frankInspirationSpecial Needs

Fellow Friday: Putting all the puzzle pieces together

Every summer, the Frank Karel Fellowship places undergraduate students who are first-generation college students and/or represent diverse racial, ethnic and social backgrounds in an eight-week summer internship within the communications team of a carefully selected nonprofit organization. 

The Fellowship honors and advances the legacy of Frank Karel, who established, led and nurtured the field of strategic communications in philanthropy during his 30 years as chief communications officer for the Robert Wood Johnson and Rockefeller Foundations.

Karel believed that racial and ethnic minorities should be better represented in the communications field and that we should be proactive in recruiting and nurturing broader participation and leadership in the advocacy and communications fields.

Throughout their fellowship, the nonprofit offers students guidance, career advice, substantive work assignments, networking and applied experience. This year’s nonprofit hosts included Special Olympics, the Campaign for Tobacco-free Kids and DC Vote.  

In this new series, we hear from the latest cohort of students on their experience as Karel Fellows and what they learned.  This week we are sharing Nergis Lemuss post on the lessons she learned during her summer fellowship at Special Olympics


This past summer was full of excitement, knowledge and wonderful new experiences. Working at the Special Olympics during such a busy time has taught me more about myself than anything else. For starters, it has taught me that I still have so much to learn, but it is okay to not know everything right away. There were times I felt overwhelmed and lost for answers to complete my tasks. Granted, I didn’t let that bring me down. I am not a quitter. I researched and utilized my resources, and I discovered that I am capable of getting a job done with the knowledge I currently possess. This summer, working as an intern for the Special Olympics increased my overall confidence and ability to be self-sufficient in the workplace.

Another piece of the puzzle that came together for me from this experience is a better understanding of my future. I learned that being an advocateCartoon for issues I believe in is the next step in my career path. Working behind the scenes helped me understand how much work and dedication goes into making a vision possible. I want to be a part of that vision!

When looking back at my personal life, I watched my youngest brother, Kamir, play for the Special Olympics knowing very little about the organization. This summer, however, opened up my eyes to see 11737805_10104318567678232_1509986631828601904_n (1)endless possibilities for him as an athlete with an intellectual disability. I wanted him to know that during my summer at the Special Olympics, I was been able to work toward something amazing that he can also take part of one day. I want him to aspire to be great at whatever he wants to do and know that his hard work will not go unnoticed.

Lastly, the summer would not have been nearly as exciting if it wasn’t for the other fellows. Each fellow has a unique personality that made our group full of life. I highly enjoyed visiting each of their organizations throughout the summer and look forward to keeping in touch with all of them. It will be a pleasant reunion at frank when we will be able to come together once again.

This summer was a summer of a lifetime! I’m so glad I was able to be a part of something that made a difference. Thanks to the Frank Karel fellowship, I am one step closer to becoming the person I knew I could be. I end with a phrase I’ve really grown to embrace:

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” – Ghandi


This post originally appeared on the Frank Karel Fellowship blog.

 The Karel Fellowship is made possible by the generous support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Moriah Fund and public interest communications firms including Burness, Spitfire Strategies, Brodeur and Fenton.

Posted: November 20, 2015