Trinity’s ALE internship program expands to St. Louis with help from PR veteran Allison Hawk ’88
by Jeremy Gerlach
As phones buzz, papers fly, and deadlines loom, Cheyne Minto ’19 starts to connect the dots.
Minto, an English major from West Covina, Calif., is far from home, spending his summer doing work that’s a far cry from his English studies. As an intern in Trinity’s Arts, Letters, and Enterprise (ALE) program, Minto works for AHC Consulting, a public relations firm in St. Louis with dozens of big-name clients.
“This was daunting at first, adapting my writing style from English papers to press releases,” Minto says. “But now I’ve got it down to a science.”
The ALE internship program, Trinity’s one-of-a-kind approach to merging the liberal arts with the business world, offers students like Minto fully-paid summer positions—a stipend of $4,000—in nonprofits and businesses of all stripes. This year, ALE students have partnered with more than 20 nonprofits, ranging from arts enterprises such as the San Antonio Symphony to political offices such as Sen. John Cornyn ’73 (R-TX) and Texas state Rep. Diego Bernal (D).
In his role with AHC Consulting, Minto isn’t just making copies and brewing coffee: He’s copywriting for project proposals and press releases, helping clients with social media guidance, and working out of a streamlined, strategic communications playbook—all while gaining confidence from succeeding at a professional level, and while he’s still an undergraduate.
“You couldn’t find this experience at any other university,” Minto adds. “There are so many careers you can have with an English degree, and an ALE internship opens you up to all these options.”
And while the ALE program helps students explore new professional possibilities, Trinity’s alumni network is poised to help them explore these careers well outside of the San Antonio bubble. Thanks to an alumni connection, Minto is the first ALE intern to land a position in St. Louis.
That connection is Allison Hawk ’88, a St. Louis PR veteran and AHC Consulting founder. Hawk started her career at PR firm Fleishman-Hillard Inc., helping win approval for major St. Louis projects such as the Edward Jones Dome (former home of the St. Louis Rams), the Kiel Center, and the MetroLink light rail system. Hawk went on to serve as director of corporate communications and community outreach for the St. Louis Rams before launching her own firm.
Hawk’s sport-related expertise led her to co-teach a Trinity sport management class as an adjunct professor in 2017, along with Jacob Tingle, director of experiential learning and ALE faculty committee co-chair. When Tingle introduced Hawk to the ALE program, she decided to open a position at her firm for an ALE intern, and Minto ultimately got the spot.
“Trinity’s network has so many ‘dots,’ and there are times where it feels they just keep connecting and connecting—almost on their own,” says Hawk, who serves as the president of the Trinity alumni chapter in St. Louis. “And that common denominator is that we are all lifelong learners, and we’re inquisitive. That’s why we keep connecting.”
In St. Louis, Minto’s Trinity connections continue to gather steam. Minto is part of a separate Trinity program, 1869 Scholars, which pairs alumni mentors with Trinity undergraduates considering similar careers. David Schlosser ’90, another St. Louis PR whiz, has been paired with Minto.
“David’s been giving me advice on expanding my professional and marketable skills, as well as just general career and life advice,” Minto says. “And he already knows Allison. With Trinity, you can find yourself saying, ‘What a small world.’”
Hawk says many professionals don’t get these type of networking opportunities—let alone undergraduates. But the ALE program gives Trinity students like Minto a chance to get real-time, professional feedback.
And Trinity students, Hawk adds, know how to make the most of this experience.
“What I like about Trinity students, and Cheyne in particular, is that he learns by asking for examples,” Hawk explains. “Smart Trinity students can take examples and use their education—whether it’s English, political science, or philosophy—to be good business writers. They can transition from academic settings into a business because they know how to be self-taught.”
Future Trinity lifelong learners like Minto will have even more options through the ALE program. According to Tingle, the program is aiming to leverage more alumni connections to launch pilot ALE summer internship positions in other major metros. In the future, out-of state Trinity students could even land full-time, resume-worthy summer jobs right in their own hometowns.
And as these dots keep connecting, Hawk says it will be easy for employers to see how Trinity candidates stand out from the rest of the field.
“At Trinity, the liberal arts is a problem-solving discipline,” Hawk says. “When I see someone with that on their degree, that catches my eye because I know they’re willing to learn, they’re willing to grow, and they’re willing to stretch out of their comfort zone.”