Alyson Fraser,’14, is passionate about equipping youth with leadership skills.

When she learned that a respected national nonprofit organization was hiring youth leadership and development interns for the summer, she could hardly wait to apply. She knew it would be the perfect fit.

“I am a leadership studies major and I went through a lot of leadership training in high school,” says Fraser. “So I feel really passionate about extending those skills to others.”

The more she learned about the organization, the more she wanted to apply. “Children’s Defense Fund has an outstanding national reputation and a well-respected woman leader,” says Fraser, who is also majoring in women, gender and sexuality studies. She knew she could benefit from observing both the organization and its leadership. She also thought she would have a lot to offer.

A Robert L. Burrus Jr. Fellowship, a UR Summer Fellowship, helped her take care of living expenses in Washington, D.C., the location of the organization’s headquarters.

She was pleasantly surprised to find that she was already familiar with the concepts and ideas presented during the training thanks to her background.

“Much of the training was centered on servant leadership, which we learn about in the Jepson School,” says Fraser. “This perspective is important for community work because it is more about being a leader by serving your community than promoting yourself.”

The trainers also talked about social movements—another concept Fraser says she learned about in the Jepson School.

The purpose of the training was “to equip people from cities all across the nation to go back and better their communities,” she says. The rising senior helped to plan national leadership training conferences and outreach initiatives for the organization.

“In Jepson, we learn about organizational culture, power relationships, strong and poor leadership skills, and diversity in the workplace,” says Fraser, adding that her classes helped her think more analytically about the organization.

A communications student assistant with the Office of Alumni and Career Services, she blogged about her experiences for The Spider Way

The most interesting part was going to Capitol Hill and getting to attend a Congressional hearing that included testimony from leaders such as a former president of the NAACP about issues that plague the African American community, says Fraser.  

“It was really great to hear what everyone had to say about these critical issues as well as some practical ways to address the issues,” she adds. “I’m thankful my internship gave me the opportunity to attend.”