ROCK ISLAND, Ill. - Students and recent graduates from colleges across the United States are gaining real-world experience through the Army’s Minority College Relations Program.

There are 12 participants in MCRP's summer 2011 internship program here. The program, in place at six Army installations, focuses on getting students integrated into the federal work place and shows them many different ways to serve the nation, aside from military service.

“The Minority College Relations Program has provided dozens of students with an opportunity to gain valuable work experience, be exposed to Federal careers and expand their awareness of opportunities in government,” said Carmen Ausborn, MCRP program coordinator.

MCRP’s mission is to develop collaborative programs within the Army Sustainment Command and Joint Munitions Command that will allow minority institutions to participate in Federal programs.

Ausborn said many of the interns that have participated in this program have become permanent government employees, which has enhanced the commands’ future readiness.

This is exactly what Judith Rivera is hoping for. “I joined MCRP in the hopes of obtaining some professional work experience,” said the University of Texas at El Paso graduate. “This internship may help provide me with some of the professional references I need to apply for a government job after finishing my education.”

Serina Allingham, a New Mexico Highlands University graduate, hopes to gain the same type of experience. “I am new to this program and I hope this opportunity leads me in the direction to permanent employment in contracting with the Department of Defense.”

MCRP is not just a one-time opportunity, interns are eligible to apply again and come back to the program to get more hands-on experience.

John Graesser, University of Texas at El Paso graduate, did just that. “I got involved with the program last summer where I worked at Fort Hood, Texas. I came back last Jan. for the spring term and worked in Defense Ammunition Center satellite activity office where I prepared a workshop on small arms ammunition.”

To be eligible for the program, interns must be a junior, senior or recent graduate of a four-year college or university that is historically an African-American, Hispanic, tribal or other minority institution. Students and recent graduates must be U.S. citizens and pass a background check.

To complete their internship, the participants from all six installations will have to brief their commander, explaining the scope of their assignments and what they learned from their experience.

“I hope to gain knowledge and understand what the United States Army is all about and get a deeper look on the inside how everything is being processed,” said Corey Williams, who attends Tuskegee University studying history and international affairs.

Other interns in the MCRP program include: Daisy Guerrero, The University of Texas at El Paso, studying accounting and finance; Jasmin White, Prairie View A&M;University, studying accounting; Katarrus Poney, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, studied business administration and management; Arthur Stith, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, studying business administration and management; William Hamlette, Norfolk State University, studying applied mathematics and computer science; Danielle Rushing, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, studied business marketing; David Williams Jr., Alcorn State University, studied computer networking and information technology; and Juhwon Peoples, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, studying regulatory science: health and safety.