Susan Butler

The Perks of Having a Mentor

Susan is in her third year of Arts International in University College Cork. She specializes in French and Psychology and is currently on her Erasmus Year in Rennes, France. Susan has a passion for improving education inequalities in Ireland. She has been heavily involved with Suas, where she coordinated their literacy support program. In this role, Susan engaged over 100 students to participate in paired reading activities for primary school students across the city.


Susan Butler

University College Cork

Arts International

Work Placement
American Federation of Teachers

Host Family
Colet & Roger Mitchell

Date Published
July 25, 2017

“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill

Here is my blog about what it has been like to work closely to a woman who has changed the world through her advocacy on women’s issues and her unrelenting devotion to making a difference. Not only has she challenged political figures, she has also  lobbied for change regarding sexual harassment and workplace bullying, domestic and workplace violence, disability rights, civil rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender workers and women in nontraditional careers.

I am interning with the American Federation of Teachers in the Human Rights Department and my boss is Constance “Connie” Cordovilla. Connie is the Associate Director of the Human Rights and Community Relations Department of AFT. She is a changemaker, an activist, a devoted grandmother and a fiery protester.

“Every day above ground is a blessing” – Connie Cordovilla

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.” – Eliezer “Elie” Wiesel – American Jewish Writer, professor, political activist, Nobel Laureate and Holocaust Survivor

The Perks of Having a Mentor

Here are the 3 reasons why having a mentor this summer has been invaluable to me:

  1.  I’ve learnt so much about what it takes to be an activist.

Connie is one of the most active activists there are. I’ve realised that while it is essential we have advocates and changemakers in society, it comes with a lot of work! Holding a sign in the Capitol NE Lawn 35 degree heat for hours or sending another email to a Congressman, requires a lot of organising and dedication. I have been in awe of my supervisor’s commitment to her appetite for change.

  1.  The importance of being able to take criticism.

During the course of my internship, I’ve grown more accustomed and ready to take positive criticism from Connie. I realised that it is one of the most necessary and meaningful skills which I have worked on this summer. Connie has shown me that the threat of criticism should never stop you from standing up for what you believe in.

  1.    Expanding my network

Connie brought me to all sorts of events this summer. From Hate-Crime Coalition meetings to the National Partnership Gala Dinner for Women and Families, I have been exposed to so many varying and different influential leaders. This has been an honour to experience part of Connie’s extensive chain of people who all strive to make the world a better place through their varying organisations.

But above all, Connie has shown me the true value of coming together to stick up for the rights of others.

All in all, I have had a fantastic and constructive summer interning with the American Federation of Teachers. It has given me unimaginable exposure to political activism in Washington DC and I have attain skills & experiences which I cannot wait to bring back to Ireland.