RPE Alumni have used their internships to begin to explore goals and vocational options outside of the university. Through connections made through their internships, our alumni are moving on to opportunities
in the wider world and making an impact.
’13 Religion & Chemistry
Internship: Summer 2011, “Spirituality and Medicine: Modernization and the Traditional Marpuche Culture” (Chile)
Easley Medal and Award Winner given to the outstanding graduating senior with a major in Religion.
Honors Thesis: Dandelion without Borders: A Scientific and Spiritual Analysis of the Therapeutic Activity of the Dandelion (Winner of Currin Prize for Best Essay 2012.
RPE Internship: Spring, 2011, Chile
“Spirituality and Medicine: Modernization of the Traditional Mapuche Culture”
During the spring semester of 2011, Katie Bradburn completed her internship through an ethnographic study of Mapuche culture in the Araucania region of Chile. The Mapuche are an indigenous group who account for nearly ten percent of the Chilean population. During her research, Katie noticed that while a majority of the Mapuche now confesses western religions, pockets of their ancestral culture remain in practice. She noticed this was the case particularly in the realm of medical practices. Ancestral Mapuche spirituality held that illnesses were indicative spiritual imbalances. Western medical practice fails to treat the base cause of illness – the spirit. In Mapuche culture today, however, Katie noticed that the Mapuche use Western Medicine, but also continue to seek medical attention from traditional Mapuche doctors. In studying this phenomena, Katie discovered that the Mapuche continue to seek medical attention from traditional Mapuche doctors not so much for their health, but to honor the ancient tradition. While her study dealt specifically with this phenomenon in the Mapuche culture, she also dealt more broadly with the effect of Western Religions on Indigenous religions.
Regarding he experience she writes, “The most significant things I learned: Appreciation for other cultures and religions. During my time with the Mapuche people, I realized that their form of practicing Christianity was externally incredibly different from what I’ve always known, but under the surface, exactly the same. Before my internship, I would have questioned the sincerity of their claims to be practitioners of Christianity because they participated in many medical practices that (I thought) were sacrilegious, even anti-Christian. However, after my internship, I recognized the great sincerity and authenticity of their way of practicing Christianity and no longer questioned such practices, because I realized that at the deepest level, they were just like me.” Katie focused her Religion Honor’s Thesis on the pharmacological and ritual healing effects of the dandelion in select traditional cultures.
Academic Associate in the Department of Emergency Medicine at North Shore University Hospital. In the position, I will assist departmental faculty and staff with academic, scholarly, and administrative activity, with a large focus on clinical research. This will involve preparing the required documentation for local IRB review, research protocols, consent forms, and other important documents required for data collection. I will participate in patient screening and enrollment, conduct meetings, background literature sources, and presentations. I will also be involved in the management of the Volunteer Research Intern Program.
Internship: Summer 2011, “Human Trafficking in Baltimore: Causes, Effects, and a Faith-based Response,” Baltimore, MD
During the summer of 2011, Natalie worked in Baltimore, Maryland with GraceCity helping establish a fledgling not-for-profit organization to fight against sex trafficking. During her time in with GraceCity she divided her time between helping establish this non-profit while also working with at-risk children in an after-school and daily summer camps. These camps provided the children a safe and fun educational environment. While working to help establish the new, non-profit, Natalie work throughout many sectors of the community primarily seeking to help reduce trafficking through methods of economic deterrence. During her internship, Natalie gained many insights about the not-for-profit world and understanding the importance of relationships.
Writing about her experience, she says, “The most significant thing that I learned is to stay committed to your goal regardless of the change that you see. Sometimes…all it takes is one or two key people and a movement begins. Also, I learned that relationships are really important and without an established relationship with victims of [sex trafficking] there is no sense of trust.”
’13 Religion and Social Entrepreneurship
Internship: Summer 2012, The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, Washington, DC
Cory spent the summer of 2012 in the nation’s capital working for Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life. The Pew Forum is one of seven projects that make up the larger Pew Research Center. Launched in 2001, the Pew Forum has become one of the leading research institutions in America for analyzing religion in American Life. During his time in Washington, Cory worked as a web intern. He worked closely with the communications, publications, editorial, and website development teams on the Pew Forum’s website. While the Pew Forum is often known for its large-scale research initiatives, Cory valued his experience for a different reason. Reflecting on his internship, Cory writes, “Although Pew is most valued for its extensive research projects, it was the day to day operations and conversations with senior researchers that showed me the true value of their work. The Religion and Public Engagement concentration has provided me with the tools to contribute at one of the most prestigious research centers in the nation.”
After graduation, Cory took a position as Coordinator of Chapter and Colony Development, Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity, Carmel, Indiana
‘12 Religion and Art
Internship: Summer 2012, Red Dog Gallery, Community Outreach Coordinator
“My new job is with a nonprofit organization called Green Star Movement. I am making mosaic murals around the city, partnering with kids at local schools and other community members to design and install public artworks in their neighborhoods.” Green Star Movement ( greenstarmovement.org) a 501 (c)3 non profit, inspires students and community members to design and realize public art. This interactive process builds teamwork and self esteem in the participants, and revitalizes urban neighborhoods.
It is our priority to work with schools that lack the funds needed to support educational arts-based programming. The creation of public art not only beautifies a neighborhood but prevents crumbling infrastructures, which is often a symptom of low-income neighborhoods. Providing a link between the individual, the social, the historical and the imaginary.”
“I declared a concentration in Religion and Public Engagement because I am interested in seeing communities heal and flourish, and have seen outreach attempted in problematic ways throughout my life. RPE provided a way to learn about and discuss real community problems, and work towards positive change alongside my peers, professors, and other community leaders.
My courses in RPE have helped me realize how religion can be grounds for mutual understanding and cooperation to pursue justice in the world. My professors have challenged my own assumptions, and allowed for me to actually get involved in the community and get my hands dirty, so to speak. “
Honors Thesis: “John Calvin on Christian Responsibility for the Common Good,” Chosen for the ZSR Library Senior Showcase.
Internship: Spring 2012, Methodist Children’s Home, Winston-Salem, NC
“I decided to declare a concentration in RPE because it provides an arena where any religious belief can speak freely without the fear of being persecuted. Those of us involved have all connected on a deep level and by doing so we have understood each other and our beliefs at a more spiritual level. This intrinsic connection has allowed for us to realize what we want to see changed throughout the communities we live in and to have a large base of skills and resources to create such change.
My involvement with RPE (classes, internships, conversations) has made me feel as if I was making a difference in this world. Many people only read and write about changing society but many do not continue with these goals. With RPE involvement I am not only alleviating some of the problems with people’s lives and society, but I am growing spiritually and feeling happier as I do.”
Paolo matriculated Fall 2012 in a Master of Theology degree at Barry University, Miami Shores, FL. He is a Graduate Assistant & Administrative Liaison for Service-Learning. His responsibilities include: facilitating on-site group service learning programs, training work-study students, coordinating transportation for service learning placement sites, maintaining a new system for tracking service-learning hours, and researching information on service learning impact areas (homelessness, poverty, elderly, children, environment)
He writes, “Barry University is a private Catholic school and because it is, undergraduates are required to take a religion class. That class has a required 10 hours of ‘service learning’ which is different from volunteering. It is similar to the RPE class where students take classroom readings and put them into practice with their internships.”
Internship: Spring 2012, Communities Helping All Neighbors Gain Empowerment (C.H.A.N.G.E.), Winston-Salem, NC.
“I chose to have a concentration in Religion and Public Engagement because it was a perfect medium to feed my hunger for both intellectual and spiritual growth. Throughout my RPE journey, I loved how many opportunities I was given to interact with students from diverse spiritual and racial backgrounds in a setting where we all felt comfortable sharing our experiences and beliefs to better ourselves and the Wake Forest community. The amount of academic freedom and creativity that we were granted fostered innovative projects and internships that will have a lasting impact on the various organizations we interned with.
Overall the RPE program is amazing because I was engaged both inside and outside of the classroom with the pro humanitate spirit that made me fall in love with Wake Forest University.”
Internship: Summer 2010, Hope for Honduran Children, Honduras
“RPE has expanded my mind by expanding my boundaries; rather than analyzing people’s religious or cultural backgrounds, I experienced them.”
Internship: Summer 2009, C.H.A.N.G.E. (Communities Helping All Neighbors Gain Empowerment) Winston-Salem N.C.
’10: Religion/Political Science
Though Randy graduated before the RPE Concentration became available he did para pilot RPE Internship: Fall 2009, West Wing, White House, (Washington, DC)
Honors Thesis: Into the Wilderness: The Rise of the Christian Right and the Future of Roe v. Wade
Randy Paris serves in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, which is charged with providing the President and his senior staff with accurate, relevant, and timely scientific and technical advice.
Mary participated in the first pilot RPE Internship with Mothers for Justice, Winston-Salem, NC (2008)
Her Honors Thesis: Sustained Faith: Women, Collateral Violence and the Place of Religion, emerged from her experience.
She graduated from Boston School of Theology, M.Div. (2013) with a focus on chaplaincy.