Six Niagara University students commenced a seven-week internship July 5 at Lycée Jean-Baptiste Pointe du Sable, a world-class educational facility in Haiti established by an NU alumnus.
The students selected for the internship - Bethany Bouthillier, Erin Burns, Amber Mis, Bailey Rudow, Tara Topolski and Tyler Van Leeuwen - represent an interdisciplinary cross-section of academic majors: teacher education, business administration and French.
Drs. Michelle Ciminelli, assistant professor of education, and Henrik Borgstrom, French professor and associate dean of Niagara's College of Arts and Sciences, will join the students at different stages of the internship.
The new internship was initiated through a partnership between Niagara University and Hand in Hand for Haiti, a nonprofit organization founded by 1978 NU graduate Edward J. Brennan.
Brennan, now chairman of Hand in Hand for Haiti, spearheaded the construction of a sustainable school complex for the children of Saint Marc after an earthquake devastated the area in January 2010. The retired CEO and chairman of DFS Group generated extraordinary monetary support for the endeavor from the travel retail industry. As a result, the school opened its doors on Oct. 3, 2011.
"Along with the remarkable efforts of Ed Brennan, this internship reaffirms our commitment to inspire our students and graduates to make impactful change in the lives of people living in poverty," said the Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., president of Niagara University. "We are pleased to have this partnership with Hand in Hand for Haiti, and to extend this experience to our students and faculty."
Niagara University professors provided instruction to the interns prior to their departure and will continue to engage them during the internship as well as when they return to campus.
"This valuable partnership with Hand in Hand in Haiti gives our students the opportunity to express the Vincentian mission," said Dr. Peggy Choong, associate dean of Niagara's College of Business Administration. She has helped shepherd the relationship with Hand in Hand for Haiti. "Integrating real-world experience into our coursework and academic programs is a hallmark at Niagara."
Following the internship, the students will address the community during Niagara Reaches Out to the World, an on-campus, daylong summit set for Sept. 23 that showcases the good work accomplished by Niagara University students, faculty, staff and alumni across the globe.
For more on Hand in Hand for Haiti, go to http://hihh.org.
To learn about the mission of Niagara University, visit www.niagara.edu/our-mission.