Student Spotlight: Natalie Hermes, Senior in Interdisciplinary Studies
Natalie Hermes is a senior in the Interdisciplinary Studies Program at Auburn University. Over the past year she has been encouraged to seek out experiences within her three disciplines (Non-profit and Philanthropy, Rural Community Development, and Human Development and Family Studies) respectively. This led her to take on an internship role with Teach for America at the Houston Institute and volunteer with several other non-profit organizations. She elaborates, “I have loved the freedom and flexibility I have had in choosing internships and various endeavors that have supplemented my course work.” These endeavors, along with the encouragement she’s been given, have allowed her to grow in her passions while making invaluable connections along the way.
Would you mind telling us a bit about yourself?
"I am from Knoxville, TN. I am a classic ENFP (Extraversion, Intuition, Feeling, Perception) personality type—easily inspired and very enthusiastic when it comes to the things I care about; whether it be my Catholic faith, my coffee order, running and spending time in nature; OR the family unit, social justice issues, and being an ally to the more vulnerable members of out society."
What has your experience been like within the program?
"I’ve loved Interdisciplinary Studies (IDSC) because it has enabled me to explore different avenues of my passions and make connections between my emphasis areas. IDSC curriculum has pushed me to pursue the things in my life that make me 'come alive' so as to ensure that when I leave Auburn I am entering into a career where my passions, skills, and interests are all in alignment."
Can you tell me a bit about your interning experience?
"This summer I had the opportunity to intern with Teach For America; I served as an operations associate at the Houston Institute. Teach For America is a nonprofit that recruits and equips the nations 'most promising future leaders' to grow and strengthen the movement of educational equity and excellence in the classroom. My role this summer involved collaborating with 10 other interns from diverse backgrounds to operate and improve the systems for the 400+ new educators who went through training in Houston. Working in a space that is highly motivated to achieve impact and pursue equity in all areas of life/work caused me to not only grow this summer in professionalism and in being an organizational leader, but also grow in conviction to be an advocate for the marginalized—in whatever that may look like in my life."
What about interning did you enjoy the most?
"I enjoyed the people. Working for a nonprofit is wonderful because by the very nature of a nonprofit, even big nonprofits like Teach For America, no one is there for the money. All the people I was privileged to work with and for this summer never ceased to inspire me. Everyone was there for a higher purpose than a paycheck or a summer job; everyone has a story and a distinct reason why they were passionate about the movement of educational equity. The staff and corps members, although SO diverse, were all bound by the core values of TFA: pursuing equity, strengthen community, achieving impact, choosing courage, acting with humility, demonstrating resilience, and learning continuously. So for sure my favorite thing about my internship this summer was the opportunity to meet and develop relationships with some amazing people."
What are some skills you’ve developed as an Interdisciplinary Studies Major that will be helpful in your career?
"I’ve learned how to communicate effectively by placing an emphasis on inclusiveness, empathy, and humility; to recognize the importance of multiple perspectives, and to be able to successfully collaborate with others when problem solving."
What are your plans after graduation?
"After I graduate this spring I hope to pursue an alternate route into education. I think working in an underserved community or school where I can be an ally to marginalized children and families is where my talents/passions are best met. However, I am totally open to any and all possibilities and could also see myself working for a non-profit."
Last Updated: August 28, 2018