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LEAD Program Helps Student Accept Prestigious Internship

Nina Vazquez ’19 reflects on new possibilities as a result of her internship.

Nina Vasquez ’17, a junior in The Women’s Advancement Initiative’s LEAD program, was invited to an interview at the Connecticut Secretary of State’s Office after she impressed one of their employees with her 30–second elevator speech that she developed during a LEAD session. Nina was selected for the prestigious internship out of nearly 300 candidates.

As a double major in criminal justice and political science, the internship with the Connecticut Secretary of State was ideal for Nina. Her only challenge was figuring out how to fit the the internship into her already busy class and work-study schedule. And the bus timetable made the situation even more challenging. Transportation also meant an additional expense.

That is when she approached Amy Jaffe Barzach, executive director of The Women’s Advancement Initiative. Barzach helped Nina figure out how to reframe the issues and find solutions. She also introduced Nina to the University’s Center for Community Service, where Nina learned that her internship could qualify as work study, thereby solving her schedule conflict.

At about the same time, Nina’s transportation challenges were also worked out. The Women’s Advancement Initiative Board of Directors and staff had been exploring “micro–investments” as a way to provide funding to help LEAD students pursue additional opportunities to enhance their college experience. Nina receiving funds to assist with transportation is a perfect example of how this kind of support makes a difference in students’ lives. 

Through her internship, Nina gained experience as a ballot administrator and a Spanish translator. She also walked away with an enhanced understanding of the electoral process and a new professional network.

“The Secretary of State internship was the opportunity of a lifetime for me,” says Nina.



“Micro–Investments” Awarded by The Women’s Advancement Initiative to LEAD Students Enhance Their College Experience
LEAD sophomores, juniors, and seniors who successfully complete the LEAD program each year are eligible for $250 micro–investments that can be used for:

  • Undergraduate research or creative projects
  • Career connections and experiences, including transportation costs associated with internships, job shadowing, and informational interviews
  • Volunteer community service trip with LEAD to Give Kids The World Village during Winter Break