Rekeik Meshesha first heard about KD Hall Foundation’s summer internship program when she was a junior at the University of Washington, where she was majoring in law, society and justice.
“A friend told me about it because it was a nonprofit focused on the empowerment of women,” Rekeik says. She decided to apply.
During a short phone interview, Kela Hall, the Foundation’s cofounder and president, asked Rekeik about her academic interests and why she wanted to be part of the internship program. What Rekeik didn’t know, but would soon find out, was that her new connection to Kela and the Foundation would propel her into a whole new world of career interests and opportunity.
“Kela is really good at helping people highlight their talents,” Rekeik said. “Everyone was given a task that was specific to their interests or academic fields. It’s nice to see how that environment really facilitated people gaining experience in their respective fields.”
The internship program Rekeik participated in was funded, in part, by a $10,000 grant from Swedish Health Services, an affiliate of Providence. Providence has a system-wide commitment to education. It is a component of the organization’s long heritage, and recognition that a strong education is closely linked to healthy outcomes. Education programs like those provided by KD Hall Foundation align with Providence’s priorities for 2019: Addressing social determinants of health through support for career and college readiness, and developing a talent pipeline.
“Swedish’s involvement was significant,” says Kela. “I can’t even tell you how valuable that funding was for each student.”
In many ways, Kela says, the partnership with Swedish makes sense: “Swedish cares about what we care about, and we’re in alignment in many ways, like educating the community.”
For Rekeik, the funding gave her an opportunity to work for a nonprofit and gain experience in event planning, fundraising, sponsorships and boosting KD Hall Foundation’s image online. Rekeik was one of 10 interns who helped plan and implement the Foundation’s flagship program, the Girls on the Rise conference, and a new program that will begin fall 2020 at Evergreen High School.
The experience was so positive for her that she returned in 2019, the summer of her senior year, for an entirely different role. This time, she worked with the Northwest African American Museum doing event management and communications.
“I was really interested in the role because I have an interest in history, arts, culture and community engagement,” she says.
Now, instead of pursuing a law degree, Rekeik is applying to go to the London School of Economics for graduate school. She has learned that she loves doing community work and working to promote diversity and inclusion.
“Even if it’s not specific to a major or a job type, I think KD Hall has equipped me with skills and experience for any type of job or any career field,” Rekeik says. “The program connects you to the people you want to be connected with.”
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