Student Story

COVID Response Internship: Kylie Collins '22, '23MPP Helps Distribute Over 75,000 Meals

Why did you choose to attend Simmons?

Simmons has fostered an environment that challenges students to engage in the world around us and encourages us to make it better, not just upon graduation, but as we’re learning along the way, and I wanted to be a part of that community. 

What made you choose to pursue your major?

Headshot of Kylie Collins

I was particularly interested in the 3+1 BA in Political Science + Masters in Public Policy program, as most schools don’t offer that on such a condensed time table. Seeing injustice in various forms around the world was extremely unsettling, and I wanted to do something about it. 

While I don’t believe our government is perfect — or any government for that matter — I believe it’s important to understand how systems were designed to run so I’m equipped to enact change within the constraints of those systems. Pursuing political science at Simmons will enable me to be a better advocate, activist, and catalyst for change.

Tell us about your position with the Columbus Dream Center.

This summer, I interned at the Columbus Dream Center, a local outreach center that provides meals, shower and laundry facilities, career and identification services, medical care, and counseling. They serve homeless and low-income individuals and families in Columbus, Ohio with the goal of providing holistic transformation — not just meeting physical needs, but giving people the skills and resources needed to transition out of homelessness and poverty as an active contributor to their community. 

As a result of school closures because of COVID-19, thousands of children were without school-provided meals for months. The Columbus Dream Center established a COVID Response Internship. I oversaw our volunteer team, established community partners, and coordinated the collection of meals, either prepared and donated by individuals or provided through the Children’s Hunger Alliance. Every Monday through Friday for over six months, we visited sixteen communities across the city, distributing meals and activities for families affected by this pandemic in a drive-thru setting. We were fortunate to have over 300 volunteers, and collectively we distributed over 75,000 meals in just six months. 

How did you get this position?

I had volunteered with the Columbus Dream Center in high school and was eager to apply when the organization announced this opportunity. I filled out an online application and then conducted a virtual interview before being offered this position. Upon graduation, I’d love to pursue a career in advocacy, likely working for a nonprofit. This experience allowed me to help my community during unprecedented circumstances while gaining valuable experience and insights into a local nonprofit’s day-to-day operations.

What did you find most rewarding about this work?

This internship was incredibly impactful and rewarding for a multitude of reasons. When we first entered the neighborhoods, people were skeptical of us and what we were offering, but as the summer progressed, they began to trust us and we truly became adopted members of the community. Often kids in these neighborhoods don’t have many people in their lives that consistently show up and encourage them, and we got to be a positive influence and source of empowerment for them.

It was eye-opening going into predominantly Black and Somali neighborhoods, as a privileged white woman, in the midst of the police brutality, protesting, and racial unrest seen this summer. I remember feeling slightly uncomfortable, but leaning in and asking people about their experiences. I became acutely aware of my position of access and power as a white person and had some great conversations with community members about how I can be a better ally and advocate — not just during a time where it’s trendy to be addressing racial injustice, but to actively confront systemic racism for the rest of my life.

Why is voting important to you?

Voting is one of the most important things we have the opportunity to do as American citizens. It’s an easy way to engage with our democracy, and not voting has tangible and potentially harmful ramifications on my life and yours. Especially after interacting with various communities this summer through my internship, I recognize that my vote is not just about me. When I cast my ballot, it will impact the lives of thousands of people around me. Voting is a great way to validate the existence of your neighbor and their identity, and advocate for policies that improve their quality of life, not just your own.

What's your favorite Simmons memory?

I’m a member of the Simmons softball team and have loved being on the team. In particular, our team traveled to Florida last spring break and played ten games throughout the week. It was hard to hear that our season had been canceled during that trip, and we wouldn’t be returning to campus, but we had such a great time and rallied around each other all week long.

Kylie Collins with members of the Simmons Softball team

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