Golden LEAF Scholars participate in first cohort of the Rural Internship Initiative | Eastern North Carolina Now | This summer, 20 Golden LEAF Scholars are participating in the first cohort of the Rural Internship Initiative. Scholars are working in the medical field, teaching, law and public safety, and communication sciences in 18 rural counties.

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    This summer, 20 Golden LEAF Scholars are participating in the first cohort of the Rural Internship Initiative. Scholars are working in the medical field, teaching, law and public safety, and communication sciences in 18 rural counties.

    The Rural Internship Initiative offers Golden LEAF Scholars the opportunity to gain valuable work experience related to their career field along with additional leadership training provided by the NC Rural Center. The Golden LEAF Foundation provides funding to pay interns $15 per hour for their work for up to 320 hours over the summer. The internship takes place over a period of at least eight weeks, between May and August.

    Internship sites that take on a Golden LEAF Scholar intern provide them with a meaningful project or role that aligns with the student's college major and future career goals. Read about some of the scholars' experiences below:

    Caroline Pyle of Davidson County is a sophomore at UNC-Chapel Hill. She is majoring in Business Administration with a minor in English Composition, Rhetoric, and Digital Literacy.

    She is interested in Financial Legal Studies and is working at the Davidson County District Attorney's Office serving Davidson and Davie counties.

    "As a result of my participation in tasks for the DA's office, I have learned how to create and maintain an air of professionalism that prioritizes soft skills," said Pyle. "Many of the cases I have been assigned to research and assist in preparing have dealt with delicate matters that require extra attention and care. These situations have involved real people with real lives. Attention to detail and communication is crucial in providing just service to others."

    Pyle said she was excited that she expanded her professional network.

    "I have become acquainted with countless attorneys who practice in various counties including but not limited to Davidson, Davie, Forsyth, and Guilford County, all of which I would otherwise not have access to," said Pyle. "I have also met several district court judges in both Davidson County and Davie County. These connections have provided me with professional exposure and mentorship opportunities."

    Pyle learned more about her community, while working in her internship.

    "My internship has highlighted the sheer amount of talent and dedication already present in both Davidson and Davie counties," said Pyle. "However, I have also noticed that mental health resources and treatment are limited and costly. Many individuals lack the resources to care for themselves mentally."

    Pyle hopes to give back to her community upon graduation.

    "I hope to give back to the community by giving of my time, efforts, and talents for as long as I am a member of the Lexington community," said Pyle. "This includes continuing to complete volunteer work and participating in professional workplaces that seek to positively benefit and improve the quality of life for all individuals in Lexington. While I have not committed fully to a legal career that is based solely on criminal law, I plan to pursue legal work in every capacity. Therefore, I plan to apply to law school after my undergraduate years."

    Joshua Jones of Graham County is a junior at Western Carolina University. He is a Music Performance/Voice major, interested in becoming a vocal educator.

    Jones is serving as an intern at Robbinsville High School in his home county as a vocal coach.

    "As a vocal coach I am using my skill sets as a singer and am sharing my skills with students to help them maintain good healthy vocal technique," said Jones. "During my internship, I learned how to be a teacher. I learned that patience, planning, and dedication is key to being a supportive teacher. I have also learned that I have a passion for teaching others how to sing and truly enjoy being able to share my skill sets with others."

    Jones was happy to learn that others shared his passion for music.

    "This internship has definitely changed my view of my community because it has shown me that there are people in our community that have the desire to learn how to sing," said Jones. "I hope to give back to the community by possibly forming a community choir. My hometown has never had a community choir before, and a program like this will really help get the town together."

    Jones said that the educational environment taught him more skills than teaching.

    "I am learning many skills about fundraising, advertising, and recruiting students to help build a solid program," said Jones. "With the help of our local band director, I am learning how she is building our program into a strong solid music program for our local schools."

    Princess Alston of Wilson County is a sophomore at North Carolina Central University. She is majoring in nursing and is interning at OIC Family Medical Center in Nash and Edgecombe counties. Alston wants to work as a pediatric nurse.

    Alston shared that she is excited to have already had clinical experience.

    "Because I'm just entering my sophomore year, I haven't yet been exposed to real world nursing and clinical environments because I'm not yet into the actual nursing program," said Alston. "This opportunity has been great in preparing me for day to day nursing in a medical office environment. I have been able to gain industry knowledge firsthand through both observations and hands-on opportunities. The skills that I've gained will be useful for bedside or administrative nursing roles."

    Working in the community gave Alston an in depth look at the real issues her community is facing.

    "My internship opportunity has allowed me to witness many of the health disparities that are present in our community," said Alston. "Some I was aware of with my limited outlook, but others I had no clue about since they weren't necessarily something I would see."

    Alston was happy to have worked at OIC Family Medical Center because she learned about the resources that the nonprofit provides.

    "OIC Family Medical Center is a branch of a nonprofit organization, Opportunities Industrialization Center, Inc., which does amazing work with and for the community," said Alston. "I want the community to take advantage of what they have to offer. Especially those individuals who may be in less than ideal situations due to a lack of resources. My hope is that I am able to service my community to improve health outcomes for those who do desperately need it."
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