Grady interns look to affect change in UGA Office of Sustainability

The goal of internships for many students is to gain experience in a career field. But to gain career exposure while making a tangible difference in the community is the result many interns experience working at the University of Georgia Office of Sustainability. This is true for two Grady College students, Ally Hellenga and Catherine Braun, who intern in that office.

Hellenga and Braun were two of the presenters at the Semester in Review Dec. 10, 2015, where students talk about the results of their projects. Hellenga moderated the discussion, which included project reviews from Watershed UGA, composting at UGArden, Campus Kitchen, UGA ReCYCLE and a video screening of two of the videos that Braun created for the office last semester. These presentations were representative of just a few of the 25 or so interns who helped in the Office of Sustainability last semester. The interns spend about 10 to 15 hours a week working.

As the video intern, Braun, a journalism student with a visual journalism concentration, produced videos summarizing some of the projects from the semester. One of the two videos she showcased at the Semester in Review highlighted the #StopForACookie campaign (see below), which rewarded pedestrians with a cookie if they were caught looking both ways before crossing the street.

Other videos that Braun has worked on can be viewed on the UGA Office of Sustainability’s YouTube channel.

“I didn't know a lot about sustainability at UGA until I started this internship,” Braun said. “It was really rewarding for me to make all these videos because I learned a lot of people's stories. I think everyone has a story to tell. That's just a thing that's been ingrained in me since I've been at Grady, and it's become my goal to tell people's stories because I think you can make a difference by showing the rest of the world what's going on in the community.”

Hellenga, who is a public relations major and is a communications intern with the Office of Sustainability, agrees that the internship program has had a big impact on her life.

“This internship has really opened my eyes,” Hellenga, who has just completed her third semester with the Office of Sustainability, said. “Little by little you can make a difference. A lot of people, I feel like, are in the mindset of ‘I am just one person. If I recycle or if I compost or if I take reusable bags to the grocery store, it's just me.’ But, I feel like everyone has the opportunity to make a difference and to make a more sustainable world.”

Hellenga would like to work for an environmental non-profit when she graduates in May 2016.

Braun graduates in fall of 2016, and said this internship has helped define her career goals, too.

“The internship has helped me realize my passion for visual storytelling and it has also helped me realize that I really like video, too,” Braun said. “It is rewarding to see my projects completed. The internship has helped me realize the direction I wanted to take.”

Date: December 14, 2015
Author:  Sarah Freeman, freemans@uga.edu