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2019 SBAN Interns

Marilyn Holifield '69 and Professor Keith Reeves '88 present at the SBAN Donor Luncheon in fall 2018

Thanks to generous contributions from Swarthmore Black Alumni Network members, SBAN offers annual support for student internships through the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility. 

In early 2019, SBAN formalized their relationship with the Lang Center and offered opportunities for students. Students interested in researching Black culture, Black history, criminal justice, urban inequality, environmental justice, access to housing, access to education, cultural equity, social justice initiatives impacting communities of color, and the arts can apply for summer funding through the Lang Center. In 2017 and 2018, interns were selected through Professor Keith Reeves ’88’s Urban Inequality and Incarceration program.

Check back later this summer to meet the 2020 interns Angeline Etienne '22, Ayleah Johnson '22, and Maleyah Peterson '21.

Meet the 2019 Interns

David Buckley '21David Buckley '21

Lusaka Lusaka, Zambia
Black Studies & Social Justice Studies double major

David, a Junior who grew up in St. Petersburg, Fla. and Lusaka, Zambia, is pursuing a double major in Black Studies and Social Justice Studies. David’s ethnicity as a Biracial West Indian, in addition to his upbringing in Black America and Sub-Saharan Africa, has instilled in him a profound appreciation, love, and passion for his people. On campus, he is the Dare 2 Soar Site Coordinator for Chester Eastside Ministries, spending time tutoring youth in Chester throughout the week. David is also an executive board member of Students for Transformative Justice, Prison Abolition, and Reform, or STAR, the Policy Director for the Philadelphia Chapter of Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), and a Senator At-Large for Swarthmore’s Student Government Organization. This past summer, David was an undergraduate intern for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. where he helped to create the content for the 2020 Census Guide and 2021 Redistricting Guide that the LDF will release to its partner organizations and communities. His experience with the LDF has cemented his desire to attend law school after his time at Swarthmore, and he hopes that he can utilize the law to work towards racial justice for Black Americans, and Black people throughout the African Diaspora. David is currently studying abroad in Trinidad and Tobago for his Junior fall; in his free time he enjoys playing basketball, making music with friends, and playing the steel pan.

"For countless years of my life, I have felt passionate about the pursuit of racial justice in the United States of America. The U.S. is my home, but as a Black man I have seen and experienced myriad instances that would make one think that this were not the case. Consequently, my own personal mission and convictions align perfectly with those of the NAACP LDF, and the passionate individuals who work for the organization. The common thread of racial justice tied us all together, despite our being from a plethora of backgrounds and identities. Every day that I attended my internship, my fellow interns, colleagues, supervisors, and administrators proved to me that they, as a collective, were also people who were entirely dedicated to the advancement and collective betterment of the conditions for Black Americans, and I absolutely cherished such an environment.

However, I would be remiss to not acknowledge the Swarthmore Black Alumni Network and the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility; I would not have had this chance if not for you all. If not for the funds so generously granted to me, I would not have been able to afford to work in New York over the summer and I would not have had the chance to gain such life-altering work experience. In conclusion, I am thankful to the individuals and organizations who made this opportunity possible for me. I hope that my present and future endeavors to pursue racial justice through the law, regardless of whether those endeavors are with the LDF, make the members of the Swarthmore Black Alumni Network, my fellow Black Americans, and our ancestors proud.

David Buckley on the first day day of work in the offices of the NAACP LDF, standing in front of various legal texts

"This is a photo of me on my first day of work, in the offices of the NAACP LDF. I am standing in front of various legal texts, and just beside me (although not pictured) is the actual desk of Thurgood Marshall, which he used while he was the Director Counsel of the organization." —David Buckley


Malik (Nya) Kuziwa '22

Waltham, Mass.

"This summer, I had the opportunity to work with the Chester Community Fellowship, through which I was assigned an internship with Chester Youth Courts. Youth Courts are a disciplinary diversion program where students are trained to hear cases and create a restorative disposition through a process similar to a real courtroom. Schools have the opportunity to refer student cases requiring disciplinary action to Youth Courts instead of traditional measures, such as suspension or expulsion. In this way, Youth Courts are often advertised as a short-term “solution” to the school-to-prison pipeline. 

Sara Laine '21Sara Laine '21

West Orange, N.J.
Peace & Conflict Studies and Political Science double major

Sara is a junior at Swarthmore College from West Orange, N.J. She is pursuing a double major in Political Science and Peace & Conflict Studies. During her time at Swarthmore, she has interned at both the Black Cultural Center and Friends Historical Library, served as president of Swarthmore African Students' Association (SASA) for 2018–19, been named a Richard Rubin Scholar, and is a member of the dance group Sankofa. 

Sara spent her summer in Philadelphia working with the African Family Health Organization (AFAHO), a non-profit founded to connect African and Caribbean immigrants with social services in a culturally and linguistically sensitive manner. From June to August, she worked specifically with youth aged 12–18 in the African Youth Empowerment Program, serving as a classroom mentor and intern for the program. The program provides summer enrichment to African immigrant youth, strengthening their skills in reading, writing, math, and critical thinking, while also maintaining their connections to their distinctive cultures through filed trips, art projects, and dance workshops. In the future, she plans to continue working in the non-profit sector, focusing primarily on immigrant advocacy work.

"While working in the office, I have my eye for graphic design through assignments such as creating flyers for upcoming community events. I have also been able to develop more computer skills through a long-term project where I had to compose a spreadsheet of partner organizations and compile outside resources for our clients. Although I picked up useful technical skills that will serve me well in the future, I learned the most invaluable lessons in the office from observing the all-female staff that work tirelessly answering calls, translating important legal documents, and teaching English in order for daily operations to work smoothly. 

There is no doubt in my mind that I would not have been able to have such an impactful summer of learning without the assistance of the Lang Center and the SBAN Endowed Internship grant. As a first-generation college student, I did not think that I would be able to take unpaid internships like my peers because I did not have any way to sustain myself living on my own in Philadelphia, but I am infinitely grateful to Ms. Holifield and the Swarthmore Black Alumni Network for their generosity in giving students like me a chance to further our education outside of the classroom and engage in activities to give back to our communities. This summer has confirmed my passion for working with immigrants, and I am looking forward to pursuing this line of work after graduating from Swarthmore.

"Students from the African Youth Empowerment Program share a bit about themselves and a drawing that represents them." —Sara Laine '21

Mikayla Purnell '22

Newark, Del.

"This summer, I interned with two organizations: Philadelphia Children’s Movement and the Homesteadista. I enjoyed my time working with both of these initiatives and have learned so much over the course of this summer. 

For the first five weeks of my summer, I interned with the Philadelphia Children’s Movement (PCM). PCM is a collective of locals, predominantly run by black mothers, who are here to educate the public about the importance of racial justice in our Philadelphia schools. For the latter five weeks of the summer, I interned with the Homesteadista. The Homesteadista is an expanding networking platform for women in major US cities. Our ultimate objective is to connect women across various fields of work who are committed to making their communities into healthier, safer, more environmentally friendly spaces. We have a special emphasis on centering women of marginalized communities in our work, including women of color, women from immigrant communities, women of low income communities, and women with disabilities.

My favorite part about working with the Homesteadista was the opportunity I had to attend the Netroots Nation National Conference in Philadelphia. While I was there, I was able to meet so many amazing grassroots activists who reignited the sense of conviction I have to work in a field that allows me to contribute to my central values of social justice. For the first time in my life, I was at a gathering filled with politicians, economists, broadcasters, and directors who looked like me, with quirky individuals who share similar passions and interests with me, and people who have been able to transform my opinions and ideas about the world into real projects and campaigns that are making a difference. I felt sort of like the lost guppy that finally found its school of fish where it belonged. I was awestruck to find that hundreds of trailblazing individuals had already been working on reforming the same issues I am closely studying now in college. 

Mikayla Purnell takes a photo at the Netroots Nation Conference at the Philadelphia Convention Center. 

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