Summer Series: An Interview with Suzy DiDonna ’19

The International Relations program boasts highly engaged students who possess a diverse set of experiences. Every summer, our IR majors and minors prove this through their participation in study abroad, summer classes, and internships. To recognize their accomplishments, and serve as a resource for current and future IR students, Hawk International will be highlighting our student’s summer activities throughout the month of August.

First up, is rising senior Suzy DiDonna! 


You’re in Philadelphia this summer!  What are you doing here?

I’m living on campus and working at Covenant House Pennsylvania! I’m researching human trafficking in Pennsylvania and working to promote several pieces of legislation, the most prominent being the Safe Harbor Bill. This bill is designed to protect child victims of trafficking from becoming criminalized for actions they took while being trafficked. I’ve also done some outreach work, particularly in hotels that are known to have human trafficking.


Of all of the places that you could have interned this summer, why Philly?

I think Philadelphia is the perfect place for a college student to spend the summer. There’s so much to do, so many great professional opportunities, and it was great to be on campus. Campus is much quieter in the summer and it’s easier to catch up with professors. 


You mentioned that you are interning at Covenant House Pennsylvania. What has this experience been like?

I absolutely love it there! Everyone is so kind and willing to help me out. I love interacting with the youth that live at our crisis center. I’ve learned so much about human trafficking, the signs, how to support victims, and so much about current legislation in Pennsylvania. In fact, Councilman Greenlee of Philadelphia is introducing a new bill that is attacking human trafficking in massage parlors around the city, and I’m so excited to see where this bill is going!


How would you compare this internship with others you’ve had? 

Previously, I’ve interned at the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia as a Global Smarts mentor and at the European Parliament as a trainee. The content of my internship this summer is very different from the others.  I would also say Covenant House is a bit more laid back than the others in terms of dress and how I interact with my colleagues.


Do you feel that your internship – and general experience in Philly- ties into your IR/POL studies? 

This internship has made use of lots of the research skills I developed during my coursework in the IR/POL department. I’m making lots of connections between human trafficking and what I’ve learned in many of my political science/gender studies courses as well. Dr. Baglione’s global gender class and our discussions about human trafficking, for instance, prepared me for my internship in more ways then one. 


Do you have any advice to students who are interested in staying on/near campus and interning over the summer?

Take advantage of the fact that you’re on/near campus and have easy access to faculty! I’ve met with professors for a variety of different reasons and started working on graduate/fellowship applications I need to submit this year.  Also, I highly recommend using public transportation to travel through Philly. Everyone should know how to travel independently around the city they live in. Using public transit allows you to discover new parts of the city that you wouldn’t have seen while driving!


Did the Political Science Department, IR Program, or Career Development Center assist your search for an internship?

I used a list curated by the SJU Philadelphia Area Internship Program to see what kinds of places SJU students were given opportunities. I researched the work that some of the organizations do and I decided to apply to my favorites!


Do you have a favorite memory of your summer in Philly so far?

I went to a farmer’s market to cut fresh flowers recently with a few friends! It was so nice to get away from the city and into nature for a little while. I love farmer’s markets for their fresh fruits and vegetables and unique flavors!


Have you had any successful or unique networking moments?

Working at Covenant House has allowed me to become part of the Philadelphia Anti Human Trafficking Coalition. This group of people meets in order to discuss new legislation, vigils, demonstrations, and other means to support victims of human trafficking. Sitting in on these meetings has been a great opportunity, and I hope to keep attending these after the end of my internship.


Can you tell us a little bit more about your involvements at SJU? 

I’m an International Relations major with a minor in Gender Studies. I participate in Women’s Leadership Initiative and I’ve done APEX 3 times. This year, I’m hoping to take part in the Winter Immersion Program to do service in one of the abroad sites.


If you could advocate for one population/ fight one issue for the rest of your life, what would it be?

After working at Covenant House, I realized how important it is to me to fight for victims of human trafficking, both domestically and abroad. Aiding victims of human trafficking starts with fighting for those who live in poverty. So often, it is people who are struggling with poverty or homelessness that are sucked into the vicious human trafficking cycle. No one deserves this type of trauma, especially one that could be so preventable with effort on the part of those who have enough privilege to do so.


After graduation I hope to:

I’m really hoping my post grad plans bring me to Europe, whether it be for study, research, teaching, or service. I’m planning on applying to a few fellowships, though I’m not totally sure which ones yet!

If you are an IR major or minor and would like to have your summer highlighted by Hawk International, please email Erin Davison at We look forward to hearing about your summer!



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