Summer 2021: A Summer of Social Service
Tigers create community projects using Donahue Student Awards
Monday, August 23, 2021
a triptych of three headshots of Donahue interns

This summer, three Trinity students set out to change the world—or at least a small part of it. Armed with funding from the John Donahue Student Awards, these Tigers developed projects to serve communities around our nation.

Named for the late anthropology professor John Donahue, Ph.D., the John Donahue Student Award commemorates Donahue’s lifelong commitment to social justice. Students apply for the award by proposing their own unique take on an internship, community-based research activity, or a community service project that advances social justice. Awards are made throughout the year to provide funding to work 150 hours during the fall or spring semester or full-time during the summer. 

Meet the three Donahue Award recipients from Summer 2021:

a headshot of Nathan Brown; Nathan posing in his office
Nathan Brown ’22

Anthropology major; business minor
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

When Nathan Brown ’22 began his internship with the American Indians in Texas at the Spanish Colonial Missions (AIT-SCM), he thought he wanted to be an archaeologist. Many students who participate in summer internships say the experience solidifies their career paths... but not many say that it doesn’t.

Yet a conversation with a spiritual leader in the Tap Pilam Coahuiltecan nation in San Antonio challenged Brown’s assumptions entirely, leading Brown to shift his career focus toward repatriation, ensuring museums’ artifacts get back to their rightful owners.

“I asked AIT-SCM for this internship because I wanted to learn about current Indigenous issues, and I wanted to explore what a career in archaeology or museum studies would look like with Native American studies,” Brown says. “However, the internship opened my eyes to historical exploitation around excavating and desecrating human remains and ceremonial objects.”

In addition to his cultural research, Brown’s work involved leading projects in AIT-SCM’s Office of Community Engagement; helping plan a youth retreat for Indigenous youth to reconnect with Native food, art, community, and storytelling; and organizing and working at a local pow-wow.

headshot of Jahnavi Nikkam; a screenshot of her Zooming with her supervisor
Jahnavi Nikkam ’22

International studies and sociology double major
Tulsa, Oklahoma

Jahnavi Nikkam ’22 has a passion for advocacy. Luckily, during an “Asians in Law” webinar, Nikkam found a mentor just as passionate as she is—and an internship was born.

This summer, Jahnavi worked at the Immigration Law Clinic at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law as a legal intern. Nikkam assisted her supervising attorney by conducting legal research and preparing court documents for the clinic’s asylum, humanitarian, Violence Against Women’s Act, and family-based immigration cases.

This broad range of work is perfect for the president of Trinity Diversity Connection and participant in mutual aid drives. “Each day is different,” she says about her internship, “and I get to combine my academic background with my passion for human rights issues.”

Nikkam plans to pursue a career in international human rights policy and advocacy. “My favorite memory has been having mentorship discussions with my supervisor over Zoom. She is incredibly inspiring and pushes me to be better,” Jahnavi says. “The mentorship and knowledge I have gained has been invaluable.”

Jenny Njowo poses in an outdoor setting
Jenny Njowo ’23

Sociology major; biology minor
Houston, Texas

Jenny Njowo ’23 has set out to remove barriers. This summer, Njowo crafted an internship with the Pride Center of San Antonio, helping develop data from a community report into training for medical professionals, mental health care professionals, educators, and staff in programs that serve low-income San Antonians. 

Unfortunately, through the data, Njowo saw countless barriers to proper healthcare for LGBTQ+ youth. Fortunately for them, they have Njowo on their side.

“As someone with aspirations of becoming a healthcare professional in the future, I believe it’s important to understand why these barriers exist and work extensively to educate professionals on the role they play in impacting the healthcare experiences of LGBTQ+ individuals,” she says. 

Njowo is on Trinity’s pre-med track, and she says this internship has better prepared her for a career as a healthcare provider. “I was very excited for this opportunity as it blends two of my subject areas of interest: sociology and medicine,” she says. “Understanding the impact social determinants have on individuals from marginalized populations is extremely important to me as someone eager to enter the medical field.”

Jeanna Goodrich Balreira '08 is the director for content strategy for Trinity University Strategic Communications and Marketing.

You might be interested in