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Kutztown University student Melissa Stough interned with APSCUF’s government-and-communications department this summer. Click here to learn more about future APSCUF internships.

I must admit that, as a new transfer student from a private university, I had no concept of faculty unions or what purposes they served beyond the faculty. However, when I noticed APSCUF’s focus on social justice, equitable education and worker solidarity, that message resonated more than any other internship posting I explored. Public relations and government relations: How could an internship get any better than that? Upon meeting Sean and Kathryn, APSCUF staff members, in the interview, I knew I needed this internship.

As an English major with a determined interest in social justice and activism, I wanted the experience of collaborating with academic professionals and policy-makers. I threw myself into learning everything about the State System redesign plans, and I recognized the importance of sharing information and making details accessible to all affected parties. APSCUF helped me recover my passion for public speaking and speech writing through the Nellie Bly press conference and the public hearings on consolidation. From transcribing videos, researching student debt and writing profiles, I feel the opportunities in this internship dwarf other experiences in my college career.

There are so many compassionate, talented individuals working at APSCUF, and I have to agree with former intern Kyle Bower when he wrote that APSCUF is a “lovable group that nurtured my (his) development.” I couldn’t agree more. Jamie, Kathryn, Sean,Ty, Bim, Chris, Mary Rita, Beth, Chabria, Katie and every single person at the State APSCUF office all truly care. Each of these State APSCUF employees contribute to the mission of APSCUF. From meeting these individuals, I learned about leadership, communication, politics, administration, retirement benefits, research, arbitration, finances, labor relations and planning. As an intern, you are granted a place in this incredible community. Yes, meeting senators and representatives is exciting; however, meeting individuals with the wealth of knowledge that APSCUF staff possess is absolutely unrivaled.

I will never forget the knowledge I gained from current APSCUF and APSCURF members, and I will promote the importance of unions, which are integral to the success of individuals and their communities. President Jamie Martin exemplified the qualities of leadership, which all organizers can only hope to demonstrate, and for that I am incredibly grateful. Kathryn and Sean expanded my view of higher education and public policy, and they encouraged me to explore so many options I never viewed as possible prior to meeting them. Their guidance elevated my professional experience to a different level, and Pixel, Kathryn’s cat and the APSCUF mascot, filled my heart with joy every time she joined a remote meeting.

Beyond the sappy goodbyes and my heartfelt thanks for their advice, I discovered a deeper message that all State System students should hear at some point in their college career. Regardless of your major, or what people may say about your desired career path, the APSCUF internship taught me to utilize the skills I have and how I can apply them to a diverse range of situations. If you do not apply to this internship, you are doing yourself a disservice.

Forever humbled by the work of everyone at APSCUF,

—Melissa Stough,
APSCUF intern