Finding Purpose

Sometimes students find internships at precisely the right place and precisely the right moment that allow the experience to exceed even their greatest expectations.

For Isaac Sims-Foster ’21, his summer internship at the Tacoma Urban League has been a soul-awakening, life-directing experience. We recently visited the rising junior from Los Angeles at the Urban League’s Hilltop Tacoma headquarters so he could tell us all about it.

Q: What is your role here at the Tacoma Urban League?
A: I technically am interning for the Male Involvement Program (MIP), but I also get to jump in and help with the Girls With Purpose (GWP) program and Career Empowerment Academy. I’m doing a lot of email writing, design, producing paraphernalia. I’ll also go with the MIP staff to schools to talk with kids and study how they run the events and do the teaching. I’m an African American studies and communications double major, so the work has been spot on for me. 

Q: Are you enjoying the experience?
A: I love it. When I walk in every day I think "I work here. These are my people." When I get in the car with the MIP staff and we're driving around Hilltop, I think "These are my streets now. I'm representing these people." This role makes me feel like I'm doing what I need to do. Everyone I see on the street around here is somebody who, if they walked into the Urban League right now, I would do everything in my power to help them. 

I'm realizing that the work I'm doing is work I want to be doing for the foreseeable future. I want to be somebody who is shedding light on important issues and trying to help people."

– Isaac Sims-Foster ’21

Isaac with T'wina Nobles ’06, M.A.T.'-7
Isaac, with Tacoma Urban League President and CEO T'wina Nobles ’06, M.A.T.'07

Q: What’s it been like working with Tacoma Urban League CEO and Puget Sound alumna T’wina Franklin Nobles ’06, M.A.T.’07?
A: It's been really good. After the first week or so, she pulled me aside and said "I want to make sure that you feel like you're valuable here, that you feel like the work you're doing matters, and that you get what you want to get out of this internship.” That message inspired me a lot. I came here to do hard work, but it is great to have an environment and somebody like T'wina, who is willing to accommodate for me when I need it, and to be flexible and transparent.

Q: How would you describe the benefits of this experience?
A: This internship has just been really formative for me. It's really given me a lot of space to work and serve on a smaller, more concentrated level. After two years of being on campus at Puget Sound, it's refreshing to be off campus. It's great to be surrounded by black people, to be doing black business, black work. To be working and seeing black people all the time here is something that has been really empowering for me.

Q: Given all those positives, has this internship had any effect on what you might pursue after graduation?
A: Yeah, for sure. I was actually thinking yesterday about maybe applying to the Seattle Urban League after I graduate. I'm realizing that the work that I'm doing here is, if not the work I want to do for the rest of my life, definitely work that I want to be doing for the foreseeable future. Whether that means ending up at a black-owned newspaper or something like that, or working in a nonprofit space like this, I want to be somebody who is shedding light on important issues and trying to help people.

Isaac’s internship at the Tacoma Urban League marks the culmination of his participation in Puget Sound’s Reflective Immersive Sophomore Experience (RISE) program. The RISE program allows sophomores to connect their liberal arts education to off-campus, career environments.


By Zach Powers
Photos by Sy Bean
Published Aug. 6, 2019