Like many students interning across the country this summer, Ellie Eckerson ’11 is already using lessons learned pursuing her major in real-world applications. Eckerson, a women’s studies major concentrating in international women’s issues, is working with The Center for Women and Families in Bridgeport, Conn.
The Center was originally a YWCA when it started in 1895, but changed its name in 1997. It now acts as a resource for abused women and families, providing services and programs to assist them, as well as legal aid, community education, safe housing, and other types of support. The Center works to strengthen the people who come through its doors while also seeking to eliminate domestic violence and abuse.
Eckerson, also double-minoring in international relations and studio art, recently completed her training as mandated by the State of Connecticut. She is certified as a domestic violence and sexual assault counselor. Her internship will involve a number of responsibilities, ranging from talking to individual women to helping out with the refuge associated with the Center.
Her main job will be with the Advocacy Unit, which works to empower women to take control of their lives. The Unit takes walk-ins every day, meaning each case and woman in need varies greatly. The employees try to create relationships with the women and help them develop a safety plan, whether it is providing support to someone in an abusive relationship, or helping those who have left one. Eckerson also travels to the Bridgeport Hospital to meet women admitted as a result of violence or abuse, as well as assist in group therapy sessions with children.
The rising senior has had experience with this type of work before. While overseas in Wales last semester, she interned with the Carmarthen Women’s Aid Refuge. “I gained a lot of experience working with women and children in the refuge (or safe-house). I had a wonderful experience, which prompted me to look for something similar to do this summer,” she explains.
“I can imagine that it’s going to be a pretty intense summer, and that I’ll get a lot of practical experience working with women and children in crisis as I try to figure out what I want to do after graduation,” she says.
Eckerson is a member of the Women’s Collective on campus. She also plays the flute for the woodwind ensemble and is a part of the women’s club lacrosse team.
In the photo above, Eckerson (far left) takes a break with fellow advocates at the Center for Women and Families in Bridgeport, C.T.