Kate Wickens Reflects on ‘Highly Fruitful’ Internship Experience at KARAMAH

Kate Wickens is a current student at Loyola Marymount University, a member of the Armenian Student Association, Amnesty International Student Club, French Club, an ABPA Student Ambassador, and a Research Intern at KARAMAH: Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights. Kate graciously responded to questions by email about how her internship is going, her experiences at student organizations, and more.

Kate Wickens

How did you get into your field of expertise?

In the past, I was in a grey area figuring out what I wanted to pursue. I do look up to my sister, Kyla Wickens, all the time and value her achievements, which is why my way of figuring out my pursuits was through following her footsteps. Although I chose psychology as my field of study, I wanted to propel forward and take a more interdisciplinary and communal approach. Ministering to communities is why I entered International Relations, due to my interest and empathy for cultures and global conflicts. What bolstered me to broaden my horizons roots from the liberal environment I became surrounded in at Loyola Marymount. Most considerably, the many protests and movements that arose worldwide during the pandemic and understanding the oppression that exists within communities motivated me to step down and enter a practical experience of making a difference.

What is an average day like as a Research Intern at KARAMAH?

Waking up in the early morning is one part of it, but my position comprises various duties, like attending webinars, email marketing, research, social media, and administrative tasks. Despite the setbacks, I tremendously enjoy the work experience and being occupied with day-to-day tasks.

The executive director of KARAMAH, Rahmah Abdulaleem, is hardcore determined and sincere, and she motivates me to live up to her expectations. In this case, this experience differs from the typical atmosphere as an intern. Instead, it is mostly just sitting at your computer, switching between multiple tasks. After all, it is mentally exhausting. But I enjoy doing the work that I can to help out and appertain to the intentions and goals emphasized by KARAMAH.

Is there anything you find interesting about KARAMAH that maybe an outsider or someone who isn’t familiar should know? Or an interesting experience you’ve had where you gained an acute insight or awareness about the industry?

I want people to know about KARAMAH’s dedication in representing and educating Muslim women, especially promoting humanity and civilization through legal and social services. KARAMAH also translates to dignity in Arabic, which reflects on its mission to fulfill prosperity for an individual.

I want people to know about KARAMAH’s dedication in representing and educating Muslim women, especially promoting humanity and civilization through legal and social services.

They are also known for intertwining gender equity within religion, essentially based on Islamic principles. Regardless of your identity, I think interreligious engagement and learning about other religions is vital. It is highly fruitful to be present at this non-profit and partake in fulfilling their purposes.

Do you have any advice you could give if someone were to get a job at KARAMAH or a similar organization?

If you can balance your schedule well with the internship and academics, I highly recommend applying for an internship in general. It makes your life more entertaining and productive, especially during the pandemic. At KARAMAH, they are flexible with time commitments and respect any other responsibilities that you have too. It is fulfilling to build a sense of community and rapport with your co-workers/interns, and that is why I advise getting to know your fellow interns and maybe creating a group chat with them so you can chat outside of work. This experience is not only benefiting you, but this kind of engagement would create reciprocity with your co-workers.

What are some key skills or professional experience you hope to gain through this position?

I hope to gain skills in research. Writing is one of my weaknesses since the things I would say sound impractical and unclear. I am not sure if research is my field, but it is worth a shot to see if it is a potential fit. I am also interested in a path towards policy and legislation. I know that takes surmountable research and knowledge to compose resolutions. But I also love to learn new skills in other areas and maybe enhance my competence in marketing or interpersonal communication.

Do you have any memories or stories worth mentioning from your student involvement during university or other school years?

I went to school at the American Community School of Beirut in Lebanon. I do miss my friends and teachers; not only seeing their faces but the activities and community service we participated in cooperatively. Along with ACS students, I volunteered at the Inaash Center, advocating for Palestinian and Syrian refugees and offering additional art practices and activities. That is a place that stays in my heart. Nour International is another student-led organization working to educate refugees. There were many other endeavors that I administered with others, like trips to India or Iceland. Assimilating the different cultures that you come across is such a wholesome experience.

What advice would you give students who are trying to make a career in psychology and international relations?

That is a good question. Only because I joined International Relations with a distinct perspective (psychologically contemplating on concerns like ethical governance, or why conflicts occur, etc.). My opinions vary from others who are in pursuit of Political Science and who have simple and straight to the point opinions. Nonetheless, if you ever get afraid to enter a different circle that you think is not yours, do not hesitate to speak your mind with integrity. People would have opposing views, but they would love to hear your perspective. You have to be tough. And standing out in the crowd is empowering after all. People will disagree with you, but that is okay because your opinion matters.

If you ever get afraid to enter a different circle that you think is not yours, do not hesitate to speak your mind with integrity.

What’s next for you after your time at KARAMAH?

I do want to enjoy my summer vacation, spending some quality time with my grandmother. If Covid subsides, I hope to go back to Lebanon to see my family, whom I have not seen for more than a year. If things continue to be the same, then I hope to persist with my research interests and maybe seek an internship opportunity working at a government or international agency. Most importantly, I would like to continue things that I enjoy at leisure, such as art and reading. There is an abundance of resources that I would like to search into concerning our global circumstances and issues. Being stuck in this pandemic has fostered my curiosity and knowledge about ongoing global issues.

According to your resume, you are actively balancing multiple commitments. Do you have any advice for time management and prioritization, or maybe work/life balance?

Plan ahead, definitely. Try to get organized and see what is coming ahead of time because any last-minute doings will suck your mentality out. For me, it can be exhausting and stressful, but if you stick to your planned schedule, you can live by your commitments more feasibly. I would also tackle the difficult and urgent tasks first because those are a priority, and then you can move onto the easy ones. And if you are feeling stuck on something, leave it and come back to it later with a fresh mind. Overall, nothing comes with perfection, and it is okay if you make errors. Risking failures will get you to bloom and grow exceptionally by learning.

Tackle the difficult and urgent tasks first because those are a priority, and then you can move onto the easy ones.

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