2017 Summer Interns

Meet AAPD’s 2017 Summer Interns! The AAPD Summer Internship Program develops the next generation of leaders with disabilities and offers host employers access to a talented, diverse workforce. Each summer, AAPD places college students, graduate students, law students, and recent graduates with all types of disabilities in summer internships with Congressional offices, federal agencies, non-profits, and for-profit organizations in the Washington, DC area.


Nermina AlyPortrait photo of Nermina Aly, a 2017 AAPD Summer Intern

Interning with Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL)

Nermina Aly is a driven communications studies major at DePaul University in Chicago and ranks in the top 1% of her graduating class. In her free time, she enjoys creative writing, singing, and meditating. Having lived in three countries throughout her childhood, she is continuing her traveling by studying abroad in Japan for her spring term at DePaul.








Annika ArielPortrait photo of Annika Ariel, a 2017 AAPD Summer Intern

Interning with Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA)

Annika Ariel is an incoming junior at Amherst College in western Massachusetts. She is double majoring in English and Political Science. She is a prosecuting attorney on the Amherst College Mock Trial team, and is a project coordinator with Amherst’s chapter of the Roosevelt Institute. She is also a member of the diversity student advisory board, and Annika is also actively involved with the national organization Alexander Hamilton Scholars, and was recently published in the letters section of The New York Times. This past summer, Annika worked with the Town of Amherst to update the Town’s Affirmative Action Plan, develop an economic Community Profile for businesses and investors, and develop summaries and statistics on many aspects of life in the Town. She also developed Amherst’s first-ever comprehensive disability programming for first-year students. Pursuing a diverse array of interests, Annika is both an Education Professions Fellow at Amherst and participated in a finance trek to New York City. She aspires to pursue a career in either law or finance. In her free time, Annika enjoys sitting in coffee shops and writing.




Tina BanerjeePortrait photo of Tina Banerjee, a 2017 AAPD Summer Intern

Interning with the Department of Homeland Security

Tina Banerjee is a junior at Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York where she is majoring in Criminal Justice with a minor in Psychology. Her interest in Criminal Justice began during her sophomore year in high school where she had the opportunity to learn about the law, police work, and other agencies within the government. She took interests and is currently active with advocacy work with people with disabilities in the criminal ‘legal’ system, partnership with local police agencies to educate and improve the community relations, fight for the equal communication access in the prison system since her freshmen year in college. Tina aspires to pursue a career in a law-enforcement field and to be involved with investigation unit and advocate for social-justice for people with disabilities. When she is not busy, she loves to volunteer in her community, spending time with her families and friends, go to Barnes & Noble to read books with coffee, and make the best of everyday with exciting adventures!




Lauren BerglundPortrait photo of Lauren Berglund, a 2017 AAPD Summer Intern

Interning with The Arc

Lauren Berglund is a junior at Iowa State University majoring in Child, Adult, and Family Services. She was born with a genetic condition causing legal blindness. Raised in rural Iowa, Lauren and her family spent much of their time advocating for blindness-related services. As a result, Lauren has developed a strong desire to advocate for herself and others with disabilities. Her passions include: equal access to education, disability related services, and transition from high school to higher education. Lauren discovered her passion for working with transition-aged youth with disabilities while serving as a co-counselor at the Iowa Youth Leadership Forum. In her free time Lauren enjoys baking, playing with her guide dog, and blogging.






April CaputiPortrait photo of April Caputi, a 2017 AAPD Summer Intern

Interning with the National Archives and Records Administration

April Caputi is a recent Bachelor of Cinema & Media Arts (CMA) graduate from Biola University with an emphasis in Production. She developed an interest in casting when she became aware that actors with disabilities are often misrepresented in the media. One of her most rewarding moments occurred when she was the casting director for her senior thesis film and casted a diverse group of actors, including one who is deaf. With her many years of experience in the arts, April would like to bridge the gap between the entertainment industry and the disability community. She aspires to become an advocate and liaison for actors with disabilities, and is a strong supporter of equal access in film and theatre for audiences with disabilities.






Ariel CarlinPortrait photo of Ariel Carlin, a 2017 AAPD Summer Intern

Interning with the Administration for Community Living

Ariel Carlin, a recent graduate of Syracuse University earned her dual Bachelor’s degree in Selected Studies in Education and Sociology with a minor in Disability Studies. She is a scholar whom loves to coach and educate. At Syracuse, she completed numerous student teaching placements in both urban and rural settings as well as coach soccer for a local youth recreational team. As part of the disability community, she is also an advocate for fellow individuals with disabilities and is passionate about the equity and inclusion of all students in the classroom. Her internship experience was completed at the Colorado Cross Disability Coalition (CCDC) during Summer 2015. The experience gave her further insights of disability culture and the Colorado State government showing her connects to education, government, and policy. Ariel is currently at a cross road, looking to pursue a law or master’s degree to enhance her leadership skills and better advocate for the disability community through education. As a true Bostonian, you can find Ariel cheering on all New England sports teams!




Lauren GallowayPortrait photo of Lauren Galloway, a 2017 AAPD Summer Intern

Interning with Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY)

Lauren Galloway is a rising second year law student at Syracuse University College of Law and a self-proclaimed disability rights advocate.  As a native of Illinois, Lauren earned her undergraduate degree in English from Bradley University, and it was there, on the university’s nationally-ranked public speaking team, that she really began to hone her advocacy skills.  As a woman with Cerebral Palsy, she found an empowering outlet in researching, writing, and performing speeches for national audiences about policy as well as interpersonal issues facing people with disabilities.  After undergrad, she decided to brave Syracuse’s infamous winters to turn her passion for advocacy into a career with the help of the first-of -its-kind Disability Law and Policy Program at SU law.  Along with being a diligent social justice advocate, Lauren unashamedly admits to being an adrenaline junky who has yet to meet a roller coaster she didn’t like.




Jason HarrisPortrait photo of Jason Harris, a 2017 AAPD Summer Intern

Interning with the National Disability Rights Network

Jason Harris is on the autism spectrum. He attended both an inclusive and disability-focused high school. After high school, he attended the College of Mount St. Joseph where he was opened up to advocacy in his class Disability, Culture, and Equity. He graduated with a Liberal Arts Degree and a Minor in Philosophy from the College of Mount St Joseph with Honors in December 2013. He is the founder of Jason’s Connection an on-line community connecting over 200,000 people of diverse abilities to information, resources, services, human stories and each other. It’s community can recommend, rate and review services as well as request specialized searches for services and resources. Jason has spoken to groups around the United States about hidden and invisible disabilities and contributes articles and interviews with people of diverse abilities from around the world in the Jason’s Connection’s online magazine. He is involved in ReelAbilities National Film Festival, Jason’s Connection, Living Arrangements for the Developmentally Disabled (LADD), and Starfire Council because he wants to show the capabilities that everyone has to offer. Jason Harris is currently in graduate school at Syracuse University in the School of Cultural Foundations of Education pursuing a specialty in Disability Studies. Jason Harris has recently been interviewed for Jason’s Connection and his contribution to the Disability Community in the Washington Post.




Claire HoustonPortrait photo of Claire Houston, a 2017 AAPD Summer Intern

Interning with JBS International

Claire Houston is a junior at Mount Holyoke College, in South Hadley, Massachusetts. There, she is a self-designed major in Disability Studies, with a minor in Computer Science and a certificate in Non-Profit Organizations. Claire is an advocate for disability awareness on campus, and is a Peer Mentor for the AccessAbility department, guiding new disabled students as they make the transition from high school to college. Claire loves robotics, and works with a local Girl Scout robotics team as a coach. She hopes to combine her love of disability and technology, and develop and design better systems in the future.






Erika HudsonPortrait photo of Erika Hudson, a 2017 AAPD Summer Intern

Interning with the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Democratic Staff

Erika was born and raised in Halmstad, Sweden and moved to the United States when she was thirteen years old. Erika is now a proud Hoosier of Indiana University studying Management and International Studies with a concentration in human rights. During her time at Indiana University Erika has been heavily involved with Residential Life and Disability Services for Students. She served as a Resident Assistant for three years and had the opportunity to work with individuals with different backgrounds from all over the world, developing her passion for travel and social justice. Over the past year, Erika has also served as the office intern for Disability Services for Students, which allowed Erika to be an advocate for other students with disability as well as for herself. Erika is the fourth generation in her family with a unique form of Macular degeneration known as the Babcock eye. Upon graduation Erika hopes to travel the world and serve as an advocate for all ensuring everyone’s right to a life of dignity and respect.




Madlyn JenningsPortrait photo of Maddie Jennings, a 2017 AAPD Summer Intern

Interning with the National Education Association

Madlyn Jennings is a Sociology major at Truman State University in Kirkville, Missouri. She will be graduating in May 2017 +with cum laude honors. She hopes to pursue a career in disability advocacy focusing on increasing access to higher education. She learned the importance of serving others as a result of her leadership position at the Baptist Student Union. Her interest in disability advocacy was sparked while she was researching the portrayal of people with disabilities in news media during the summer after her sophomore year of college. The opportunities she was presented through her internship at Special Olympics DC during the summer of 2016, especially participating in the NCIL annual conference, helped her to gain valuable insight and connections within the disability community. Madlyn aspires to lead an independent, healthy life and help other people within the disability community accomplish the same goal. When she is not busy helping others, she is running at the gym and watching movies.




Emily KovaleskyPortrait photo of Emily Kovalesky, a 2017 AAPD Summer Intern

Interning with Senator Bob Casey (D-PA)

Emily Kovalesky is from Collegeville, PA and is currently a junior at Allegheny College where she is majoring Global Health Studies and minoring in Biology. Prior to declaring her major she wanted to work in the health care field, as a physicians’ assistant, and has worked as a Certified Nurses Aide, CNA, the past three years in both retirement communities and children’s homes. Though she loves her work as a CNA, she now aspires to work in public policy and health advocacy after facing her own challenges and seeing the disparities children face when dealing with their health challenges as well. In her free time, she enjoys relaxing with friends and being active in school activities. Some of these include fundraising for St. Jude and volunteering at a rescue animal shelter and farm.






Ann Wai-Yee KwongPortrait photo of Ann Kwong, a 2017 AAPD Summer Intern

Interning with the Institute for Educational Leadership

Ann Wai-Yee Kwong is a Ph.D. student in the education program at UC Santa Barbara. In 2015, she received her B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Education from UC Berkeley as a Gates Millennium scholar. Prior to her attendance at UC Santa Barbara, she interned as an education technician intern in Washington DC disaggregating student suicidality data and analyzing its negative impact on both student and school excellence. In 2014, Ann testified at the U.S. Senate hearing to advocate for herself and others, informing policy makers of the attitudinal and tangible societal barriers, which limit the potentials of people with disabilities. Her research include: curriculum development for transition age youth with disabilities, self-determination, and cultural implications of professional and family partnerships. In addition, Ann co-founded Survive or Thrive, an experience-based support group and mentoring program by and for individuals with disabilities, where she designs and facilitates workshops and mentors youth and their families. In a professional capacity, she also serves on various boards including the California Department of Rehabilitation’s Blind Advisory Committee and the Association on Higher Education And Disability. Through her research and advocacy, Ann hopes to continue empowering others to envision, define, and achieve their future aspirations.




Max SohPortrait photo of Max Soh, a 2017 AAPD Summer Intern

Interning with the Association of University Centers on Disabilities

Max Soh is a recent graduate from Biola University where he graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.A. in Sociology. While a student at Biola, Max was involved with a number of leadership positions that centered around his passion for social justice and equity including advocating on behalf of various minority groups on his campus through frequent meetings with university administration as his university’s Student Government Diversity Liaison. Max has also been involved with the advocacy of disability rights including co-leading a student-led initiative during his undergraduate studies aiming to bring awareness to disability rights and teaching computer skills to the visually impaired at the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped located in the nation-state of Singapore – where Max spent most of his life. Currently, Max is involved with efforts on behalf of various non-profits including volunteering and contributing to the work of non-profits such as Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC) located in southern California where he currently resides. He is also currently seeking pursuance in graduate studies in the field of Sociology and Human Rights with the goal of entering the profession of research-based advocacy with concentrations in education equity and refugee protection.




Chakir’ UnderdownPortrait photo of Chakir' Underdown, a 2017 AAPD Summer Intern

Interning with the National Disability Rights Network

Chakir’ Underdown received her Bachelor’s in Spanish and International studies from The Ohio State University. She continued her educational career by earning an M.A. in Latin American Studies and an M.S. in Marketing Communications.  During her academic career, Chakir’ has traveled to Mexico, London, and Brazil, completed cultural and language immersion study abroad programs. She remains dedicated her passion for helping others in her community by serving as a peer mentor, tutor, and a volunteer. Chakir’ has worked on volunteer projects for The Ohio State University, the Legal Aid Society of Columbus, and the City of Dublin, OH.  Currently, Chakir’ is completing her law degree at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law with a focus on corporate law. She has experience in housing and landlord tenant law, working as a law clerk for the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio. Chakir’ is the Ohio Marketing Director for Save A Warrior, a non-profit organization focused on healing veterans and first responders suffering from mental trauma. She enjoys spending her time with her family, cooking, reading, and staying fit in the gym.


Thank You to Our 2017 Sponsors!

Aid Association for the Blind of the District of Columbia


Our Sponsors