Loyola University Chicago

Center for Experiential Learning

Current Social Justice Interns

Learn more about some of our current Social Justice Interns, their work, and what they're learning from the experience.‌

Efrata Sasahulih

Internship Role: GirlForward Development

I had the opportunity to be a Mentoring Program Intern at GirlForward over the summer where I got to learn a lot about the non-profit organization and get nonprofit work experience. I am so excited stay on at GirlForward as a Development Intern this school year through the Social Justice Internship. In my role I work under the Development and Partnerships Manager. I engage with Kindful, a donor management system and get to help plan and host fundraisers for GirlForward. As someone who is interested in potentially having a career in nonprofit, this experience has been very rewarding. I learn something new everyday and get to work on skills I hope to use in the professional world. The work that GirlForward does is personal to me as I identify as an immigrant and a woman of color. I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to GirlForward’s mission to create and enhance opportunities for girls who have been displaced by conflict and persecution.


Mikaela Marino

Internship Role: GirlForward Communications

At GirlForward, a community of support that helps to provide and enhance opportunities for girls that are globally displaced by conflict or persecution, I have joined the team as a Communications intern! Part of my role there is to help with different internal and external communications. This includes helping with promotion of different events, circulating news relevant to our mission, and assisting with different advocacy work such as International Day of the Girl or the Annual Zine that showcases girls’ art and writing. I am also working on a personal project of creating a round-table discussion on gender and sexuality with the staff and girls and a resource for LGBTQ+-identifying individuals in our GirlForward community. Working with such a dedicated community of women inspires and empowers me every day I walk through the door to continue my work in learning from and uplifting women and girls from a range of experiences, identities, and backgrounds.


Anna Rose LaMountain

Major: Philosophy under Social Justice, pre-med

Internship Role: ONE Northside Police Accountability

At ONE Northside, I work directly with people of Chicago's northern neighborhoods, uncovering the needs of Chicago's community members within their relationship to the Chicago Police Department. My department works to address structural racism, violence, and mass incarceration in the Chicago justice system. They do so by working to remove employment barriers, reduce incarceration rates, drop the expulsion rate, and change people's narrative. My team is currently close to passing an ordinance called the Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability, which will strengthen CPD oversight and community relationships. As an intern, I get to sit in on meetings with Chicago social justice organizers from across the city as they work together to structure this legislation. It has been exciting and inspiring to hear the voices of Chicago leaders, go to city council meetings, and get experience in organizing. In my future, I want to be a doctor that works closely with women and reproductive health. My long term goal is to provide care for people who might not have easy access to a physician, as I believe no woman should ever be left behind by the healthcare system. Working at ONE Northside has built relational skills that are hugely important in the medical field, as well as the ability to assess the needs of a community. I am so grateful to be getting involved with Chicago in this way. My job gives me hope for a brighter future.


Kira Hutson

Majors: Advocacy and Social Change and Women's Studies and Gender Studies

Internship Role: Catholic Charities Performance and Quality Improvement (PQI)

Within the PQI Department at Catholic Charities, I work with two sets of information: internal data about how many people receive various services and the outcomes of their participation as well as external research about best practices for service providers.  We also work on what to do with that information--meaning how to communicate it effectively and use it to inform improvement in the agency.  Additionally, I am in the process of implementing new employee trainings that deal with PQI and recognize how each employee impacts the larger mission of the agency.  Because I am interested in pursuing Diversity, Equity & Inclusion work, I attempt to view and use data in a way that encourages social justice rather than something that is separate from a narrative of liberation.  I am both excited and hopeful for the opportunity to cultivate a space in which I can apply these ideas to my work within a nonprofit organization that has such a large presence in Chicago.


Maddie Drescher

Internship Role: Catholic Charities Government Relations

As the Government Relations Intern at Catholic Charities, I assist primarily with the many elements of the grant writing process. I conduct research on a variety of issues that potentially face our clients and on our local communities in order to craft local, state, and federal grant applications. I manage a variety of data, including that of elected officials and organization partners that we work closely with to serve Chicagoland communities. In 2o18, the Government Relations Department was responsible for raising over 140 million dollars, the majority of Catholic Charities’s revenue. I am incredibly excited to contribute to the efforts that fund so many programs for our clients.


Julia Dodson

Internship Role: Catholic Charities Volunteer Relations

As the volunteer relations intern at Catholic Charities Chicago, I help with the logistics for their annual Celebration of Giving. Recently, I have been using Salesforce to input data regarding requested gifts and demographics of families and children involved with Catholic Charities. The Celebration of Giving will culminate in December when families receive items and gifts for the holiday season. In the future I will be working with the Junior board at Catholic Charities. As a political science major, I am enjoying learning about social justice issues from behind the scenes of a nonprofit. It is interesting to learn about the inner workings of a nonprofit and how their services impact families in our community. Working with Catholic Charities has exposed me to the many ways one can contribute to social justice and equity endeavors.


Edith Reynaga

Majors: Social work and Psychology

Internship Role: Catholic Charities Immigration and Naturalization Services

At Catholic Charities, I work specifically with the Immigrant Survivors Project. This population consists of those who have suffered substantial mental and/or physical abuse. I meet with clients one- on- one to translate their declarations and any other legal documents as they petition for any legal benefits or status. This has been such an amazing learning and empowering experience. I feel super lucky to work very closely with immigration specialists and survivors, as they allow me to hear their stories and be an advocate for them. I am consistently learning something new, and with such a friendly staff to answer all my questions makes it super motivating.


Vanessa Santamaria

Internship Role: Catholic Charities Latino Affairs

As an intern for Catholic Charities’s Office of Latino Affairs, I work with the coordinator of the office and perform a variety of tasks. I have helped coordinate an annual fundraiser, benefitting Casa Catalina Basic Needs Center. My position also entails helping the coordinator of the Office of Latino Affairs to conduct a community needs assessment a county in Illinois. Through my position as the intern for the Office of Latino Affairs, I am able to get a broader perspective of the Latinx community in Cook County and other counties that Catholic Charities serves. With this experience, I am able to feel more connected with my Latinx roots and community. I am grateful for this experience because I am able to give back to the community that has already given me so much.


Omar Zahra

Major: Biochemistry

Internship Role: Misericordia Fitness and Aquatics

My responsibilities as an intern in the fitness center at Misericordia involves working side by side with residents in the fitness center. This involves tracking down weekly progress reports, assisting with the use of machines and weights, and just being a friend to work out with. I also am involved with another program called Sit and Be Fits. This is an evening program where I visit various resident houses and engage with the residents. We listen to music, dance, play bingo, bowl, and just have a great time. This internship has exposed me to a work environment that allows me to thrive in creativity and passion.  It is important for me to be as optimistic and enthusiastic as possible. When interacting with residents I may find myself talking with nonverbal residents. This has taught me to not put limits on individuals who may just have different levels of abilities in comparison to everyone else. I love seeing my residents every day I intern. It brings joy to my heart to see the progress that they make.  I realize that I am a part of a larger community and everyone is working towards making tomorrow a brighter day for everybody.


Brittany Taylor

Major: Biology

Internship Role: Misericordia Recreation and Leisure

At Misericordia, I help put on various activities for the residents. These activities include art, music, dance, stress relief, and sports. I get to work with residents with a wide range of abilities. A lot of the residents are involved in several activities and I get to see their growth in multiple areas. The recreation department works to provide activities for and empower residents of all levels of ability. I mainly work with Misericordia’s dance team, the Heartbreakers. This team is filled with amazing, passionate individuals who perform at events to raise awareness for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Heartbreakers and all of the other residents I have had the opportunity to work with have opened me with open arms and big smiles. As someone who wants to become a doctor, the opportunity to work closely with people of different abilities has helped me better understand the needs of this community and how I can provide the best care possible.


Adrian Medina

Majors: Cognitive/Behavioral Neuroscience and Psychology

Internship Role: Misericordia Personal Effectiveness Program

My role primarily comprises one-on-one interactions with all of the residents in PEP, assisting them with occupational and vocational skills, as well as assisting developmental training instructors in facilitating programming for the residents. Additionally, I research the behavioral support plan of specific residents to become familiar with both target and problem behaviors, while also attending meetings lead by a board certified behavior analyst to discuss the progress of residents' individual behavioral support plans. I also assist in conflict resolution during times in which residents may be having behavioral troubles, as well as learning to communicate with nonverbal residents in American Sign Language. As an aspiring surgeon, this experience has been and continues to be very impactful because I am able to work with such incredible residents, while also being gratified by tangible results of my work with them. 


Maanasa Kanimilli

Major: Molecular/Cellular Neuroscience

Internship Role: Misericordia Developmental Training

My work at Misericordia consists of helping to create an activity database for the rest of the DT instructors to use over the course of the year with residents of various ability levels. Once the database has been completed, I will be presenting a “How-To” guide to the DT staff and will be visiting various rooms to assist those instructors in coming up with lesson plans that utilize the activities that I have gathered. I will also be working to create videos for social media featuring specific residents and their stories, as well as other members of the staff. In the future, I hope to become a doctor who works mainly with underserved populations to decrease disparities in healthcare, so working with the residents at Misericordia has taught me many skills that I will be able to use going forward.

Makayla Ostapa

Major: Political Science

Internship Role: Human Resources and Staff Development

As a Human Resources and Staff development Intern at Misericordia Heart of Mercy, I work with two different teams of professionals to help with a variety tasks. In the HR Department, I assist with Misericordia’s onboarding and hiring processes as well as help to enhance the performance and understanding of the employees’ rights. I work heavily with all sorts of paperwork and databases as well as several on-going projects. From a legal standpoint I will be learning about I9, verifying credentials, ensuring employees are receiving proper benefits legally, and ultimately making sure our residents are being cared for in the proper manner. Much of what I do coincides with laws, policy and ultimately the government. In the Staff Development Department, I am able to use my creativity and implement useful ways in which staff can better their leadership and professional skills. I aid in helping this department with programming and presentations. 

One of the most important things I have learned thus far in my internship, is that change is change no matter how small. Social justice does not happen overnight and the even the smallest amount of change can spark the beginning of widespread awareness. I value and see the importance of HR in that realize without it, day to day justice would not be obtainable.