iMAGINE Upstate’s growing internship program welcomes four and encourages student achievement

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iMAGINE Upstate’s growing internship program welcomes four and encourages student achievement

GREENVILLE, S.C. (September 6, 2016) –iMAGINE Upstate has kicked off the 2016-2017 school year by ramping up its internship program, which will add four new student members to the iMAGINE Team: Jonathan Riddle, Alyx Farkas, Francisco Celis Villagrana, and Kristina Toney.

Melissa Huff, director of iMAGINE Upstate, stated, “I’m thrilled to be able to offer these internship experiences as a part of iMAGINE Upstate. Including an internship program illustrates what the festival is working to accomplish. We are offering both high school and college students the opportunity to gain real career experience and develop marketable skills. We are learning and growing as a program through our involvement with these eager students. This group of interns are all extremely driven and excited to be involved, and we are glad to welcome them to the team.”

The internship program is a clear expression of how the iMAGINE Upstate Festival, now in its third year, truly puts into practice the ideas expressed in its mission statement, empowering and supporting Upstate students through opportunities for creativity, innovation, and critical thinking.

This team of interns is an excited, dedicated group. Standing as a prime example of this is returning Marketing Intern Alyx Farkas, now a freshman Clemson University pursuing a degree in marketing. She states, “iMAGINE Upstate promotes interactive experiences that connect individuals with Upstate STEM careers, businesses, and leadership. As an intern, my eyes have been opened to the many STEAM projects and career opportunities present in the Upstate. My love for the program continues to grow each year!” Farkas started as the Greer Middle College Charter School intern for iMAGINE Upstate in 2015.

Jonathan Riddle, a senior at Brashier Middle College Charter High, is also no stranger to the festival experience. “I have been involved with the festival from the start. At the inaugural downtown festival, I played the iMAGINE Game on the event app and won the grand prize drone. At the 2016 festival I supported event logistics behind the scenes and coordinated live drone footage in Fluor Field.” Riddle used the same drone that he won at the 2015 festival while volunteering in 2016. He will play a key role in managing the iMAGINE Upstate Mobile App and highlighting STEM careers in automotive. Riddle aspires to be an automotive engineer.

Echoing this excitement is Francisco Celis Villagrana, a senior at Greer Middle College Charter High School, he is currently ranked in the top ten of his class, and is also a member of the Beta Club and National Honor Society. Villagrana is also a Dean’s List awardee at Greenville Technical College, where he is enrolled in dual credit courses. iMAGINE Upstate’s partnership with Greer Middle College Charter High School started in the festival’s second year. The high school takes a hands-on approach to education and encourages students to contribute to the success of the overall community.

Events and Logistics Intern Kristina Toney, now a senior majoring in both communication and English at Clemson University, was also a volunteer at the festival in 2016. Toney currently works as a Writing Fellow, serves as editor-in-chief of the Chronicle, Clemson’s arts and literary magazine, and hosts a weekly radio show at WSBF-FM Clemson, the campus radio station. She is thrilled to be involved with the festival this year as the events and logistics intern. “I am honored to be a part of this incredible and creative team, and I am so excited for all of the challenges this internship presents, as well as the opportunities it affords me to learn more about and indulge my passion for my desired career field.” Toney played a major role in Clemson’s Social Media Listening Center’s involvement in the 2016 festival.

The internship program for iMAGINE Upstate has also managed to successfully integrate technological training into its internship experience. Students involved in the experience will have the opportunity to telecommute, working jointly on various projects through collaborative online interfaces and on other individual ventures to further the mission of the festival. As high school and collegiate internship programs gain prominence, the implementation of this internship program by iMAGINE Upstate demonstrates its commitment to community engagement through providing empowering education opportunities.

For more information about the 2017 festival go to or email

About iMAGINE Upstate

iMAGINE Upstate fueled by ScanSource is a program of South Carolina’s Coalition for Mathematics & Science (SCCMS) at Clemson University. Our mission is to create meaningful experiences that promote a culture of lifelong learning and professional growth with an emphasis on science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM), innovation, and entrepreneurial activity in South Carolina. The iMAGINE Upstate is a 10- day celebration held across the Upstate and capstones with a signature street festival held annually in downtown Greenville, SC in early April. iMAGINE Upstate strives to be a leader in Upstate student preparedness by facilitating collaboration among industry partners, academic institutions, non-profit organizations, and the community. For more information visit and follow @imagineupstate on Twitter. #imagine2017