2014 McKeen Community Fellows and Their Placements

Katherine Churchill '16

Katherine Churchill

Katie Churchill’s '16 (English and French) fellowship at the Maine Center for Economic Policy was comprised of writing, reading, thinking, and meeting. She traveled frequently with MECEP staff to the State House in Augusta for taskforces and hearings—working to connect with other like-minded organizations around the state to cooperatively advance the quality of life for Mainers by disseminating thoughtful policy strategies to the public and legislators alike.

"I know Maine so much better because of my time here at MECEP. The staff is lovely, welcoming, and extraordinarily passionate and knowledgeable about their work. My project, which focused on a student loan tax credit called Opportunity Maine, helped me develop a deeper understanding of college affordability and access in Maine. It’s been an awesome experience!"

Justin Ehringhaus '16

Justin Ehringhaus

Justin Ehringhaus '16 (Asian Studies) spent his summer working with Community Financial Literacy, a small nonprofit organization based in Portland, Maine that provides immigrants, refugees, and asylees with money management workshops, courses, and counseling at no cost. His major projects included developing curriculum and designing materials for a new course, installing and troubleshooting a NAS server, and writing a needs assessment report based on his research, survey, and focus group information. Attending CFL courses, especially, has inspired him to consider declaring a minor in Education.

"I began my summer fellowship fearing my entry into the 'business-casual' world. Now, I wish I could stay longer. The staff at CFL is incredible – each person I have met has taught me a little bit more about the importance of taking risks, making mistakes, and asking questions. Working toward bettering the lives of immigrants and refugees in Portland has been the best opportunity imaginable for me to gain substantive job and life skills."

Kelsey Freeman '16

Kelsey Freeman

This summer Kelsey Freeman '16 (Government & Legal Studies) interned at The Mitchell Institute, compiling data on college enrollment, college persistence, and degree completion for students in Maine. She used these statistics to help write a report on college-going trends. Kelsey contributed to a committee who brainstormed ideas for creating a Mitchell Institute college aspirations program by collecting data to help pinpoint high schools with the greatest need. Additionally, Kelsey created a project where she researched and wrote a report on college-going trends among Native American students in Maine.

"I have gained valuable research experience and insight into working at a nonprofit and now have a much better sense of some of the barriers to higher education for Maine's students and the promising practices that help students overcome these barriers. This experience has also provided me with resources to investigate education among Native communities in Maine, a topic I've been particularly interested in and plan to pursue further."

Brian Golger '15

Brian Golger

Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project is devoted to providing legal assistance to Maine's low-income immigrant population. This summer, Brian Golger '15 (Government & Legal Studies) assisted attorneys with legal and administrative work. Most of his time was spent with the pro se clinic, where he set up and conducted forms assistance, in which he would prepare individuals' applications for various forms of legal status, including legal permanent residency, employment authorization, petitions to bring relatives, obtaining asylum, and Obama’s DACA program (Deferred Action for early Childhood Arrivals).

"My summer at ILAP has been an incredible learning experience and has opened my eyes to the issues that low-income immigrants face here in Maine. I worked closely with ILAP's attorneys and saw first-hand the importance of nonprofits in our local communities. Working with ILAP has given me valuable insight into the complexities of immigration law and has inspired me to further explore my interests in immigrant/refugee work."

Jordan Lantz '15

Jordan Lantz

Jordan Lantz '15 (History) spent his summer working with Oasis Free Clinics in Brunswick providing free, quality health care to persons of limited means in greater Bath-Brunswick. He worked with the Community Prescription Assistance Program that helps Medicare and Medicaid patients, and those with no insurance obtain free prescription medication, and he organized and facilitated a meeting of leaders and physicians from the free clinics in Maine to lay the groundwork for future collaboration.

"This fellowship allowed me the freedom to explore self-directed projects as well as taking part in daily clinical work. Working with Oasis exposed me to how socioeconomics and limited resources affect one's health. My plans to enter the field of public health, focusing on health behavior and the social determinants of health have been emboldened and I hope to continue working to provide affordable, accessible, and equitable care to underserved populations."

Elena Schaef '15

Elena Schaef

Elena Schaef '15 (English and French) spent her summer with ArtVan, providing free mobile arts therapy programs to children, teens and adults in underserved neighborhoods. Her work ranged from planning and executing the logistics of daily programs to sorting and cleaning supplies in the storage space. She participated in grant research and writing and collected information on the programs' efficacy. Elena also introduced improvisational theatre activities for ArtVan students.

"My experience was absolutely joyful, meaningful, and inspiring. My co-workers taught me about art therapy, led me in psychology, were wonderful friends, and allowed me my own opportunities to learn and teach. Being surrounded by such beautiful and healthy artistic and creative energy has been invigorating. Most of all, the children have opened my eyes and my heart wider than they have ever been before. I couldn’t imagine a worthier or more moving way to spend my summer."

Caitlin Shaffer '16

Caitlin Shaffer

Caitlin Shaffer '16 (Psychology) spent her summer at Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program (MCHPP) and The Food Security Coalition of Mid Coast Maine (FSC). For MCHPP, she created a series of surveys which were administered in the Food Pantry and in the Soup Kitchen to determine client satisfaction and analyze the effectiveness of their programs. For FSC, she created and updated operating manuals for five food pantries throughout the region. Caitlin also collaborated with ArtVan at a Summer Feeding Site and tabled with Oasis Free Clinic in the Food Pantry.

"Working at MCHPP exposed me not only to how much hunger there is in Maine, but also to the many different ways nonprofits are trying to combat this pressing issue. Some of my day-to-day responsibilities included surveying clients, interviewing directors of other food pantries, and touring a myriad of food banks and soup kitchens. The diverse range of responsibilities and projects made my internship dynamic, challenging and very fulfilling."

Tenzin Tsagong '16

Tenzin Tsagong

In her fellowship at Preble Street-Maine Hunger Initiative, Tenzin Tsagong '16 (Government & Legal Studies) helped advance their mission of ending hunger and reducing poverty in the state of Maine through her management of the Farm to Pantry program which pairs 23 food pantries in Cumberland County with local farms in Maine that supply fresh produce throughout the growing season. She supported the USDA Summer Food Service Program that provides free summer meals for kids in underserved areas through community outreach efforts to promote the meal sites and recruit volunteers.

"This fellowship has exposed me to the prevalence of hunger and food insecurity that affects so many families and individuals in communities from Portland to Westbrook, and even in Brunswick. I am inspired by the widespread, collective efforts of food pantries, food banks, and advocacy groups like Preble Street-Maine Hunger Initiative to address these issues."