‘Knowledge in Action’ Fund Helps Students Pursue Unpaid Internships

The Knowledge in Action Career Internship Fund announced a donation of up to $100,000 in challenge funds from two GW trustees.

Kevin Smith, a senior in biomedical engineering, stands in front of a public hospital in Juigalpa, Nicaragua. (Photo courtesy Kevin Smith)
March 07, 2018

By Briahnna Brown

Kevin Smith, a senior in biomedical engineering, wasn’t sure he would be able to participate in a summer internship with Engineering World Health in Nicaragua because of the associated costs.

To take advantage of the internship, Mr. Smith had to pay for travel, a host family to house him and the Spanish and medical instrumentation classes Engineering World Health provided during the two months of the program.

But because of the George Washington University Knowledge in Action Career Internship Fund (KACIF), Mr. Smith was able to significantly reduce the necessary costs to participate in the program. He covered remaining costs with crowdfunding and financial support from his family.

“I needed money to be able to just have the experience,” Mr. Smith said. “I won’t know, of course, what would have happened if I hadn’t received the award, but because I did, I had no trouble paying for the rest and getting the experience.”

With the grant from KACIF, Mr. Smith was able to spend his summer volunteering in Nicaragua and assisting hospital technicians with repairing medical equipment in a hospital. He also crafted reports for Engineering World Health on distinct problems he witnessed during his time volunteering.

Mr. Smith said he hopes to work on solving problems related to the lack of access to quality healthcare around the world, and his internship with Engineering World Health helped solidify that passion. He plans to pursue a master of bioengineering with a concentration in global medical innovation from Rice University, where he was recently accepted.

For 2018 summer internships, the application period for KACIF grants will be from April 15 - May 1. The KACIF program is completely funded by philanthropy, and every dollar donated to the fund goes directly to the students.

Between the fall 2016 and summer 2017 semesters, GW awarded through KACIF and KACIF travel grants of about $230,000 to more than 200 GW students to support them in their necessarily unpaid internships, predominately with government agencies and nonprofit organizations. Since 2013, the KACIF program has awarded over $660,000 in grants to nearly 400 GW students. Just over 18 percent of those students participated in internships abroad.

Mr. Smith said that he appreciates the community involved in KACIF, and the connections he’s built through the program coordinators’ desire to stay involved in his future endeavors.

“Knowing that one of the reasons students often say they come to GW is for internship opportunities, we want to make sure those opportunities are available to as many students as possible,” said Assistant Provost for University Career Services Rachel Brown.


GW Board of Trustees member Scott Amey, M.S. ’75, along with his wife Debbie, and trustee Steven Ross, B.B.A. ’81, have pledged to give up to $100,000 to KACIF, but it’s up to our community to unlock it. Take advantage of this generous challenge and show your support for GW students by making your gift today.

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