Largest Group of Tarver Interns Finish Out the Program’s Sixth Year
Ten students completed the Tarver internship this summer in the program’s sixth year, representing the program’s largest class since its conception. A step above an average internship, selected students partner with a local nonprofit and complete an independent project that is directly aligned with their interests. Students also take a three-credit course, Nonprofits and Civic Engagement, to further inform their internship experience.
The Tarver program started in the summer of 2014 with one student and has since hosted a total of 34 student interns at a number of nonprofits, including Scenic Hudson, Upward Bound, Nubian Directions II, Grace Smith House and more.
The program started at the urging of its benefactors, former Dean of the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences Margaret Calista and her husband Donald, a retired faculty member in the School of Management. The longtime Poughkeepsie residents sought an avenue for students to explore civic leadership in the area. The program is named for Rupert and Marie Tarver, two civic leaders in the city of Poughkeepsie.
Dr. Melissa Gaeke has overseen the program since she joined the Marist faculty in August 2014 and champions the program’s core mission.
“It’s not just about going into Dutchess Outreach and working in their food pantry and the Lunch Box. It’s also then thinking about food insecurity and what can we do about it,” Gaeke said.
While the majority of the Tarver interns are students in the School of Liberal Arts or the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, the program is conducive to a wide variety of majors, including business and communication. Students who apply to the program indicate their interests in the nonprofits and rank them accordingly. Once they make the finalist round, the candidates then narrow in on their nonprofit of choice.
Angelica Radomski ’21 entered the Tarver application process uncertain about where she wanted to spend her summer. As a hopeful lawyer, she thought she’d pursue a legal services position but ultimately decided to expand outside of her comfort zone and follow a cause close to her heart at Mental Health America of Dutchess County.
Her day-to-day tasks included primarily social media content creation in the development department until she began her independent project: a festival to encourage members of the community to take a mental health day and learn about the resources available in their county.
“I fundraised over $2000 in eight weeks for the festival,” Radomski said. “It really gives you a position of power that no other entry level position or internship gives you because it really allows you to dive deep into what you want to work on within the organization.”
Over the past six years, Gaeke has overseen a number of memorable projects, such as a self-esteem workshop, a literature review on empathy and research on micro plastics, to name a few. Each project strives to add value to the respective organization while fostering the student’s specific interests.
Aside from their individual internships and projects, the Tarver interns spend every Monday in class together. Three additional faculty mentors join Gaeke in the seminar-style class. Students are given weekly readings touching a breadth of topics from cultural awareness to public policy.
From classroom time to their shared experiences living on the quiet campus, Radomski said that she forged close relationships with her fellow Tarver interns.
“I was terrified going into it, but I’ve met lifelong friends that I’ll have even after the internship,” Radomski said.
With its sixth year completed, the program continues to support students investing their time and energy into the community just outside of Marist’s walls. But Gaeke said the perspective students gain is just as impactful.
“They really are immersed in the city of Poughkeepsie. They’re thinking about broad public issues. They’re thinking about the role of nonprofits in affecting change, and they’re learning a lot about themselves along the way.”