Princeton Internships in Civic Service

Praise for Alumni Partners


ALUMNI PARTNERS: Bill Benjamin ’69 & Mary Strother ’90

Bill Benjamin first got involved with PICS in the late 90s when his classmate Lawrence Morris ’69 encouraged Bill to sponsor interns at the organization he was close. At the time, his law firm, WilmerHale, had an education initiative to work with Boston-based Jumpstart.

Through the years, Bill has come to express PICS as a “worthwhile program that gives great opportunities to the intern and provides significant value to the organization,” in addition to fostering “a larger community of alumni supporting internships and the connection to campus through the intern.”

“It’s an opportunity to make a difference,” he adds. Like many veteran alumni mentors who can speak to the lasting connections with undergraduate interns made possible through PICS, Bill conveys, “It has been a happy development seeing two of the interns I’ve mentored go on to law school and begin practicing as lawyers.”

One of the Princetonians who benefited from Bill’s mentorship is two-time former intern Jared Nicholson ’08, who interned at Jumpstart as a rising junior in 2006.

“My mentor the summer I worked at Jumpstart has been an inspiring role model since I met him. He has offered very helpful career advice on numerous occasions, as I contemplated entering his chosen profession as a lawyer. He even generously set me up to speak with some of his law partners when I was deciding what kind of law to pursue,” reveals Jared.

He adds, “My work at Discovering Justice and Jumpstart played a very important role in getting me to the point of [starting] a two-year legal aid fellowship to contribute to community economic development in Lynn and Lawrence by helping low-income clients overcome barriers to small business-led growth that benefits those communities.”

However, with Bill Benjamin’s retirement in 2012, he looked to his alumni connection at his law firm to carry the PICS legacy forward. He invited Mary Strother ’90 to support and become involved with PICS, ensuring that financial contributions and mentorship for interns at Boston-based nonprofit Jumpstart would continue.

“I meet the person benefiting from my contribution, and I get to know the organization benefiting from the intern’s work, allowing me to have something tangible at the end of my donation,” says Mary.

Echoing Bill’s sentiments, Mary relates her experience as “a very rewarding opportunity to to serve and mentor an intern through the summer, and forge a relationship that can develop over the years, even after their graduation.”

Both Bill and Mary strive to be a source of support as a PICS mentor for the interns, working to ensure “their experience is a positive one” and to provide “an outlet for them if they have issues or suggestions for the program in an effort to improve PICS.” For those unfamiliar with Boston, they extend “a warm welcome and introduction into the area by connecting them with housing and other opportunities, in addition to a view of the kind of work [they] perform.”

Fast-forward to the present time, and the PICS impact on interns remains as strong as ever.

“My alumni partners were very kind and engaging. The alumni partner aspect of PICS was very valuable to me and made me feel that I was establishing connections and skills that I could draw upon in future ventures,” reflects Avery Stewart ’16, last summer’s Jumpstart intern.


ALUMNI PARTNERS: Paul Haaga ’70 & Heather Haaga S’70

“Heather and I have been blessed with the ability to support Princeton and its students in a number of ways, but none is more personally enjoyable and satisfying than the PICs internship program. In addition to providing the necessary financial support, we have been able to connect in a very meaningful way as alumni partners to the interns who serve in our local non-profits. We get much more than we give whenever we are with them—their dedication, curiosity, talent and other-directedness are simply inspirational and we enjoy every minute we can spend with them. They are excellent mentees because they are so interested in learning from our experiences and reflections—we feel that our ability to have some influence in their lives magnifies our own impact on the world. Spending time with the interns also reminds us why so many of our lifelong friends are Princeton people. We will be forever thankful to our classmate and good friend Ralph Binder ’70 for offering us this opportunity.”


“My relationship with Mr. Haaga has been very positive. He was very interested in where I’d come from and what my interests and goals are. Mr. Haaga also graciously sent an introductory email to several people at the Princeton University Art Museum, as I’d like to start being more involved there. He also took me and other interns (past and present) out to dinner, and gave us tickets to events like the symphony at the Hollywood Bowl. It’s been great to know I had his support this summer and that I will continue to have his support in the upcoming years. I’m looking forward to seeing him when he’s on campus and when I go back to California.  Mairead Horton‘17

“The alumni partner component in PICS is very important and valuable. He was very busy, but he made sure to meet with each of us towards the start of the summer, and gave the interns many opportunities to meet and interact with each other. He made himself available as a contact person for the organizations as well as the interns to assure that we had the best experience possible. It was great to get to know him over various meetings during the summer. He has stayed in close contact with many past PICS interns and has introduced them to us as a supportive network. I really look forward to keeping in touch with him. He was a wonderful partner.” Nora Niazian ‘17

“My alumni partner was great. He invited all the interns to his home for a meet and greet with the interns and their new co-workers. He also was generous with allowing us to go to different events he had during the summer. He also visited me at my internship and we talked about school and careers.” Bianca DiGiovanni ‘15

“I loved having an alumni partner. Mr. Haaga gave me great advice, helped me find things to do in the area and was a joy to meet with. I really enjoyed getting breakfast with Mr. Haaga and I highly recommend that future interns try to develop a relationship with their alumni partner as it really enhanced my experience.” Elise Rise ‘15

“Paul Haaga went above and beyond what I expected from a PICS alumni partner. When I wasn’t able to attend the Los Angeles meet-up at the beginning of the summer, Paul took time out of his schedule to visit me at the agency where I was working (My Friend’s Place) to talk about my internship as well as my career interests. He was a constant supportive presence throughout the summer, and he facilitated contact with important people in career fields I was considering. Paul’s commitment to nonprofit endeavors and the PICS program amazed me, but his dedication to the interns was stunning.” Kathryn Scott, ‘15


ALUMNI PARTNERS: Chris Milton ’69 & Cathy Milton S’69

“Cathy and I have truly enjoyed serving as PICS alumni partners for the 7 interns who now have worked with the folks at BHCHP.    We have tried to ensure that each intern has had a stimulating experience each summer, which has given us an excuse to meet each intern relatively early in the internship, and to have a dinner or two as the internship progressed.   We also have arranged for each intern to make a formal presentation to BHCHP’s leadership and the other staff with whom each intern has worked, at which each intern described the summer’s experiences, and what the intern learned or otherwise gained from the internship.  As we typically attend that presentation, we have been able to better coordinate with the folks at BHCHP to improve the quality of the internship over time.  This has in turn led to an increasingly sophisticated set of assignments for the interns, as BHCHP came to understand fully what a PICS intern can achieve.  Not only have we learned a great deal about the issues confronting the homeless and the folks at BHCHP caring for them, but we have experienced a stronger connection to Princeton and its undergraduates.  Cathy and I often reflect together upon the many insights we have gained from serving in this role over the years, and how much younger in outlook (although perhaps not in body) we are as a result.”


“I am very grateful for my relationship with Chris and Cathy Milton. They definitely made me feel welcome, and I felt like I had someone to turn to if I ever needed anything while in an unknown city. And equally important, throughout the summer I kept them up-to-date on patient interaction experiences as well as my projects. We had the opportunity to discuss my projects in depth while having a scrumptious dinner. But most important, we also got to form a lovely relationship and I will most definitely stay in touch with Chris and Cathy as time passes by. Looking back, I am incredibly grateful that PICS has such a component in place.” Paula Pacheco ‘15

“Chris Milton was my alumni partner. He and his wife believe steadfastly in the mission of the program, and they were so attuned to making sure that my experience was a wonderful one as well. Before and throughout my entire internship, Mr. Milton was in touch with me by E-mail, and he always responded within 12 hours. He regularly checked to make sure that my work was going well and emphasized that I could turn to him for any needs, questions, or even complaints in order to keep the internship experience as positive as possible. At the beginning, he invited my co-workers and I to a welcome lunch. I also had the chance to have dinner with the Miltons mid-way through my internship, and thanks to their generosity, I also got to see a very exciting Red Sox game. The support and guidance that I received from my alumni partner made me feel so at-ease throughout the entire internship, and the Miltons were so kind and interested in the work that I was doing. Throughout the summer, they knew all of my supervisors, the general outline of my project, and they had made sure to initiate contact with my BHCHP mentors even before I arrived. They helped me to transition to Boston and the work place, and I knew I could count on them for friendly support at any time.”  Diane Jeon ‘14


ALUMNI PARTNER: Katie Kuga Werner ’04

“I feel very fortunate to have been a part of the PICS internship program over the past several years.  Being able to serve as a mentor to Princeton students interning in the non-profit world in New York City has not only been educational but also very rewarding. I have really enjoyed getting to know each mentee and learning more about their internship experiences as well as their aspirations and goals in life.  Each mentee’s motivation and dedication to learning has been very impressive.  The opportunity to be not only a mentor but also a friend to each of these students has been invaluable. And these friendships that I have built over the years will certainly last a lifetime. I am very thankful for the opportunity to be a part of such an important program.”


“My alumni partner was one of my favorite parts of the internship.  Katie was absolutely wonderful, even though most of her help wasn’t really to do with the internship but more to do with helping me get used to the city life.  We met several times, and she was very supportive, outgoing, and encouraging.  She gave me lots of ideas about things to do in the city, where to join a gym, anything I asked for.” Amanda Santillo ‘13


ALUMNI PARTNER: Blythe Haaga ’05

“I’ve been a PICS mentor for the past two years and have met in the process three amazing Princeton students, shared with them a love of Chicago and of the Field Museum, and been witness to their enthusiasm and intelligence. Spending time with current students reminds you how uniquely curious, other-serving and intelligent Princeton students are, which makes PICS as rewarding for the alumni involved as it is for the participating students.”


“The alumni partner component of my internship was a very meaningful part of the experience and an important benefit of participating in the PICS program. I was lucky enough to have two alumni partners, Blythe Haaga and Bob Loveman, and they both went out of their way to reach out to me, include me in events, and make me feel comfortable in Chicago. Especially at the beginning of the summer when I was new to the city, having my two partners as contacts helped me immensely. The relationships I formed with them were very valuable, and I’m grateful that PICS provided the opportunity to connect with them.”  Julia Marsh ‘14


ALUMNI PARTNER: Robert Clarke Brown ’69

“I have had the pleasure of serving for several years as an alumni partner to Princeton students working in a Cleveland neighborhood which is one of the places hardest hit by the nation’s foreclosure crisis.  My association with them has enabled me to learn more about the effect foreclosures have on urban neighborhoods.  Even more interesting, it’s given me and my family an opportunity to meet a few of the terrific young people who are today’s undergraduates.”


“I think my alumni partner and I had a good relationship, and it did have a positive impact on the experience. His field was not the same as the one I was working in, but nevertheless it was good to have someone outside [of my internship] who understood the Princeton part of the program. We met 3 times over the course of the internship, and he was kind enough to have me over to his house for dinner, which meant a lot to me. I think having an alumni partner is what makes this internship special, and was one of the reasons that I was so excited to be a part of the program. “ Sanjay Rao ‘16