From sanitation to royal court

For many, an internship involves little more than getting coffee and learning to take a joke, but for senior Alison Medley, the experience was far more rewarding.

Medley spent her junior year of college teaching fourth graders the negative effects of pollution on the environment as an intern with the Sanitation District.

“In the fall I went to local schools and taught an hour lesson called Enviroscape,” she said. “Then in the spring, many of those same kids came to the district for a five-hour field trip that I led them through.”

As a communications major at Northern Kentucky University, interning in such a field might seem like a stretch, but it wasn’t.

“It was great communication practice for me because it was a very low-pressure audience,” Medley said. “But it still takes a lot of energy and work to keep those kids interested and listening.”

Having an internship can be great experience for the real world, and it can also have some professional perks. For Medley, the internship helped her become a 2007 Derby Ambassador.

Jamie Eggemeyer, the storm water permit compliance manager at the Sanitation District (also known as Medley’s manager), wrote her a letter of recommendation to accompany her application to become a Derby Ambassador, the royal court representatives of the 2007 Kentucky Derby.

“When she came in for her interview for the intern position, we knew she’d be a perfect fit,” Eggemeyer said. “She’s an outgoing and driven person and any organization would be proud to have her represent it.”

After the application and review process, Medley went through a series of interviews before she was selected to be one of five Derby Ambassadors. These royal court princesses were selected from over 80 Commonwealth applicants.

“We were the faces of the 2007 Kentucky Derby,” Medley said. “It was our job to show up and smile.”

And show up they did.

Once the Derby got underway, the ambassadors attended more than 70 events in 14 days.

“We were constantly going, going, going,” Medley said. “Our days started at four in the morning and sometimes didn’t end until midnight.”

The events ranged from formal dinners to parades, and everyone had their favorites.

“My favorite event was the golf outing for children with special needs,” Medley said. “It was amazing to see how those kids really adored us.”

After she wrapped up her time sharing grounds with the queen, Medley took a five-week trip across Western Europe – which she saw as another opportunity to improve her communication skills.

“When we’d get somewhere, they’d tell us how to say a few phrases,” Medley said. “It was really fun to attempt to speak the language of the country we were in.”

She traveled with an international tour group called Contiki, a factor that definitely shaped the experience.

“It was great to have a chance to interact with people from all over the world,” Medley said. “They kept saying, ‘You Americans are so uptight.’ I have struggled with that, but I think the trip really helped me loosen up.”

Even when she’s home in Union, Ky., she’s still going, going, going. Medley is the president of both the communications honor society and the communications club at NKU.

“The club has really been my baby,” she said. “It was disbanded for a while and I’ve been working to help it thrive.”

Medley said the club tries to get students involved with alumni and brings in speakers to talk about their careers in the communication field.

After her spring graduation, Medley plans to study for her masters in international studies – hopefully abroad – to be a cross-cultural trainer.