URI students put ‘action’ into their learning

KINGSTON, R.I. — January 15, 1999 — It started with a small three-year ACTION grant back in 1975. The grant’s primary purpose was to provide student volunteers to organizations, agencies, and groups working toward the elimination of the causes of poverty. Nearly 25 years later, approximately 1,800 URI students have successfully completed the 15-credit University Year for Action (UYA) internship program and in some cases, now serve as supervisors for current students. Ninety percent of the organizations currently listed with the UYA Internship Program are from the non-profit/public sector in Rhode Island. (See sample listing.) The UYA Program is designed to provide undergraduate students with opportunities for personal and professional growth, and career development. As an academic program, the weekly seminar and meetings with the faculty advisors are critical to the students’ learning and connecting classroom learning with the students’ field experience. Students by the end of their internship often describe their experience as eye-opening or as one student wrote, “I feel as if I have been awakened. I met people who were passionate about their work and this has given me ideas as to what I would like to do with my life.” Faculty who serve as UYA advisors describe their experiences as one that is satisfying and valuable to the communities as well as the University as a whole. Recognition that student internships are of value is reflected in the growth of internship opportunities within Rhode Island. More than 600 active placements are available in the non-profit/public sector as well as with emerging companies or with well established corporations. In addition students have opportunities to intern through URI affiliated programs in Washington D.C., Dublin, Ireland, and in the Dominican Republic. A professional staff with more than 20 years in the experiential education field is available to work with students and faculty. Lynn Gaulin, assistant director, is the national chair for the Internship Special Interest Group through the National Society of Experiential Education and serves on the Liaison Advisory Board of the Washington Center, Washington D.C. Kerrie Stanley, intern advisor, has been with the UYA program for five years and also is a member of the National Society of Experiential Education. The grant in 1975 that got the program in gear was written by Leo DiMaio, director of URI’s flourishing Special Programs for Talent Development Program. UYA is another of DiMaio’s successful legacies. For more information or an appointment, call the UYA Office 401-874-2160. Sample Listings for UYA Spring 1999 Internships: Christian Picard, zoology major Bristol, R.I. Placement: US Fish & Wildlife, Wakefield Mouangkham Amkhamavong, human development and family studies major N. Stonington, Conn. Placement: Southern Regional Early Intervention, North Kingstown Michelle Freestone, marine biology major New Hyde, N.Y. Placement: Mystic Marinelife Aquarium, Mystic, Conn. Kate Lukas, English major Plymouth, Mass. Placement: Lucy’s Hearth, Middletown Gabriel Toro, psychology Pawtucket, R.I. Placement: RI Attorney General’s Office, Judicial Complex, Wakefield