WCU MPA student lands internship with federal homeless agency

Emily Ball, a graduate student in Western Carolina University’s master’s degree program in public affairs, is gaining hands-on experience this fall through an internship with the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.

The council is the government agency responsible for developing and implementing the Obama administration’s recently released strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness, said Roger Hartley, director of WCU’s MPA program.

Ball, a resident of Mars Hill, is working mostly from Asheville through the internship, which also has her making trips to Washington, D.C.

“My internship is with the director of communications, which is why I’m able to do it remotely,” she said. “I’m working on our newsletter, which goes out to 15,000 people twice a month, editing documents for our website, and assisting with speechwriting, which means I’m really learning about the direction of federal homeless policy.”

Ball said the internship is a perfect fit with her past experiences and her personal interest in helping the homeless.

“I spent the past year serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer in the city of Asheville with the Asheville-Buncombe Homeless Initiative, which coordinates our community’s 10-year plan to end homelessness,” she said. “I started the MPA program in conjunction with that experience because I was really looking to get some conceptual framework around policy and administration to provide a context for my work there. The internship has provided a great opportunity to compare the homeless policy work happening at the national level with homeless policy here in Asheville.”

Ball is a 1999 graduate of Madison High School and is the daughter of Gerald and Teresa Ball of Mars Hill. She graduated from Furman University in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in English.