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Learning to help others

Lauren Gagnon is an intern at the organization, Help for Abused Women and Their Children.

For most students, summer break is a time to unwind and let the skills they’ve honed during the academic year lay dormant. Lauren Gagnon is not one of those students. She is using her three months off to advance her chosen field through Boston University’s Summer Study Internship Program, a unique 12-week program that provides visiting students the opportunity to gain academic credit and hands-on work experience. Students take two six-week courses in the Core Phase of the program and are placed in a full-time internship in the Boston area during the Internship Phase.

A sociology major at the University of Southern Maine, Gagnon says she decided to enroll in the program because she “wanted to work on building a network” in the field of sociology in Massachusetts, where she plans to establish her career. “The internship program allows me to do that,” she says. 

During the Core Phase of the program, Gagnon took two sociology courses: the American Family and Race and Ethnic Relations. Now in the middle of the Internship Phase, she is working with Help for Abused Women and Their Children (HAWC), an organization that provides education and comprehensive services to abused women and children in 23 North Shore cities and towns.

In her internship, Gagnon has been able to experience the practical application of what she learned in the classroom. At HAWC, she is working as a codirector of Girls Creating Change, a summer camp designed to provide 7 to 13 year old girls living in the Curwin Circle housing project in Lynn with positive female role models while boosting their confidence and self-image. In this setting, “we’re dealing with a lot of racial and minority issues,” said Gagnon, issues she was exposed to in her academic courses. 

Pleased with her position at HAWC and the two courses she completed, Gagnon adds that the success of the Summer Study Program really rested with Kate Moore, the Boston Internship Director, Sean Williams, the Boston Internship Manager, and Robyn Friedman, the Summer Study Program Coordinator.  “This program wouldn’t be as strong without them,” said Gagnon.