With the center of the nation's political life just up the road, it's common to find Richmond summer interns working in the District of Columbia. This summer, three Jepson seniors--two of whom have plans for law school--found themselves working in advocacy organizations that support women's rights worldwide. All three also found themselves learning lessons from women leaders and firming up their own ideas of life after graduation. Katy Groover is with a law firm working on economic rights. Emily Miller is working at the Feminist Majority Foundation and Gabbie Capriles is working at Karamah: Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights.

Photo by Katherine S. McCall is of the portrait monument featuring busts of Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony, pioneers of the woman suffrage movement. A fourth slab of marble is reserved for the bust of the first woman U.S. President. The monument, sculpted by Adelaide Johnson in 1920, is located in the Capitol Rotunda.

Katy Groover's story

After leading the University of Richmond's undergraduate mock trial team to its best-ever (eighth place) finish at the National Championships and receiving the All-American Attorney Award, Katy Groover is spending her summer preparing for law school by interning at Hughes, Hubbard & Reed, a D.C. based law firm.

Groover, who is from Mechanicsville, Va., is double majoring in leadership studies and political science with a minor in women, gender and sexuality studies. She is working under a grant from Women in International Trade Educational Fund, a non-profit that promotes women who work in economics and trade. Although the organization doesn't have a national office, Groover works for the D.C. chapter, under the supervision of University of Richmond alumna Amanda DeBusk ('78), a partner at international trade law Hughes, Hubbard & Reed and trustee emeritus on Richmond's Board of Trustees. Groover plans to study law after graduating from Richmond in 2010 and therefore being able to connect with DeBusk has been helpful to her.

Groover is working on several projects, including developing an educational program on trade, economics and globalization for primary and secondary school students. The chapter members reported difficulty working with public schools so Groover suggested they try other outlets. She recently contacted the Girl Scouts and is working to create a merit badge for completing the module. She's also compiling a database of news and information about international trade and preparing a scholarship application for women interested in studying international trade.

Emily Miller's story

The Feminist Majority Foundation is a non-profit organization that focuses on women's equality, reproductive health and non-violence. The organization uses primarily research and action to empower women economically, socially and politically, according to its Web site.

Emily Miller, who is from Indiana, Pa., is triple majoring in English, leadership studies and women, gender and sexuality studies and is an active member of WILL. She plans to stay active in women's advocacy after graduation.

The Feminist Majority Foundation is an organization that relies heavily on interns, and Miller said she had to hit the ground running. "There are lots of jobs for us," she said. "When we got here it was like, ‘Here's what the last intern was doing, pick up the ball and go.'"

Miller's projects include an ongoing effort to protect the future of Title IX and research on international maternal mortality. As part of her research about Title IX, which bans discrimination based on sex, Miller and her supervisor are compiling information about the status of single-sex education in public schools throughout the nation.  

For her second project concerning maternal mortality, Miller is researching ways to decrease the number of preventable deaths during childbirth and pregnancy. Internationally, statistical differences are staggeringly different from nation to nation: One in six Afghan women die from complications during childbirth or pregnancy, compared with one in 2,500 in the United States and one in 29,000 in Sweden. Miller and the other interns at FMF also take frequent field trips around D.C. to listen to presentations, hear discussions on Capitol Hill or participate in rallies.

"It's been so much more incredible that I could've imagined," she said. "I absolutely love the work I'm doing. ... Everyone is so knowledgeable about their individual fields, like our president. Eleanor Smeal is in her 70s, she founded this organization, and she was president of NOW for a while [1977-82, 1985-87]. She's a wealth of all things feminism. As much as I've learned in women's studies classes as UR, she knows everything about the real movement."

Gabbie Capriles' story

Gabriela Capriles, who is double majoring in leadership studies and pre-law, chose her internship with Karamah because of its connection to both fields of study.

Karamah is committed to helping Muslim women achieve greater equality within their community by teaching them about Islamic law, encouraging the development of American-Muslim communities and serving as a legal resource for Islamic law.

Capriles is helping to prepare for and host a three-week Law and Leadership Summer Program for 25 Muslim women from the United States and abroad, all of whom were selected because of their leadership and service to their communities. The July conference covers four main topics -- Islamic jurisprudence, comparative U.S. and Islamic law, conflict resolution and leadership development. Her responsibilities included booking speakers and coordinating events and attending the conference to ensure it runs smoothly.

In addition to the summer conference, Karamah also focuses on legal advocacy, especially women's rights and divorce law. These subjects captured Capriles' interests because after graduating from Richmond she said she hoped to go to through law school with a focus on domestic violence and family law.

Capriles, who is from Connecticut, found her internship through the D.C. Initiative, an internship program run through Richmond's Career Development Center. She said her time at Karamah had given her the chance to grow her leadership and practice taking initiative. Her internship was also an opportunity to work with women who primarily come from a culture very different from her own. "More than anything," she said, "it's just learning."

For more information about these organizations:

Women In International Trade

The Feminist Majority Foundation

Karamah

Posted: Fall 2008