While Valparaiso University provides a world-class education, the University also prides itself on the opportunities it opens up for its students beyond the boundaries of campus. Clo Perkins ’23 has found an immense amount of growth and experience outside of the classroom during their time at Valpo thanks to a variety of internships that pushed them to grow as a person and a professional.
Before finding those opportunities, however, what convinced Clo to come to Valpo was the environment they found and the assistance they were able to receive.
“Initially, I had no idea where I would attend college,” Clo says. “I took a college visit to Valpo and fell in love with the campus. After I applied, I found out that I received a large scholarship and that made me decide to attend.”
Now preparing to graduate with their B.S. in health and social policy with a minor in social work, Clo has been involved in three internships, the most recent being a staffer for the Ways and Means Committee at the Indiana State House. There, they take notes of meetings to submit to the Democratic Caucus, as well as bill tracking and monitoring any notes passing through the committee. Later in the semester, they will work on the bill summary for House Bill 1001 regarding Medicaid funding.
The Ways and Means internship is fully preparing me for work after graduation,” Clo says. “There are higher expectations and greater rewards for being responsible and maintaining a good workflow. This internship has strengthened my organizational skills which allows me to balance a work-life dynamic.”
Clo was made aware of the internship opportunity by Caroline Ban, MSW, assistant professor and director of the social work program. They had also previously represented their class at the Indiana State House in the Fall of 2022, advocating for changes in criminal justice reform.
“Clo is not afraid to make conversation with anyone,” says Professor Ban. “I can always count on Clo to speak up in class and add something timely and thoughtful to the conversation. Clo was chosen to represent their peers because of their confidence and ability to speak conversationally about complicated topics, willingness to work hard, as well as ability to prepare, adjust, and listen to peers.”
Clo is no stranger to student internships, having completed one at the Avalon Springs Health Campus, where they facilitated activities with dementia patients, and another at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School, where they met with students in groups and one-on-one for behavioral, family, and school help. Even so, this new internship has taught them a great deal about applying what they have learned and developing into a professional role.
“This internship is more rigorous than others I have completed,” Clo says. “I have more work and maintain a schedule of a 9-to-5 position. I interact with more people on a daily basis and have more opportunities to network with individuals in higher positions.”
Their passion for social work means a passion for working with people of all kinds, and Clo believes that all of their experiences have pushed them to grow in that skill.
“I have also been forced to work with more difficult personalities. This pushes me to become a better worker and person,” Clo says. “The valuable experience of all of my internships has been interacting with a number of differing individuals.”
Opportunities like this internship are an integral part of what Valparaiso University offers its students, as well as being a core part of the Uplift Valpo’s — the University’s strategic plan — focus on leadership. It’s also what Clo appreciates most about their time here.
“My favorite thing about being a Valpo student is the number of opportunities that are available to me,” they say. “Valpo caters to its students on a personal level and I feel I was able to take advantage of each opportunity that was offered.”
Bolstered by this experience, Clo plans on applying for the Governor’s Fellowship Program — a paid, post-graduation internship program that immerses recent graduates more deeply in the public service sector.
For more information on the opportunities available with Valparaiso University’s social work program, visit valpo.edu/socialwork.