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Massry Fellowship Helps Students Achieve Learning Goals and Serve Nonprofits

Autumn Henry and Ethan Schek, winners of the Massry Community Fellows Program fellowships. (Photo by Paul Miller)

ALBANY, N.Y. (January 27, 2016) — Last summer, Autumn Henry and Ethan Schek of the Class of ’16 shared similar dilemmas: both were seeking internship work experience but also needed enough money for living expenses.

Autumn, a public health major, had hoped to intern with Radix, a two-person nonprofit urban environmental educational center. Instead, she lined up work as a summer school substitute teacher because the nonprofit could not afford to pay her.

Ethan, a business major, had worked at an area water park during previous summers, but really wanted a marketing internship with the Sidney Albert Albany Jewish Community Center (JCC). However, it too was a non-paying position and he couldn’t afford that.

Both found desirable solutions through the Massry Community Fellows Program, one of the initiatives funded through the Massry family’s 2014 $5.25 million gift to support the School of Business and key University-wide initiatives. Through the program, students arrange their own internships and apply for the fellowship, which pays the award at the conclusion of the summer.

A professor informed Autumn about the Massry fellowship which she promptly applied to and won one of the two available summer stipends. It allowed her to intern the summer at the Albany South End-based Radix, where she wrote grants and learned about urban farming.

Ethan won the other summer stipend, after being told about it by Deirdre Sweeney, the director of the School of Business Office of Career Services, which oversees the program along with the University’s career services office.

For Autumn, the experience allowed her to focus her direction. She found she enjoyed research and grant writing, but not farming. She continued her work into the fall semester at Radix — unpaid.

Ethan profited from his experience at JCC, as well. “In school you learn about the things that relate to corporate America,” he said. “I now have a grasp of how nonprofits work. It is a completely different entity.”

According to Noah Simon, director of the University at Albany Office of Career Services, there are many benefits to the fellowship. “It drives student interest, encouraging them to see the value in nonprofits. It integrates our students into the community and keeps students in the area by forming connections. It also increases UAlbany’s positive engagement in the community,” he said.

Sweeney noted that 20 minutes after the Massry gift was announced, the phone started ringing. Nonprofits were interested, and soon students were too. She believes that the Massry fellowship may now encourage others to fund internships for nonprofits.

“We hope this is a trend,” she said. “I am optimistic that UAlbany alumni will consider funding similar internship programs, possibly downstate or in other areas.”

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