ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. -- From academia to the Arsenal, the Minority College Relations Program is up and running thanks to 13 recent graduates and students.

Vista Sciences Corporations is contracted with the Army to scout interns for the MCRP. The contract internship is co-sponsored through funding from the Army Sustainment Command and Joint Munitions Command.

The interns are split between ASC and JMC in various departments at RIA for 10 (summer) or 15 (spring) weeks, depending on the internship.

"The MCRP gives young people an opportunity to see how Army civilians support the men and women in uniform," said Rickey Peer, co-chairman for MCRP.

"Over the past 10-12 years, I have witnessed many MCRP interns become permanent Army employees after graduation," said Peer.

Initiated in 1996, the ASC/JMC MCRP mission is to develop collaborative programs within the commands, allowing minority institutions to participate in the programs and enhancing the future readiness of each through these partnerships.

Likewise, the MCRP vision statement calls for expanding mutually beneficial partnering opportunities between the Army and minority educational institutions.

Since 2004, Army has hired 21 students for permanent federal positions after graduation. More than 275 students have participated in the program in the past 17 years.

MCRP is a chance for students and recent graduates to gain hands-on experience, working side- by-side with Army civilians in a challenging environment.

"MCRP allowed me to showcase my skills at the time," said Frederick Wortham, an industrial base engineer for JMC.

"Without the program I wouldn't be where I am today; I have been working here for five years now and I was offered a job three months after my internship in 2007," said Wortham.

Carmen Ausborn was the contracting officer's representative (COR) and coordinator for MCRP for the past two years.

"I've learned so much from my senior advisers, team members and the students and I have loved it," said Ausborn, who is now a MCRP team member.

"I hope that this group takes advantage of this experience and uses it as a stepping stone as they endeavor into their careers," said Ausborn.

"My motivation is being there for the students the way others have been there for my three oldest children. As they left one-by-one to college, they connected with someone that would mentor and assist them just as I have been with the program," said Ausborn.

This semester, the new MCRP COR, JaMarlon Figgs, said he looks forward to ensuring the transition from college to the program is smooth.

"This internship will help in future employment and this is a great opportunity. Every opportunity is a chance to get better and meet new people," said Figgs.

This semester the program accepted six recent graduates and seven undergrad students. The interns receive a biweekly stipend, housing and transportation to and from work.

The interns have been adjusting to inclement weather, meeting new people, and enjoying an experience of a lifetime in the Quad Cities.

Students' majors range from political science, mass communication, business, and computer science to engineering.

"Through this internship, I hope to gain experience and opportunities that will become potential assets in continuing my career," said graduate Elizabeth Ruiz, Logistics Integration Directorate intern.

"I'm looking forward to improving my skills on the job. I also want to learn as much as I can. I want to have a clear understanding of what details this type of job will need when I choose a career after graduation," said senior undergraduate William Sanders, Commodity Directorate intern.

To be eligible for the program, students must attend a historically black college or university, Hispanic serving institution, tribal college/university, or other minority serving institutions. They also must be enrolled in a four-year program or have graduated within the past six months; be at least a university junior; a U.S. citizen and pass a background check.

To learn more about the program and how to enroll for the internship at Rock Island Arsenal, contact, Dr. Romy Ledesma, Senior Program Manager Vista Sciences Corporation (

Interns include:

• Matthew Hizon, graduate, bachelor's in civil engineering, The University of Texas at El Paso.

• Charles Johnson, graduate, journalism & mass communication with a concentration in media management, North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University.

• Elizabeth Ruiz graduate, bachelor's in business administration, computer information systems, The University of Texas at El Paso.

• Shaquita Banks, senior, business administration with a concentration in business management, The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.

• Akima Huggins, junior, engineer-computer science, Alabama A&M University.

• Eric Ramirez, junior, civil engineering, The University of Texas at El Paso.

• William Sanders, senior, industrial technology, The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.

• Sandy Favela, junior, business administration, majoring in finance and international business, The University of Texas at El Paso.

• Olivia Avila, graduate, bachelor's in business administration with a concentration in accounting and computer information systems, The University of Texas at El Paso.

• Yuan White, graduate, master's in business administration with a concentration in logistics and supply chain management, Alabama A& M University.

• Jasmine Vinson, senior, computer science, Alabama A&M University.

• Jessica Deharo, graduate, bachelor's in political science, The University of Texas at El Paso.

• Jasmine Phillips, graduate, bachelor's in mass media communication, Prairie View A &M University.