When the spring semester ends and summer begins, most students plan to relax and let loose. Senior Alizah Thornton had other ideas. Trading in poolside barbecues and late-night bonfires for legislative meetings and policy research, Thornton became the first Clarion University student to receive an internship from the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties, better known as APSCUF.
Offered during the fall, spring and summer sessions to one Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education student, the APSCUF internship-selection process is rigorous. Aware of the many qualified applicants across Pennsylvania, Thornton remarked, "I thought that I had a one-in-a-million chance of getting the internship. It was intimidating knowing that I was competing with 14 other schools."
As the spring semester drew to a close, Thornton got an email from APSCUF. "I was nervous because the subject line didn't specify if I was rejected or accepted," she said. "When I found out that I was the winner, I couldn't stop smiling."
The APSCUF summer internship combines public relations and government work. As a communications major, Thornton felt comfortable with the public relations side of things, but she wasn't sure what to expect of the government aspect. She would soon find, however, that she had nothing to worry about.
"I was nervous at first... It felt like there was a lot of pressure on me to get the job done correctly," said Thornton. "I was timid and shy for the first couple of weeks, but after the third week I got comfortable."
Thornton, the news editor for the Clarion Call, cited her experience with writing and organization as leading factors in her success at APSCUF. She also spoke highly of her supervisors.
"They didn't treat me like an intern," she said, noting that she began to feel like part of the family.
Laura Saccente, APSCUF's associate director of government relations, was equally expressive with her opinion of Thornton.
"Alizah was years beyond her time in the level of depth and commitment she could take to a project," said Saccente. "She generated new ideas for research that our staff took examples from. She always yearned for more insight and understanding of complex issues."
"We definitely miss her smile here," Saccente said. Though the internship has ended, Thornton maintains communication with the organization.
Thornton says one of the biggest lessons of the internship was simply learning that she could do the job. With a communications concentration in journalism, Thornton wanted to explore new interests in public relations and found success in doing so.
After graduation in the spring, Thornton hopes to find a career in the communications field with her APSCUF experience as one of the highlights of her résumé.
Clarion University is the high-achieving, nationally recognized, comprehensive university that delivers a personal and challenging academic experience.