March 26, 2013

Cilenti '13 Realizes Passion for Advocacy and Service through Internship

At Emmanuel, there are countless ways for students to immerse themselves in the culture and history of the city of Boston. Some students, like Ashley, have found a way to incorporate a passion for recognizing and promoting that culture into their daily lives.

A double major in management and English communications, Ashley has spent the last few years interning at several sites throughout Boston focused on public advocacy and diversity in the city. During the fall 2012 semester, she worked with the Mayor's Office of New Bostonians, a group dedicated to providing opportunity and equality for immigrants throughout Boston.

"The purpose of the group is to promote diversity and immigrant heritage," she said. "The aim is to make sure that the diverse cultural communities in the city are recognized and supported."

Her biggest task while working with the New Bostonians was to help coordinate the "We Are Boston Gala" that was held on December 4, 2012. This annual event celebrates Boston's immigrant roots and heritage, and recognizes the diverse talents that are so vital to the essence of the city. Honors are awarded to corporations, schools and individuals who have demonstrated leadership or commitment to the immigrant population, and various performances and speeches are given throughout the night. Ashley's job throughout the semester was to make sure that the gala was as successful as possible.

"I helped to contact CEOs and corporations to coordinate donations and sponsorships for the gala," she said. "My whole internship was based on that event, doing marketing for it and raising money."

Ashley wasn't just working behind the scenes, though. The event happened before the semester ended, which meant she was able to attend and help out with the actual gala.

"They had me doing live tweeting and photography on the night - it was so cool to be there and see it all come together," she said.

Although she is looking to pursue a career in event planning, Ashley seems to be following a trend toward nonprofits and culture-focused organizations. Last summer, she spent time interning with the American Islamic Congress, and has been a participant on Emmanuel's Alternative Spring Break trip to Phoenix, Ariz., for three years running - her final two as a student leader.

"Public advocacy is something that I've sort of fallen into," she explained. "But I've loved it all so much and I want to try to continue that as much as I can."

Her work with the homeless population in Phoenix has inspired her to consider her options post-graduation. She is currently looking into doing a year of service at the St. Vincent de Paul Society, which is where the students on the spring break trip volunteer every year. But regardless of where she ends up, Ashley knows she will continue to pursue service and culture.

"I've ended up following this path that I never really thought of before," she said. "But it's a lot of fun and I've realized that this is what I want to do."