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August 20, 2013

Good_Umoja_Interns_and_Supervisors_Photos_Custom.JPGAlumni Interns Join the Umoja Team for the Summer

Umoja alumni give back by spending their summer vacation working for Umoja.

For the first time, five Umoja alumni were given the opportunity to intern with us this summer. These internships were made possible by the Steans Family Foundation. Interns worked on different teams including Upward Bound, College & Career Readiness, and Research & Evaluation. As their internship came to an end, Daniel, Lamar and Syiara sat down with Ted Christians, the CEO of Umoja, to share an overview of their internship experience.

Syiara is proud of the accomplishments she’s achieved within her first year at Western Illinois University. When asked to join Umoja for the summer, she instantly jumped at the opportunity. Her close relationship with Umoja’s College and Career Director along with the continuous support she’s received from Umoja, is what ultimately made the decision to become an intern so intuitive. Syiara expressed with heartfelt sincerity, “You did a good job supporting me with all the scholarships and stuff because if it wasn’t for Umoja, I probably wouldn’t even have finished a whole year in college because my bill was outrageous; so I thank you for that.”

Another Western Illinois student, Daniel, will continue to pursue a degree in Health Service Management during his junior year this coming fall. Daniel’s experience with Umoja from student to intern has been extremely positive. “Umoja has always been there for me since my freshman year of high school, even through the good and through the bad, they help me with personal situations in my life; they helped me decide what college [to attend].” Daniel felt it was important to give back because he thought, “If I could do it, anybody could do it.” Having the opportunity to accompany students on their college visits only fueled Daniel’s motivation to place students on the right path which would ultimately lead to college, similar to the way in which Umoja helped him.

Lamar, currently a student at Indiana State University, is preparing for his sophomore year. He enjoyed working on the all-class reunion, an event where Manley Alumni come together to reconnect and receive additional support from Umoja as needed. For Lamar, it was rewarding to see all the alumni having a good time and feel like his work actually paid off. Umoja holds a special place in his heart because he strongly believes that “if it wasn’t for Umoja, a lot of people wouldn’t even have college on their radar.”

We were incredibly fortunate to welcome alumni as part of our staff this summer. The interns brought a positive energy and a determined attitude to our organization which certainly shined through in the work they accomplished. A sincere thank you to all of our summer alumni interns - Briana, Daniel, Lamar, Syiara and LaTeisha - for their commitment to Umoja and the work that we do. Good luck on the upcoming school year, and we hope to see you back soon!