The Right Start

by Accolades Staff
0 comment

CEHHS students have ample opportunity for internships and experiences to help them get off on the right foot when it comes to their future careers.

What does it take to run a business that combines agriculture and hospitality?

Two UT students recently were given the opportunity to find out as part of a new internship at the Cowgirl Creamery in California.

Rebecca Hill, a senior in retail and consumer sciences in the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences, and Kemia Amin from the university’s Institute of Agriculture were the first to take part in the unique internship program.

Founded in 1994 by Sue Conley and Peggy Smith—Washington, DC, natives who met at UT in the 1970s—the Cowgirl Creamery is committed to supporting the craft of artisan cheese-making and the health of small dairy operations. Its award-winning cheeses are sold to more than 500 stores, farmers markets, and restaurants and are distributed nationally through Whole Foods Market stores.

“We are part of a food community that is working hard to promote organic agriculture, local growers and producers, and the connections between farmers and consumers,” says Conley, who oversees the creamery’s cheese making. Smith, meanwhile, manages the marketing side.

Rebecca Hill at Cowgirl Creamery in California.

Rebecca Hill at Cowgirl Creamery in California.

Their own division of duties inspired Conley and Smith to create and fund two internships for UT students: one housed in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources to support cheese-making and the second in CEHHS’s Department of Retail, Hospitality, and Tourism Management to support the marketing side.

“In drawing one intern from agriculture and one from hospitality, we hoped to spur the students to think about how connections might improve between the people who grow our food and the end users (restaurant chefs, consumers, and retail stores),” says Conley.

Both interns spent their first four weeks with the creamery learning about all aspects of the business—making deliveries, working at the farmers market, staffing the cheese counter, and making cheese.

[callout]“In the second four weeks, each intern was assigned a project that served to advance their knowledge in a specific area,” Conley says.[/callout]

Hill worked on a new marketing plan for the creamery’s four farmers market stands while Amin helped complete a food safety audit at the creamery.

“The experience at Cowgirl Creamery really combined my passions for agriculture and retail into one,” says Hill. “I remember telling Peggy and Sue on one of my first days that I couldn’t do a marketing project because I hadn’t taken marketing yet. Little did
I know, I have been doing marketing for a while now (in my job at Kroger’s Murray’s Cheese counters).”

Hill says she truly enjoyed her time at Cowgirl Creamery and will never forget the connections she made and the lessons she learned.

“The company as a whole was so nice. It was like working with my family every day,” Hill says. “It meant a lot to me to be in their first set of interns. It was definitely a growing experience for not only Kemia and me, but also for the company.”



Kingston Academy (KA) is a psychiatric residential treatment facility helping children. KA staff members help children understand their behavior in the context of choices and consequences and empower students by having them actively participate in staff orientation, trainings, and campus government. Under clinical supervision, interns provide counseling and collaborate with on-site counselors, teachers, residential staff, and psychiatrists. Counseling interns conduct and have access to individual, group, and family counseling, play therapy, art therapy, recreation therapy, and equine therapy as part of their internship experience.

“I feel much more confident in my abilities as a master’s-level therapist after being given so many opportunities to learn at Kingston Academy. It was different from my practicum experience in undergrad because there was no hand holding or shadowing of therapists; rather, I was on my own once I was told what I needed to do.” – Nicole Pepe


Working at the Knox County Health Department, an intern helped develop a resource guide for the Knox County Health Equity action team as a resource for achieving health outcomes for all community members. The intern also conducted HIV testing and education in the community; developed discussion questions and activities; selected speakers for the Public Health Workforce Development Series; and conducted internal staff training for the department.

“I learned so much from reviewing the equity data in Knox County, listening to the experiences of community members and leaders, researching materials for the resource guide, and attending the monthly action team meetings.” – Azieb Kidanu


Completing a dietetic internship is required to be eligible to sit for the national registered dietitian exam. The internship has a focus of clinical and community experiences, and is certified by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics. The 1,200-hour experience includes clinical and food service experiences at eight major hospitals in Knoxville, Blount County, and Oak Ridge. Knox County Schools and the Anderson County Health Department provide community experiences.

“UT’s dietetic internship was the key piece that helped me develop the confidence I needed to become an entry-level dietitian. The opportunity to network with dietitians who served as my mentors, as well as the chance to apply the knowledge I’d gathered in the classroom over the years served as the last stepping stone to launching my career.”
–Lindsay Miesel


TIC was created to provide doctoral-level internships in the specialty area of school psychology. Founding documents were composed in 1994, and the original members of the consortium were Cherokee Health Systems, Inc. (CHS); the Educational Psychology and Counseling department; the Little Tennessee Valley Educational Cooperative (LTVEC); and Knox County Schools. TIC was first accredited by the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC) in 1994 and the American Psychological Association (APA) in 2003. In 2014, TIC will have successfully provided more than 100 internships to doctoral-level school psychology interns, making 21 of them eligible for state licensure as psychologists with the health services provider designation. These interns have come from at least nineteen different universities, with just over one-half from the UT school psychology training program.

“During my time at the Tennessee Internship Consortium in Psychology, I gained invaluable experience providing psychological services in school, Head Start, and clinic settings. A great strength of this internship site was the amount and quality of supervision available to me.” – Carolyn Blondin


Through the nonprofit organization ThinkImpact, an intern was sent to Makomboani, Kenya, to practice social entrepreneurship using asset-based community development. The intern was immersed in a developing and underserved community to help increase access to water treatment. Speaking with community members about water sanitation and hand hygiene, the intern developed a plan to begin a dialogue and educate villagers about water treatment and the zoonotic diseases that can occur when animals contaminate water sources.

“I feel the application of knowledge from my UT curriculum helped me better understand what I learned in the classroom, but I also learned a lot more just about working with different people. All of the skills and knowledge I gained and enhanced in this internship will help me as I look for a career where I can combine public health and veterinary medicine.” – Kristina Cooney


More than 200 students each year complete an academic yearlong internship in area schools under the supervision and mentoring of both UT faculty and school-based partners. Internships are associated with most Theory and Practice in Teacher Education (TPTE) preparation programs, including art education, elementary education, specific content areas in middle and secondary education, deaf education, and special education. Other internships associated with TPTE’s advanced degree programs help PhD candidates gain internship experience in college teaching, supervision of pre-service teachers, and research activities.

“My experience has been beyond what I had imagined, and I love it! My teacher from the First day has welcomed me and involved me in everything, which has really helped me ease into the school climate and culture. I’ve already learned and experienced such a vast array of learning situations/experiences in such a short time that it amazes me to think how much more I’ll learn in the next eight months.” – Matt Ternes


The department has a range of field placement experiences for both undergraduate and graduate students. On the undergraduate level, students in the PreK–Kindergarten licensure program participate in four practica in the Early Learning Center, public kindergartens, Head Start, and PreK–Kindergarten programs in Knox County and other area counties. Rising interns in PreK–3 spend an additional nine hours each week in their junior year at a high-need urban elementary school. In the nonlicensure program, each senior completes 540 hours, each, in the Child and Family Studies community practicum course in sites like hospitals, human services agencies, schools, and community agencies.

On the graduate level, there also is a community practicum and a full-time teacher licensure internship in PreK–3. Student interns gain valuable experience in rural, urban, and suburban placements, while community outreach graduate students complete a semester-long practicum, capped by an action research project and final research paper.

“I think the best part about academic life in this department is that I’m now in a place where I’m reading about the things that I love. I’m getting to spend time being around the children that I enjoy being around. I think the whole experience has just been so wonderful. You’re getting to learn in a classroom with your peers, and then you’re getting to go into the classroom and apply it.” – Chelsea Trius

Leave a Comment