This summer, 300 Richmond students received funding from University of Richmond Summer Fellowships to pursue an internship or conduct research.
Students received an average of $3,677 each, totaling over $1 million. Fifty-five percent of the recipients were rising seniors, 35 percent were rising juniors and 10 percent were rising sophomores, according to Katybeth Lee, manager of the internship programs at the Office of Alumni and Career Services.
This was the first time that the Center for Civic Engagement Civic Fellowships, Arts and Sciences Summer Research Fellowships, Chaplaincy Summer Internships, Robert L. Burrus Jr. Fellowships for Internships, Spider Internship Funds, Jepson Summer Research Grants and Spider Research all combined under the program University of Richmond Summer Fellowships.
Lee said the programs had been combined with three goals in mind. The first was to create more opportunities for students. The development office raised $9 million through fundraising in the last year for this program, and having one program allowed all parts to have access to that money for stipends. The second goal was to make it easier for students to find these programs by streamlining the application process and deadlines. The third was to let each program maintain its autonomy.
The amount of money a student received was based on the length of his or her summer experience, Lee said.
The minimum amount was $2,400 for a six-week, full-time unpaid internship or research opportunity. The maximum was $4,000 for a 10-week, full-time unpaid internship or research.
"If you need to make money for your books or you want to go live in a city where your family doesn't live and you need to pay for housing, then it's really difficult for many students to figure out a way to participate in those unpaid internships," Lee said.
Sophomore Luka Klimaviciute interned this summer with the European Parliament Information Office (EPIO) in Vilnius, Lithuania. She reviewed documents for publication, translated documents and organized events. Klimaviciute said the funds she had received were helpful because her internship was abroad.
Students working under the program were also required to attend two information sessions at the end of spring semester, where they learned tips on how to be a better intern, which Klimaviciute said she had found very helpful as a first-time intern.
"I did look into my whole experience a bit more seriously knowing the university pays me," she said.
Andrew Talbot, a junior, traveled to Jordan to do research on how Jordanian schools teach the theory of evolution. He analyzed Jordanian textbooks and read papers on the same subject in other Muslim countries.
Talbot said that in most textbooks there would only be a few passages from the Quran until 10th grade, when evolution is taught. He said that chapter contained multiple passages from the Quran.
"It just goes to show it's a controversial subject that they don't feel comfortable talking about without religion," he said.
Talbot said he had gotten the idea for his research after spending the previous summer in Jordan with the University of Richmond Summer Study Abroad program and helping another student with a paper about Christianity and the theory of evolution in the United States.
"For me, it fills in a gap that was there," Talbot said. "Nobody had really done research in Jordan."
He found out about the fellowships through his Bonner Scholars coordinator and said his research would not have been possible without the funds.
Rachel Brown, a senior, spent her summer in New York City interning at the Broadway Dance Center. She worked with its educational programming for international students and professional dancers.
Brown also helped organize a summer dance convention, called "The Pulse," which featured education and the hosting of many touring dance choreographers. During that event, Brown worked in the sound booth and participated in other aspects of production. Additionally, she danced for partner companies of the Broadway Dance Center.
Brown said she would not have been able to take the internship without the stipend, because the high number of hours she worked did not allow her to have a part-time job. She said her stipend had also helped to pay for the expenses of living in New York City.
Lee said the goal for next summer was to have even more students take advantage of the program.
"We know we won't have less than what we had this year," Lee said, "and we hope we'll have even more."
Contact staff writer Katie Evans at firstname.lastname@example.org