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First summer for Fellows
“Well, I got to work a murder case. I got to canvass a crime scene, which meant taking pictures and interviewing possible witnesses,” Natalie Punchak (COL ’11), who interned for the Public Defender of the District of Columbia this summer, said. Punchak’s work often took her to Southeast DC. “The funny thing is, people kept asking us if we were lost.”
One of five students who received a Georgetown University Student Association summer fellowship, GUSA President Pat Dowd’s (SFS `09) free housing program for students with unpaid internships, Punchak said she could not have taken her internship had she not gotten housing assistance from GUSA.
Neither could Timothy Walton (SFS ‘10), who interned for Hans Kristensen of the Nuclear Information Project, where he hoped to intern since before he came to Georgetown. In a testimonial written for GUSA executives, he describes his experience as “this summer’s scintillating internship.” Jennifer Zhu (SFS ‘11), Shelly Zhao (SFS ‘09), and Kelvin Moses (COL ‘10) were also members of the GUSA Summer Fellows. All five were housed in Village B.
Expanding the program will be one of the main focuses of Dowd, Vice President James Kelly (COL `09) and chief of staff Walid Khalifeh (SFS `09) this year, according to Dowd.
Last spring GUSA requested $40,000 from the Student Activities Commission to fund the first year of Fellows, which Dowd said would have supported twenty students for the summer. Ultimately the program only received a little over $10,000, enough for five students.
“It takes about $2,000 to put up a student at Georgetown for the summer. Housing didn’t give us any sort of deal on that, which was kind of surprising to us,” Dowd said.
GUSA plans to solicit small donations from alumni donors to avoid relying on SAC in the Fellow’s future.
“A little goes a long way,” Dowd said. “It’s like they say—Give five dollars a day and save a child in Africa, give a hundred dollars and support a Summer Fellow.”
Neither seniority nor GPA was taken into account in the selection process. Hopefuls for the GUSA Summer Fellows program had to be eligible for need-based financial aid, have an unpaid, 36 hour-per-week minimum internship in the D.C. metro area, and have permanent residence outside the D.C. metro area.
Plans to expand the program, Dowd said, include not only increasing the numbers of slots for students but adding resources for the Fellows.
“We don’t want to put too many bells and whistles on this thing. But we want things like special interview training,” Dowd said. “This is one the main things we’re going to be pushing next year.”