I think the work that Isles, Inc. is doing impacts systemic inequality in Trenton in various ways and I am very glad that I was able to be a part of that, even if only for the summer. In a time when we are beginning to talk about race under a exceedingly critical lens, in a time when we are beginning to call attention to the systemic systems that we inflict upon black bodies— whether it be the system of poverty or unsafe drinking water, which Isles is working to combat in both issues in various ways. I think I went in to my internship expecting to know more about the way that non-profits work, and in that aspect, I definitely received that educational experience as Mrs. Gray would often have me sit on very important meetings that were essential to the running of the organization— but I also received much more about the inner workings of upper-level management, grant writing, professionalism, and how to navigate an unfamiliar area.
Isles, Inc. has a motto that says “building self-reliance.” When I first came to Isles, I expected that the self-reliance would just be for the students we were serving. However, I quickly found that this belief was challenged very quickly, because in my third week, I was asked to complete some data research for a grant the Isles Youth Institute was applying for. I found myself incredibly stumped— I didn’t even know where to begin, or what my director would expect of me. I didn’t know how to format a spreadsheet, or where to get the statistical numbers to start the research. My first instinct was to run and express my concerns to my director or another staff member, but I remembered “building self reliance” and I remembered that the whole point of an internship is to learn new things, to push the boundaries and grow more independence. And that’s exactly what I tried to do. Instead of running to someone else, I did my best to solve my problems on my own. And in that, I was able to formulate a good plan that my director absolutely loved and I think that made her respect me in a way that I don’t think she did before. And that is the best way to describe my educational growth. It taught me to trust myself more, along with learning to examine systemic poverty and race relations from a completely different angle. Working with Isles didn’t change my career considerations, but rather solidified them. The kind of work I want to do (open my own medical nonprofit) is directly in line with this internship. It just gave me more information to do what I want to do.