Former RAISE Intern Returns to Where Her Journey Began

By RAISE Intern Supervisor Mercedes Sylva

My experience as an intern was life changing – a passion for education was ignited, and  goals that once seemed out of reach became obtainable with my newfound skillsets. Graduating high school would not have been possible without the mentorship I received during my RAISE Program internship at Southcentral Foundation. While homeschooling during my junior year, RAISE Program employees advised me to attend Specialized Academic Vocational Education High School. By attending SAVE, an alternative high school, I was able to catch up on my credits and graduate with my class. The memory of walking across the stage to receive my diploma is cherished and held close to my heart.

The RAISE Program internship was an opportunity for me to get in-depth on-the-job training. My internship experience was mainly focused on worksite development. My time was spent working with SCF Public Relations and the  Office.

When I joined the RAISE Program, I was shy and nervous. The program taught communication skills, checking-in, and public speaking. It focused on the value of checking-in and how that can impact a team dynamic. By the end of my internship, while I was nervous to present, I was able to share my story in work groups at an SCF Nuka Conference and the National Indian Education Association’s Annual Convention and Trade Show.

The RAISE Program offered mentorship and training while using cool and exciting ways of teaching us new things. Cultural activity projects, such as making a traditional drum, sewing a kuspuk, and helping with the fishnet at the Kenaitze Indian Tribe Educational Fisheries, were valuable to me. I got lots of practice processing fish!

By being a part of the RAISE internship, I walked away with lifelong friends, good memories, and a skillset that allowed me to jumpstart my academic and professional careers. As a result of the skills developed during my internship, I acquired full-time work and enrolled in college. From there I obtained my associate degree in general studies, which allowed me to explore career paths. Now I’m going back to school this fall to work toward a bachelor’s degree in business management. As a RAISE intern, I learned how powerful it is to believe in someone, the value of teamwork, how to speak from the heart, and professional skills that led me to a rewarding career. SCF supervisors offered professional guidance and shared profound life lessons.

My journey has come full circle, and I am back at the RAISE Program but in a new role — RAISE intern supervisor. Providing mentorship and training for youth is vital. They are the next generation of leaders. In my new position, my aim is to share knowledge and tools that will help RAISE interns in their journeys through school, work, and life.

For more information about RAISE Program, call (907) 729-5015.

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