Community Scholars Turning Theory to Action

This month, we’re highlighting our two amazing interns from UMass Amherst’s Community Scholars Program: Emily and Niamh! As part of a two-year internship, these students support the organization in many ways across our communications and outreach initiatives. 

Positions: Outreach Intern (Emily); Communications Intern (Niamh)

How long you've been volunteering: 9 months

Fun facts: Emily has an identical twin. Niamh loves to crochet and taught herself with Youtube videos. 


Tell us about you!

Emily: I am a rising senior at UMass Amherst studying Sustainable Community Development. At Safe Passage, I am the Outreach Intern working to educate myself and others about how to build healthy, safe communities! At UMass I am also pursuing a minor in Studio Art and certificates in Civic Engagement and Public Service as well as Culture, Health, and Science. I also love to paint, read, and go biking!


Niamh: I'm an accounting major at UMass Amherst, dancer, swiftie [Taylor Swift fan]. I’m interested in working behind the scenes for organizations making change!


Why do you intern with Safe Passage?

A graphic with previously stated information about Emily and a picture of her holding a bouquet of dahlias and smiling widely at the camera.Emily: I intern with Safe Passage because I feel that creating safe spaces for all survivors is essential to fostering healthy, sustainable communities. I am grateful to be involved with an organization that engages the community with thoughtful and valuable resources!


Niamh: I want to get involved in my community! I want to be able to help make change—not in a “savior” way, but in a mutual aid way. Activism can be overwhelming, but I’m trying to find the ways that I can contribute to the work. 


What is a meaningful experience you've had during your Community Scholars internship?

Emily: At the Hot Chocolate Run, seeing the community come together to support survivors and advocate to end violence was so valuable to me, and I also enjoyed the opportunity to connect people with information about how to become involved with Safe Passage and other resources! 

At the Bement Youth LAB, I felt grateful to be able to hold space for discussions about important topics, like social identity, that may not have been part of the students' curriculum already. More generally, Safe Passage has brought me so many meaningful experiences working with people who are so passionate about ending violence and advocating for the needs of all survivors. 

I have learned so much within my first year at Safe Passage, and I am looking forward to continuing to expand my skills and knowledge surrounding outreach and violence prevention! I am also grateful to work with my peer, Niamh, with projects at Safe Passage in which we can support each other and help develop skills together! 


A graphic with previously stated information about Niamh and a picture of her smiling in the sun looking off into the distance.

Niamh: Volunteering and connecting with community members at the Hot Chocolate Run this past year was amazing (so was the hot chocolate!) and I loved helping to launch Safe Passage's Instagram this spring! It’s been a lot of fun. Even when it felt like I was muscling through it, I knew I was growing. 

Interning with Emily has made my experience more collaborative and fun! I really appreciate having another person to bounce ideas off of and learn with.


How do you bring your skills, knowledge, experiences, and resources to the work you do here?

Emily: I feel that I bring skills of active listening, thoughtful communication, and visual communication to the work I do at Safe Passage. My knowledge surrounding sustainability and equity through UMass also helps inform my work here! 


Niamh: I love learning about things I wouldn’t have an opportunity to learn in other situations, so I think I bring a lot of curiosity into my work. I can sort of fall in love with whatever and really throw myself into each project that is in front of me. 


Staff testimonials:

Emily quickly jumped into her role in the Community Engagement Department supporting Outreach, Youth Prevention, data collections, and our social media communications work. She has strong communication skills and works quickly! There were several times we discussed a project I expected would take a week or two and Emily had finished it in days!

I'm looking forward to collaborating with her next year when she is back from summer break and watching her continued achievement and growth!

–Amanda, Prevention and Outreach Manager and supervisor of Emily


“I think what I love most about Niamh is her willingness to try on new things. We’ve been building so much together this past year, and that can be super anxiety producing! But each time I asked her to push herself, she rose to the challenge, and it was wonderful to watch her confidence grow. Niamh also brings so much insight and humor into our work together, which always makes our supervision meetings joy-filled. I’m so excited to welcome her and Emily back for their second year this fall and see what we can accomplish together!”

–Alec, Community Engagement Coordinator and supervisor of Niamh 


Thank you for being a part of Safe Passage, Emily and Niamh!

To read other Volunteer Spotlights, click here. To learn more about the volunteer program at Safe Passage, check out the webpage here.