Southeast Student Interns in Ferguson, Works to Better the Community

Southeast student Kevin Windham, second from right, with his fellow Cigna Health Insurance interns. Also pictured at center, from left are John Smith, vice president of Strategic Innovation and New Product Development for Cigna; Ferguson City Council member Dwayne James and Ferguson Mayor James Knowles.

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Aug. 5, 2015 – Community service, case studies and meeting the mayor were all in a day’s work for Southeast Missouri State University senior Kevin Windham who was a network operations intern in the pharmaceutical division of Cigna Health Insurance as part of a special internship program in St. Louis this summer.

Cigna launched its newest internship program in Ferguson, Missouri, where six dynamic interns with varying backgrounds worked to better their community.

“On the first day of work, our manager told us if we were looking to compete against each other we were in the wrong place. We all had a select set of skills, majors and personalities that blend together well,” said Windham, a native of St. Louis. “Each of us brought different skills, personalities and majors ranging from communications and healthcare administration to biology and computer sciences which gave the team many different insights and viewpoints.”

The primary goal of the Ferguson (St. Louis) Internship Program was develop solutions to help close gaps in health disparities in underserved communities, generate innovative product solutions and help position Cigna as a preferred health care partner in the community among young adults. Windham and the other interns were tasked with determining market penetration opportunities for Cigna locally, as a business case study.

Windham said one of his favorite memories was presenting their recommendations to a panel of Cigna executives at their company headquarters in Connecticut. He said he also enjoyed getting to meet and speak with the mayor of Ferguson while organizing and participating in a health-focused community day event at the Ferguson Farmer’s Market.

“I chose this internship over other opportunities because it gave me the chance to work with a company that cares about its customers and the community while providing me with the opportunity to work within a small group of talented individuals serving the community that I grew up in and beyond,” said Windham.

“Physically, there is still work to be done [in Ferguson]; emotionally, I believe the community is starting to heal,” he continued. “The ‘We Must Stop Killing Each Other’ campaign is growing, but we need corporate sponsors and other large industries in the area and beyond to provide opportunities for youth and the community to gain corporate experience and provide positivity in the community that could change the vibe.”

At Southeast, Windham majors in corporate communications with a double minor in entrepreneurship and retail management. He is Black Student Union secretary, a senator for the College of Liberal Arts on Student Government and a member of the President’s Task Force for Diversity in Education. He participated in the First Year Leadership Program and Emerging Leaders. He has also been awarded the Vice President’s Distinguished Student Award for creating lasting and positive change in the campus community.