By Kelly Arnold, EKU Class of 2018
Annie Zomaya saw her internship as more than just a resume builder and educational requirement. She had a connection and passion for the region she calls home.
As a former Eastern Kentucky University public relations intern and Appalachian native, Zomaya knows first-hand the conditions and challenges that people in the region face.
Zomaya's responsibilities as the EKU Office of Regional Stewardship intern were, promoting the missions of Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) and the East Kentucky Leadership Foundation. This included, enhancing and maintaining a social media presence, website design, writing feature stories, attending meetings, conferences, managing content, and promoting events.
During the internship, Zomaya had the opportunity to collaborate with professionals from all parts of Kentucky. Although these leaders and innovators are different in their own unique ways, their shared passion for shaping the Appalachian region united them.
While many people credit the region for its beautiful scenery, Zomaya acknowledges a different kind of beauty, the people of the region.
“Eastern Kentucky is not just a beautiful place," Zomaya said. "It contains beautiful people.”
Zomaya says her first internship with It's Good to Be Young in the Mountains primed her for her position at the EKU Office of Regional Stewardship.
Zomaya worked to promote the 29th annual 2017 East Kentucky Leadership Foundation Conference last spring at Eastern Kentucky University. She was also part of the EKU communication team that provided coverage of the conference for the past three years.
Zomaya says she is excited for the changes that are shaping the region. She has witnessed the early stages of a flourishing ecosystem, because of the dedicated efforts of people from across the commonwealth to better the Appalachian region. For the past several years, groups of visionaries like Annie have worked diligently to bring change to the region through innovation, socioeconomic, educational, health, and entrepreneurial avenues. Through these avenues, the SOAR program seeks to create various opportunities for the Appalachian people. Furthermore, creating a thriving ecosystem to these impoverished regions.
Annie says, to have been a part of a group of people who collaborate to bring about such changes was thrilling in and of itself, and was one of the most rewarding aspects of her time with SOAR.
“I like meeting like-minded people,” Zomaya said. "More so than just shaping the region is the people, who are at the heart of what they are coming together to help and to enhance."
“The reason why I’m so passionate about Appalachian activism is that once I see the beauty of the region and its people, [it gives] me a drive to build a better Appalachia.”