2019 INTERNS - 
Cassie Bija and Rachel Hildenbrand

Rachel Hildebrand and Cassie Bijia

The 2019 sports interns, Cassie Bija and Rachel Hildenbrand, worked with the Isla Vista Youth Program over a six-week period in the summer. Cassie and Rachel introduced a group of 25-30 young girls to non-traditional and traditional recreational activities, including Frisbee, dodgeball, soccer, capture-the-flag, and various team-building activities. The girls also gardened, created vision boards, made cookies, and wrote messages in bottles to their future selves.

In addition to the large group activities, Cassie and Rachel met with 8-12 girls for hour-long sessions to discuss life lessons that reflect Kendra’s values of tenacity, courage, creativity, and mindfulness. The interns guided the young girls towards a deeper appreciation of themselves and their self-worth.

Flag from Isla Vista Youth Program


Cassie Bija

“Though I went into this internship expecting to be a mentor and leader, I was amazed by how much I got out of it. I shared my love of sports with a group of amazing young ladies and left feeling as though I gave genuine direction and actionable advice. It was an incredible feeling, and one that I hope to take with me as I continue to act as a proponent for women, especially now that I've seen the way in which sports empowered those girls.

Each girl had a unique background: different family structures, cultures, and struggles. I saw the girls break out of their shells and dare to be more courageous, open, and loud. I am honored to have been part of that story. Thank you for the

opportunity to meet these young ladies, and for allowing all of us to be inspired by Kendra.”

Rachel with kids from Isla Vista

Rachel Hildenbrand

“When I first heard about this internship, I could not have been more excited to give back to the community, while also furthering my passion to work with children and sports. I had high expectations for this internship, and was blown away after meeting these tenacious, inquisitive, and sometimes-goofy young girls. It was humbling and extremely gratifying to see the excitement on their faces when we showed up and how they learned to share their experiences with us.

I cannot describe the feeling of having a girl who barely talked during the first-week run up to us on the last day with her newfound confidence. I am honored to have been chosen as an intern in Kendra’s name, and I can assure you her spirit is still touching and enriching the lives of many."


The Kendra Chiota Payne Leadership for Young Women through Sports Internship began in 2007. Each year one or two UCSB students have been working with young, under-served girls at local elementary schools and youth centers. Since its inception, this internship has been awarded to the following students:

2020 - Christina Valdivia and Dillen Corlett

2019 - Cassie Bija and Rachel Hildenbrand

2018 - Araceli Huerta and Dajung (DJ) Oh

2017 - Isabelle Rodriguez and Kelsey McMorrow 

2016 - Maria Ragusa and Diamond Chestnut

2015 - Jennifer Atkinson and Krista Pezella

2014 - Layne Francis and Morgan Bacchus

2013 - Kerri Kowsky and Laura Cadwell

2012 - Sarah Eadie and Claire Davis

2011 - Kristina Egbert 

2010 - Nelly Alcantar 

2009 - Ashley Santos 

2008 - Francine Pelka

2007 - Erin Hinga