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Internships that Make a Difference, to SUNY Plattsburgh Students and Nonprofits

Living in Washington, D.C., for four months may be an experience in itself, but spending those months interning with an international non-profit is an incredible one, according to Gabrielle Equale.

This double major in Latin American studies and Spanish language and literature spent last semester interning for Partners of the Americas (POA). The non-governmental organization helps U.S. states and Latin American and Caribbean countries share knowledge and information on a variety of issues including agriculture, gender equality and politics.

Real Experience from Real Responsibility

"We have been told that, of all the students who have participated in the Washington Internship Institute, our students have been some of the best," said Voss.

Photo of Gabrielle Equale standing in front of the White House

Equale didn’t spend her time shuffling papers and getting coffee like some interns. She was involved in planning a major international event for POA.

"For the majority of the semester, I worked on extensive planning for the POA 2009 Conference on higher education and international volunteer service," said Equale, who was responsible for inviting key panelists and speakers, as well as working out details for a reception at the Hart Senate Building.

"The conference was an overall success with energy brought from all over the Americas," said Equale.

And, while Equale was contributing to the conference, she was also fulfilling her own goals.

"One of my major goals before coming to D.C. was to create a professional network and a safety net of contacts for after I graduate," said Equale.

She feels she has met those goals.

The Plattsburgh Connection

Equale connected with the nonprofit through SUNY Plattsburgh's relationship to the Washington Internship Institute. The institute matches students with Washington internships in their field so that they can hone their professional skills and make lasting connections.

According to Dr. Stuart Voss, SUNY distinguished service professor of history and Latin American studies, the institute has enjoyed its relationship with the college.

And according to staff from POA, Equale is no exception.

"Many other organizations would have had to look for consultants or temporary staff to assist with preparing for a conference of this size, but due to Gabrielle's maturity, intelligence, and organizational skill, we could count on her to complete with gusto whatever we threw her way," said Michelle Nicholson, POA’s partnerships and programs officer.

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