GC Student Gains Valuable Insight Working with Kentucky Refugee Ministries
Submitted on October 22, 2020
Georgetown College aims to produce servant-leaders who make a difference in their communities. One student making a difference is senior Sociology major Melanie O’Neal, who just completed an internship with Kentucky Refugee Ministries.
“I had just finished an internship within a preschool and was looking to make a difference by serving marginalized families entering the United States,” said O’Neal. “Kentucky Refugee Ministries does a ton of work with immigrants coming from all over the world, so it felt like exactly what I was looking for.”
O’Neal, an Honors student, holds a leadership position in which she develops and reviews organizational policy and plans Honors events throughout the year. Her time with Kentucky Refugee Ministries and her work in leadership positions on campus helped solidify her career plans after her time at GC, when she will pursue a master’s degree in social work and a career in non-profit.
Her work with KRM taught her some valuable lessons that go a long way in any career of choice. “This experience has given me a better understanding of some of the diverse backgrounds that individuals in this country come from, therefore giving me the opportunity to become a more understanding and knowledgeable individual,” she said. “It reinforced in me that often simply asking the participant or client what they need demonstrates humanity and the compassion that's deserved more than trying to assume what is needed.”
Her internship also shed new light on some of those basics that we often take for granted, giving her a new understanding of some of the challenges immigrants face. “My experience at Kentucky Refugee Ministries helped me realize the massive number of steps that new citizens must take to gain access to the rights that I take for granted throughout my life. For example, being able to read the driver's test without having to request it in another language or being able to communicate with my landlord when I am experiencing an issue in my home.”
O’Neal’s story gets at the heart of the mission of Georgetown College. Her work with Kentucky Refugee Ministries and her education have certainly helped prepare her to reach her dreams while also helping her grow in compassion, kindness, and empathy. She’s ready to go out into the world and make a difference.