To everyone that I crossed paths with during my internship, thank you for sharing your space with me. Thank you for taking the time to get to know me. Thank you for listening to what I had to say, and taking value in my voice. Not too long ago, I was just a little girl running around  Mullally park. I’m not quite sure what I was dreaming of for myself in those days, but I can guarantee this wouldn’t have even crossed my mind. Life’s come full circle and I’m still trying to process it all, but just know that I’m really happy that you exist, SBU. 

P.S.- Special shoutout to Caitie and Matt for being the absolute best people to share this experience with.

Till next time, Katelan

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