UWA student and South Perth resident Sophia Jacka has been nominated, alongside her internship partner Ryan Mendoza, for the upcoming McCusker Centre for Citizenship Outstanding Intern Award.
The joint nomination comes after both students impressed their supervisors at the Telethon Kids Institute by “continually rising to the challenge” in their roles as Community Engagement Interns.
Sophia credits the internship experience with giving her a newfound inspiration to pursue a career in community engagement, and a clearer vision for civic service.
Currently studying for a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Marketing and Economics at UWA, she completed the 100-hour internship supporting the Telethon Kids Institute CONNECT Project.
“The internship has truly opened my eyes to a new potential future for myself,” she said.
“We all want to ‘make a difference’, but the hard part is knowing how. Through my internship, I was surrounded by an amazing team of talented and passionate people who make a difference every day. They made me think, ‘I want to be like you when I grow up!’,
“I now aspire to have a future career in community engagement, specifically, working with the children in our community,”
Sophia worked closely with the Community Engagement Team at Telethon Kids to support the CONNECT project, with the aim of delivering a whole institute approach to excellence in community engagement.
In practice, this saw her undertake a range of work including community workshopping and outreach to schools.
Since completing her internship, Sophia has also used her lived experience to become a valued member of the Telethon Kid’s Cancer Team Community Reference Group.
Reflecting on what she had learnt through the internship, Sophia acknowledged personal and professional benefits.
“I have gained an invaluable understanding of community engagement and the importance of the community’s voice – I know that going forward in my professional life, this understanding will help give me a fresh and unique perspective on issues, a perspective that puts the community first,
Sophia and Ryan’s supervisors were so impressed with their efforts that they nominated the two interns for the upcoming McCusker Centre for Citizenship Outstanding Internship Award.
In their nomination, supervisors Belinda Frank and Karen Forde said that the duo “were always quick to step up whenever an opportunity came their way, and they ended up assisting teams over multiple areas at the Institute – building skills and knowledge that they could then use to apply to developing the Community Conversation & Volunteer program,”
They credited Sophia and Ryan as being integral to the setup and delivery of events, where they were “continually rising to the challenge,” Belinda Frank said.
“We discussed with Ryan & Sophia the opportunity to present to staff and leaders at the Institute on their experience,” said Karen Forde,
“These two amazing young people were humorous, eloquent, informative, engaging and made a significant impact on all those in the audience,”
The award recognises McCusker Centre for Citizenship student interns who have significantly contributed to their host organisation and community during their internship placement and will be announced in April for interns from Semester 2, 2022, including Sophia and Ryan.