Dear D.C.

August 14, 2017 | Nermina Aly, 2017 AAPD Summer Intern

As I leave you, I would like to reminiscence about my time here and what led me to you in the first place.

They say that rewarding experiences are bred through stepping outside of your comfort zone. This summer, I did just that. I was not sure what to expect when I was accepted into the AAPD internship program not to mention interning on your most famous hill–Capitol Hill. Instead of thinking about the what if’s, I closed my eyes and sooner than I knew it I was in our nation’s capital working in the heart of politics. None of this would be possible if it weren’t for Zach Baldwin and AAPD.

My appreciation for AAPD goes back to last July when I was applying for scholarships to help pay for my college tuition. It was during the phone interview for the scholarship that I had my first correspondence with Zach—I did not know it at the time but that would be the first of many interactions (all delightful) with him. Receiving the 2016 Tony Coehlo Media Scholarship was life changing, yet little did I know that the next summer, my life would change again.

I remember first hearing about the summer internship program during my phone interview for the Tony Coehlo award and it was inconceivable to me and beyond my wildest dreams that I would ever be interning here exactly one year later.

Fast forward to now—I am nearing the end of my internship and time here and this summer has been the most rewarding time in my life. Not only did I get to explore the splendor of what you have to offer—history, breathtaking architecture, museums, etc., but I had the blessing to learn more about myself and immerse myself within the disability community.

I want to thank Zach and AAPD for truly giving me the summer of a lifetime. AAPD ensures the creation of future disability advocacy leaders through keeping the interns busy all summer. The weekly events, optional and mandatory were extremely informational and gave all of the interns a chance to network with leaders in the disability community including Ted Kennedy Jr, the Board Chair of AAPD. Personally for me, the highlight was the annual ADA event, celebrating the 27th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the legislation that has forever changed the disability community, giving equal rights to millions who have lived their lives being discriminated against. Although we have a long way to go, the ADA has been around for longer than I’ve been alive, and I can only hope more disability friendly legislation gets passed in the years to come.

Overall, I would not take this summer back for anything! Thank you to every single person I’ve had the pleasure to meet this summer and a special thanks goes out to Susan Diegelman, my AAPD mentor, and Zach and Helena for making this all possible.

You’ve been great to me D.C.! Until we meet again!

Yours Truly,



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Nermina Aly is a 2017 AAPD Summer Intern placed with Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL). Nermina authored an earlier blog post – My First Month in DC.

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