Working with Visually Impaired Inspires Intern
ExxonMobil Summer Jobs Award Salutes Criminology Major’s Work
Aug. 4, 2010
Professionalism and a burgeoning passion to help individuals with special needs during a summer internship funded by the world’s third-largest company have netted a UT Dallas undergraduate student an award, a scholarship and a new career path.
Arlette Hinojosa, a senior criminology major at The University of Texas at Dallas, was honored recently by the ExxonMobil Community Summer Jobs Program in Dallas as the project’s Intern of the Year. With it, she earned a $1,000 scholarship to help defray her education costs.
Hinojosa interned this summer at the American Foundation for the Blind’s Center on Vision Loss. Hinojosa reorganized, updated and wrote copy for an online database that is used by millions of people a year.
“We are delighted to have had Arlette working with us this summer to update, reorganize and expand our assistive product database,” said Neva Fairchild, Hinojosa’s supervisor. “The work she has done will benefit the hundreds of individuals who visit Esther's Place, our independent living demonstration center, as well as the thousands of individuals who visit our virtual center. She has been invaluable to this project.”
Judy Scott, director of the Center on Vision Loss, wasn’t surprised in the least bit by Hinojosa’s award. “Arlette brought new energy and enthusiasm to the Center,” she said. “I’m excited to see young people such as Arlette get so involved in non profit causes. Her work with us will have an impact on the lives of people with vision loss far into the future.”
Prior to her internship, Hinojosa planned to attend law school following graduation and hoped to become a district attorney. Over the course of her internship, however, Hinojosa began to adjust her career path as she discovered a passion for helping individuals with special needs. Hinojosa now plans to focus her studies on disability law when she enters law school in the fall of 2011.
“This internship experience has opened my eyes as to the struggles individuals with vision loss face and how much can be done to improve the challenges and frustrations that come along with daily activities just by making a few minor adjustments, Hinojosa said. “Over the course of my summer, I have found that the better part of society has treated the visually impaired as a separate, needy community when in reality, the visually impaired can do anything and everything the sighted can, and many times, they need no help.”
ExxonMobil’s Community Summer Jobs Program in Dallas is administered by the Volunteer Center of North Texas, which manages the internships and trains agencies to better recruit, interview and select candidates. Each nonprofit is responsible for interviewing and hiring its own interns, which helps ensure that the unique needs of each agency are met.