New Scholarship Aids Summer Interns

The College of Liberal Arts & Sciences has created a new scholarship program to support low-paying or unpaid summer internships, according to Dean James Schiffer.

“[We’re] sending ambassadors out into the world of work,” Schiffer said.

According to a press release, the program offers two awards in the amount of $1,000 each. Schiffer said they’re merit-based rather than need-based and students must maintain a 3.3 grade point average (GPA) to qualify. The application will gauge the relevance and quality as it relates to the student’s academic major.

The funding for these awards will come from contributions made to the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Dean’s Fund.

“[The] scholarship’s made available through the generous donations of alum, parents and friends of Liberal Arts & Sciences,” Schiffer said.

An advisory board was created to work with the program and Schiffer said it has served a number of useful purposes. He said the group provides programs, internship networking possibilities and works through fundraising and gifts.

Onika Jervis, chair of the advisory board of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, worked closely on funding for the program.

“I have had the opportunity to collaborate and give feedback on the development of the scholarship guidelines in addition to working with board members to raise the critical funds needed to get it started,” Jervis said.

Meanwhile, Schiffer said a potential problem with the summer internship program is that it’s not endowed to the school. He said it’s based on money that’s been raised and could fluctuate between the years.

“We hope that this will be sustainable and create more scholarship opportunities,” Schiffer said.

Schiffer said the internship has to be relevant to a student’s major, but this caveat is broadly interpreted. He said liberal arts prepares students to do different things.

Still, Schiffer hopes to attract more web traffic to the liberal arts website by having Miriam Ward, first-year digital media production and history major, create two-minute video clips to encouraging donations.

“Director of the Honors Program Patricia Sullivan taught me in my first semester here at New Paltz for the Honors Seminar, The Individual and Society,” Ward said. “After seeing my work and capabilities as a student and videographer, Sullivan passed along my name to Dean Schiffer when she heard about his idea for the campaign videos. Next thing I know, Dean Schiffer and I were meeting and we figured that this would be a good match.”

Ward said Schiffer acts as a “producer” and gives feedback when necessary.

Schiffer said the Dean’s Fund also applies to other initiatives in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. He said it secures speakers, sustains scholarships and supports seed money for experimental courses such as team teaching. When professors teach one course together. Schiffer said some of the specifics, such as doubling enrollment, halving credits and examining a professor’s current course load, still need to be worked out.

Schiffer said those interested in donating to the Dean’s Fund should access the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences website and click on the “LA & S” giving link.

The planning for this program started in December 2011, and the first recipients will see it be applied to their internship this summer.

“Its relationship-building for the future,” Schiffer said. “We felt like it was a good area to explore.”