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Barbadillo picked for European Union internship

Dr. Martin Reimer, Kelbey Barbadillo and Joerg Rochlitzer

Dr. Martin Reimer, ECC Provost; Kelbey Barbadillo of Salt Lake City, UT; and Joerg Rochlitzer, ECC Social Science Faculty.

Kelbey Barbadillo of Salt Lake City, UT, is the fourth Ellsworth Community College student to be selected for an eight-week summer internship in Brussells, Belgium, with Dr. Peter Jahr of the European Union. This week she’ll fly from Iowa to Brussells, returning to the U.S. in mid-July.

“I have never been overseas, so I cannot imagine what adventures I will bring back with me,” says Barbadillo. “I have always wanted to travel … it has been a dream and goal of mine since I was young. Never in a million years, though, did I think I could do something as challenging and rewarding as working for the European Parliament!

The summer internship with the European Union is made possible because of ECC’s relationship with Dr. Peter Jahr through ECC Social Science Faculty Member Joerg Rochlitzer, a native of Germany. Rochlitzer says Barbadillo will attend commission and foreign affairs meetings with Dr. Jahr, and will attend Petitions Committee meetings, where she’ll be asked to help document the proceedings.

The European Union internship is funded in part by a Todd Welden Memorial Scholarship, an endowed scholarship awarded to send deserving ECC students to the Saxony area for work-study, formal classes, cultural exchanges, or other opportunities. The chance to study abroad is a resume- and career-building opportunity that roughly one-third of employers find to be an attractive experience for their potential hires.

“This is such a rewarding opportunity, and I feel so blessed to have received it,” says Barbadillo. “I am excited to learn about different cultures and how others live, and also how to be on my own and thrive outside of my comfort zone. This will definitely be life changing!”

Dr. Jahr, German diplomat to the European Union, visited Central Iowa and ECC several years ago to learn about agricultural education opportunities, develop goodwill and explore the possibility of student exchanges; Rochlitzer coordinated the trip. Dr. Jahr is a member of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) in the European Union and the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development. He has a doctorate in agronomy, served two years in the military, has been farming since 1985, and has served as the chair of Lunzenau Lutheran School Association since 2005.

Rochlitzer says Dr. Jahr will take Barbadillo to Parliament meetings, committee meetings, and presentations from other countries so she can meet delegates from around the world. The internship includes opportunities to visit Belgium, France and Germany, and perhaps other countries as well.

“This internship with Dr. Jahr is a great opportunity for Kelbey,” Rochlitzer explains. “Like the previous ECC interns, she will be somewhat independent while she’s there and will need to see opportunities and grab them as she is able. All of our previous ECC interns have made some amazing professional connections through this experience, and it will be the same for Kelbey. This is a networking opportunity that is unmatched, and it will be a great career builder!”

Rochlitzer recalled the story of a previous intern who was sitting with Dr. Jahr across the table from U.S. delegates, discussing trade agreements. The U.S. delegation members asked why the ECC intern was on THAT side of the table and, without missing a beat, the intern replied, “Hire me when I return to the U.S., and I can be on YOUR side!”

Soon to be a sophomore at ECC, Barbadillo is currently majoring in Criminal Justice, with plans to pursue a career in law enforcement, law, politics, or a related field. She’s a Student Ambassador for the ECC Admissions Office, which involves meeting new people, giving campus tours, and answering lots of questions about Ellsworth.

Rochlitzer says Barbadillo will be the only American working for a European Union senator, so people will be watching how she behaves and talks. “Nearly seven years ago, Dr. Jahr said there were a lot of negative stereotypes about the U.S. within his circles. Now, after meeting and working with our ECC interns over the years, that perception has changed. We are making an impact worldwide!”

Rochlitzer adds that all four interns have been excellent ECC representatives and interns for Dr. Jahr. “They’ve been the kind of people we’d want to hire, the kind we can depend on. This internship is a great opportunity that only ECC can offer, and it’s one of the things that makes us special. This European Union internship is the equivalent of a job at the White House … it’s big! Our interns make an incredible connection with people and events through this experience.”

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