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Students benefit – and nonprofits do too – from summer program

For Taylor Zinser ’22, consulting remotely was “a real saving grace” during a summer of pandemic-induced isolation.

Lilly Waltman ’21 found that “while one door closed, I am so fortunate that this one opened.”

They’re two of the students participating this summer in the nonprofit consulting corps created by DePauw’s Hartman Center for Civic Engagement. Aware that the pandemic had deprived some students of their summer internship opportunities, Chelsea Naylor, coordinator of community-based learning, and Jessie Scott, director of the center and the Bonner Program, which provides stipends to students in exchange for community service, created the corps based on a model developed by the Corella and Bertram F. Bonner Foundation, the program’s parent organization. 

Naylor and Scott shared their idea with students and matched the 17 who chose to participate with organizations based on each student’s interest and the needs of nonprofit partners; two were featured in a previous Boulder story. Fourteen of the participants are Bonner scholars, who must complete a summer service experience to fulfill the program’s requirements. 


Taylor Zinser portrait
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Lilly Waltman portrait
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Haroon Syed portrait
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Zinser, a biology major from Racine, Wisconsin, researched university programs intended to engage high school students for his client – the Hartman center. The goal was to create a program that would attract service-minded students to attend DePauw, and his work included drafting a budget and creating a curriculum.

“The best part of this experience is the way that it lets me apply myself to a new task, and one that will hopefully better the community surrounding DePauw,” Zinser said in an email. “I hope to continue working on this program in the fall or following summer, pending its completion.”

Waltman, a global health and Spanish major from Indianapolis, was expecting to intern at the Make-A-Wish Foundation during the summer. She was relieved that, on the same day she learned the internship was cancelled, Naylor told her about the consulting corps.

Waltman created social media content and communications; worked on design and strategy; and developed donor and volunteer surveys for Beyond Homeless Inc., a Greencastle nonprofit. A summer fundraiser for which she created advertisements raised $2,700.

“During this time of social distancing, I have learned how to communicate and work remotely, while also producing results,” she said. “Now that I have learned more about consulting, I plan to further investigate whether or not I would like to do it as a full-time job after I graduate.”

Haroon Syed ’21, who lost out on a data science research internship funded by the National Science Foundation, built a website and wrote content for the Humane Society of Putnam County. “I completed a task that impacted a community that has shaped me throughout my college career, from over 500 miles away,” the computer science major said.

“It has made me realize that, with the right mindset, we have the power to change the world, no matter where we are.”

“It has made me realize that, with the right mindset, we have the power to change the world, no matter where we are.”
– Haroon Syed ’21

A consulting gig for DePauw’s Office for Sustainability enabled Maggie Behr ’21, who majors in urban and environmental studies, to develop ways to educate students about sustainability.

“The internship reinforced my hope to work at a nonprofit that does education about the environment and the effects of climate change,” said Behr, who had planned to conduct research with her adviser, history professor Glen Kuecker, in Mexico City. “I would love to engage with more work regarding environmental racism and environmental justice. Developing a resource of materials focused on anti-racist environmentalism was one of my highlights of the internship.”


Maggie Behr portrait
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Sage Sherfick portrait
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Ali Gumus portrait
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Sage Sherfick ’22 managed the social media presence and developed communications strategies for Greencastle Middle School’s after-school program.

“I am hoping to become a school counselor in the future,” the psychology major said. “Being able to have middle school students as a target audience has allowed me to explore what fifth-eighth graders may like or dislike. This understanding may allow me to connect with students in the future.”

Ali Gumus ’23 of Terre Haute said his information-collecting skills were enhanced by his consultancy with DePauw’s Justin and Darrianne Christian Center for Diversity and Inclusion. He compiled narratives from DePauw alumni of color and networked with other universities to learn how they supported students of color.

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