Local student gains experience from Diversity Internship Program

August 9th, 2016 | SMWC

“My initial approach to this internship was that this was going to look exceptional on my resume. I expected to be given trivial tasks, a stereotype of internships that I must have picked up,” said West Vigo High School rising senior, Bekah Miller, of New Goshen, Ind. “But that wasn’t at all what I gained from this internship. What I gained most was experience. This internship has provided me with many skills that I would not have gained just sitting at home all summer.”

Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College hosted Miller through the Vigo County School Corporation Diversity Internship Program, a program designed to encourage minority students in Terre Haute to explore opportunities in the Wabash Valley. Employers participating in the program benefit from the incredibly talented students chosen for this internship. The Office of College Relations at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College designed a project for Miller specific to diversity on campus.

While the College places emphasis on being inclusive to all people, SMWC plans to enhance its outreach to minority students. In this project, Miller researched diversity awareness, wrote a proposal for a social media diversity campaign and developed a communication plan to carry out that campaign. Throughout this project she not only learned about the importance of diversity on a college campus but also about all of the pieces that fit together to recruit students.

“My biggest challenge would have to be deciding how to approach this project from the start because I had never really done anything like this,” said Miller. “From developing content ideas to simply deciding the format of documents, I wasn’t sure which route to go. Luckily, the staff in College Relations were very helpful in guiding me through the project.”

Miller conducted initial online research before interviewing key people representing the administration, admission and students. Using the data she collected, Miller prepared a multi-media diversity campaign strategy including recommendations for Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College.

“I was very impressed with how Bekah conducted herself throughout this process. She was very professional and delivered college-level work upon completion of the internship,” said Executive Director of College Relations Dee Reed. “The recommendations she provided will be something we can work toward implementing to help expand diversity on campus.”

Among the nearly 75 recommendations that Miller included in her final proposal and report to the team are

  • SMWC Diversity Day for current students
  • Faculty/Staff Diversity Training
  • Diversity Awards to students who lead diversity efforts on campus
  • Specific media campaigns on various platforms including social media, video, print, web, etc.

“This internship has really opened my mind about what I want to do with my future,” said Miller. “I’ve always tried to plan out exactly what I want to do with my life and my future career, but throughout being here this summer surrounded by multiple people with different careers, I have realized that I have a lot to learn and figure out during college.”

Miller’s experience in leadership roles and community building gave her the foundation to be successful in this internship. At West Vigo High School, she is a member of National Honors Society, the elected student council secretary 3 years in a row, a state officer for FCCLA (Family, Career and Community Leaders of America), a participant in her school's DECA chapter, Quiz Bowl and Spell Bowl. Additionally, Miller is a member of band, drama and theatre, the Link Crew and yearbook committee. She is on an intramural basketball team, actively participates in community service projects with the Go Make A Difference Committee and was chosen as West Vigo High School's HOBY (Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership) Ambassador and was selected to return as a Junior Staffer the following summer.

“I am very proud to be in the top of my class, while taking challenging courses, and being involved in so many things throughout my school and community just so I can get into college and build a career,” said Miller. “My most demanding leadership position right now would have to be representing Indiana FCCLA as the Vice-President of Community Service. I have been involved in FCCLA since my freshman year and was elected an office my junior and senior year. Attending conferences and meetings around the state and country while keeping on top of school work is very taxing, but I really have a passion for being involved in the organization.”

Miller is a member of a diversity group for African American's within the Vigo County School Corporation called The Voice. Miller has completed over 100 community service hours with various organizations and is a member of a Grant Committee for the Wabash Valley Community Foundation.