My F&M Works in Lancaster Experience: Ipeknaz Erel ’18
Double major: Psychology and Business, Organizations & Society
Hometown: Istanbul, Turkey
Ipeknaz Erel’s F&M Works in Lancaster internship at the Attollo program has put her in the Lancaster community and provided a new way to learn. “My data analysis internship applies the knowledge I get from classrooms in real life, and lets me see actual people we actually care about,” she says. “I’m not just verifying a hypothesis, I’m using surveys to serve the objectives of students I know personally.”
Attollo provides tutoring and college prep to high school juniors and seniors from seven districts in Lancaster County. To become an Attollo Scholar, high school juniors undertake the Attollo Recruit process, in which they attend a six-week program that starts at 5:30 a.m. every morning. The students develop their leadership skills by focusing on the six Attollo pillars: Strong Mind, Competition, Resiliency, Accountability, Sacrifice, and Finish Strong, and they learn to solve a Rubik’s Cube in under 90 seconds, showing they can achieve goals they may not have thought possible. Because Ipeknaz believes so much in the mission of Attollo, she volunteers with Attollo Recruit in the morning in addition to her regular 10-hour-per-week internship.
“In my internship, I develop quantifiable measures to track the scholars in terms of mental well-being and see how the program makes an impact on a personal level,” she says. “We see if the soft skills they’re learning here have an impact on them as people.”
“I also see how a nonprofit functions,” Ipeknaz adds. “Attollo is a small organization, and it’s progressive and innovative. We need to be open-minded to doing a different variety of tasks. Everyone washes dishes. It gets rid of the hierarchy mindset — everyone serves a purpose. It’s like a family.”
Attollo pushes its students and volunteers alike to get out of their comfort zones. Ipeknaz says, “Being accountable for other people’s growth and success is a big responsibility. We need to be energetic, open, and confident in what we’re doing, which isn’t always the easiest thing to do, especially so early in the morning — I got up at 3:40 today! Volunteering during the normal semester is madness, but I thought — I’m going to do something different. I have to get my work done before. Working and volunteering with Attollo pushes me to be more organized.”
On Friday, Nov. 17, Attollo is just one of over 450 Lancaster County nonprofit organizations participating in the Extraordinary Give, an annual giving event that in the past five years has raised $22.5 million in 120 hours for more than 500 organizations. Donations are stretched with at least $500,000 from the Lancaster County Community Foundation, Rodgers & Associates, The S. Dale High Family Foundation, and other community partners. Events will be held throughout the city in support of Lancaster County’s largest day of giving.