by Sarah Amin, AAPD Programs Intern
“We are lucky to have grown up in the post-ADA generation. The ADA has done a lot for us, but we have a long way to go. Let’s influence the generations after us, and show them that what is good for us is good for everyone else”-Leah Katz-Hernandez, AAPD Youth Transitions Fellow
On Thursday, October 6, Gallaudet University’s Career Center hosted the event, “Finding Your Perfect Experience to Jump-Start Your Career,” featuring a presentation by guest-speaker Leah Katz-Hernandez, former Gallaudet student and current The HSC Foundation Youth Transitions Fellow with AAPD. The goal of the information session was to highlight meaningful internship experiences as crucial stepping stones to future employment for students with disabilities. As the Youth Transitions Fellow, Leah works closely with The Greater Washington Internship Coalition to develop innovative ways to facilitate collaboration among internship programs serving young people with disabilities in the Greater Washington, DC area. The Coalition is a one-stop opportunity for college students and emerging professionals with disabilities to obtain information on internship programs committed to being accessible and including disability within their framework of diversity. For more information about the Greater Washington Internship Coalition, please visit www.aapd.com/internshipcoalition.
Before an overflowing crowd of students, faculty, and staff in the I. King Jordan Student Activities Center (named after the university’s first deaf president), Leah took the stage and captivated the audience with stories of her own personal experiences. As a deaf student, she had a very positive and comfortable transition to college life at Gallaudet University, where all programs and services are designed specifically for students who are deaf or hard of hearing. But she stressed that for all individuals with disabilities, the post-college world should be no less intimidating. There are plenty of internships out there for students with disabilities, in every interest area, from science to public policy to the arts. Students and young professionals should confidently reach out and grab internship opportunities that will test their full potential. As Leah put it, “Don’t let opportunities pass you by!”
During the segment, “Out There: Being a Deaf Intern, ” Leah invited a panel of speakers to the stage, featuring Dylan Hinks, who recently participated in the AAPD Summer Internship program, working in the office of Rep. Ed Markey. Currently a junior at Gallaudet, Dylan’s motto after his internship experience is “Know Thy Opportunities.” His advice to fellow students who are applying for internships is to “Ask for help! Don’t be scared to ask your teachers to help you look over your applications. Don’t be shy!” Also featured on the panel was Briana Johnson, who had previously interned for Rep. Sam Brownback. Leah, Dylan, and Briana are great role models for other motivated students who wish to take full advantage of programs within the Coalition to secure brighter futures in the professional arena.
The AAPD Summer Internship Program offers undergraduate and graduate students as well as recent graduates with disabilities the opportunity to work in public service for ten weeks on Capitol Hill, at federal agencies, and non-profit organizations. The AAPD Summer Internship Program allows students with disabilities to gain invaluable hands-on experience in government, including insight into government office operations, public policy development, law-making and research, and constituents’ roles in the legislative and administrative processes.
For more about the AAPD Summer Internship Program, visit www.aapd.com/internships or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. AAPD’s program is just one among nearly thirty great programs within the Greater Washington Internship Coalition. For the full list of participating organizations, please visit www.aapd.com/internshipcoalition.