Eight Grace College Students Contend for Indiana Impact Award

Four of the eight Indiana INTERNnet Impact Award nominees from Grace College (L to R): Shoshannah Bontrager, Eli Graham, Jessica Vandenboom and Olivia Kmieciak.

Grace College was proud to support eight students nominated for the 12th annual Indiana INTERNnet Impact Awards (IIN). The students were selected by their internship employers because of their outstanding work ethic and leadership skills.

IIN is a program that connects schools, students and employers to facilitate the growth and creation of the most advantageous internship opportunities. The Impact Awards luncheon celebrates excellence in interns. This year, they were held on Feb. 7 at the Ivy Tech Culinary and Conference Center in Indianapolis. There were 90 student nominees in all. The keynote speaker was Chris Heeter, founder of the Wild Institute.

The Grace College nominees and corresponding internship employers were Shoshannah Bontrager, Polywood in Syracuse, Ind.; Madison Cowman, Humanitri in St. Louis, Mo.; Eli Graham, Polywood in Syracuse, Ind.; Brandon Kemp, Egg Innovations in Warsaw, Ind.; Olivia Kmieciak, Willow Creek Association in Barrington, Ill.; Mariah Roman, Compass Relocations in Downers Grove, Ill.; Carlie Salinas, Family Christian Development Center in Nappanee, Ind.; and Jessica Vandenboom, Phoenix America in Fort Wayne, Ind.

The internships provided the students with a great deal of responsibility. Kmieciak was the U.S. Summit Site Coordinator for the Willow Creek Association, tasked with coordinating the 700 host locations for the Global Leadership Summit. She said it was a challenge to deal with all of the wrinkles, as even the smallest could affect a multitude of people, but the Summit was “a great end to the summer, to see all of your hard work over the past three months in one big sanctuary.”

Vandenboom was a marketing intern, tasked with creating a new website and product sheets. “It was very difficult not to see clear results throughout the summer,” said Vandenboom. “There was constant tweaking and revising. After struggling with it for a while, I realized that just like in life, joy must be found in the journey and the hard work put in along the way.” Her hard work paid off, and the project taught her that every aspect of a business is connected.

While the Grace College nominees were not selected as Intern of the Year, DeeAnna Muraski, associate director of internships at Grace College said, “We could not be more proud of our students.  When I contacted employers to see if they would nominate their Grace intern, employers went out of their way to ensure the students were considered.  To me, that speaks volumes about the students’ capabilities, skills, and dedication as interns.  I cannot wait to see where they go as full-time employees.”

Grace College’s applied learning and internship programs are designed to incorporate real-world experience in the college curriculum. All Grace students are required to complete 12 hours of applied learning credits to earn their bachelor’s degree. Grace’s Center for Career Connections has developed partnerships with more than 260 area businesses and organizations from which students may choose to apply their classroom learning and explore their desired career path.  For more information about applied learning and internship opportunities through Grace College, visithttp://www.grace.edu/resources/center-career-connections.

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