TBBCF College Internship Program
“It’s one big pay-it-forward.”
By ELLYN SANTIAGO
“I save the best students for this wonderful organization,” Three Rivers Community College Professor Kevin Amenta said. “It does so much for so many.”
Amenta, a Graphic Design and Communication professor, is speaking about the thriving and distinctly successful Terri Brodeur Breast Cancer Foundation (TBBCF) college internship program.
“The students get to do real-world work, real graphic design for a real business,” Amenta explained. “I’m helping the student, and by helping the student get experience, they’re helping the Foundation as it helps us all. It’s one big pay-it-forward.”
The TBBCF paid internship program began in 2017 with grant money from 100 Women Who Care. In March 2017, Suzie Woodward and Debra Alt presented the Foundation with a donation of $4,600 to help fund seasonal summer intern salaries.
Gabrielle Tudisca was hired to fill that paid position in 2017, and she brought much more than her talent; she brought new ideas and good contacts. And, importantly, unlike usual internships where the student does their time and moves on, she never left. Indeed, she worked to recruit “for-credit” graphic art students from Three Rivers Community College and one from Eastern Connecticut State University (ECSU) beginning with the fall 2018 semester.
As Tudisca explains it, after graduating from ECSU in the spring of 2017, and starting her TBBCF internship, she began connecting some dots.
“I knew the Business Department Head at Three Rivers who saw the posting for a paid intern for TBBCF, and sent over the information. I have always had a strong history of volunteering and being a part of local non-profits. This was a way for me to combine both my hobbies with gaining experience in my field of degree,” she shared.
Tudisca joined the TBBCF Board of Directors in 2019 and was the lead Foundation volunteer for a rebranding effort in 2020 and 2021. She also served as board secretary and now shares the chair for Marketing and Communication. And if one asks longtime TBBCF members, they’ll say what Tudisca also brings to the table is her youth.
“My most important project with the Foundation was the rebranding. To me, it was important to help bring the Foundation to the next generation and give us a more modern look that would resonate with the next group of walkers,” explained Tudisca.
Amenta described the TBBCF internship program as a “keystone.” Just ask the interns. They agree. And in some cases, it’s very personal.
Tudisca said the program provided her with “plenty of professional skills, including managing others, working with a diverse team and project management, to name a few.”
But she added that “Even more important than any of those skills, were the connections with those within the Foundation.”
“By joining the internship program, I was introduced to a community full of inspiration and heart. These people and their stories help remind me that no matter what, no matter how tough a situation may be, to never stop fighting,” Tudisca said. “The Foundation members have been there as support and resources for myself and those in my personal life through some of our hardest moments.”
Jordan Leroy, who was a spring 2022 intern, now works as the Communications/Marketing Coordinator for the Pawcatuck Neighborhood Center, a community lifeline.
“The TBBCF internship program played a huge role in preparing me for this position,” she said, adding, “I learned the non-profit basics to marketing from them.”
“Working with TBBCF as an intern in college allowed me to experience firsthand what it’s like being on a marketing team. I found that working with the smaller, close-knit team gave me a better understanding of what they needed from me as a graphic designer, while still being able to express my creativity. My internship with TBBCF was not only my first step into doing consistent graphic design work for an organization but also into the field of marketing.”
Leroy said of the work she did during her internship, she’s “most proud” of one campaign in particular—Walk for A Cure.
“This is the Foundation’s most important fundraiser of the year, and there is a lot of work that goes into it,” she said. “It was exciting for me to brainstorm what kind of designs I could come up with for each piece that was needed, whether it be a graphic for a countdown to the walk or a training opportunity. If you compare the graphics I made from the beginning of my internship with TBBCF to more recent ones, I personally think you can see the growth.”
Bernard Moore was a fall 2022 intern and is back with TBBCF for the summer. He enjoys the work and is learning a lot.
“This internship was pretty important for me. It was my first glimpse at what it would be like working with real clients and the real world,” he said. “It’s been very beneficial to me in the ways it has taught me how to make things based on client specifications and not just your own. But it’s also shown me that designs can be improved upon. I feel like, although there are a few limitations to what I’m allowed to do, I’ve also been given a lot of creative freedom with the graphics I make. For that, I’m grateful.”
And like Jordan Leroy, Moore is proud of the creative work he’s done and is grateful for the experience.
With one graphic in particular, he said, “I finally felt like I’d found my style.”
“With this particular image, I did a lot of experimenting and tried to match the shapes with what the company was about. I also implemented a pattern in the background of the picture and was really satisfied with the result. This image was well received by some of the staff at TBBCF, and this is what changed my creative process going forward with future projects,” he said. “I’m very proud of this image and how it turned out.”
Amenta noted that the TBBCF internship program is very important and a pathway to real-world employment, with a heart.
“This is a real internship, and it’s been one of our most important ones,” Amenta said. TBBCF knows I’m going to give them great people. And I know that the experience students get from working with TBBCF is going to be valuable.”
And Tudisca shared that “Every intern has provided something new to the Foundation.”
“We have created marketing templates to use from one intern to the next in order to maintain consistent branding throughout the years. But since every intern is different and has differing viewpoints, every semester we get new creative material (consistent with our branding) that contains their own unique elements specific to that intern,” she said.
TBBCF Executive Committee President Patti L. Burmahl praised the program, calling it a “great opportunity to provide interns exposure to a wonderful non-profit organization; but more importantly, we gain incredibly talented team members who provide fresh new ideas, have amazing technical skills and have really helped us in areas such as communications, social media, and graphic design.”
And she added that with Tudisca on board, “The program is also helping identify great future leadership for the Foundation.”
There’s a special relationship between interns and the Foundation, and one that all involved won’t soon forget.
Editor’s note: We thought it would be fun to share a Jordan Leroy template design featuring our current and past graphic art interns on National Intern Day. Pictured left to right, Gabrielle Tudisca, Jordan Leroy and Bernard Moore.