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AddRan College of Liberal Arts


Four people posing for a photo together

The opportunity to work with outside organizations focused on diversity, inclusion and aiding the community can go a long way toward helping TCU students find their way in the world with purpose and drive.

This spring, AddRan College of Liberal Arts students Santiago Gareca and Treasure Ifiesimama participated in Inclusive Excellence internships with the Fort Worth Metropolitan Black Chamber of Commerce (FWMBCC), where they assisted board members on specific tasks related to the organization’s operations and outreach.

Dean Sonja Watson, Ph.D., said the AddRan Inclusive Excellence Internship Program provides liberal arts majors and minors with internship opportunities in the broader community by connecting them with local organizations that center on underrepresented populations, like the FWMBCC, National Juneteenth Museum and The Renaissance House of Terrell Heights, located in Fort Worth’s Historic Southside.

“The goal is for all students to engage with companies, organizations and non-profits in the broader Fort Worth area to expand cultural awareness, community engagement and a global competency informed by local commitment,” she said.

Gareca, a rising senior and international student from Bolivia who is majoring in economics with an environmental science minor, enjoyed observing different work styles at the FWMBCC, which he believes will enhance his personal and professional growth.

“The Inclusive Excellence Internship Program is obviously a great initiative to put myself into a place that encourages inclusion, equity and cultural awareness,” he said. “My main inspiration for applying for the internship was to gain experience that could enhance my understanding of different cultures and backgrounds, which could be particularly valuable as an international student.”

Gareca worked alongside William Johnson, the FWMBCC’s director of economic development.

“I learned a lot,” Gareca said. “For example, I learned general contract language and how foreign direct investments (FDIs) work. Generally, I worked with the city contract solicitations, which helps chamber members potentially win contracts with the city. To do that, I had to check our member database and see which members would be a good fit for specific solicitations.”

The FWMBCC, established in 1979, promotes and enhances economic and business development for its members and helps create wealth in the communities that it serves.

Ifiesimama, a rising senior and sociology major who is minoring in general business and Spanish for business professions, worked with Cheryl Jones, the FWMBCC’s membership services manager.

Ifiesimama’s responsibilities included refining the chamber’s membership system, combing through membership accounts, assessing fees, setting up memberships, and establishing a new way for the chamber to evaluate and ensure that it receives required payments to match up-to-date accounts. Her internship with Jones continues this summer.

“The most impactful and valuable thing I learned during this internship was the importance of building a community of people you can rely on, and building up those around you because it benefits individuals and helps build confidence,” Ifiesimama said. “I also learned that the Fort Worth Metropolitan Black Chamber of Commerce is for everyone who would like to be a part of helping build the Fort Worth community, not just Black individuals.”

Jones had nothing but praise for Ifiesimama. “It was a pleasure working with Treasure. She was polite and efficient as we worked through our chamber project. Thanks to her, we were finally able to address this need.”

Four people posing for a photo
Santiago Gareca (far left) with his internship supervisor William Johnson, the FWMBCC director of economic development, and colleagues at the State of the Chamber annual membership meeting.

Gareca said he found attending the FWMBCC’s State of the Chamber annual membership meeting to be an especially enlightening part of the internship.

“There, I had the opportunity to meet other chambers of commerce and network with other chamber of commerce members,” he said. “Being able to attend the Prosperity Bank business master class on the chamber’s campus was also impactful. It was an optional opportunity for chamber members who wanted to learn how to create a business plan from scratch. From both experiences, I learned that networking is fundamental to growth and getting to know others.”

Gareca enthusiastically encourages other AddRan students to apply for the Inclusive Excellence Internship Program with a thoughtful and well-rounded application.

“This internship is an excellent opportunity to gain valuable experience and make a positive impact on campus and in the community,” he said.

Ifiesimama agreed.

“The internship is a great way to interact with the Fort Worth community while gaining skills that help you as an individual. It led to me meeting some truly unique, caring and educated people these past few months.”