by Meleseini Lotoaniu, MVLA Scholar majoring in English at UC Davis; November 24, 2021
In the current competitive job market, having a strong resume with internships is critical. Through the MVLA Scholars Supplemental Scholarship program, Scholars are able to gain real-world experience by participating in internships and projects that support their academic and career goals, but that are unpaid or low-paying.
The Supplemental Scholarship program began in 2014 to provide funding to Scholars that participate in unpaid internships. These internships are vital to Scholars, providing experience and opportunity that prepares them for their professional careers following their college education. Without the Supplemental Scholarship from MVLA Scholars, students would often have to forego these opportunities. Rich and Ginny Strock, supporters of MVLA Scholars for many years, provided the initial funding for the program.
“When you graduate from any educational institution, it’s no accident they call it a commencement event,” Rich says. “Commencement means beginning not the end. The real end goal is to be trained and have some learning experience that will lead into career advancement.”
Since 2014, 119 Supplemental Scholarships have been awarded. Scholars have worked for a wide variety of companies and organizations, including the California Superior Court in Santa Clara, Stretch to Kindergarten, Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, and LifeMoves. Several of these internships have resulted in full-time positions for Scholars and revitalized their academic interests and their professional career goals.
“One of my current goals is to go to law school or pursue a career in the legal field,” says Marco Torres, a Scholar who interned for the Family Law Facilitator’s Office in the Superior Courthouse of San Mateo in 2020. “This internship showed me what it is like to hold a position in the legal field. I was able to observe the inner workings of a court and work alongside attorneys and judicial commissioners. This internship really fortified my career goals.”
In 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the prospect of internships taking place was uncertain. Starting that summer, MVLA Scholars introduced an Independent Study Internship Program, where Scholars were given the opportunity to create their own projects related to their academic and career goals. The projects were completed during the summer, with final results presented during a live Zoom presentation. Twelve independent projects internships were approved in 2020.
“I decided to tutor for free in math for kids in my neighborhood so that I can give back to my community in a way I will be able to improve well,” says Nanami Narusawa, a Scholar who completed her own Independent Study Project in 2020. “I believe young education is super important and it builds a foundation for the rest of their school years, so I wanted to try my best to provide that support system where they continue to be more curious in learning.”
The Supplemental Scholarship program continued in 2021, funding a combination of regular internships and independent study internships. Scholars participated in a variety of internship programs, including NurLabs and Intego Sports. For independent study projects, Scholars covered a variety of topics, including the immigration crisis on the southern border. Twenty-two internships were funded through the Supplemental Scholarship Program.
The MVLA Scholars Program intends to continue the Supplemental Scholarship Program due to its huge success in enabling valuable, career-enhancing internship experiences for Scholars, ensuring they are prepared for a full-time position upon graduation.
“I think this is one of the great parts about the MVLA Scholars Program,” Rich says. “It’s as important as the academic counseling, but in other words, training for a life post-college. This really just opens doors and takes you into that next step.”