Students intern for Southeast Como

Urban studies majors are required to intern before graduating to gain experience.

Urban studies senior Sarah Juetten gets to do what she loves: make a community more environmentally savvy.

With the help of an internship at the Southeast Como Improvement Association, Juetten said she is working on projects for the community while fulfilling a credit for her major.

The University’s urban studies program requires students to intern before graduating, said Paula Pentel, urban studies coordinator of undergraduate advising.

“It’s designed to help students curious about cities put together a degree program that meets their interest,” she said.

If a student doesn’t like an internship, said Pentel, he or she can still learn from it.

“They may learn through this that it does or doesn’t fit for their own personal values and for their own skill sets,” Pentel said.

The SECIA has three interns this semester and has had consistent help from interns in the University’s urban studies department since 2001, said James De Sota, Southeast Como neighborhood coordinator.

Interns with the neighborhood work on projects in three different areas: The “Green Village,” restorative justice and urban development.

Juetten said she is working with Southeast Como’s environmental coordinator, renting bicycles to neighborhood residents.

She said she hopes residents use bicycles to go grocery shopping and get around campus.

She also said she struggles to get other students involved with the neighborhood.

“College students come and go, and so it’s been really difficult to get them involved in the projects that we’re doing,” she said.

She said she and others will “just have to wait” for more people to get on board.

City ordinances and enforcement are problems for senior Michelle Ward.

As part of her internship, Ward said she meets with city council members to discuss how to solve urban problems like overoccupancy and absent landlords.

The neighborhood’s restorative justice intern, senior Aaroosh Jain, said he helps residents who have made minor offenses set up their community service terms and apologize to neighbors.

Jain said he has overseen various community service projects, from making photo collages and murals to basic neighborhood cleanup.

Jain said the most surprising part of his project is that people want to make amends for the offenses they’ve committed.

“Once they really start doing it, I think they find that they, themselves, are satisfied by it,” he said.