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Reading, ‘Riting, and Real-World Results

Friday, May 9, 2014

Sam Jensen and Ana Garcia have fun entering donation data at the San Antonio Area Foundation for The Big Give S.A. on May 6. 

Sam Jensen and Ana Garcia embark on a liberal arts internship created specifically for Trinity humanities majors

by Jeanna Goodrich Balreira '08

They’d both heard it before: “What can you do with a liberal arts degree?” Sam Jensen, a senior English major from El Paso, and Ana Garcia, a senior sociology major from Austin, were eager to show the real world just what it takes to be great writers—and great thinkers, great researchers, great innovators. So the two set out to put their liberal arts educations, and knack for creative problem solving, to the test.

Enter John Burnam, a 2010 Trinity graduate who majored in religion and art history, whose understanding of a liberal arts education led him to create humanities-specific, nonprofit research and advising internships at his firm, John Burnam Consulting. Burnam sought a partnership with Trinity’s Arts, Letters and Enterprise (ALE) program through the help of ALE faculty adviser Jacob Tingle. Jensen and Garcia were the first pair of Trinity students to enter Burnam’s internship program.

“An education in the humanities teaches students how to learn new things and find new information on their own,” Burnam says, “even if the students have never been exposed to the subject matter before.” Jensen and Garcia have applied their exceptional critical thinking skills to their internships, which serve to encourage professional development, provide real-world working experience, and build students’ portfolios—all vital when applying for jobs and establishing careers.

“I ask interns what they want to accomplish when they graduate,” Burnam says. He then provides a range of related real-world opportunities to help them reach their goals. Jensen and Garcia’s internships include everything from journalism, public relations, and news writing to research, surveys, and statistics.

The duo even participated in the 24-hour online fundraising effort, The Big Give S.A., monitoring and organizing donation data. “It was great working with a variety of people and organizations,” Garcia says. “I feel like I have dabbled a bit in everything and learned how to apply my skills in multiple settings.”

And talk about multiple settings: Jensen successfully pitched and published an article about the San Antonio Christian Dental Clinic in Dentistry IQ, one of the nation’s leading online dental magazines. “This internship has allowed me my first opportunity to write and publish professionally,” Jensen says. “It's been a great first step in getting my work and name out into the community.”

Garcia adds, “I have definitely gained a new confidence in my abilities. It has made me a more well-rounded person, and I feel confident that I will take the knowledge gained from this internship and use it in my future career.”

“My liberal arts education has forced me to really focus on the quality of my writing, and now, in my internship, it's paying dividends,” Jensen says. “It has let me put the things I've learned at Trinity to work in the community, with really satisfying results. This internship has convinced me that I have what it takes to do well in the wide, wide world.”

Jeanna Goodrich Balreira is the associate director for creative communication in University Marketing Communications and a 2008 Trinity graduate. You can reach her at jgoodri1 [at]