The Women’s Foundation of Arkansas (WFA) has announced its 2022 participants in the Tjuana Byrd Internship Program. Three of the 25 internship participants are Arkansas State University current or former students.
Designed for college-aged women of color pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), the program gives participants an opportunity to work for some of Arkansas’ largest STEM-related companies. During the 10-week program, participants were provided with equitable pay, free housing, and access to mentorship opportunities, networking events and professional development workshops.
“For nearly 25 years, the WFA has been the leading force driving our state’s efforts to boost the economic mobility of women and girls, and the Tjuana Byrd Summer Internship Program is yet another meaningful way we get to do this,” said Jill Floyd, president of WFA’s board of directors.
Reagan Boone of North Little Rock is a senior computer science major at ASU. She was an information services/geographical information systems intern at Central Arkansas Water.
“I would describe my experience as incredibly educational and helpful. This internship gave me a direct connection and actual experience with the field I would like to pursue while introducing me to fields I had never considered and had no knowledge of,” she said. “This internship has definitely made me feel as though I went the right way when I became a STEM major and made me feel capable of being successful in my field.
Prapti Pandey of Kathmandu, Nepal, worked as a development engineering intern with Acxiom. She came to ASU for the Master of Engineering Management degree, and graduated Friday during Summer Commencement.
“My internship experience was beyond anything I expected when I started this program,” Pandey said. “As an international student and a woman of color, I was provided a platform to learn and grow both professionally and personally with the guidance of amazing and inspiring women leaders in STEM. Acxiom has offered me a full-time position, and I will be starting soon. I am very grateful to WFA for this opportunity.”
Shannon Stewart of Bryant, a senior biological sciences major with a pre-professional emphasis, also completed her internship with Central Arkansas Water.
“It was like being introduced to a new world of water that you thought you already knew,” Stewart said. “I would definitely say without a doubt that this experience has increased and further confirmed my interest in a STEM-related profession.”
The internship program was named in honor and recognition of the organization’s first Black board president, Judge Tjuana Byrd. As part of the WFA’s Girls of Promise® initiative, presented by Acxiom, it aims to help women and girls reach their full economic potential in STEM-related fields. “This wouldn’t be possible without our incredible business partners who are committed to helping us eliminate the barriers hindering the success of women and girls in Arkansas,” Floyd added.