Mila Temnyalova '19 stands at a podiumBy Heather Mayer Irvine

Mila Temnyalova ’19 spent the 2018 spring semester in Washington, D.C., as part of Lafayette’s Washington Semester program. As required, she worked at an internship three days a week for five months. But that wasn’t enough. Temnyalova, a Bulgarian native who worked in the Bulgarian Embassy, wanted more.

“I wanted to continue my time in D.C.,” says Temnyalova, a double major in international affairs and economics. “I took such amazing classes. I was networking and meeting people. There were so many opportunities for international affairs majors. But I wanted to come back when I had more free time and I wasn’t so focused on school work.”

The catch? The internship she wanted to extend through the summer wasn’t paid. Without some sort of financial assistance there was no way Temnyalova would be able to afford working for free and living in one of the most expensive cities.

A friend told her about the internship stipends that Lafayette’s Gateway Career Center offered.

Mila Temnyalova '19 with a Bulgarian diplomat“But when I went on the website, I saw the Robert Beane ’58 Intern Scholar Program,” she says. “It was more money, and it also offered the opportunity to have a mentor. At that point in my life I felt confused about what I wanted to do in the future. It was really beneficial to have a mentor, someone who wasn’t part of my family so they wouldn’t coddle me, and someone who wasn’t in my academic career so I wouldn’t feel like a failure if I disappointed them.”

The Beane Scholarship offers $4,000 to four students a year after a competitive selection process.

“The selection committee looks for applicants who have secured a summer opportunity with high impact and who demonstrate the value of their planned experience and the need for funding to realize it,” says Amy Blythe, formerly of Gateway Career Services, who worked closely with the application process.

But before Temnyalova could even apply, she had to secure her summer internship.

“Honestly, I wouldn’t have been able to afford to stay in D.C. if I hadn’t been awarded the scholarship,” she says.

Her supervisor at the embassy understood the situation and knew Temnyalova might have to back out just before her start date.

But in late spring, she got the green light and prepared to head back to the capital. The scholarship covered her summer housing and transportation.

“The committee felt Mila’s embassy experience was of high caliber, and she was able to connect the dots between her strong research experiences being complemented by this internship,” says Blythe.

Having financial security for the summer freed up Temnyalova to devote 40 hours a week to working closely with Bulgarian diplomats. She used the European knowledge gained from her classes in international affairs to become an integral part of the team during a period when a Bulgarian served as European Union Council president.

But, Temnyalova says, this internship opened her eyes to more than her European focus.

“It wasn’t until I went to D.C. that I was opened up to a whole world beyond Europe,” she says. “It was then I felt truly confident in saying I was an international affairs major. The internship gave me the world at my fingertips.”

Temnyalova credits the financial support from Lafayette in helping her study in D.C. for the spring semester too.

She has her sights set on Ph.D. programs in the United States. While she hasn’t ruled out pursuing a career as a diplomat, she’s not sure what her situation will be once she earns her doctorate.

In the meantime, she encourages students to have faith in themselves and be confident.

“Put yourself out there even if you don’t have the financial means to do it,” she says. “Lafayette has been very generous and supportive of its students. Thanks to this internship, I wasn’t just studying international affairs. I was living it.”

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1 Comment

  1. John says:

    Great job Mila! So inspiring and encouraging!

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