Anna Townsend, of Oldham County, KY, has been selected by UK to represent the institution at the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty summer internship program for 2015. Anna will be interning with the Vermont Community Garden Network, helping with their mission “ to support and grow the state’s vibrant network of community and school gardens”. http://vcgn.org/ Shepherd interns agree to work for eight weeks at a specific agency or site that serves low-income individuals or families and also to live on a stipend of $815 for the entire eight-week period to gain an insight into the challenges facing people who live below the poverty line. (See a video of Shepherd interns and their placements on the SHECP website.)
Townsend is majoring in biology with minors in neuroscience, psychology and music performance. She participated in the Chellgren Fellow program this past year and did research on de novo assembly of transcriptomes from multiple species of salamandrid salamanders and analyzing genomic data produced from next-generation sequencing. She worked with Dr. David Weisrock in the Department of Biology. She plans to pursue a degree in Clinical Psychology after graduating from UK.
Townsend is passionate about food, music and science. Her culinary fascination burgeoned after becoming involved last year with a UK student organization, Campus Kitchens. Every week, she helped assemble meals for less fortunate members of the Lexington community. This work included food preparation, baking/cooking, packaging, and transport. Her favorite of the four – food preparation – allowed her to share culinary knowledge with those learning how to cook. Townsend wrote that volunteering with this Campus Kitchens was the highlight of her week during the spring semester because she was able to do two things she loves: helping her community and cooking. Over her spring break, Townsend traveled to Washington, D.C., with the Alternative Spring Break program. She worked with a non-profit focusing on hunger and homelessness and this spurred her to want to work with an organization that focuses on food insecurity.
This past weekend, Townsend participated in an orientation program for interns at Marymount University to help them get ready to begin their internships. Anna will travel to Vermont with other Shepherd interns who have assignments in the same area and will share accommodations with them, also a valuable part of the learning experience. At the conclusion of the internships, all interns return to Lexington, Virginia, home of Washington and Lee and the Virginia Military Institute, and participate in a two-day closing conference where panels of interns present on their summer experience.