On Tuesday, March 21, while most of us went about our daily routines, one UNH student’s dreams came true. Abigail Lehner ’18, has always dreamt of traveling to Germany, and now, with the support from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, she will. The nonprofit organization is funding an internship that will have Lehner spending the summer working in Berlin.
Lehner had no idea she had been accepted into the program; she received the news in front of her family and friends at the UNH radio station where she works.
“It was definitely shocking, but so exciting,” said Lehner, a communication and international affairs dual major. “I prayed that they would help me with the funding and they did. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Lehner has spinal muscular atrophy, a neurological disorder that causes muscle weakness and confines her to a wheelchair. Make-A-Wish, which grants “wishes” to children with life-threatening illnesses, has been working with Lehner for several years. When her first wish to take actor Joseph Gordon Levitt to prom didn’t play out, she set her sights on studying in Germany, where her grandparents were born.
“I really wanted to find a program that would allow me to go to Germany and have an independent internship, as opposed to just taking classes,” said Lehner.
Lehner discovered the CIEE Summer Global Internship program. The Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) is a nonprofit organization promoting international education and exchange.
“Abby has been an amazing person to work with from the beginning,” said Catherine D’Auteuil, of UNH’s Center for International Education and Global Engagement (CIEGE). “She’s worked so hard to find the right program. I feel confident that she will get the most out of her experience.”
CIEGE offers more than 400 study abroad and internship programs and works with outside organizations such as CIEE Summer Global to make sure UNH students find the program that best suits their needs.
Lehner doesn't know where she will be interning yet but is looking forward to the adventures ahead. Following graduation, she hopes to pursue a job in radio broadcasting or TV/ film production.