A Changed Fourth of July by Justin McClain

As I write this blog post, my parents are having a conversation about what my family is going to grill on Saturday to celebrate our nation’s independence, my sister is outside working on her tan so she can get the perfect Instagram picture, and I have a countdown ticking away on my phone to when Hamilton drops on Disney+. My life probably mirrors many other lives across the United States today; people are changing their Fourth of July plans to fit the restraints of the pandemic and wrapping up their work for the three-day weekend, but there is one major difference. I cannot stop thinking about the millions of people in camps across the world who are anxiously awaiting approval to seek refuge in a country like the United States.   I am not trying to get political, but I am going to state a few facts that I have […]


Civil Unrest and Digital Rights by Elizabeth Palmer

In the past four weeks, ● I’ve been unironically listening to “Earth” by Lil Dicky; ● I accidentally got a caffeine addiction because I found the perfect way to make a chai in the morning; ● I’ve considered dropping out and becoming a beekeeper enough times that it seems like it may actually be a good idea; ● I watched Queer Eye’s new season in one sitting and had an out-of-body experience; ● I got an “under his eye” face mask that I’m probably too excited about; and ● I’ve been working on getting my “Liz energy” back by reading Untamed by Glennon Doyle (it’s working).   I’m about halfway through my CAPS Fellowship at Internews in Washington, D.C. I’ve been working from my parents’ house in Kouts, IN, quarantining with a close group of friends, attending protests, and hanging out with my dogs and nephew.   My main role […]


Lost in Translation by Marie Dix

During my first few weeks working with the refugee case management team at Heartland Alliance, I would tell my curious friends and family (partly joking) that I call people I don’t know in languages I don’t speak to help connect them with services I know little about. Every day that assessment becomes a little less true, as with each encounter I get to know our families better and learn the ins and outs of services SSI and SNAP and WIC. Although I’ve become fluent in social service acronyms, I haven’t made much progress on my Swahili, Pashto, or Arabic, so I guess my original statement will always be a little true! I will forever be grateful for our skilled, generous, and endlessly patient interpreters.    I have always been less comfortable on the phone than in person, and the first few calls I made, though well intentioned, were awkward and […]


The Irony of Productivity Videos by Emily Friedman

The Valpo Career Center sends emails during the summer. Normally I give the email a quick glance then I send it to the trash, but I decided to read this one more carefully. On the page was a quote from Hassan Akmal stating, “Employers are not going to judge you if you are unemployed during a pandemic. However, they are going to focus on what you did during this time. What they want to see is that you are productive and taking your career development seriously.” Next to that quote was the “new #1 interview question” asking, “What have you been working on?”   What have I been working on?   This summer I am working at The Bridge Teen Center, a nonprofit organization in Orland Park, Illinois. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, The Bridge provides free, holistic youth programs that focus on a teen’s physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional well-being. […]


How Much Does Water Cost? by Gabe Martinez

Water is a source of life. Our lives revolve around water. Without it we would be a desert. The way it quenches our thirst, cleanses our bodies, and nurtures our food, what would you pay for something that does that and even more? What do you currently pay for the water that is in your home, for a water bottle, or for some kind of filtration system? Who would’ve thought that clean water, a need, would actually cost money? Or does it cost more than that? To the people of Lemanda Village, it has cost them their lives. I am currently working on a project for Water to Thrive, a non-profit organization that focuses on building wells for villages in Africa. My project is to find a solution for the excess fluoride that is found in nearby water sources in Lemanda. The effects of excess fluoride can span from teeth […]


Embracing Discomfort by Lydia Knorp

My work at Heartland ALLiance has been inspiring, eye opening, and something that I look forward to each day. I came in the CAPS program struggling to pinpoint my calling. I knew that I had found my home in the field of Social Work; yet in a field so vast, I struggled to narrow down what branch of social work I wanted to work in. My weeks at Heartland thus far have been a comforting confirmation for me of the work that I passionately want to pursue. This experience has reminded me of the beauty I find when working with people different than me. However, my time at Heartland has also reminded me that helping people navigate injustices, no matter how much passion I have, will be and should be uncomfortable. Our current times have been startling reminders of the disparities in our systems and the ways that the people […]


Unmuting the Silence by Kiera Pratt

June 1st marked the beginning of my internship at National Lutheran Communities and Services at The Village at Rockville location.  I am embarking on an 8 week journey and diving right into the intricacies and nuances of the senior living industry.  While having no experience within the field, many questions loom through my mind and I find myself overwhelmed with the thoughts and uncertainties I have in regards to the work I am being asked to complete.  Getting to know team members and discussing critical components and future plans of the organization through a computer screen with a grainy picture all while troubleshooting poor internet connection is a struggle I am sure many of us are facing today.  There is something to be said about the human interaction and social conversations that occur in the workplace compared to dialogue between two computers 1,500 miles away.    “Make sure you put […]


What I Don’t Know For Sure: The Intricacies of Not Knowing By Drayce Adams

“What I Know For Sure” was a column in O, The Oprah Magazine, where Oprah Winfrey shared life lessons collected from her lifetime as a source of inspiration for others in an uncertain world. Admittedly, I hadn’t even heard of it until days ago, when it received a scalding critique from Imhotep, a director at Kheprw Institute where I am an intern. Kheprw is a nonprofit in Indianapolis that focuses on community empowerment through building capacity in community members. It operates by looking at the resources available and how they can be leveraged for community use.    Like with most conversations, Imhotep and I discussed from the front porch, the heart of Kheprw’s operations. In the balmy Indianapolis evening, Imhotep said knowing anything for sure is complete crap. I objected, thinking of all the things I knew for certain. I knew my name was Drayce. I knew the pythagorean theorem […]


Reflection and Change by Christy Craig

Leading up to the start of my fellowship on June 1st and in the weeks since then, our country has gone through some tremendously difficult times. From the COVID-19 pandemic to the loss of George Floyd and multiple other Black lives, we have been challenged as a society to reflect, speak up, and take action. While many aspects of these recent events have been painful and there’s clearly much work to be done, I feel blessed to be a CAPS fellow during this time. To work with a not-for-profit organization that prioritizes social justice and serving its communities. And to be part of an incredible group of CAPS fellows with whom I get to reflect with each week. Additionally, I’ve found that I’m really enjoying my work and that it’s already informing the type of courses I’d like to take when I start my master’s degree in public health this […]


America’s Silent Heroes by Joey Hess III

A dark cloud of fear and uncertainty looms over our nation as our friends, family, and neighbors lose their income, their food security, and are forced to self-isolate in an attempt to avoid illness. We turn on the news and day after day the same message is echoed. An invisible, virulent, and deadly virus is circulating the country and while precautions are in place, people are still being affected in vast numbers. Instead of hearing about any of the good that is happening in the country, our attention seems to be directed towards the negative. So, how are we supposed to embrace the light when all we can see is darkness? While the enemy we fight is invisible, we do not have to be. The truth is, our presence in our communities is needed now more than ever, and Lutheran Services in America (LSA) and their member organizations recognize that […]


Weeks Full of Lessons by Ashley Winiewicz

I’m beginning the third week of my internship at BallotReady, yet I have still not perfected the art of a flawless Zoom call. “Can you hear me?” “Is my microphone on?” “Ah, thank you for letting me know.” Just a few examples of the common phrases I notice myself saying daily when hopping on and off of meetings. But hey, I’m learning and I’m learning more than how to navigate an internship remotely, I’m being educated on the mission of BallotReady and pursuit to educate voters on their ballot to have politicians that represent them and their community. The heart of BallotReady beats on the voter first mentality and knowing our actions matter in a larger system to make sure the voter is informed and have their voice be heard. Each day of my internship I have been enlightened in some way or another and I want to share the […]


In A Sea of Thousands by Maddie Fry

Moving from a small town of 30,000 to the bustling city of Chicago, home to 2.7 million, was more than just a change of scenery. I encountered more people on my morning commute to work in the city than I would in an entire week of living in Valpo. To many, the electric atmosphere of the city is intoxicating. There are restaurants open past 10 pm and people wandering around the park at all hours of the night. The endless possibilities which wait around every corner store and transit stop.  For me, the city glow dimmed much faster than I expected it to. The unknown quickly lost its enchanting spirit and became overwhelming and at times, even scary. Living in a big city was not always what Gossip Girl and How I Met Your Mother made it seem. I took the wrong train more times than I care to admit […]


Steve’s Law by Juan Arellano

Hello, all! Last we spoke, I had just begun my adventure in the South Loop of Chicago’s downtown. Now I find myself in a period of transition, wrapping up my work at Ingenuity and preparing to return to Valpo for my final year of undergrad (crazy, I know). My time at Ingenuity has been everything I had hoped for and so much more. I have learned a wide variety of new things – from how to draft tweets for an audience of over 2,000 followers to how to write basic programming scripts in R. However, of all the new things I learned while interning at Ingenuity, one stands out to me like no other – Steve’s Law. Steve Shewfelt is the director of the Data and Research department here at Ingenuity. Prior to joining the team at Ingenuity, Steve served in the military and later completed his PhD at Yale […]


CAPS, D.C., and Beyond by Daniel Herschel

Throughout these closing weeks of my summer in DC, I have found that it is getting easier to lose focus.  As the uncertainty of what comes next looms large ahead of me, I find myself seeking distraction to keep apprehensive feelings at bay. Luckily, CAPS has provided me with opportunities to reflect, and this has helped bring me back to focus. A reflect-in here, a email thread with our CAPS director Katie there, and I find big questions again being brought to the forefront of my mind. Sometimes, when reflecting, it is easy for me to see the negative things. For example, I think that if I had been more organized, I would have done a great deal more of job searching earlier in the summer. At the same time, I think about how I wanted to try to dive into DC head-on as much as possible. Looking back, I […]


Lessons from Water to Thrive by Nosi Oleghe 1 comment

Having an internship this summer was a huge adjustment for me, and I’m glad to have worked at Water To Thrive. On our last day at work, they threw us a goodbye pizza party. My experience here was different than what I expected. I was lucky to work under the accounting manager for Water To Thrive which was cool for me since I am an accounting major. I also got to help create a budget plan for the well projects that my supervisor got to use on her trip to Ethiopia. Majority of my time at W2T was spent planning our Chef’s Table Austin fundraiser which will take place in September. I contacted restaurants in order to get gift card donations for the silent auction part of the fundraiser. One part of this internship that I didn’t get to experience was traveling to Ethiopia with my supervisor Susanne and other […]


The Kheprw Family by Alyssa Brewer

The time has come to leave the Kheprw Institute. In such a short time I have developed deep and intentional friendships with the Indianapolis CAPS cohort as well as with the Kheprw staff. I had no idea that this place would become my home away from home -and these people would become my family away from family. Each morning we would have two hour discussions about our day- our goals, plans, accomplishments, and most notably how we are doing. In any “professional” space I have been, discussing your personal feelings and concerns were off the table. Here at Kheprw, they are welcomed. It is a support group unlike any other.  Throughout the summer us interns completed different projects for the team. I helped put an aquaponics system back together, write emails for an entrepreneurship incubator, create an online curriculum about social capital, construct an LOI for a grant, and other various assignments. […]


Times of Transition by Hilary Van Oss

Times of transition. They are different for everyone and people experience them in different ways; however, what usually links them together is the reflection that occurs from going from one chapter of life to another. This summer has been a time of transition for me as I am in the gap of time between being a student and being an “adult”. Graduating from Valpo this past May marked the end of my time as a student and my CAPS experience has been a blessing as it has been the experience that I needed during this time of transition within my life. It has provided me with time for the reflection, growth and self-discovery that is integral following a major chapter of life. Below is an excerpt from my CAPS personal statement that I wrote as I was applying to the fellowship program: One of the biggest question that I keep […]


We Have the Knowledge and Experience, So What’s Next? by Zachary Felty

My internship ended on Thursday and I have traded in my apartment in the city of Indianapolis for the home of my family. I have transitioned from my quite apartment to my hectic home with my parents and 4 siblings. Since coming home I have spent a lot of time reflecting on my ten weeks at Kheprw Institute. While working there, I saw things that I had only ever read about. Things such as gentrification, food deserts, and other ailments that low-income communities suffer from. I spent the entire summer helping to build out a fundraising campaign to help Kheprw address these problems. However, I still left feeling like I should have done so much more. I also have struggled with guilt since leaving Kheprw. Here is a low income community that is only 20 minutes from my home, that I had no idea existed. It has been right there […]


A New Normal by Alyssa Trinko

This summer has been one of the most amazing summers of my life. I have learned so much in such a short amount of time. I have fallen in love with Indianapolis and found a home there. I’ve also fallen in love with the Harrison Center and the work the incredible staff is doing to create positive change in Indy. The Harrison Center builds relationships with the residents and business owners of Indianapolis neighborhoods so they can help make neighborhoods healthy, foster community identity, and work on renewal in the city. Art is central to this work. The Harrison Center is home to 32 resident artists, many of whom are creative placemakers and collaborate with the Center for city projects. The “city side” of the Center works on building these close relationships with people all over the city and engaging them through art and other creative mediums like public art […]


The Importance of Knowledge by Jade Curless 1 comment

After finally retreating home from our nation’s capital, I have finally been able to reflect on the significance of my CAPS experience and what it has taught me. After working at Venn Strategies this summer, I have gained numerous professional skills and an overall deeper understanding of how politics functions in the United States. Working at a governmental affairs firm has provided me with a much more in-depth view of how our government operates and how policy is a constant battle. As a general research intern at Venn, I was able to work on a variety of issues. I did research on the devastating maternal mortality rate in the U.S., a crisis where black mothers die at a rate 3 to 4 times greater than their white counterparts despite the socioeconomic conditions. I also had an ongoing project where I researched the upcoming revisions of the Dietary Guidelines. I learned […]