Students intern with Cleveland-area non-profit organizations

Students looking to get involved in their community interned with various non-profits in Cleveland through the David & Frances Brain Center for Community Engagement.

Six Baldwin Wallace students recently worked with Cleveland-area non-profit organizations through Project Affinity, a community engagement internship program created by the David & Frances Brain Center for Community Engagement.  

The Brain Center is a volunteer and community service hub that encourages students to get involved on and off campus. It hosts weekly service programs, non-profit internship opportunities and Saturday service projects.   

As the Brain Center expands and creates more opportunities through student directors and service groups, more programs are offering payment.  

One such program is Project Affinity, which provides service opportunities that contribute to the learning of social justice issues, non-profit work, community living and immersion into the city of Cleveland through service and community events.  

Mehraeel Saleh, a junior public health major, interned at the Malachi Center, which hosts youth programs for vulnerable families on the west side of Cleveland, during the summer of 2022.   

“I enjoyed getting to know [the children] because they taught me a lot,” Saleh said. “There was something new every day.”   

In addition to working with the youth daily, Saleh also learned how to manage the programs’ planning procedures, money reimbursement and the development of educational engagement and building relationships. Because of the internship experience, Saleh said she became more attuned with herself and her values.   

Saleh said she learned that leadership requires a balance between emotions and logistics.   

“Leadership takes both an emotional and a logistic side to it, and the key is to balance both because leadership cannot solely be based on emotions.”   

Aidan Kennedy, a senior majoring in history with an Arabic minor, interned with the Collaborative to End Human Trafficking.   

The C.E.H.T. focuses on advocacy for sex and labor trafficking victims. Kennedy’s day-to-day routine involved researching cases, planning different informational sessions and hosting events/panels for the survivor advisory committee.  

“I gained new skills in communication between professionals,” Kennedy said. “I also gained new insights into human trafficking and how it affects women and, specifically, women of color.”   

As part of the community living aspect of the program, the participants live together in a shared space for two months while simultaneously finishing their internship programs. The interns live in BW campus dorms, which allows students to connect more with the community and other participants in the program.  

Kennedy expressed much gratitude to the living and learning aspect of the internship that the team experienced on Wednesdays as they volunteered weekly at Vel’s Purple Oasis, an urban farming experience.    

“The days off of work were terrific for me. It was nice to get out of the office and get sweaty and my hands dirty,” Kennedy said. “Growing vegetables and watching them bloom into fully edible produce was extraordinarily satisfying and fulfilling.”   

The student director of the 2022 program, senior sociology and psychology double major Morgan Ashley, ran every aspect of the program throughout the summer and said she recommended students get involved with the program.   

“The personal and professional growth I experienced during the semester-and-a-half I worked on this program was incredible,” Ashley said.  

“I left with a better understanding of my leadership style, collaboration skills and career interests within a non-profit sector,” she said.