LBJ student interns with health care, education startups in Ghana | LBJ School of Public Affairs | The University of Texas at Austin

Guest blog post by Katherine Corley, Dual MGPS/Journalism

The Eleanor Crook Foundation supports students working summer internships for nonprofit, nongovernmental or governmental organizations that conduct development projects in the developing world. Student recipients, called Crook Fellows, share the value of their experiences in a series of blog posts.

More from the Crook Fellows:

As a Crook Fellow, I spent my summer in Accra, Ghana, interning as a communications and marketing consultant for two Ghanaian NGOs. Currently, I am a second-year dual master’s student in Global Policy Studies and journalism, so this internship combined my academic interests, which was amazing.

I was lucky to have had a split internship with two organizations, as it meant that I was exposed to two separate and important social issues in Ghana: health care and education. In my previous career, I served high-needs clients for five years as a mental health care provider, and I saw firsthand how physical and mental health care is vital to success, happiness and productivity. Additionally, strong STEM education helps increase a country’s medical and research capacities and health care labor pool, further contributing to improved national health and health care.

I spent 20 hours a week working with Impact Hub Accra’s Health Innovation Program, which focuses on creating a vibrant, pan-African health innovation ecosystem through a diverse offering of health-related programs. These programs include health-related hackathons, business incubation and mental health meetups to increase awareness and decrease the stigma of mental health in Ghana. During the other 20 hours of my week, I interned with Practical Education Network (PEN), a Ghanaian NGO that helps train teachers to implement experimental science education in middle schools. PEN offers a series of workshops where West African STEM teachers learn, design and share hands-on activities that complement the national curriculum and are created from low-cost and locally available materials.

"[The internship] empowered me to marry the theories and stories from my year of LBJ classes with on-the-ground experience."
—Katherine Corley

For both programs, I provided overall communications and marketing consultation. I developed separate comprehensive communications strategies for each, focusing on strengthening social/traditional media presence, building business partnerships, creating promotional materials, increasing stakeholder support and identifying metrics for success. These plans will be used as how-to manuals for current/future communications and marketing staffers in each organization.

This internship was remarkably valuable for my professional development. It empowered me to marry the theories and stories from my year of LBJ classes with on-the-ground experience, which truly solidified the lessons I learned in the classroom. The internship reminded me how much I enjoy working with a small, energetic team where I can have a visible impact on the organization and the community it serves. It also introduced me to the idea of working in the startup community after I graduate. Most importantly, this internship helped me directly experience and understand some of the key challenges in health care and education that are present in developing countries in Africa, and enabled me to form important professional connections and gain invaluable on-the-ground knowledge that I can use to further my professional career in global health. I am deeply grateful to the Eleanor Crook Foundation for enabling me to have this incredible summer experience!