Summer flew by and a talented pair of summer interns from the University of Michigan helped make it a breeze. Sophia Filipe, who’s starting her sophomore year at U-M, and Collin Beavan, a U-M junior, made their marks — and a bunch of new friends — during their time at the Downtown Boxing Gym this summer. They took away some valuable lessons, too.

“This experience has been very unique,” said Filipe, 18, who considered the DBG internship her first official job. “I’ve done so many different tasks. I was in charge of creating a social-emotional learning schedule for the summer, an eight-week schedule. I did a lot of research. I love working with the kids. I would consider some of them my true friends.”

Beavan, who just turned 21, worked as a grant management and development intern. He put his experience with research grants to work writing and editing applications for nonprofit grants, gathering and tracking data, and doing grant research, plus coordinating events including volunteer day in June. At the end of each day, he also got to hang out and interact with our students.

“This internship opened me up to a whole new world, just researching areas and finding out how you can help a community,” Beavan said. “It was a really eye-opening experience coming from a small town to big, urban Detroit.”

Both Sophia and Collin found their way to us via the university’s Applebaum Internship Program, which connects students to openings with nonprofits and arts organizations in Detroit.

Back to School

Now that they’ve wrapped up their internships, Sophia and Collin have both resumed the role of “students.” At U-M, Filipe plans to double-major in organizational studies and international studies. She was born and raised in Ann Arbor but also lived for a time in England and China, thanks to her father’s job at Ford. Filipe says she loves Detroit and wants to help make positive change in the city.

“I think it’s great that there are programs like [the Downtown Boxing Gym],” she said. “I think what Khali and everyone is doing here is beyond amazing and I’m honored to be a part of it. I’ve already decided I’m coming back to volunteer.”

Beavan was born and attended elementary school in Grand Rapids but moved to the tiny village of Rosebush, Mich., population 368, near Mount Pleasant. He plans to major in psychology with a minor in law, justice and social change, and says his experience this summer convinced him to pursue a career as a lawyer who works with nonprofits.

“I thought it was amazing,” he said of his experience at the gym. “I wish I had something similar when I was growing up.

“The opportunities they give to kids are things that I don’t even see being offered in high schools in Grand Rapids. They do a great job keeping students involved in the community, keeping them busy and showing them that there’s a larger world out there and giving them the tools they need to succeed. It’s an awesome program.”

Beavan also says he’s hoping to be able to visit the gym this year as a volunteer, but says his research labs will keep him pretty busy this fall and winter.

We’ll miss the great work and personalities Sophia and Collin brought to the gym each day, but we wish them a successful school year. We know they both have bright futures ahead!