Our #SummerOfPurpose blog series follows this year’s Cleveland Foundation Summer Interns as they reflect on 11 weeks spent working with Cleveland-area nonprofit and public sector organizations. In today’s blog, we hear from Diane Frangulea, who spent her summer at LEAP (Linking Employment, Abilities and Potential), where she supported the organization’s work advocating for the needs of persons with disabilities.
Name: Diane Frangulea
College: College of William & Mary / University of St. Andrews
Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio
Internship Host Site: LEAP (Linking Employment, Abilities and Potential)
Why did you initially decide to participate in this internship program?
I was initially drawn to the Cleveland Foundation’s Summer Internship Program because of the opportunity to work with a local nonprofit organization. I volunteered with various local nonprofits in high school and wanted more exposure to the world of nonprofits and community-based organizations.
I’ve lived in Cleveland my whole life and was thrilled for the opportunity to give back to my community. After reading through the list of host organizations, I knew that I would be doing meaningful work with any of the 2022 host organizations, but was especially excited when I was matched with LEAP because of their mission and my personal experiences with disability.
What has been the most valuable aspect of your internship experience?
Working directly with people with disabilities has been the most valuable experience of my internship. I missed out on working with people during the last couple of years with the pandemic, and this opportunity reminded me how much I love it. Aside from working with teenagers, I also worked with adults through Quantum LEAP, our adapted social and recreation program. Making meaningful connections with the individuals I’ve met during this internship has shown me how much I love working with people, and I’ve seen firsthand what a difference this program makes in people’s lives.
If you or someone you know is an adult with a disability who has struggled with isolation or loneliness, particularly during the time of COVID, I recommend checking out the year-round activities offered through the Quantum LEAP program.
What has been the most challenging aspect of your internship experience?
One of the most challenging aspects of my work with LEAP has been adapting myself to each person’s needs. Every situation is unique and creating new solutions to each problem as they come has been a test of my creativity. It was especially difficult when it took multiple tries to figure out the best way to address each issue.
When you’re not working, what do you enjoy doing around Cleveland?
I love spending time with family and friends and trying new restaurants throughout the city.
What are your career goals after college?
After I finish up my undergrad, I plan on heading to law school. I would like to eventually use my education to advocate for marginalized communities.
How has this internship helped you grow professionally?
This internship has taught me what it’s like to work and interact with the nonprofit sector. That firsthand experience has solidified my desire to go to law school and continue to dedicate my time to helping others.
How has this internship helped you grow personally?
Working with teenagers was something I had never done before and it required a lot of patience. The work I did was very rewarding and it taught me to value my impact on the people I worked with. It was important for me to know I made a difference.
What’s your favorite public space in Cleveland?
I love that Cleveland is right next to Lake Erie. I go up to beaches as frequently as I can whether it is with my friends and family or just on my own to enjoy the view. In my opinion, the best view is from Huntington Park where you can watch the sunrise or set over Lake Erie with the city’s skyline in the background.
Where would you take a friend who is visiting Cleveland for the first time?
Cleveland has something for everyone. Nature lovers have to see the Metroparks or Cuyahoga Valley National Park, but I would take those more attracted to museums to either the Cleveland Museum of Art or the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Throughout the summer months, I like going to the various cultural festivals hosted throughout the city.
Cleveland also has some amazing restaurants that every first-timer must try. My favorites include Li Wah for dim sum in AsiaTown, Barroco for authentic arepas, and Mason’s Creamery for unique ice cream flavors (or ramen in the winter months!).
What advice would you give to someone considering applying for the Cleveland Foundation Summer Internship program?
I would recommend researching each host organization that captures your interest and figuring out which ones best align with your interests and career goals. Also, as cliché as it sounds, don’t be afraid to take a risk and try something new.