Women's Studies at Aquinas College

Women's Studies Externships

The Susan Haworth-Hoeppner Externship Program, the only externship program at Aquinas, was piloted in Summer 2015.  Women’s Studies students were provided travel and accommodations to shadow alumnae mentors in their fields of interest, off-campus, over the summer months.  These students’ words capture the practical application, the personal inspiration, and the professional insight the Externship gave them:

Kirsten Fedorowicz Women’s Studies Minor Kirsten Fedorowicz’s Externship
For two weeks during the summer of 2017, I was lucky enough to have an Externship through the Women’s Studies Center. After applying in early March, I received an update in April that I had the opportunity to work with Angelika Lee of the organization Creative Many. Angelika graduated from Aquinas with degrees in Communications and Theology. She serves as the Director of Communications for Creative Many, an arts advocacy organization that seeks to empower creative individuals and the creative economy. The Women’s Studies Center paired me with an alumna and an organization that share my creative and social justice interests, while still allowing me to grow in a professional way. Read More

Lindsey Bacigal, a Communication/Women’s Studies/Insignis Honors student, paired with Nikki Sunstrum, Director of Social Media at University of Michigan, returned to Aquinas with practical applications of her experience:  “I am definitely able to bring a lot of new ideas to the Women's Studies Center at Aquinas as to how we can grow our social media presence and utilize it in the best way possible.”

Jayme Brizzolara, a Psychology/Sociology/Women’s Studies student, shadowed Kelly Bezin-Brinks, a Shelter Assistant at Safe Haven Ministries, who “has become somewhat of an inspiration to me because of how she has overcome some of her struggles. I now have made goals to work harder in school and life because I realize how important it is to be serious about your future.”  Jayme added, “I ended up learning a lot about Kelly and my career path because of this externship.” 

Alexandra Banash, a Political Science, Community Leadership, and Women’s Studies senior who worked with Kelly Dittmar, Assistant Professor of Political Science and Scholar at Rutgers University’s Center for American Women and Politics, said: “This program has helped me advance significantly as far as academia goes. The level of work I was doing was often at a graduate level, and it gave me a better understanding as to what graduate work is like. [. . . ] The externship has made me anxious and excited about the future not only for myself, but for women in politics in general.”  

The Women’s Studies Externship Program offers students minoring in Women’s Studies an opportunity to explore a field in which they are interested, but about which they may not be quite sure, for a limited period of time in the summer months.  In the Externship, students are paired with sponsors to shadow them in their fields for up to two weeks.  Hence it is an "Ex"-ternship Program on several levels – giving students the ability to assess their fit for career earlier than their junior or senior years of college (when a traditional “internship” occurs); linking “ex”-students with current students; taking place off-campus and potentially outside Grand Rapids; and occurring beyond the typical academic year, for a brief but intense period of time.  

As an initiative inspired by and named for the Center’s previous director, Dr. Susan Haworth-Hoeppner, this Program works to build connections between students’ coursework and career aspirations, as well as between campus and alumnae communities – giving students insights into potential professions and giving Women’s Studies supporters the opportunity to mentor students.  

Application Process
To apply, students must be Women’s Studies minors with a minimum 2.5 GPA and in good standing with the College.  Initial applications are due to the Director of Women’s Studies on the Thursday prior to Aquinas’ mid-semester Spring Break.   Application materials submitted should include:

  • A cover letter with the following elements:
    • rationale for applying to the Externship Program;
    • professional and personal description of yourself -- your academic course of study and your potential career goals, as well as your personal strengths and weaknesses;
    • professions you would be interested in learning more about for a short period in the summer months; and
    • summer plans that you are aware of and any dates you will be unavailable for the Externship.
  • A resume that reflects your background, strengths, and interests, following these guidelines:
    • 2-page maximum, with 11-point minimum font and a .5-inch minimum margin
    • Proofread, with consistent formatting throughout

Selection Process 
Applicants who make the second round of the screening process will be asked to conduct an interview with their potential host before final selection for the Externship.  If selected, participants will be required to agree to Program responsibilities and guidelines for travel; participants will also be required to complete a Self Evaluation and a Program Evaluation within two weeks of finishing the Externship.