Indiana INTERNnet celebrated internship excellence on February 23, 2021 at the virtual 15th Annual IMPACT Awards Celebration. While the event may be over, it’s still important to recognize the successes of our nominees! Did you miss the program? Watch it here.
Indiana INTERNnet: Congratulations on winning College Intern of the Year! To start off, what school do you attend, and when do you plan on graduating?
Mason Gordon: Currently, I’m a student at the National University of Ireland, Galway, and I’m pursuing a master’s degree in rural futures planning and innovation. I’ll be graduating from there in May, it’s a one-year master’s degree program.
I’m there on a Mitchell Scholarship, which sends 12 U.S. students each year to Ireland to pursue a year of graduate studies. To my knowledge, I’m the first person in Indiana to win that.
Before this, I was a student at Purdue University, and graduated in May 2020 with a degree in agricultural economics.
IIN: And congrats on securing that scholarship! You said you’re pursuing a master’s degree in rural futures planning and innovation. What does that entail?
MG: Essentially, I’m there learning about the Irish and European approach to rural development. I’m very passionate about ensuring rural communities survive in the future, given the current moves towards urban centers we’re seeing. In Ireland, they’re facing a lot of the same development problems as the United States.
IIN: What made you want to enter that program?
MG: I was approached by the Purdue National and International Scholarships Office as a potential candidate, at the suggestion of Mitch Daniels. Given my passion for rural environments, I thought it made sense to go to Ireland, and understand how these rural Irish communities survive the long-standing effects of urbanization over time.
Ireland is actually similar size-wise and population-wise to the state of Indiana, so it makes for a very interesting case study that I can relay back to Indiana.
IIN: Speaking of Indiana, can you describe your internship experience in Indiana, and your favorite aspects of that?
MG: My internship was with the City of Rushville, which is my hometown. For this particular internship, I was kind of in limbo. I had graduated from Purdue and planned on leaving for Ireland in September, and had all summer to do something I wanted. That’s when I decided I wanted to help out my hometown.
I worked for Mayor Pavey and the City of Rushville several other summers, but came back this particular summer to help with COVID-19 and assist the COVID-19 task force in Rush County. We called every single business in the county to check in on how they were holding up.
We got a business list and just started calling, asking for contact information, job loss numbers, revenue loss numbers, and shared programs to help. Then we compiled a comprehensive list of the contact information of all the businesses in the county. This list was used to implement a lot of COVID-19 relief measures.
My favorite aspect by far was the team in Rushville, with Mayor Mike Pavey and Brian Sheehan, the director of special projects. They were incredible people to work for. Brian was the one who nominated me for College Intern of the Year. They really recognize the work that I do. It’s been great, being a part of their team.
IIN: Now that you’re moving forward, what are your future plans or goals?
MG: Well right now I’m finishing up my master’s degree. After that, I’m looking for an opportunity to influence rural development policy in Indiana. I want to build more resilient rural communities. I don’t like that youth feel like they’re settling if they stay in their rural community. I’m passionate about creating opportunities in rural places for youths to come back and make a difference in their community.
No matter what I do, I want to have an impact on the future of rural communities in Indiana.