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Summer Nonprofit Immersion Intern J’Taime Lyons Named Truman Scholar

Junior J'Taime Lyons receives congratulations from President Nathan Hatch for grant from Harry S. Truman Foundation. Each merit-based scholarship provides $30,000 for graduate study for students who plan to pursue careers in government or other public service.

Lyons is one of 54 students from 48 U.S. colleges and universities named Truman Scholars. She is the 15th Truman Scholar at Wake Forest.

Lyons, who is majoring in sociology, plans to pursue a graduate degree in public policy with a focus on education.

“After graduation, I plan to become a Teach for America Corps member. In order to influence education and social policy, I must see what is happening first-hand,” says Lyons. “After graduate school, I hope to become an education policy advisor for a U.S. Senator, Representative or Governor. Eventually, I would like to be a state senator and eventually governor of North Carolina.”

Lyon’s reflects below on the value her experience in the Institute of Public Engagement’s Summer Nonprofit Immersion Program.

“I always knew that I wanted to make the world a better place for disadvantaged populations and that is  one of the reasons I did the internship.  The research I did in courses at Wake Forest showed me the power of education.  I realized that education would be the mechanism through which I would work for those who are disadvantaged. ”

Q & A with Truman Scholar J’Taime Lyons

When did you participate in the Summer Nonprofit Immersion program?

I did the program in the summer of 2010, before my sophomore year.

What would you say to other students about the summer immersion program?

The nonprofit realm has so many things to offer for anyone from any walk of life. Do not discount an experience because you feel it is only for certain majors and personality types. It provides training, support, a network on campus and in the city of Winston- Salem.

What motivated you to apply for the program?

As I completed my first year of a liberal arts course load I became highly interested in social issues. I had taken a writing seminar that focused on HIV and AIDS and this was a major influence.

Where were you then in your thinking about your career future?

Before the summer immersion experience, I was focused on a medical career. My writing seminar and the summer immersion internship showed me a whole new world and my passions.

Had you ever worked with a non-profit before?

Before this, I volunteered with my mother’s nonprofit, but this work gave me my first in-depth experience with the world of nonprofits.

What was your placement?

I worked at AIDS Care Service, Inc. (ACS) and I did many things: development, program planning, administrative work, and working at their home health facility. One of my most memorable activities was facilitating the support groups. I worked with a wide range of individuals who were HIV positive and really got to understand their daily lives, obstacles, and triumphs. This experience opened my eyes to my calling of serving underserved and stigmatized populations.

How would you describe the intensive business-training seminar?

The business training seminar provided me with another layer of development on my path towards having my own educational nonprofit. It showed me that in order to make the change we need, we must have our house in order. That is exactly what I learned how to do thanks to the nonprofit management component.

What did you find valuable about the reading and reflection portion of the program?

The readings allowed me to truly perform self-reflection, to find what areas of life make me happy and to discern what I most wanted to pursue. They opened a box of possibilities.

Did you meet people through the program who have influenced your choices?

The passion of my cohort of fellow interns had a powerful effect on me.

How did you become interested in education and education policy?

I became interested in education and education policy through my major, through the documentary, Waiting for Superman, and through reflecting on my life.

I always knew that I wanted to make the world a better place for disadvantaged populations and that is also one of the reasons I did the internship.  The research I did in courses at Wake Forest showed me the power of education.  I realized that education would be the mechanism through which I would work for those who are disadvantaged.

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