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Wish Blog

Jun 01, 2018

Intern Spotlight: Stephanie Mele

Steph Mele
As a new class of interns joins our wish ohana, we thought we’d highlight the perspective of one of our recent interns who went above and beyond every step of the way during her journey at Make-A-Wish Hawaii. Hear from events intern extraordinaire and New York native Steph Mele as she reflects on her internship experience.

1. Why did you want to intern with Make-A-Wish Hawaii?
My journey for pursuing this internship sparked from two childhood dreams. From a young age, I always had a calling to go to Hawaii. The other driving force was my passion to help others. Six years ago, my cousin was diagnosed with life-threatening brain cancer, and he was granted a wish to go on a cruise with his family. I was able to see firsthand the impact and joy this experience brought. This foundation has always had a special imprint on my heart and I knew it was what I wanted to pursue. From the beginning of my internship search, I knew this was the perfect time and opportunity to combine both of my childhood dreams. 

2. As someone not from Hawaii, what was it like to come into this community in service of our mission?
Being far from home and traveling alone to an unfamiliar place can be frightening at first. But, my passion for travel and experiencing new cultures was stronger. So, I faced the fear of the unknown, because I trusted this plan and the experience I would have interning with Make-A-Wish Hawaii. Coming into the community I was very welcomed and got to learn the true meaning of aloha. 

3. What are your future career goals? How will your experiences with Make-A-Wish Hawaii help you to achieve them?
Being a recent college graduate, this is a time of many decisions and questions. But, thankfully, because of my internship experience with Make-A-Wish Hawaii, I can say my worries are a little less. Over the last four months, I was able to experience, learn and grow so much professionally and personally. My future career goals include growing in my desired field while focusing on working within the nonprofit sector, learning new skills and implementing those in a variety of settings, and traveling more to increase my cultural competence. Make-A-Wish Hawaii helped me learn and grow so much as a professional due to the variety of experiences I was able to have. It was such a melting pot of learning that I was able to absorb so many different skills. I feel so strong moving forward as a young professional entering the work world.

4. What are some of your favorite memories from your internship?
This is a tough question—there too many to count! Being able to work on four different events during my time there was unique and special. My favorite part, and something I took away from my event internship, is the great teamwork the staff displayed in all areas when it came to the events. It was cool to see so many moving parts and many hands working on different aspects of the event all with the same goal to make it a success to help the kids—that was powerful to me.

All things considered, I think my best memories from this internship experience are due to the wish kids and families that I was privileged to meet. I am passionate about the mission of Make-A-Wish, and being able to interact, hang out and laugh with so many wish kids was so impactful to me. Sharing a smile and giving a hug was so cool, as every time I met a wish kid, I truly felt like I was meeting a celebrity! I will never forget when I got to go experience Celine’s wish and the moment she surprised everyone by getting on stage and rocking the ukulele in front of everyone. I will never forget the happiness and rush of joy that I felt for her, so much that I was moved to tears!

Another highlight for me was learning how to surf because of [staff member] James! He also helped expose me to so many other amazing nonprofits in Hawaii by bringing me to events to help volunteer. I was able to surf with wish kids, meet their families and network all because of this. Being able to connect with the kids in the water had such an extra impactful feeling.

5. What did this experience mean to you overall?
Overall, my experience interning with Make-A-Wish Hawaii gave me a true sense of purpose and happiness knowing my work and compassion made a difference. Being able to make friends that turned into my ohana when I was so far from home was something so special to me, and that is all because of Make-A-Wish Hawaii. It is an indescribable feeling to know that I accomplished my life dreams and feel like I found the place where I am supposed to be. 

6. What advice do you have for our incoming class of interns?

My advice to the lucky incoming class of interns is to embrace every moment, be genuine and let that lead you in all that you are doing during your internship experience. You have to understand that every small action you do is working toward helping put a big smile on a child’s face, and I honestly can’t think of anything more special or valuable than that. This internship experience surpassed any expectations I could have possibly had, and I will be forever grateful to Make-A-Wish Hawaii and all the staff for the better person and professional it has made me.

  • Steph with wish kid Fiona and her sister at a Kids for Wish Kids event

  • Steph and staff member James surfing with wish kids at Access Surf

  • Steph with wish kid Celine

  • Steph with wish kid Braxton

About this Blog

Wish Blog gives you a behind-the-scenes look at the wonderful work happening at Make-A-Wish® Hawaii. See how the wishes of local keiki battling critical illnesses come together and how they change lives forever. Hear directly from those who work or volunteer here, or from those in your neighborhood who have been transformed by a wish in some way. Discover why we are so committed to achieving our vision of granting the wish of every eligible child, every year.

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Make-A-Wish® Hawaii
P.O. Box 1877
Honolulu, HI 96805
(808) 537-3118 x100