April 22, 2008

Helping People Reach Their Potential

My internship working with single parents returning to the workplace. By Danielle Horowitz ’08

Danielle Horowitz ’08 (Princeton Junction, N.J.), a government & law and Spanish double major, is interning at New Options/New Choices, which is based at Northampton Community College. The program helps returning adult students, especially women, select a career and make the transition into the educational system.

I was looking for an internship this semester that would be very different but equally as enriching as my observational internship with the President Judge of Northampton County, Robert A. Freedberg. Although I have maintained an interest in law, my professional goals and interests have evolved over the past year. The Lafayette class single motherhood in the U.S. peaked my interest in the study of education as one of the ways out of the poverty cycle. Studying federal welfare laws and working with single/teenage mothers helped me understand that attaining some form of higher education is more beneficial (to everyone) than pursing low wage work and receiving government assistance.

New Choices/New Options (NCNO) is a program that was first introduced to me in the single motherhood class. NCNO provides free career development services for single parents, displaced homemakers, single pregnant women, and individuals interested in nontraditional education and/or employment. The program lasts eight weeks, and about 80 percent of participants go straight into an institution of higher education. The other 20 percent move straight into the workforce, normally due to financial obligations. My internship is under the direction of Maryann Haytmanek, project director.

The first project I was assigned was to put together a voter information packet for the NCNO students in order to prepare them to make an informed vote for the Pennsylvania primary. The first issue I focused on was healthcare. The students wanted to know how the candidates would fund a healthcare system that is affordable, accessible, and available to all citizens.

The majority of my research was done on the Internet; however I also decided to meet with my government and law professor Bruce Murphy to talk about the election and healthcare specifically. The main question I knew the students would have is: What is the difference between the three proposed healthcare plans? I have never done research involving healthcare, so I was learning while researching. Professor Murphy gave me some great advice about how to talk to the students and what information to consider on the internet.

I met with the students on a Thursday night at the Bethlehem campus to present the healthcare packet. The women all introduced themselves and gave me some background on their participation in the NCNO program. They all said they decided to get involved with NCNO because they knew they were not living up to their potential, and they could do more with their lives. All the women had great questions and concerns about the respective plans, and we discussed the best ways to go about getting more information and staying informed. They seemed very grateful for the packet I had created and I was excited that they found the information important and relevant.

The session with the women as well as the research I have done about the election has gotten me really excited about the presidential race. While I think that I have very strong political opinions, this research made me realize that I don’t know or understand as much as I thought. I think a lot of people are the same way, thinking they are informed voters when they are not. Issues like healthcare are extremely complicated and it takes more than a simple scanning of news reports to understand them in their entirety.

I covered more issues for the voter information packet, but my most recent assignment is to research creative ways to present poverty information to corporate leaders from the Lehigh Valley at a conference that will hopefully take place in the next few months.

  • Government & Law
  • Foreign Languages and Literatures
  • Service Learning
  • Internships/Externships

posted in Academic News, Involved, Focused, and Active Students, News and Features, Student Profiles, Students

tagged with , , , ,