Mollie Rutz '20 | University of Portland

Mollie Rutz '20

Mollie RutzMajors: Political Science & Economics

EPI internship: Hour Children / Hour Working Women Program

What are your summer internship responsibilities?

During my internship I was responsible for monitoring daily workshops with participants, including anything from Compassionate Meditation to Social Capital to Resume Building. I was also given projects such as reformatting, redesigning, and editing the Policy and Guideline Book for the entire program. The other main project I worked on were the evaluation forms for both the participants and facilitators for clarity and accuracy in organizing feedback to improve the program’s effectiveness. Lastly, I interviewed at least two participants in the program each week to learn more about them, their values, and how the program has helped them.

Why did you apply for the Ethics and the Professions Internship program?

I applied for the Ethics and Professions Internship program because I wanted to analyze everyday work occurrences through a different lens. It was important to me that I was able to see the intention behind different actions, to identify the motivation driving someone or some policy. I wanted the opportunity to really reflect on the thought processes behind the work, and how to keep respect for both the people being served by the company and the employees within it.

How did you find out about this internship program?

I heard about this internship program through Courtney Campbell, the Program Director for First Year Programs through the Shepard Academic Resource Center.

What have you learned so far?

From my internship, I have learned a lot more about reentry back into the community after being in prison or being released on work release. There are so many obstacles in this process that Hour Children helps participants through. Not only does this include finding housing, in which many landlords do not rent to people who were convicted of crimes but finding childcare and an income without knowledge of resumes and job applications. These women in the program not only have to become a part of the job force again, but learn self-compassion, how to vote and be a part of the community, how to be a good role model for others and/or her children. The amount of diligence it requires to become part of the community again is incredibly impressive and inspiring.

What has been your favorite moment as an intern?

My favorite moment of my internship is all the individual conversations I had with individual participants in the program: learning about their values, career and personal goals, how much gratitude they have for their support systems and Hour Children. Learning their stories with the struggles they have overcome and their next steps to being a member of society again is amazing. These women have so much strength and I am honored to have been working alongside them during this part of their lives.

Why do you believe internships are important for undergraduate students?

I believe internships for undergrad students helps to connect the knowledge we are learning in the classroom with the outside world. Often, we learn about facts and figures in an abstract way in lectures, but we need to learn to apply this knowledge outside of that controlled environment. If you have an internship in undergrad, it makes it easier to tie your classes with your experiences. Having an internship as an undergrad student has helped me ask better questions, deepen my understanding, and enrich my experiences.

Why did you come to the University of Portland?

I chose University of Portland because I really enjoyed the community ties on campus. I felt that the added bonus of being a faith-based school helped build a stronger base for the students and professors at the university to connect over shared values. While not all students are religious or Catholic, by choosing to come here we all recognized that the values of the Catholic church are ones we want to uphold in our own lives. That is shown so clearly on campus by being focused on social justice, diversity of thought, and most overtly, others holding doors for one another on campus. These things, big and small, made UP feel like home before I became a student and the feeling has stuck.

What other experiences have made your time at UP unique?

One of the most prominent experiences of my time at UP were my experiences with the Outdoor Pursuits Program. I did not do a lot of outdoors activities growing up so the chance to really dive into the outdoors of the Pacific Northwest was amazing. I had the ability to go rock climbing, hiking, backpacking, snowshoeing, and most recently I did a week-long kayaking trip from Portland to the coast. I had an immediate love of these trips and hope to continue to adventure outdoors after college.

What are some of your favorite memories at UP?

My favorite memories at UP have been with different clubs on campus. As I said before, the Outdoor Pursuits Program opened my eyes to a whole different side of Oregon and the Pacific Northwest and I am so grateful. The Moreau Center gave me the opportunity to view a whole different side of Portland. I was able to attend, then lead, the Urban Immersion where we explored different problems facing Portland such as houselessness, lack of access to healthcare, criminality of poverty, and more. Sometimes UP campus can feel like a bubble, but I have appreciated the opportunities UP has to get out and expand my horizons to learn more about the place where we live in.

What are your plans after you graduate?

After I graduate, I plan to go to law school and study criminal law. Through this internship, in particular, my research project on the criminalization of poverty, I really want to dive deeper into reforming the system. I believe that can come from outside organizations, within political systems, and from the prosecutors who are given an immense responsibility in charging these people with jail, fines, etc. I believe a law degree will help me succeed in learning more in this field, as well as being more effective in causing positive change.

How did the conversations about ethics during your internship influence how you will approach your plans after graduation?

During my internship, I was surrounded by people who wanted to support me and help me grow in my career. This helped me see the value of those people in my place of work that challenged my values and allowed me to defend them or learn more and grow and adapt to new information. In this internship, it helped me really value the people working with me as those who will most help shape my values and ideals. In my first career, I will focus on finding work in which I have opportunities to challenge my expectations, while holding space for me to grow or defend my beliefs.

Anything else you would like to add?

I would like to thank EPI for giving me this opportunity to work with Hour Children and research the criminalization of poverty. I have learned so much about the institutions that cause people into the criminal system, the systems that prevent full integration back into society, and how Hour Children helps support women in all aspects of their life to create well-rounded citizens in the community. I am so grateful for this opportunity to expand my ethical lens to view all situations by paying attention to motivations and goals in one's actions, and I thank EPI for this new view on my environment.