New College brings new ideas

Editor’s note: The following is an introduction to a five-part series the Daily Mountain Eagle will publish this week on interns from New College at the University of Alabama spending the summer working on projects in Walker County. By JAMES PHILLIPS Daily Mountain Eagle For the past couple of months, students from New College at the University of Alabama have been taking part in the Walker County Internship Program. The program allows students to partner with Walker County-based nonprofit organizations, working on a variety of issues with a focus on community problem-solving. “The Walker County Internship Program is a life-changing experience for our students, and we are immensely grateful for the partnership we have with the Walker Area Community Foundation,” New College Director Natalie Adams said. “Living and working in Walker County gives our interns opportunities to see the value of sustained community engagement. The internship provides a hands-on education in the duties and benefits of citizenship. And through the example set by the Community Foundation and other nonprofits in Walker County, our students do more than learn — they experience — the impact a commitment to civic life has in a community.” The program is a partnership between the WACF, New College and the David Matthews Center for Civic Life. The program started in 2011, with 2016 marking five years for the partnership.

“This unique partnership provides undergraduate students with the opportunity to learn what it takes to make a community — and a democracy — work as it should,” said Cristin Foster Brawner, executive director of the David Matthews Center. Five students from New College are taking part in the Walker County internship for 2016. Those students include Madison Drury of St. Louis, working on the “We Can Do That” campaign and at the Bankhead House and Heritage Center; Ally Siegler of St. Louis, working on the Health Action Partnership; Cokie Thompson of Memphis, working with Jasper Main Street; Sarah Johns of Huntsville, working with the 21st Century Day Camp and the Walker County Children’s Advocacy Center; and Matthew Zeliff of Atlanta, working on renovations at Walker County Lake. Emily Pickert was an intern in 2015 who has returned to Walker County in 2016 to fill the role of student coordinator. “Most of the interns are from big cities, so they bring a unique perspective to our county,” said Cristy Moody of the Walker Area Community Foundation. “Having that unique perspective allows them to give us some great ideas that can impact the future of our community. The internship is definitely beneficial to the students and to our county.” While working on their different projects, the students live full-time in Walker County. The group has been hosted at dinners and community events by residents from throughout the area. “New College is very thankful for the hospitality that Walker County residents extend to our students — everything from feeding them, to taking them ‘out on the town’ to inviting them for worship to offering invaluable career guidance. For our interns, this is real-world education at its finest,” Adams said. The internship program is unique to Walker County. Moody said Jasper and the surrounding areas are perfectly suited for the project. “It all just works here,” she said. “It has been a great partnership.” Interns will finish up their work in the area this week. Final presentations for each project will be held today at 1 p.m. inside the auditorium at First Bank of Jasper.