Student is racial justice intern for City of Burlington

Adrianna Gomez '22. a varsity soccer player majoring in International Relations with Environmental Studies minor, is helping organize housing summit hosted by mayor this summer

July 21, 2021
By Laura Hardin '22
A Gomez

Adrianna Gomez ’22

Adrianna Gomez ’22, an International Relations major and Environmental Studies minor from Okinawa, Japan, began working at City Hall in downtown Burlington this June as a racial justice intern for the City of Burlington. Recently, she shared about the experience in a conversation with Laura Hardin ’22, the summer work-study writing intern for the Saint Michael’s Marketing and Communications Office:

LH: Tell me a little bit about your position with the City of Burlington.

AG: I am a racial justice intern. I work for the Racial Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Department in City Hall. Basically, I am delegated various projects from Skyler Nash and Belan Antensave – my supervisors — hat have to do with racial equity issues in the city.

LH: Are you one of many interns in this position?

AG: I am part of a group of six interns that was originally meant to be four. We have two graduate students who are getting their doctorates, another undergraduate from UVM, and there are two interns who have graduated.

LH: Are you the only student from Saint Michael’s?

AG: Regarding current students yes; however, Vanessa Bonebo just graduated with the Class of 2021 and is a fellow intern for the department.

LH: What are some of the projects and tasks you are delegated as an intern?

AG: One of the biggest projects I am working on right now is a housing summit. This will be hosted by Miro Weinberger, the mayor of Burlington. The goal of this summit is to figure out how to increase black home ownership in the City of Burlington. So, I have weekly meetings to figure out the format of the housing summit. This includes figuring out which speakers and panelists are going to be there. Another task is setting up pre-education initiatives; this could be through trivia nights or movie screenings.

Another project under way is writing up a request for a proposal to have an art sculpture put up into a neighborhood in Burlington. It was my job, along with another intern, to find different areas where this sculpture could possibly be placed. Then we will write up the request for a proposal. This basically turns into an advertisement to local artists. The artists will respond and at the end of the summer our director will choose a finalist. The significance of this sculpture is that it will represent the sense of belonging. So, we chose a couple of very diverse neighborhoods that we feel could benefit from a sculpture like this.

Lastly, my other project consists of distributing grocery gift cards to BIPOC community members that suffered immensely during the pandemic.

LH: Is this just within the City of Burlington?

AG: It is mostly within Burlington, but it is not restricted to that area. I am currently working with some community groups in Winooski and Colchester.

LH: Did you feel like your classes and extracurricular activities at Saint Michael’s College helped prepare you for this role?

AG: Completely. One of the things that was really beneficial was an Environmental Justice course I took with Professor Trevien Stranger. Each intern has to complete an independent project, and with my interest in environmental studies, specifically environmental racism, I am basing my project off of an environmental racism approach. In this course we learned a little bit about the Champlain Parkway bike path being built and the fact that it is going through a minority community. So that class jump-started my interest and helped me figure out what I want to base my independent policy proposal project off of.

LH: What influenced you to choose Saint Michael’s in the first place?

AG: I’m a military kid so my parents still currently live in Japan and I’ve lived around the world for most of my life. However, every couple years I would visit my aunt who lived in Shelburne and I always loved being in Vermont so I became interested in playing soccer somewhere in the Northeast. My aunt recommended this college so I reached out to Wendy Elles, my coach, to get recruited to play at Saint Mike’s.

LH: Has this internship influenced what you would like to do post-grad?

AG: I have loved working as a public servant this summer. I have not had much experience with city government, so it has been a beneficial experience to discover that I love the type of work I am doing. I hope to continue this type of work post-grad.

LH: What would you say to underclassmen who would want to go in a similar direction, or even aspire to gain the same sort of internship?

AG: I would say to use the resources Saint Michael’s has. There are many programs to help you succeed, but if you don’t use those, then your adviser can be a great resource and professors can help you along the way to figure out where you may find an internship.

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