Taylor Gilman began her journey interning at WISE through Career Ready, a program at St. Kates University. She completed two other internships through Career Ready and wanted to continue supporting the community through nonprofit work. The many internship opportunities available awarded her with diverse hands-on learning experiences. In the end, Taylor chose to apply for the internship at WISE because she saw that WISE was a unique organization that supported immigrant and refugee girls. “WISE empowers me as a student at St. Kate’s to lead and influence, and I want to carry on that mission to empower other women,” says Taylor. She knew that although she had little experience working with immigrants and refugees, she wanted to learn and support them in any way possible.
Although internship placements usually lasted one semester, WISE was fortunate enough to keep Taylor for two semesters. Taylor's first semester focused on communications, the GiveMN campaign, and developing materials for various WISE programs. She also spent her Saturdays doing homework help with WeLead assisting immigrant and refugee college students. Taylor's second semester focused on direct experience implementing the Girls Getting Ahead in Leadership (GGAL) curriculum with GGAL Program Coordinator, Naly Vang. Taylor says that her positive experience with programming is attributed to Naly’s impeccable mentorship. “Naly is such a bright and happy individual. She has a lot of patience and is a wonderful mentor. You can tell that the girls she teaches love her, as they should,” says Taylor.
Taylor’s most memorable experience at WISE was being interviewed by one of the WeLEAD participants for an assignment. The WeLEAD participant was instructed to interview someone who came from a different background than her own and had approached Taylor for the assignment. Even with the clear differences in how Taylor and the WeLEAD participant were raised, they found that they still had many similarities from favorite foods to hobbies.
“We often make assumptions that we are different from others who look different from us or come from a different background,” says Taylor, “but really, we have so much in common. We are all humans and citizens of this earth; I think we forget that sometimes.”
Taylor recently graduated from St. Kates and is looking for opportunities to continue work in her community. She is interested in working in the nonprofit arena and is passionate about social justice in all fields. The WeLEAD and GGAL participants, and WISE staff and volunteers will miss Taylor, and wish her well in her new endeavors!