Brian Waters (left) Class of 2013,
Political Science and International Studies
James Phiri (right) Class of 2012,
Political Science and Transnational Studies
This summer, two Westminster students were part of a select group of outstanding candidates chosen to participate in a truly unique learning experience: the Coro-Kansas City Internship, a 10-week classroom and real-world exercise in public affairs. Brian Waters (left) Class of 2013, Political Science and International Studies James Phiri (right) Class of 2012, Political Science and Transnational Studies This summer, two Westminster students were part of a select group of outstanding candidates chosen to participate in a truly unique learning experience: the Coro-Kansas City Internship, a 10-week classroom and real-world exercise in public affairs.
This intensive program is part of the CORO Foundation’s nationwide efforts to cultivate civic leadership. Over 2½ months, the Coro-KC interns worked on projects in a plethora of fields, including nonprofit, business, government and media. Westminster junior Brian Waters and senior James Phiri spent the summer looking at leadership from every angle and partnering with a community organization.
This ongoing project benefits Operation Breakthrough, a day care program for children from families living in poverty. The partnership included a garden day, thanks to the donation of 1,200 plants, orchestrated by the interns; and an art day, where the kids created original works with donated materials. The Coro-KC participants ensured that Operation Breakthrough could keep in touch with donors to continue these types of programs. James remarked that the project “will leave a lasting legacy in Kansas City.”
James also highlighted the time spent with the Green Impact Zone, a nonprofit founded by Congressman Emanuel Cleaver II. “I got to teach underprivileged children about the importance of developing an environmentally sustainable world and the need for them to take personal responsibility in ensuring the development of their neighborhoods,” James said.
Brian found the Coro experience reinforced his dedication to the areas of political science and international studies and learned new strategies to achieve his goals. Brian said he most enjoyed speaking with leaders in the Kansas City community. “I knew that when I asked these people questions, I was getting answers based on decades of experience and years of schooling. … This was the first time I was able to ask questions and have them answered, ‘This is what happens,’ instead of, ‘According to this person’s theory, this should happen.’ That was the most valuable thing about Coro to me.”
“Overall,” James said, “this internship has equipped me with skills that I will be able to use in my future endeavors, and I have matured as a leader.”
When asked about the lessons Coro taught, Brian emphasized self-learning and personal growth. “I also learned how to treat the study of leadership as an art instead of a science,” he said. “Coro is not just an internship that you work at, nor is it just a classroom where you learn theories and models.”
And Westminster’s ties to Coro aren’t only through its students. Professor Bob Hansen has been involved with Coro for nearly 30 years. Much of Bob’s experience with Coro has been with the nine-month postgraduate CORO Fellows Program in St. Louis, where he serves as a selection judge, but he also works to promote the Coro-KC summer internship. “We’ve had great success with Westminster students participating in the Coro’s summer internship program in Kansas City,” Bob said.
He cited Coro’s focus on real-world challenges as its defining feature. “It is particularly suited for the kind of students that we develop at Westminster – those that learn how to think critically, to collaborate with others and build teams, to creatively solve problems, and to communicate effectively.”
Bob also emphasized the amazing opportunity presented by Coro’s postgraduate program. “It’s been awhile since any” Westminster “students have applied,” he said. “I know that our students will compete very well against those from outstanding institutions across the country.”