Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Then & Now: Kate Cartagena

An Interview with a Former Fellow: Kate Cartagena

Kate Cartagena is not your average woman - she is passionate about giving back to the community, advocating for human rights, and implementing positive change in the world ... incredible, huh? 

The background story: 

Kate studied English-Creative Writing throughout her undergraduate career at Adelphi. She also minored in Gender Studies, Adolescent Education, and Psychology - as if one minor wasn't enough! Most impressively, Kate has been recognized as a Student Leader on campus, partaking in numerous clubs and organizations that further bolstered her professional skills and leadership experience. Kate is a member of the Delta Phi Epsilon Sorority, Omicron Delta Kappa Honor SocietySigma Lambda Honor Society, and Sigma Tau Delta Honor Society. She also played an active role in the Take Back the Night Planning Committee, promoting sexual violence awareness, and in the Resident Student Association. Kate's desire to give back propelled her to become a mentor in the Bridges to Adelphi Program, and her vision to explore the world was met by her study abroad experience in KeralaIndia.

Then, CFP happened ...

After completing her internship at the Suffolk County Coalition Against Domestic Violence (SCCADV), Kate felt compelled to further her involvement regarding women's issues and began interning at Planned Parenthood of Nassau County (PPNC). Kate's success story is particularly inspiring as she changed career paths and landed a full-time position just 6 months later! Given this young lady's tremendous accomplishments, we have posted her interview below. Read, absorb, and get motivated by the impact Kate's internship had on her personal and professional development.

Kate Cartagena
Public Affairs Coordinator
Planned Parenthood of Nassau County, Inc. & Planned
Parenthood of Nassau County Action Fund, Inc.

                                             THEN                                                 NOW


Q: What impact did the Community Fellows Program have on your personal development?

A: The Community Fellows Program took me away from my comfort zone and pushed me to want more for myself. With my experience at my nonprofit, I was able to hone in on my professional skills and turn my studies into knowledge and creativity on the job.

Q: How did interning at your nonprofit impact your career trajectory?

A: Interning at the Suffolk County Coalition Against Domestic Violence (SCCADV) completely changed my career trajectory. I was on the way to becoming an English teacher before my internship. As a passionate feminist, I was always interested in women’s issues. I thought the only way I could work in that field was by becoming a teacher and instilling my feminist values in my students with the books that I chose for them to read. However, with the recent changes in high school curriculum, I was a little nervous about the path I had chosen. The Community Fellows Program came at the perfect time. When I saw that SCCADV was an internship option, I immediately applied. I worked as their Public Affairs Intern and learned the ins-and-outs of my field. I worked on grant writing, legislative research, media inquiries, and our social media platforms. I even got to work in the hotline room and connect the women who called to the resources they needed. It felt so amazing to work for an organization that had the same values that I did. After my internship I went on to intern at Planned Parenthood of Nassau County (PPNC), and my experience at SCCADV helped propel me in PPNC’s advocacy work. My SCCADV Internship helped me realize that I could actually work in the field of women’s rights and support organizations that I care deeply about.

Q: Knowing what you know now, what would you say to current students considering applying for this year's Community Fellows?

A: Choose an organization that speaks to you. As an English major in the STEP Program I never thought that I would go into the Public Affairs and Policy field. I’m extremely lucky to have thrived in my positions, but knowing that I was helping an organization that I cared for and that did so much good was incredible. A lot of nonprofits will give volunteers and interns many opportunities to develop professionally. Volunteers and interns that display leadership and dedication to the cause or issue are much more likely to be given more responsibility, and considered heavily if they apply for open positions within the organization. I went from an intern to a part-time staff person to a full-time staff person over the course of six months. For me, although being in the Public Affairs field was never my goal as a freshman, working for an organization that had the same values as I did was incredibly rewarding. When you care for an organization and feel good about its mission, it is easy to find a position within it that can make you happy.

Q: What impact did your presence have on the nonprofit where you interned? What about the community it served?

A: At the end of my internship, I created a partnership between Adelphi University’s chapter of the Pi Lambda Phi Fraternity and SCCADV. I was the lead organizer on the fraternity’s first “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” fundraiser for the SCCADV. The brothers collected pledges and walked around the Garden City campus in high heels to urge the community to “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” and raise awareness for victims of intimate partner violence. The fraternity still holds this fundraiser for the SCCADV every spring. As for my work in the hotline room, I would love to think that all the people I spoke to on the phone found the help they were calling for and are healthy, safe, and happy.


Hopefully Kate's story has not only inspired you to participate in this year's Community Fellows Program but has also inspired you to reflect on your career objectives and personal goals. Remember - the CFP is a PAID summer internship program at a Nonprofit organization. Not only is it rewarding but it provides hands-on experience in your desired field. The application deadline is approaching - March 2nd- so get working and get excited. Be sure to check out the details here or on our website at http://career-center.adelphi.edu/ (Employment Opportunities -> Internships -> Community Fellows Program). Feel free to stop by the Center for Career Development, in Post Hall, for additional information. As always, thoughts and comments are greatly appreciated :) 

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