This summer, Anderson University senior Audrey Winkle had the opportunity to explore the world of politics. Winkle landed an internship with the Front Porch Alliance, an organization affiliated with Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard’s office.
Front Porch Alliance works with faith-based and community organizations that serve Marion County residents. Its job is to build partnerships with groups in the community to improve living conditions within the neighborhoods of Marion County.
While working for the mayor’s office, Winkle did much more than stereotypical intern duties. “I was able to do a lot of things that were useful, not just secretarial jobs,” said Winkle. While interning, Winkle helped faith-based organizations and nonprofits connect with sponsoring organizations so they could acquire funding and grants.
Winkle also sat in on meetings with the mayor and helped coordinate the Mayor’s Community Service Awards. “I gained so much knowledge, not only about social work but about the business world in general,” said Winkle.
Winkle always had an interest in social work, but it was not until she came to Anderson that she chose what area of social work to focus on. “I am more interested in the macro, or overarching, field of social work,” said Winkle.
She first gained an interest in macro social work when she took a social work research class at AU. After completing the class, professors encouraged her to pursue research. Macro-level social work focuses on research and finding out why certain trends happen. “Macro level effects the micro level, you have to understand the population before you can help them,” said Winkle.
Lisa Pay, Winkle’s advisor and a social work professor at AU, was one of many who encouraged her to pursue the field of research. “Audrey is a very responsible, gifted problem solver, and she is an exceptional critical thinker who looks at the problem from all angles,” said Pay.
Pay’s goal is to help her students have a sense of self and a natural curiosity, and she has seen Winkle embrace all of these lessons. “She has figured out who she is and what direction she wants to go, and she has matured since her freshman year,” said Pay.
Although the social work field is composed of more women than men, Pay believes that Winkle’s interests are unique because macro-level research consists mainly of men. “Audrey is breaking the mold in a lot of ways,” said Pay. “Not many women take interest in macro-level social work.”
Pay also believes Winkle has gone above and beyond in gaining experience because that she has already completed other internships, such as one with Chicago nonprofit Inner City Impact, as well as completing her required social work agency hours this spring.
In the future, Winkle hopes to obtain a job in politics, working on research. “I have made several connections while working with the Front Porch Alliance, one of them being my supervisor Douglass Hairston,” said Winkle. “I would love to return to the mayor’s office, and hopefully work my way up to an official position.”
— Kelli Webster is a senior from Indianapolis, Ind., majoring in communication arts. Webster is an associate with Fifth Street Communications™, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology.