When Anna Von Heill, ’12, learned about an opportunity to apply her leadership studies background and pass her knowledge along to the future leaders of Richmond, she decided it was something she should pursue.

The opportunity was to spend five weeks this summer as an intern with St. Christopher’s School working with high school students through the school’s Summer Institute on Leadership and Public Service.

“The program was the perfect internship because I was able to apply much of what I have learned in the Jepson School directly to the curriculum and at an organizational level,” says Von Heill. “It was an amazing opportunity to stay in Richmond for the summer to work with rising high school seniors in a leadership program that reflects a Jepson education.”

Von Heill was drawn to the program and its aims to teach leadership skills to rising seniors in order to help them become catalysts for change in their respective communities, something she has learned about in her leadership studies classes. “Defining the Engaged Citizen” was the theme for this year’s program.

“It provided the framework to help these students become leaders and make Richmond a much more vibrant and thriving city in the future,” says Von Heill. “It was remarkable to see the change that occurred in the students after completing the program. These students are the future of the city of Richmond.”

Students from some 15 high schools participated in the program. Von Heill served as an assistant director. She worked directly with students, planned and facilitated activities and lessons, planned site visits to nonprofit organizations in the city and even taught lessons — something she had never done before.

“I now have a much greater appreciation for how much work and planning goes into teaching,” she laughs.

Von Heill is the second Jepson School student to intern with the program. The school contacted Kerstin Soderlund, associate dean for student and external affairs, in 2010 to hire a Jepson student who could contribute to the curriculum. Caroline Vincent, ’11, interned with the program last summer.

Von Heill learned about the program from Soderlund and applied after she returned from studying abroad in the fall.

John Green, director of the Summer Institute, called Von Heill "an invaluable resource."

"She was able to balance her role as facilitator and intern with supreme adeptness," he said. "She effectively  shared with the participants many lessons that she has learned as a Jepson student while she seized upon every opportunity to further develop her own understanding of leadership through civic engagement.

The leadership studies and psychology double major is glad she was able to intern with the program and could see herself applying for similar positions after graduating.

“I appreciate the role that I was able to play,” she says. “This internship has definitely opened my eyes to pursuing similar positions in the future.”