(INDIANAPOLIS) — Internship excellence, and the interns, employers and career development professionals that make it possible, were honored today by Indiana INTERNnet during the 11th annual IMPACT Awards Luncheon. Indiana INTERNnet is the statewide resource for internship opportunities managed by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, and has helped connect students and employers across the state since 2001.

Appropriately supporting the luncheon’s theme of “Shooting for Success,” former Indiana Fever WNBA All-Star and four-time Olympic gold medalist Tamika Catchings delivered the keynote address, “Scoring Big with Your Career.” Catchings is also the founder of the Catch The Stars Foundation, which assists Indianapolis youth with goal-setting to promote fitness, literacy and youth development.

“Experiential learning is a key piece of Indiana’s workforce development plans, and the nominees we celebrated this year are a promising indication of Indiana’s future,” said Indiana INTERNnet Executive Director Janet Boston. “Internships are making a difference in our young professionals’ skill levels, and often, these opportunities are leading to full-time jobs either with the intern employer or another Indiana employer. Everyone benefits from meaningful internships.”


  • Hannah Dodd (City of Butler; Indiana Institute of Technology) – College Intern of the Year
  • KayLeigh Duerksen (TASUS Corporation; Indiana University) – College Intern of the Year
  • Britney Arenas (Bowman Creek Educational Ecosystem; Riley High School) High School Intern of the Year
  • Katherine Larrabee (DirectEmployers Institute) – Non-traditional Intern of the Year
  • Darshini Render (Purdue University College of Engineering) – Career Development Professional of the Year
  • Ambassador Enterprises, LLC – Employer of the Year (For-Profit)
  • DirectEmployers Institute – Employer of the Year (Nonprofit)

In addition to the internship honors, the inaugural School Counseling-Business Partnership of the Year award was presented to Hobart High School and St. Mary’s Medical Center. The recognition, developed by the Indiana Chamber Foundation to highlight innovative approaches to college and career readiness, comes during National School Counseling Week.

The luncheon was sponsored by Ivy Tech Community College and held at the Ivy Tech Corporate College and Culinary Center in Indianapolis. Gerry Dick of Inside INdiana Business was the event emcee.

For more information about the Indiana INTERNnet program, visit www.IndianaINTERN.net or call the hotline at 317-264-6852.

College/University Intern of the Year
Hannah Dodd, Indiana Institute of Technology

When Hannah Dodd started her geographic information systems (GIS) internship with the city of Butler, she had little knowledge of the field. That would quickly change as Dodd was contributing to projects within just a few days of beginning in her position.

“Hannah’s ability to learn, to understand the purpose and focus on what we do here, and her strong work ethic made her an integral and indispensable part of the team within only a week or two,” shares James Otis, GIS/IT coordinator for the city of Butler.

Dodd relied on her educational background in information technology to assist with various aspects of her internship, and she molded those skills to fulfill tasks outside her experience. She was able to work on public speaking and problem solving skills by conducting training sessions on a new technological system for the organization’s operations personnel.

College/University Intern of the Year
KayLeigh Duerksen, Indiana University

An internship in one department can be challenging at times. KayLeigh Duerksen, however, interned in two departments at TASUS Corporation. Duerksen filled the need for someone to connect marketing and human resources (HR) for recruiting and outreach initiatives.

Duerksen demonstrated excellent leadership and responsibility by owning two major initiatives during her internship. One project was launching Facebook pages for each facility and developing a marketing plan to engage with the organization’s employees. The other project was standardizing employee uniforms at all facilities to create a consistent brand image and cut down on costs. This was a major undertaking with both marketing and HR needing to collaborate to coordinate the logistics.

“The standardization and centralization of many tasks has ruffled feathers, and due to KayLeigh’s leadership during the uniform transition she was often in situations with unhappy employees,” describes Zoullin Ballman, business development and marketing coordinator for TASUS Corporation. “She navigated through these times like a seasoned professional and ultimately brought all parties together and achieved the end goal.”

High School Intern of the Year
Britney Arenas, Riley High School

The youngest of the summer interns at Bowman Creek Educational Ecosystem last year, Britney Arenas overcame her nerves and demonstrated her confidence during her internship. Her optimism, drive and skill in brainstorming sessions were among her greatest assets for the organization.

Arenas owned her suggested project of building a lending library in the community. With the help of her father, Arenas designed and executed the lending library in a neighborhood park. She documented the whole process to share templates and the project budget for others to replicate. The success of her project lead to an offer to include the Food Bank of Northern Indiana and create a lending food pantry.

“Participating in an engaged internship helped to transform a clearly talented young student into a leader with the confidence to articulate and employ her skills in a real-world setting,” boasts Alicia Czarnecki, previous team leader at Bowman Creek Educational Ecosystem. “While previously planning to leave her neighborhood and South Bend after graduation, Britney shared that she felt she could use her interests and talents to improve quality of life in her own backyard.”

Non-traditional Intern of the Year
Katherine Larrabee, DirectEmployers Institute

Student, intern, single mother and caretaker are just a few terms to describe Katherine Larrabee. She tackled her busy schedule to complete an internship with DirectEmployers Institute (DEI) and graduate from Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.

From day one of her internship, Larrabee showcased her professionalism and leadership. She was placed as a leader over her fellow interns to help ensure efficiency and timely completion of projects. This display of professionalism was awarded by receiving more responsibility in her role, including representing DEI at important meetings.

“Katherine always excelled in these situations by making lasting connections with everyone she met and by representing DEI in a way that was positive and refreshing,” offers Kasey Cross, vice president of programming at DirectEmployers Institute. “She did such a wonderful job that she has now been hired as DEI’s project manager to lead and guide the partner organizations DEI works with daily in several of their programs within Indiana schools.”

Career Development Professional of the Year
Darshini Render, Purdue University College of Engineering

As the assistant director of student success for the Purdue University College of Engineering, Darshini Render does exactly as her title suggests – direct student success. She supports and empowers students to accomplish their internship and career goals. Her impact on the program is clear as she received two nominations. Both individuals noted Render’s excellent leadership, professionalism and passion for student achievement.

Render started at Purdue University as career services consultant for international students. Almost three years later, she was promoted to her current role. Two of her major accomplishments are developing the Cross Cultural Leadership Program (CCLP) and managing the International Student Peer Coaching Program.

“I would not be the same person I am today if I had not had the honor of meeting and working alongside Darshini Render at Purdue University,” confides Tony Orr, student leader of CCLP and nominator. “She has made me a better candidate and person for the future.”

Employer of the Year (For-profit)
Ambassador Enterprises, LLC

The Fort Wayne-based Ambassador Enterprises, LLC internship program is centered around the development of four professional skills: leadership, problem solving, project management and teamwork.

Interns participate in 11 weeks of programming that mimics a higher-education atmosphere; it is nicknamed “Corporate University.” The program’s syllabus details seven goals, six professional development outcomes, three reading assignments and additional information. Each intern will complete five deliverables during the program: personal assessments, various projects and assignments, performance evaluations, individual development plan and a work journal.

“My major project was compiling a comprehensive analysis of the competitors of one of their holdings. They gave me a rubric and contact information for the CEO. I then had to develop the plan for how I would complete this project,” says Paige Stark, a summer 2016 intern. “I asked a lot of questions and was definitely out of my comfort zone, but grew immensely as a result of this experience.”

Employer of the Year (Non-profit)
DirectEmployers Institute

DirectEmployers Institute of Indianapolis is a double winner in 2017, adding this honor to serving as the home for the non-traditional intern of the year. The program gives high school and college students the opportunity to learn and grow through innovative programming, group project work and networking.

The majority of the interns’ role is contributing to the coordination of a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Youth Enhancement Summer Camp. Interns are divided into groups to work on social media, student registrations, food donations and more. In 2016, the interns more than tripled the number of student registrations they were asked to secure.

“DirectEmployers Institute’s summer internship program is one-of-a-kind in its ability to adequately prepare young people to take on the business world with confidence and poise, all while engaging their minds and hearts with projects that not only better their community, but themselves as well,” explains Kasey Cross, the company’s vice president of programming.

Indiana Chamber Foundation School Counseling-Business Partnership of the Year
Hobart High School and St. Mary’s Medical Center

Among the reasons the Hobart-St. Mary’s alliance was selected:

  • Hospital sponsorship of Hobart’s Promise Indiana 529 college savings program
  • Establishment of a health care clinic in the schools to meet the needs of both students and their families
  • St. Mary’s providing a wide range of work-based learning experiences and credential opportunities for high school students

More specifically, the medical center provides over 50 students each year with the screening tests required to take part in the Emergency Medical Services program. It hosts approximately 30 students a year in a variety of internship and other learning opportunities. To accommodate one student’s interest in health care administration, a SMMC team member changed his hours of work to ensure the student was able to participate in meetings and experiences.

The award also provides a $1,000 scholarship to a Hobart senior. Rachel Gayton, a 21st Century Scholar who will be attending Ball State University in the fall of 2017, was selected by the school to receive the scholarship. Gayton is in her fourth year of the school’s biomedical sciences program and interning at St. Mary’s in the pediatric unit. She says that her interaction with nurses and their willingness to share their experiences have solidified her plans to become a nurse practitioner.

Indiana INTERNnet IMPACT Awards’ Nominees:


  • Ahmed Almahdi, Baldwin and Lyons, Inc.
  • Luis Burgos, Indiana University School of Medicine
  • Britney Arenas, Bowman Creek Educational Ecosystem
  • Charles Babcock, Department of Defense Office of Inspector General
  • Mariah Barber, Indiana State Fair Commission
  • Taylor Bayless, Lafayette Regional Rehabilitation Hospital
  • Chase Bogan, Hanapin Marketing
  • Tyler Bouslog, Clabber Girl Corporation
  • Elizabeth Butterfield, Raytheon
  • Alicia Czarnecki, Bowman Creek Educational Ecosystem
  • Niki DaSilva, Indiana State Senate
  • Danielle Deal, Flagship Enterprise Center
  • Hannah Dodd, City of Butler
  • KayLeigh Duerksen, TASUS Corporation
  • Salvador Espinoza, DEKKO
  • Victoria Gardner, Fort Wayne Civic Theatre
  • Austin Gilbert, Arlington/Roe
  • Fayth Glock, Ambassador Enterprises
  • Cassidy Grom, Ambassador Enterprises
  • Mason Hammock, Ontario Systems
  • Jessica Hayes, BKD, LLP
  • Lindsay Henry, Great Lakes Contractor Services, Inc.
  • Eric Hooten, Finch Constructors, Inc.
  • Alex Howdeshell, FCCI Insurance Group
  • David Kane, Somerset CPAs
  • Larynda Keith, NSWC Crane
  • Katherine Larrabee, DirectEmployers Institute
  • Jessica Lee, Levy & Dubovich
  • Mariah Longyear, Garden Villa Healthcare
  • Haleigh Hinkel, USAutomatic Fire and Security
  • Peter Mackin, Crossroads of America Council, BSA
  • Nick Maines, Northwestern Mutual
  • Chloe Mann, Centricity Music
  • Trisha Marks, Indiana State Fair Commission
  • Claire Mauschbaugh, Children’s Bureau, Inc.
  • Abby McBride, Indiana State University
  • Megan McKinney, Ontario Systems
  • Andrew McElhaney, Huntington City-Township Public Library
  • Allison Miller, WonderLab Museum of Science, Health and Technology
  • Michael Miller, Hanapin Marketing
  • Katie Mohney, ThinkPod Agency
  • Kyle Mooneyhan, Indianapolis Motor Speedway
  • Abbie Moyer, Ambassador Enterprises
  • Kyle Nurse, Vigo County YMCA
  • Autumn Ogrin, Roberts Bros. Excavating
  • Jesica Overstreet, Wabash Valley Crisis Pregnancy Center
  • Erick Patton, Brooks Construction Co., Inc.
  • Chelsee Purvis, Baldwin and Lyons, Inc.
  • Dylan Radford, Crossroads of America Council, BSA
  • Savannah Richter, Baldwin and Lyons, Inc.
  • Edwin Root, WGU Indiana
  • Maddie Schwartz, Ambassador Enterprises
  • Troy Scott, Ontario Systems
  • Jacoby Sherrell, The Wabash Independent Living & Learning Center, Inc.
  • Jacob Smith, Croasmun Properties, LLC
  • Macie Snyder, Senior Education Ministries
  • Trevor Steiner, Modern Woodmen of America
  • Zach Stewart, Bowman Creek Educational Ecosystem
  • Madison Stis, Modern Woodmen of America
  • Deanna Sturghiss, 14th and Chestnut Community Center
  • Tim Swanson, Grace College and Theological Seminary
  • Brandon Terry, TASUS Corporation
  • Marina Tolczyk, Arrowhead Golf Club
  • Brittany Ulman, International Floral Distributors, Inc.
  • Dominic Vargas, Purdue University Center for Career Opportunities
  • Wes Wagner, Torchlite
  • Griffin Wells, Vigo County Parks Department
  • Wyatt Wells, Hanapin Marketing

Career Development Professionals

  • Donna Taylor Bouchie, Vincennes University
  • Allison Mears, Purdue University Center for Career Opportunities
  • Darshini Render, Purdue University College of Engineering


  • Ambassador Enterprises, LLC
  • Batesville Casket Company, Batesville Tool & Die, Inc., and Heartwood Manufacturing
  • DirectEmployers Institute
  • Elements Financial
  • Eli Lilly and Company
  • Fleck Education
  • Hanapin Marketing
  • Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites
  • International Floral Distributors, Inc.
  • Kimball International
  • Lutheran Hospital
  • Modern Woodmen Fraternal Financial
  • Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
  • Subaru of Indiana Automotive, Inc.
  • The Finish Line, Inc.
  • Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana


The Indiana Chamber partners with 25,000 members and investors – representing over four million Hoosiers – to achieve the mission of “cultivating a world-class environment which provides economic opportunity and prosperity.”