Fresh from her Griffith University community internship for Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Brianna Stinsman will intern for the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency in the U.S. capital Washington D.C.

The pandemic forced Brianna to return to the US but she managed to get a taste of the Gold Coast lifestyle before she left.

The agency is leading America’s Covid-19 response and recovery efforts in coordination with District of Columbia Health and Brianna was one of just four interns selected from a nationwide search.

An American citizen, Brianna says she came to Griffith’s Gold Coast campus in 2020 as an exchange student, arriving two months before the pandemic impacted the study year.

“I chose to enrol in the community internship course to gain an international professional experience,” she said.

“I wanted to be a more competitive candidate for employment after graduation in my desired career field as a diplomat.

“I wanted to expand my network, challenge myself in a new field and gain an international network.”

When lockdowns came into force globally, Brianna had to return home but was able to complete her Griffith community internship remotely.

“I was initially concerned with the limitations of remote learning but I was pleasantly surprised to find out how connected I felt,” she added.

“Having the chance to complete the internship online gave me a sense of purpose during quarantine – its comforting to be able to contribute to a cause greater than yourself in a time of crisis.”

Now Brianna has the opportunity contribute to America’s Covid response.

Brianna and her fellow interns at the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency in Washington DC will support the District’s Covid operations until August and aid in steady-state emergency management and homeland security initiatives.

They will work alongside local, state and federal partners, participate in exercises and training opportunities, and support possible activations of the District’s Emergency Operations Centre.

Faith Valencia-Forrester, Director Service Learning – Learning Futures at Griffith, says Brianna’s next opportunity is testament to her determination to do good.

“I’m just so excited to see how well she’s doing since she’s gone back to the States,” she said.

“Despite Covid Brianna was committed to continuing with her internship, and I believe she’s continued to volunteer and work with that organisation.

“Hers is a wonderful story where you see a student actually recognise what they’re able to do when they’re committed and passionate about causing change in the world.

“We have a huge variety of internships that students can do while they’re with us, both face to face and online.

“We primarily partner with not for profits, NGOs, government organizations, aid and environmental agencies but we also help corporates work with communities in areas of sustainability.”

Brianna believes her internship experience with Griffith helped prepare her for the coveted opportunity to contribute in Washington.

“I truly loved theCommunity Internship Course at Griffith – my interest in Covid response and recovery efforts began during my Community Internship with Reporters Without Borders,” she said.

“My experience helped me gain a global perspective on the inequities and impact of this public health crisis and inspired me to take an active role in the efforts here in my home country.

“I had always respected the significance of press freedom to democracy and informing citizens so it was a really engaging experience to gain the perspective of not only a journalist but to be part of an organisation like RSF.”

“Around 83% of our students provided feedback last trimester that their internship helped develop their employability skills,” Faith Valencia-Forrester said.

“More than 60% of students continue to volunteer with organizations they do their internships with.

“We’re teaching our students how to look at the world from a social justice lens, and then find and identify ways they can go about changing them when they’re actually out in the workforce.”

Brianna is looking to pursue a career in international disaster response, humanitarian intervention, and policy development.

“My personal and professional mission is to promote peacebuilding in foreign policy and defend human rights on a local, national, and global scale.”

“I would love to join an international organization such as the United Nations, the United States Department of State, the United States Agency for International Development, or the International Red Cross to respond to critical incidents such as natural disasters and pandemics around the world.”

She is currently applying for the Fulbright-Anne Wexler Master’s Award In Public Policy, which aims to grow Australian-American educational linkages by building a network of public policy experts and to encourage ongoing policy exchange.


16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
UN Sustainable Development Goals 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

4: Quality Education
UN Sustainable Development Goals 4: Quality Education