UA Little Rock Alumna Endows Scholarship for Students Completing Unpaid Internships

A University of Arkansas at Little Rock alumna and her husband have endowed a scholarship that will provide funding for undergraduate students who participate in unpaid internships.

Jane McKinney, a 1970 graduate of UA Little Rock, and her husband, Richard Tripodi, have donated funds to create the McKinney Family Endowed Internship Fund, which will provide students from the College of Social Sciences and Communication (CSSC) with financial support while they complete unpaid internships.

“Our new McKinney Family Endowed Internship Fund will impact our students greatly by providing the right financial support for them to serve as interns for local organizations and to learn more deeply how to apply what they are learning in real workplaces,” said Dr. Julien Mirivel, interim dean of CSSC. “The combination of a scholarship that also supports a student’s internship experience is quite simply a powerful gift for our students.”

McKinney and Tripodi see the endowed fund as a way to not only financially assist students in the short term, but as a long-term tool to aid the state’s economic development. Having a skilled workforce is crucial to the state’s ability to attract new businesses. Through internships, students become more skilled and better prepared for their career.

“UA Little Rock is a good school, and it does serve as an anchor for the community and a foundation to build on,” McKinney said. “You need to have something to attract people. You need a good education base, which is why we’re doing what we’re doing.”

The endowed fund will give students the opportunity to gain valuable experience while also maintaining financial stability. McKinney and Tripodi understand the value of an internship and its role in the transition from school to work. Their goal is to assist students in moving from college to the workplace.

“We believe it makes it more difficult for a student to finish school if they can’t find an internship with some kind of compensation,” Tripodi said.

McKinney graduated from the university in 1970, earning a bachelor’s degree in speech, along with a minor in psychology. Her connection with professors, mentors and classmates made an impact, which drew her back to Little Rock and the university.

“I’m doing this because I want UA Little Rock to be a school my grandchildren will consider,” McKinney said.

This story was written by Rachel Knowlten, a graduate student in the UA Little Rock School of Mass Communication.

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