Humanics program teaches organizational skills

For American Humanics Student Association President Heidi Alaswad, gaining nonprofit management experience has been enjoyable, but has come with a lot of sacrifice and dedication.

Offered through the Graduate College of Social Work, the UH David M. Underwood chapter of American Humanics program is offered to all students – regardless of their classification.

Alaswad, a sociology senior, is an intern at Junior Achievement, a nonprofit organization that teaches business and finance to students from elementary to high school.

Through the program, Alaswad has learned to help manage a nonprofit organization through fund-raising, volunteer management and event organization.

"Balancing classes, a challenging internship at Junior Achievement and the presidency of American Humanics Student Association is definitely hard work," Alaswad said. "As president, my duties go far beyond scheduling meetings and coordinating events. My main mission is to ensure that all those in the student association receive all the tools necessary to secure their individual certifications in the American Humanics program."

The American Humanics Nonprofit Certificate Program helps certify students by providing entry-level skills, knowledge and experience.

"Our students receive a certificate in nonprofit management," American Humanics Program Coordinator Lori Godwin said. "Students are given specific goal-oriented tasks that provide hands on experience in nonprofit organizations."

Some of the nonprofit national partners of the Humanics program include the American Red Cross, Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts, Humane Society and March of Dimes.

"We have students at United Way and the Houston chapter of Red Cross, as well as some of the smaller grassroots organizations," Godwin said.

"Our program is unique in the fact that we don’t place them anywhere. Students can research whom they want and get three or four interviews."

Alaswad said she applies the knowledge from her Junior Achievement internship on a daily basis.

Human development and family studies senior Maleah Similton said the program has been helpful with the skills she has acquired.

"American Humanics has acted like a test-lab for me," Similton said. "I can experiment with ideas, try new things and be guided in the best practices of the field. Our program directors are always available to assist us, and we are really being shaped by the best that the field has to offer."

Similton is currently interning at United Way of Greater Houston with different tasks in managing meetings, volunteers and literacy research in low-income areas.

"Many of the concepts that I have learned from American Humanics and my position as membership coordinator have helped me perform well in my internship at United Way of Greater Houston, and vice versa," Similton said. "I am being cultivated as a nonprofit leader, and I enjoy every minute of it. It feels amazing to do something that you know will make a difference in someone else’s life."

The program’s orientation Thursday was to notify UH students of the program and to help recruit those interested. American Humanics Program Director Margaret O’Donnell encourages students – undergraduate and graduate – to find out more about the program.

"We are always looking for ways to let students at UH know about this great opportunity to turn their passion into a career," O’Donnell said. "A student can enroll at anytime of the academic year-even summer."

Students can log on to for more information on internship opportunities and the American Humanics organization.

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