UK’s Shepherd Interns Discuss Time Living Below Poverty Line

  LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 9, 2014) – Two University of Kentucky students took on an unusual challenge this summer. They agreed to work for eight weeks at a specific agency or site that serves low-income individuals or families and also to live on a stipend of $815 for the entire eight-week period to gain an insight into the challenges facing people who live below the poverty line.  The students participated as UK’s first Shepherd interns through the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty (SHECP). Martin Jones, son of Chris and Candy Jones, of Corbin, Kentucky, and Jamie Love, daughter of Shaun and Margaret Love, of Lexington, spent the period working on efforts to alleviate poverty. They will present on their summer experience beginning 4 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 9, in the William T. Young Library Gallery. Harlan Beckley, the executive director of SHECP, will also be there to speak more generally about the consortium. The event is free and open to the public. Established in 2011, the SHECP unites nearly two dozen institutions to collaborate for an important venture in undergraduate and professional education. A sustained study of poverty including firsthand experience has been conspicuously absent from undergraduate interdisciplinary studies and has not been prominent in professional education. SHECP leads an effort to change this situation so that poverty studies will take their place alongside other interdisciplinary programs in higher education. The SHECP model, a combination of curriculum and co-curricular activities, differs from some interdisciplinary programs in that it is explicitly designed to enrich all undergraduate majors and professional studies and not to become an independent major or professional trajectory. Shepherd designates a couple who are the founding benefactors of a prototype for these programs that was developed at Washington and Lee University. UK became a member of the consortium in 2014 through the generosity of the UK Honors Program, which agreed to cover the consortium fee and through the generosity of the College of Arts and Sciences and Gatton College of Business and Economics which supported the costs of the interns. Jim Ziliak, the director of UK Center for Poverty Research; Shannon Bell, assistant professor in sociology and former Shepherd intern; and Diane Loeffler, lecturer in the College of Social Work, are serving as the faculty board of directors to select the interns for the program and Pat Whitlow, director of the Office of Nationally Competitive Awards, serves as the intern coordinator. Martin Jones is a junior majoring in economics and planning to attend law school upon graduation. Jones interned with the Legal Aid of West Virginia Charleston office. “Interning at Legal Aid of West Virginia was a life changing experience for me. It was humbling to see clients struggling with civil legal issues that they could not afford to have representation for in court. Many of our clients would have lost their cases were it not for the assistance of Legal Aid. Being able to help our clients and see how our representation changed their lives for the better was an experience I’ll never forget.” Martin’s interest in poverty began his freshmen year from his instructor Katherine Rogers-Carpenter, a lecturer in the Division of Writing, Rhetoric and Digital Studies. “I had Dr. Carpenter my freshmen year for WRD 111. In the class, I was given the opportunity to research and present on poverty in Southeastern Kentucky. Being from this region, I was greatly affected by the research I conducted. Upon completion of my project, Dr. Carpenter encouraged me to continue my interest in poverty and implement it in my future career. If it were not for Dr. Carpenter, I would have never found my passion for poverty studies.” Jamie Love, a junior international studies major, worked in Richmond, Virginia, with the Peter Paul Development Center, the oldest continually operating community center in Richmond’s East End neighborhood. “The Shepherd Consortium allowed me to see firsthand the levels of poverty plaguing the U.S. It was troubling to see the enormity of the issue, but it was encouraging to team up with people that were passionate about addressing it. What I learned from this experience will carry over into my studies as well as my future career.” Love was encouraged to apply for the Shepherd by her instructor Sasikumar Balasundarum, a postdoctoral researcher at the UK Appalachian Center. “During the two semesters I had him as a professor, he regularly reached out to me and aided me in my development as a student and person. Sasi, as his students lovingly call him, often encouraged me to look at the big picture and think long term. In Sasi’s classes we focused primarily on poverty and development abroad, but he encouraged me to apply to the Shepherd program in order to see how these same issues plague the United States.” Both Jones and Love participated in an orientation program for interns at Washington and Lee prior to beginning their internships and both shared their summer housing with Shepherd interns from other institutions in the consortium, also a valuable part of the learning experience. At the conclusion of the internships, all interns returned to Lexington, Virginia, home of Washington and Lee and the Virginia Military Institute, and participated in a two-day closing conference where panels of interns presented on their summer experience. All members of the UK campus community are invited to come to this public presentation to learn more about the Shepherd Internship Program.  Students interested in applying for the Shepherd Internship Program should contact Pat Whitlow, director of the UK Office of Nationally Competitive Awards. Part of the Academy of Undergraduate Excellence within the Division of Undergraduate Education, the office assists current UK undergraduate and graduate students and recent alumni in applying for external scholarships and fellowships funded by sources (such as a nongovernment foundation or government agency) outside the university. These major awards honor exceptional students across the nation. Students who are interested in these opportunities are encouraged to begin work with the Office of Nationally Competitive Awards well in advance of the scholarship deadline.  MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Hale, 859-257-8716; whitney.hale@uky.edu

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My name is G. Jordan Johnson. I'm a web developer for the College of Social Work at the University of Kentucky. I enjoy moral philosophy, particularly existentialism ? la Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre. I'm a lifelong technophile, skateboarder, multi-instrumentalist, writer, and more.