CSUCI’s Hank Lacayo Institute receives three grants to support student internships

A program designed to provide real-world work experience to CSU Channel Islands (CSUCI) students has received a total of $104,900 worth of grants from four different organizations.

The Henry L. “Hank” Lacayo Institute for Workforce & Community Studies (HLI) received $62,500 from Southern California Gas; $22,400 from the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet); $10,000 from the Gene Haas Foundation; and $10,000 from the Bank of America.

“They’re all donors who have been engaged from the beginning, so they have seen the value of this program,” said Director of Career Development & Alumni Engagement Amanda Carpenter, Ed.D.

The program was started in 2003 by a longtime friend of the University and national labor icon, Henry “Hank” Lacayo, who passed away in 2017. Lacayo was advisor to U.S. Presidents and other government officials, always with a keen interest in advancing education and work experience for students.

In 2012, the HLI merged with the Career Development Services to streamline the process of connecting students with internships.

HLI pairs student interests and skills with businesses and nonprofit organizations in the area, crafting the internship so that it addresses the goals of the employer, and gives the intern a rich learning experience.

Since HLI began, 350 students have been placed in more than 200 organizations throughout the area, with 74 percent of the alumni interns reporting employment within their field of study after graduation. Many reported converting from intern to full-time hire.

For alumni like Ramon Chavez, the HLI not only helped him with his career, it helped transform him from a young man making poor choices into a CSUCI graduate preparing to accept his Master of Social Work from the University of Southern California in spring of 2019.

“The career center really helped me with my resume and the career process and how to carry myself in a professional setting,” he said. “I was so used to one lifestyle.”

Chavez, now 38, admits making poor choices while growing up in Fillmore.

“I’m actually a product of my environment, which had gangs and drugs,” Chavez said. “I would see the same people on the same block in the same neighborhood doing the same thing. I didn’t want to get trapped.”

Drugs and gang activity eventually landed Chavez in prison for a year, when he had a lot of time to think about his life, and how he needed to turn it around. After he was released, Chavez studied at Ventura College, then transferred to CSUCI in 2013 with a major in Sociology. His goal was to help other low income, at-risk youth with issues of substance abuse and gang activity. He had lived it and wanted to prevent others from experiencing what he did.

Chavez applied for HLI and was able to get employment inside his discipline, Sociology, and no longer have to work full-time for minimum wage outside of his career path.

HLI paired Chavez with Straight Up Ventura County, a youth development project designed to prevent underage drinking, drug and marijuana use, and other destructive behaviors.

Chavez loved it, and with the confidence and knowledge he gained from his HLI experience, he went on to apply for the Master of Social Work program at the University of Southern California, where he is set to graduate in spring of 2019.

“At first I thought ‘“Wow! USC. Is it possible for me to be a Trojan?’” Chavez said.

The grants the HLI received will go directly to fund student stipends, Carpenter said.

“A lot of our nonprofits in the region don’t have the funds to provide stipends for interns but have an increasing amount of work that needs to be accomplished,” Carpenter said. “This provides the nonprofits an opportunity to get our student talent without having the financial investment piece.”

Carpenter was happy to report that the HLI welcomes 35 juniors and seniors this fall, its largest cohort ever.

“The future of HLI relies on partnerships between private industry and public education. A contribution will make a difference in a student’s life and the quality of our local workforce,” Carpenter said.

To learn more visit: go.csuci.edu/hli. Tax deductible gifts can be made at: www.csuci.edu/impact.

About California State University Channel Islands
CSU Channels Islands is reimagining higher education for a new generation and era. We are an innovative higher education institution that enables students to succeed and thrive, serves as an engine for social and economic vitality and provides the intellectual resources necessary for a thriving democracy. With more than 7,000 students, 1,200 employees and 16,000 alumni, CSUCI is designated by the U.S. Department of Education as a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is committed to serving students of all backgrounds from the region and beyond. Our strong academic programs focus on business, sciences, liberal studies, teaching credentials, and innovative master’s degrees. Connect with and learn more by visiting CSUCI’s Social Media.