For my Social Science Scholars project 2021, I accepted an internship with a local non-government organization (NGO) named Epilepsy Agency of the Big Bend (EABB). The agency’s prime focus is to provide education to and advocate for individuals affected by epilepsy. EABB also offers case management (including diagnostic) and prescription payment assistance to poverty-stricken individuals and families. Their target group is mainly individuals and families who are not able to afford care otherwise. The agency serves 14 counties, with the main office being in Tallahassee, Florida. I wanted to complete a project which serves the community while learning about the NGO world.
The first two to three weeks of the internship started with learning the agency’s history and reviewing the 250-plus page manual. It was tedious but necessary work done as knowing the history of the agency was essential to the Director. I eventually started learning the system the agency utilizes to capture everyday work done within the community. Understanding the system was probably the most exciting part of the internship as I used my data analysis experience to interpret data and report back to the Director. Most, if not all, NGOs rely predominantly on the financial support of donors and private grants. So, one of my duties involved researching year-round private grant opportunities. Finding those grants was more complicated than I thought it would be as the agency did not qualify for almost all based on size, cause, or some other reason. But I was able to find a few. Another duty of mine involved writing reports necessary to the day-to-day operation of the business. The reports are due at the end of the fiscal year, so I arrived at just the right time to complete them. One report goes to the Florida Department of Health and the other to the City of Tallahassee. Both entities provide funding and support to the agency. There are a few catastrophes that might occur if the budget is lowered or cut off completely: 1) the electricity will probably eventually be disconnected; 2) the people who depend on the agency to be their liaison with doctors would not be served, and 3) the families that rely on weekly educational programs would also go unserved. I felt as if I was doing an excellent service to the community while working with the organization. It satisfied my inner desire to contribute something bigger than myself to the community.
Another fun work experience I had over the summer was moderating a session for the 22nd Annual United Partner for Human Services Conference in Nonprofit Management and Leadership. I utilized my facilitating experience garnered through the Social Science Scholars program. Over 30+ presenters and many more NGOs tuned in from in and around both Leon County and the Big Bend area. EABB was also in attendance, so I got to impress the boss (or so I think).
Although I could not do all that I endeavored to do, I did learn a lot about the struggles most NGOs face to operate daily. I am grateful for the opportunity to intern with EABB as it taught me a lot about myself, and the skills gained will be utilized throughout my career.
Kristine is a first-generation student from Kingston, Jamaica, and a junior majoring in political science with a minor in international affairs. She is a transfer student from Tallahassee Community College, where she received the 2020 Women’s History Month Valiant Women of the Year Award. In her free time Kristine enjoys reading, swimming and being an active member of Phi Theta Kappa. Last year she interned with the City of Tallahassee’s public transit department. Her passion for public service stems from her time with the State of Florida’s Department of Children and Families. As a Social Science Scholar, Kristine hopes to engage in local politics, sharpen her leadership skills and gain real-life experience for a career in public policy and administration. Following graduation, she intends to pursue a master’s degree in public administration and to make a difference in the lives of people within her community.