Written by Nancy Covert
Emily Mirra found a different kind of summer job.
She’s working as an intern with Steilacoom’s Town Administrator.
A life-long Tacoma resident, she says that as she neared the end of her teaching job in Ecuador (where she teaches English to youths and adults) she “began contacting many people about summer work.”
Steilacoom’s Mayor Ron Lucas, who had been one of Mirra’s teachers when she attended Stewart Middle School, offered her an internship with the Town.
Now she’s learning first hand how town government operates. Her role as assistant to Steilacoom’s Town Administrator Paul Loveless, began on July 1.
“There’s something different to do every day,” says the 23-year-old Tacoma resident.
The 8 a.m. –4 p.m. internship, explained Loveless, exposes her to “all aspects about how local government works.”
Thus far, Mirra has worked on details for an agreement between Steilacoom and the City of DuPont for road maintenance. She’s also helped with the community’s new Farmers Market Program, and taken part in a community center’s summer camp field trip to Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo.
All this work, she says, “is very meaningful.” She’s to be formally introduced to the council and community at an up-coming council meeting.
“I am impressed and intrigued by how transparent and open the town’s government is,” said Mirra.
“When citizens have a concern or problem, they’re able to access their officials.”
The town’s operations, she adds, are “much more organized here than in other cities.”
After graduating in 2004 from Foss High School’s International Baccalaureate program, she attended Vassar College in New York State, where she tutored English as a Second Language (ESL) classes in Poughkeepsie. NY
During the remainder of the summer, she’s looking forward to learning more about the oldest incorporated town in the state. She didn’t take part in the Fourth of July, though. Instead she spent “three days at an “ultimate Frisbee” tournament at Redmond. She and her Frisbee partners did “well enough: we won some and lost some.”
Taking part in the Salmon Bake, the self-guided walking tour of the town’s historic district, and visiting the Museum are on her “to do” list.
Besides this internship, she’s also studying for her Graduate Records Exam (GRE). She says she’s uncertain about where she’ll apply, though, for a Master’s Degree program. While she is considering the Americorps Program, her current work gives her more exposure toward her ultimate goal of doing immigrant advocacy work.
Emily’s parents, Michael Mirra and Nancy Sprick, are supportive of their daughter’s plans. Her mother knows the value of foreign study, Emily adds, having spent two years in Taiwan after she graduated from college.
When her internship concludes in August, she’ll return to Ecuador for a second year of teaching. In the meantime, she says, she enjoys the daily commute along scenic Chambers Creek Road.
“I am very grateful to work for the Town of Steilacoom; it’s a great opportunity to get to know the town.”