Mercedes Girona ’20 just wanted to do some good for the world. When she first started her internship at Rosie’s Place in Boston, her goal was to do her small part to learn about social injustices and make the world a better place.
By the time she had finished, Girona had experienced all of that and more.
“I have become a much stronger, kinder, and more generous person through my work at Rosie’s Place,” she said. “I’ve always been interested in doing nonprofit work, and since I began studying anthropology, I have really wanted to do more to help women and women of color. I jumped at the chance to finally do something.” Girona’s internship was supported by Daniel Fielding ’07.
Majors: Anthropology, Foreign Languages (French/Spanish)
Hometown: Richmond, Mass.
High school: Monument Mountain Regional High School
Rosie’s Place was founded in 1974 as the first women’s shelter in the United States, serving poor and homeless women in the Boston area. Girona served as the direct services intern, working at the front desk and engaging hands-on with the guests that arrived at the facility.
Girona’s job put her at the heart of the day to day life of the shelter. Through her work with the women at the facility — greeting visitors at the front door, taking phone calls, handing out toiletry kits, and helping women sign up for services — she developed a deeper relationship with some of the guests.
“There were guests who I formed real friendships with,” she said. “I am in awe of their courage, resilience, and sense of humor. They are the most special people I have ever met, and their genuine appreciation for the work that Rosie’s Place staff do was incredibly rewarding.”
On top of the pressure of her daily responsibilities, Girona said that the emotional nature of her work isn’t always easy to handle.
“The cruelty they suffer as a symptom of being poor or homeless women is heartbreaking. There are women who have lost their children, have been physically and mentally abused, stolen from, forgotten, and discriminated against. Even though they keep their spirits up, witnessing that kind of suffering is really hard.”
Girona wanted to work in a position where she can help others, and this internship has made her more determined than ever to work in human services. While her path after graduation is still uncertain, she has learned a lot about what she values in her future career.
“There are never too many good deeds to go around,” she said. “Working with people who have very little and have suffered very much, I witnessed true generosity — even when you have nothing, you can still give to others. Rosie’s Place is proof of that.”