Make The Connection

July 11, 2022 | By Cole Hatcher

Sophie Gipson ’24 meets with her supervisor, Chris Alvarado, executive director for Slavic Village Development, during her summer internship at the community development organization. (Photo courtesy of Sophie Gipson)

Building Strong Communities

Ohio Wesleyan Student-Intern Helps Nonprofit with Soil Contamination, Healthy Home Projects

Sophie Gipson is working on projects to create stronger, healthier communities in Cleveland’s Slavic Village neighborhood. (Photo courtesy of Sophie Gipson)

Name: Sophie Gipson ’24
Hometown: Dayton, Ohio
Majors: Politics and Government and Sociology and Anthropology
OWU Connection Experience: Summer internship with Slavic Village Development

Gipson is working as a housing development intern this summer at Slavic Village Development in Cleveland, Ohio. The community development organization seeks to build neighborhoods that honor cultural heritage and inclusiveness while supporting healthy and active living.

What I’m Doing

“One of my job duties for the summer includes spearheading a lead soil contamination collection project in partnership with The Ohio State University.

“The area I’m servicing has had a long history of exposure to lead and has some of the highest asthma rates in children in all of Cleveland, which makes this project very important to follow through with.

“Another project I’m a part of is completing Healthy Home Initiative (HHI) surveys to keep track of how the neighborhood is progressing and developing. I have around 300 homes to keep track of this summer.” 

My Favorite Moment

“The first few days of my internship were an absolute blast. Everyone was excited for me to be here and expressed so much passion for what they do, which is something I hope to have in my future career. Every day is something new and I’ve been learning a lot about Cleveland's history and government agencies.”

Lessons Learned

“My field of studies has really allowed me to be prepared for this internship by being able to have an open mind and understand people from many different perspectives.

“I think it’s really easy to learn things in a classroom setting, but it’s completely different when you apply it to real people in the outside world. It really forces you to step back and reevaluate everything you’ve been taught and try to make sense of what is in front of you, which is not an easy task.

“Considering my majors are preparing me for a life in the public sector and working with people of many backgrounds, experiences like this are extremely important. I think this internship is going to make a big impact on my perspectives, opinions, and future career paths.”

My Career Connection

“I could not be here without the help of Newton Kimberly! He has been nothing but a joy to work with and has been beyond supportive before, during, and after I secured this internship. If there’s anyone at OWU who doesn’t know where to start with internships or post-grad plans, use the Career Connection! (Kimberly ’13 is one of Career Connection’s “career catalyst” staff. He specializes in aiding students interested in careers with social impact and/or careers in the Humanities and Fine Arts.) 

Summer on the Cuyahoga

Gipson’s internship is coordinated by the Summer on the Cuyahoga program, which seeks to show promising students from nine U.S. colleges and universities what the Northeast Ohio region has to offer.

“I love Cleveland. This program really peaked my interest because it was in Cleveland, which is only about 3.5 hours from home. It’s new enough to keep me interested but familiar enough to still feel like home. There’s so much to see and experience here.” 

Why I Chose Ohio Wesleyan

“In high school, I never really envisioned myself attending college until I visited OWU, which put it at the top of my list. Granted that a lot has changed since I was admitted in 2019 and started in fall 2020, but I would still go back and choose OWU every time.

“The support I have from friends, professors, and faculty is really unique to OWU, and I don’t think I would be half as driven if I were anywhere else.

“While I am a student and I will complain about things, I do have a lot of pride in OWU and I’m really happy with my decision to come here.” (Gipson also works to improve the OWU experience for everyone as the current president of the Wesleyan Council on Student Affairs, which is OWU’s student government.) 

My Plans After Graduation

“As of right now, it’s looking like I’ll be going for higher education, but I’m still undecided. I can say confidently that no matter the decision I make, I know I’ll be supported by my professors and friends throughout that process.”