I am a 2017 AAPD Summer Intern

September 6, 2017 | Erika Hudson, 2017 AAPD Summer Intern

I am not a writer, I am a talker. I find it a lot easier to express how I feel by mouth rather than pen and paper, or keyboard rather. It is even harder for me to put into words how I feel about the AAPD summer internship program. To say I was excited about the opportunity to be an Intern with the American Association of People with Disabilities is an understatement. Full disclosure, this was the third time I had applied – I was excited. I knew that the AAPD had a great internship program.  I would be able to live in Washington DC.  I would be able to meet new people from across the country. I would be able to intern on the Hill, but as I am approaching my finals days here with the AAPD, I reflect on so much more. It has been an extraordinary summer, and let me tell you why:

First let me tell you about the people – wow. My fellow 2017 AAPD summer interns are some of the most extraordinary young disability advocates that I have had the pleasure of getting to know this summer. More importantly, they are extraordinary humans. I got the chance to hear their stories and learn who they are. I got the chance to get to know these people and I hope to continue to know these people for years to come. I can’t wait to see them rule the world one day and change the lives of so many. I do not think my fellow interns will ever know how grateful I am for all of their support this summer.

The different experiences I had are almost as fantastic as the people. I walked through the halls of the Capitol-and I got lost, a lot. I attended congressional hearings and markups on topics that way went way over my head. I met prominent leaders in the disability community from across the world. I ate cupcakes and ice cream as often as I could, DC has a fantastic cupcake selection. I went to our national monuments on nights when the sky resembled the American flag. I participated in rallies and marches on issues I was passionate about. I went to countless museums learning and growing in so many ways. I got caught in several rainstorms, never learning the simple art of bringing an umbrella-always back an umbrella.

Now the big one-what I learned this summer. I learned to be unapologetically proud to be me. I learned that we are all fighting for the same rights, but we choose to do so in different ways. I learned that the disability community is strong and is powerful-I already knew this, but this summer we reached new heights.  I learned that the disability community has come far, but we have a long way to go. I am proud and disabled, and I am excited to continue to stand with my peers and do what we do best.

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Erika Hudson is a 2017 AAPD Summer Intern. This summer she interned for the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Democratic Staff.

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