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Graduate Student Selected to Participate in 2019 Community Scholars Program

Michelle Benloss, a graduate student in the School of Social Work, has been accepted into the Community Scholars Program, a competitive 10-week summer internship that matches participants with partner organizations to learn about various facets of community development. The program, which is sponsored by the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey, offers real-world experience in areas including strategic planning, coordination and negotiation, fiscal management, and more.

“I am delighted that I was selected as one of the 15 participants of the 2019 Community Scholars Program,” Benloss said, expressing gratitude for the support of her family, mentors Colleen Beach, M.S.W., L.S.W., and Anne Deepak, Ph.D., in the School of Social Work, and internship supervisor Jessica Kostenblatt. “I’m excited to [participate in] the program because it means my hard work and sacrifices were worth it.”

Benloss is most looking forward to the program’s annual legislative day in Trenton, where there will be opportunities to speak with representatives about supporting public policies that will improve communities. While she has not yet been assigned her partner organization for the summer, Benloss aims to work in areas including community development, policy, and advocacy.

“My goal is to work for an organization that influences and contributes to the creation of policies that will support the dignity and worth of society’s members, such as the oppressed, underserved, and vulnerable,” Benloss explained. “This internship program will provide me with a myriad of experiences such as planning, communication, fiscal management, problem-solving, time management, and most importantly an opportunity to observe the legislative process. These are skills that will be fundamental in molding me for my future endeavors.”

Benloss, who is pursuing a concentration in global and community practice, is set to graduate with her master’s degree in social work next spring. Her colleague Alexandra Ganim participated in the Community Scholars Program last summer. Ganim was partnered with the Affordable Housing Alliance and helped raise funds to support the organization’s community services, such as an after school program for children, elderly support, a food pantry, and more. Ganim has recently completed her master’s in social work with a concentration in global and community practice and will earn her degree at the graduate commencement ceremony this Thursday, May 16.