By Liz Parks '09
Summer 2012 brought another important milestone for the Council for Women—we sponsored our inaugural student internship! Becky Snyder Fawcett '92 hosted the internship at the headquarters of her organization Helpusadopt.org in New York City. Melanie Harris '13 was chosen as the summer 2012 recipient. For 10 weeks, Melanie earned a stipend, worked side-by-side with Becky and learned from her alumna mentor's "two cents." Becky and Melanie shared with the Council a little more about their backgrounds, as well as how this inspiring opportunity positively impacted each of them.
Becky graduated from Franklin & Marshall in 1992 with a degree in American studies. As a student she was very active on-campus, playing on the women's squash team and being a sister in the Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority. Becky also met her future husband, Kipp Fawcett '93, while at F&M. After graduating, her path did not lead directly to the nonprofit world. She worked as the director of marketing for Philadelphia magazine until she founded her own business in 1999. It was then that Becky started The Fawcett Group, a New York-based public relations firm. She was a successful luxury lifestyle public relations and marketing specialist who owned her own firm before she went on to follow her passion and found Helpusadopt.org.
When asked to host the first CFW intern, Becky expressed how much of "an honor it is to be recognized for [her] work by her alma mater!" Becky is the co-founder and executive director of Helpusadopt.org, a national non-profit 501(c)(3) financial assistance grant program providing qualified couples and individuals—regardless of race, ethnicity, marital status, gender, religion, sexual orientation or disability—with grants of up to $15,000 toward their adoption expenses. In 2011, CNN named her a "CNN Hero" for her leadership at Helpusadopt.org. Her personal struggles to become a mother, along with the numerous hardships associated with the adoption process, inspired Becky and Kipp to start the organization. To learn more about their journey, visit www.helpusadopt.org or Becky's blog (www.aninfertileblonde.com). Becky has been very open, chronicling her life experiences in a straightforward, honest manner. Helpusadopt.org is her labor of love, and finding an intern who could contribute to this cause in a meaningful way was key in her selection process.
From the early stages, Becky expressed her enthusiasm for the extremely strong round of applications she received. "Getting an intern from F&M makes the whole experience more meaningful because of the high caliber of F&M students—their level of intellect and dedication allows them to work on harder projects," she explained. While it was a tough decision, Melanie Harris '13 made a strong impression—especially due to her success as a Dip Dialer with the F&M Phonathon. Becky wanted an intern who was comfortable reaching out to professionals, spreading the word about Helpusadopt.org and marketing the organization to a wider audience.
Melanie's main responsibility throughout the summer was building a database of adoption lawyers and agency professionals throughout the country. She started on this critical project by spreading awareness, which can ultimately help with fundraising—a task that the other staff simply did not have time to work on. In addition to making hundreds of calls and sending out informational packets, Melanie pitched in wherever she was needed. She said her favorite responsibility was reviewing grant applications. Reading and organizing the applications for grants helped her learn a lot about adoption and the types of people seeking grants to pursue adoption. Becky wanted her to feel like she was making a difference and adding value to the organization. She said Melanie fit right in, personally meshed with everyone and truly became part of the team.
Originally from Larchmont, N.Y., Melanie began her senior year at F&M this August. She is a government major, with a minor in environmental studies. She intends to continue her involvement with Helpusadopt.org, including helping out with their Fleming's event in October. At F&M, she is still involved with the Dip Dialers and co-hosts a radio show. After graduation, Melanie plans to look for jobs in the government field, and graduate school might be a possibility down the line.
Melanie truly appreciated being given such a tremendous opportunity to work with Helpusadopt.org and learn about the world of adoption. "Not only would I not have found such a unique internship without the CFW bringing it to my attention, but I also would not have been able to take such a great internship without the funding that CFW provided," she explained. Melanie learned a lot from Becky as well. From working closely with Becky, she learned about the intricacies of adoption, public relations and much more. In Melanie's words, "Becky has taught me that if you are passionate enough about something, it's possible to have the drive to really make something of it, and she did with building her organization."
The CFW's first summer internship proved to be beneficial for everyone involved. The Council hopes to offer such opportunities to F&M juniors for many summers to come. While the host for summer 2013 has not yet been determined, Becky highly recommends that any alumni who are considering offering an internship should “go for it.” Melanie concurs, planning to spread the word among other students about what a worthwhile experience this internship can be and encouraging others to apply. We look forward to seeing what next summer has in store!