College of Liberal Arts

Students Make an Impact with 2015 Summer Internships

Thu, Aug 27, 2015
Government senior Madeleine Toups rallied with the HRC outside the Supreme Court after the Obergefell v. Hodges hearing legalized same-sex marriage across the country.
Government senior Madeleine Toups rallied with the HRC outside the Supreme Court after the Obergefell v. Hodges hearing legalized same-sex marriage across the country.

This summer, liberal arts students took to professional settings with internships that helped sharpen their skills and develop their roles as employees.

Below, read about three students who interned in a variety of settings, from nonprofit organizations, to innovative local companies, to reputable news organizations.

Madeleine Toups

Major: Government and Liberal Arts Honors senior
Hometown: Spring, Texas
Internship: Human Rights Campaign, Finance Intern, Washington, D.C.

What was a typical day or week like for you at your internship?

Most of my work involved finance and accounting details. I learned a great deal about the specifics of non-profit finance through the yearly audit process, which I took part in.

In addition, I did the weekly check runs, which involved collecting check requests, confirming their accuracy, processing the requests, cutting the checks, acquiring the appropriate signatures and mailing/delivering the checks.

I also had various projects, including a new reimbursement policy for volunteers, tracking and organizing Pride event money from across the country and depositing checks from new members.

In addition to this, all of the HRC interns had “Brown Bag” meetings about once or twice a week. HRC would bring in a panel, specialist or HRC employee (as well as food) to discuss an issue affecting the LGBTQ community. I learned a great deal about HIV/AIDS, the Voting Rights Act, the Corporate Equality Index and discrimination against Transgender people.

Toups at the HRC headquarters.Toups at the HRC headquarters.

Do any significant moments this summer stand out?

The biggest moment of my summer came on June 26, when Obergefell v. Hodges legalized same-sex marriage across the country. I stood with all of the Human Rights Campaign outside of the Supreme Court to hear the news and it was phenomenal. I could feel the love all around me. People were crying, hugging, laughing and celebrating.

I met so many loving couples that day, including two women who had been partners for 14 years from Austin. They drove up on Thursday when the decision wasn’t announced, so they could be there on Friday for when it came down. They had so much joy in their eyes.

What did your experience this summer teach you?

This summer showed me why equality is so important. It’s hard to describe the overwhelming feeling of love on those steps that day, but it is something that I will never lose. There is still a long way to go for full LGBTQ equality, but I learned why and how to keep working for it.

HRC summer internsHRC summer interns

Did this internship impact your long-term plans?

I have always been interested in progressive issues and politics and this internship solidified my resolve. My long-term plans had previously involved graduate studies in the liberal arts field, but my work with the Human Rights Campaign showed me the interest I have in public policy and public health. These are two ways I can best assist the LGBTQ community, as well as other marginalized communities.

I am now looking at graduate studies in both of these fields, so that I can have a better, more positive impact on legislation and health-related work.

How did your experience as a liberal arts student help you this summer?

The UT College of Liberal Arts prepared me well for the position I took with HRC. Though I was in the finance department, I still had a great deal to do with writing and researching issues related to the Human Rights Campaign, much like my liberal arts classes taught me.

In addition, the knowledge I learned from classes related to the Supreme Court became a huge assistance this summer.

Is there anything else about your internship this summer that you want to share? 

Being at HRC, I was surrounded by a more diverse group of people than I have ever experience in Texas. I learned about the importance of pronouns and gender identification, and how this is wholly different from sexuality and attraction.

I also heard terrible stories of the discrimination faced by some of the most wonderful and positive people I have had the pleasure of meeting. HRC showed me how diverse our country is and the work we still have left to accomplish.

Read the rest of the story on Life & Letters.

To learn more about internships as a student in the College of Liberal Arts, visit Liberal Arts Career Services.

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