Article and photos by Urban Alliance staff.

High-school. It’s a 4-year chapter of life that is nestled between childhood and adulthood, that often turns the page to opportunities for higher education or career development. It can be trying, exciting, demanding and exhilarating, but with a helpful set of tools and support along the way, students can, and do, thrive.

Meet Eva, James and Alec.

As students at Pathways Academy of Technology and Design, a top-notch magnet school located in East Hartford, Connecticut, their days are filled with developing technology-related skills and opportunities to explore careers in related fields.

After applying for UAServe opportunities of their choice, the three were interviewed and selected from a pool of students to complete their summer internships at South ChurchYouth Challenge of Connecticut and World Vision.

“Creating new partnerships is very important to Pathways and our students,” explained NiCole Schlagheck, Internship and Work-Based Learning Coordinator at Pathways. “Each year we aim to offer a variety of internship opportunities to support the diverse needs of our students. Working with an organization like Urban Alliance who has their own network of partners is exceptional as it gives more options for internships.”

Eva Hallstead-Williams spent the summer creating a mural at South Church for its after-school program. As painter and creative advisor, she made ideas come to life, and created an atmosphere that will be uplifting and fun for Hartford students to enjoy years to come. 

She shared that it was most challenging to do the work of the project solo, and to translate an idea on paper to a large-scale painting project. The unexpected tediousness of things like painting leaves over bumpy plaster helped her push herself and see the project through.

James Escobar helped Youth Challenge of Connecticut maintain its social media pages, created content and designed its website, assisted with IT troubleshooting, and edited a documentary film for the transitional living home.

“James was a very valuable intern at Youth Challenge this past summer,” said Noel Casiano, Executive Director at Youth Challenge. “He was prepared and ready to work on his first day. He was always punctual, professional and very respectful with the staff and clients.”

James shared that the internship helped shape him into a more responsible person. The responsibility of being to a place of employment on time, coupled with caring and supportive supervisors, helped stretch and grow him.

Alec Villalobos’s internship at World Vision included gathering stories about World Vision volunteers and partner organizations by utilizing and growing his interviewing and photography skills. 

“We like to share about what we are doing and how we are making an impact in the community,” shared Mike Bassett, Warehouse Manager at World Vision’s East Hartford site. 

Alec was most impacted by witnessing World Vision’s storehouse in operation. The storehouse, which is home to the Teacher Resource Center and Essential Supplies Center, provides school supplies, hygiene products, clothing, food and countless other new, donated products for free to outreach ministries and schools, through Urban Alliance initiatives. He shared that he was greatly affected by being a part of making a difference in the lives of people in his community.

“The value of internships for our students is exposure to opportunities they would otherwise not imagine as career possibilities and the chance to see how the real-world of work and responsibility works,” said Schlaheck. “Through participation in internships, students understand why school is so important and they return to school more engaged in their learning. The three opportunities our students had through Urban Alliance were very unique but all of our students found out more about what they enjoy and what it takes to be successful.”