UNB Alumni
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Internship program sparks strong mentorship between UNB student and alumna

Author: UNB Alumni

Posted on Sep 22, 2020

Category: Inspiring Stories , UNB Fredericton , Young Alumni


When alumna Kate Ross (BPhil’05) first recommended Renaissance College to now-UNB student Callum Hunter, little did she know they would later become reconnected through the college’s Canadian internship program. Throughout the eight-week placement this summer, the two shared a positive learning experience and developed a strong mentor-mentee relationship that they look forward to growing throughout Callum’s academic career at UNB.

Challenged to find an internship during the onset of COVID-19, Callum reached out to her network of connections seeking opportunities. She was grateful to hear back from Kate, a colleague of her mother’s and a proud graduate of Renaissance College, with the opportunity to intern at the Rotary Flames House Children’s Hospice (RFH) in Calgary developing a virtual program that would enhance quality of life for patients.

Callum played a pivotal role establishing the virtual program from the ground up - a void Kate says needed support due to the impacts of COVID-19 on her own role as child life specialist at RFH. Throughout her eight-weeks at the hospice, Callum supported 36 different families through 23 zoom sessions, and created nine additional resource options for patients in Calgary as well as across the country. These included sourcing online games, audiobooks, wheelchair accessible campsites and more.

“It was such a collaborative experience,” says Callum. “It was one of my first jobs, so going in I didn’t really know what to expect. Kate let me have so much freedom. She'd give me a project and let me go at it and I got a lot of great feedback from her. I really enjoyed the trust and confidence she put in me to be able to do it for myself.”

The internship program allows students to observe leadership in action, as well as to develop their own skills and learning goals. Now at the beginning of her second year in the program, Callum says one of the most valuable parts of the experience was building a relationship with an alumna who could help connect her experience to the RC learning outcomes and bond over their shared experiences in the program.

“There’s a lot of difficulties going through any university program and it’s nice to have somebody who has been through it all already.”

As a member of RC’s third cohort of graduates, Kate says she thought so highly of the Canadian internship program, which she completed at the Alberta Children’s Hospital, during her time as a UNB student. She credits the program and her internships for helping give her the interest and confidence to pursue a career in a hospital setting. Now fifteen years later, Kate remarks feeling a special moment as she supports a future-fellow-alumna through a program that has had such a positive impact on her own life.

“It was a really beautiful collaboration and such a wonderful opportunity,” she says. “It was really fun to work with another RC student because there’s definitely a way of thinking and a way of approaching things that is quite unique.”

Not only was the internship a deeply valuable experience for her as a mentor, but Kate will feel the success of the online program for a long time to come through the impact it has had on the  patients and families at the hospice.

“Callum’s impact was felt hugely. She showed a ton of initiative, had great ideas and was coming up with resources that I hadn’t considered. The impact was in huge part because of her skills, professionalism, kindness, empathy, awareness of the population and their interests. We had great feedback from families about just how impactful it was and how they were able to still feel connected and not isolated during such an isolating time.”