A Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship opened the door to three consecutive hands-on, paid internships for Katherine Grivkov ’25, a political science major and Macaulay Honors student. “This summer I completed my first internship with Resilient Cities Catalyst. The organization works to ensure that all residents—particularly the most vulnerable—are safer, healthier, and thriving in the face of everyday stresses, and they’re able to withstand and recover quickly after shocks to their communities,” said Grivkov, who hopes to become a public interest attorney.
What was life like growing up?
I’m from the Sheepshead Bay neighborhood of Brooklyn. Growing up there, I could stay connected to my culture as a Ukrainian-American because the majority of the residents are immigrants from former Soviet countries. One of the reasons why I’m focused on helping vulnerable communities is because Sheepshead Bay is very close to the beach and was devastated by extreme ﬂooding during Hurricane Sandy. I witnessed members of my community struggling in the aftermath of the storm. This was my ﬁrst encounter with disaster preparedness and community resilience.
What was your experience like at Resilient Cities Catalyst?
My biggest responsibility was conducting research in emerging policies, legislation, and funding opportunities. Most notably, I did research on the National Climate Adaptation and Resilience Strategy bill and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
After I finished my research, I compiled a reference book that was shared with the organization’s partners seeking grant opportunities in eight categories: community development, disaster preparedness, economic development, environment/natural resources, rural issues, water supply/quality, energy, and transportation.
One of the high points of my internship was going on my ﬁrst business trip, which was in Sacramento, California. There, I got to meet with key state officials, nonproﬁt leaders, and grassroots organizers to discuss the ﬁndings of a report our organization recently published. I learned so much about what it takes to conduct strategic meetings and it was a life-changing experience.
How has John Jay, Macaulay Honors College, and this internship experience helped shape you?
At John Jay, Dr. Amie Macdonald and Dr. Raymond Patton are unfailing resources who always push me to reach for my dreams—including this fellowship. As a Macaulay Honors scholar, I have the opportunity to graduate debt-free so that I can confidently pursue a graduate degree. And, at Resilient Cities Catalyst, everyone I worked with showed me that in order to solve today’s pressing challenges, you have to view issues holistically.
What advice do you have for your fellow students?
Go into any internship with an open mind and an eagerness to learn. My internship was deﬁnitely outside of my comfort zone, since before this experience I didn’t know much about climate resilience policy. However, after this summer, I learned that it is totally possible to have a successful internship experience in a ﬁeld you may not know a lot about. Being willing to learn and grow is crucial for a successful internship experience. I would also say to never be afraid to apply to different programs. I honestly couldn’t imagine being awarded the Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship, but I’m so glad I had people who encouraged me to apply.