Post 1: What’s Preventing Diversity in Tech?

This summer I have the privilege of working with the Charleston Digital Corridor (CDC) in Charleston, SC. The CDC is focused on advancing Charleston’s tech economy as well as creating opportunities for a diverse set of entrepreneurs in the region. I was born and raised in South Carolina and have lived in Charleston for the bulk of my life. I’m incredibly passionate about advancement here in the south and the CDC has been an integral part my city and state becoming a thriving tech hub. The CDC’s unwavering commitment to the region is in large part why I chose a fellowship with the organization.

I have the unique opportunity of guiding and structuring the majority of my day-to-day work. The central goal of my fellowship is to fully develop and launch a non-profit organization before the end of the summer. Over the last four weeks, my time has mostly been occupied with research and phone calls. My research has largely focused on the racial and gender disparities in the tech industry, especially as they pertain to computer science. While I have always maintained a consciousness of the overall lack of diversity in tech, never has the issue seemed so apparent to me than now.

For example, white and Asian men dominate the computer science (CS) field and make up more than 82% of CS undergraduate degree recipients. This reflects glaringly in the working pool where women make up only 26% of all tech sector employees, and Black and Latino employees make up less than 15% combined. These numbers pushed me to look deeper into the root cause of these disparities, where I found that, despite having a greater interest in CS than white students, Black and Latino students are restricted by a lack of access to resources.

The case for women tells a different story. Myths about STEM pipelines and inherent interest have often pervaded the narrative. However, unconscious bias, not pipeline issues or personal choices, push women out of STEM and contribute to a pattern of discouragement. For instance, almost two thirds of women in STEM with children say their commitment and competence were questioned and opportunities decreased, especially after having children.

In an effort to further reinforce these stories, I’ve spoken with a diverse range of entrepreneurs, programmers, and engineers about their experiences in tech. These conversations have been personally enriching and deeply insightful, and I hope to share these as I move forward this summer. This period of learning and reflection has been integral to understanding just some of the issues preventing the diversification of the tech sector.

I aim to move towards tackling these issues in the coming weeks and months, and sharing the knowledge and ideas I develop along the way.

My dream come true: A summer at Columbia University’s UEIL Lab

 

Ultrasound Elasticity Imaging Laboratory (UEIL) is part of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Columbia University and it is also one of the biggest labs in its field of ultrasound. https://ueil.bme.columbia.edu/ It has approximately 30 people from different educational levels in its employ. The UEIL works on developing novel, ultrasound-based techniques for both imaging and therapeutic applications. The main areas of focus at the time include drug delivery to the brain by opening the blood-brain barrier (BBB) using focused ultrasound, mapping the mechanical and electromechanical properties of the heart, harmonic motion imaging, pulse wave imaging, and neuromodulation.

During this internship, I will start by processing images of the skull microstructure. Figure 1 is a binary image of the skull microstructure that I created. This internship requires me to become proficient in Matlab, read research papers in order to understand preexisting information and form questions that are relevant to the goal of this research. The goal of my project is to extract valuable information for the skull microstructure such as its porosity, the number of pores and their size, and its density.

Figure 1: Binary image

When we are dealing with Focused Ultrasound in the brain either for imaging or therapeutic purposes, the biggest obstacle we have to overcome is the skull. The reason is that it makes it difficult to pass the ultrasonic wave through. Studying the skull microstructure will enable us to see how it impacts the wave propagation. This information helps the focused ultrasound work more precisely, something crucial in terms of BBB opening or ultrasound therapy in the brain.

This internship will help me to achieve the goals I have set for myself. In the world of science, programming is the most essential tool to conduct research. An important goal for me is to learn how to analyze data in Matlab. In order to do that, I will have to also learn the different methods of collecting data and the use of appropriate controls. Another reason I decided to do an internship in a research lab is that I believe it will help me decide if I want to pursue this career. Two months might be a short time period, but it will certainly get me a bit closer in setting my future goals even through this online interaction. 

Lastly, working on a team has always been a way for me to be more productive and to gain inspiration. However, this internship will require me to work independently, solve challenging questions, while also coming up with new questions to solve. Through weekly progress meetings, the other interns and I will have the opportunity to learn details about each other’s projects, gain a better understanding of the bigger picture, and have all the support we need. Overall, this internship will help me achieve my main goal which is allowing myself to struggle and find ways to overcome those challenges on my own.

 

 

The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Music

This summer I am working for the organization BarnArts Center for the Arts. BarnArts is a nonprofit arts organization located in Barnard, Vermont. Its mission is to bring the arts to rural Vermont. Under normal circumstances, its programming includes a summer Thursday Night Music Series, indoor and outdoor plays, a Summer Youth Theater Camp, and a 5k race-fundraiser around Barnard lake.

The Thursday Night Music Series takes place at a local farm. It features musicians from Vermont as well as out of state, hosting a number of different types of genres including world music. This year the music series has been able to operate at low capacity, featuring only instate bands.
The Summer Youth Theater Camp and race-fundraiser have also been able to function in modified ways. This year the race-fundraiser, Race Around the Lake, occurred at a social distance. Every racer ran by themselves within a week’s time frame, recording their own finishes.

As their intern working remotely my main role has been to promote events, as well as, communicate the changes to the structure of the programming during the summer. In my first week, I created an Instagram account for the organization. I also helped make a survey for BranArts patrons, inquiring about their thoughts on attending programming during the COVID-19 outbreak and what precautions they wanted to see in place. BarnArts added the survey to the first Instagram post and website. My other posts on Instagram have been about upcoming events including the Summer Youth Theater Camp and Race Around the Lake. Because Race Around the Lake was socially distant, Instagram promoted the event. I even created a photo contest centered around the race. The results of the contest will be up next week!!
Aside from being the guru of social media, I have also been responsible for promoting the organization in other ways. One of my main responsibilities has been editing and creating promotional videos for various art grants. This requires splicing together footage from previous music performances. Next week, we are releasing one video, I created, on the BarnArts Instagram which features musicians from last year’s Thursday Night Music series in order to promote this year’s series. Stay tuned! The main impact my digital media work will have is to build the organization’s outreach.
The third project I am working on presently is planning a Social Justice Event. After the events in April BarnArts has wanted to get more involved in the BLM movement and promote musicians of color. As an intern, my responsibilities have included finding and contacting musicians, poets, and speakers for the event. My supervisor is also working separately on a lullaby project with the organization GlobaLocal. This project goal is to bring together immigrant Vermont musicians with nonimmigrant Vermont musicians to create multilingual lullabies. I am responsible for helping find and contact performers who would be interested in the project. My main impact of the two projects will be to create more opportunities for diverse artists in Vermont to share their art.

My academic goal for the summer is I want to familiarize myself more with the Vermont music scene, who the famous artists are, and who is up and coming. By organizing and running the 18-week community series I will get exposure to many different groups. As a result, by the end of the summer, I will have a greater understanding of the Vermont music scene.

My career goal is I want to improve upon my fundraising and grant writing skills. One of my jobs as an intern will be fundraising as well as researching and writing grants. As a result of the feedback, I will receive from Chloe on my grant and fundraising work, my fundraising and grant writing skills will improve over the course of the summer. My personal goal is I want to connect and form friendships with multiple types of people. During their summer music series, BarnArts hosts up to 600 people. They also have various employees that run their farm stand and organic kitchen. While it is unknown if we will be able to meet in large groups during the summer, I hope these concerts will give me the chance to meet people and form friendships especially with those that work at the farm. Some of these goals will need to be modified as the internship is now virtual because of COVID-19.

I have learned a lot so far about the art world in rural Vermont and look forward to continuing my work with BarnArts over the summer!

Post 1 – Interning at Image Insight Inc.

This past fall semester, I took an Intro to Artificial Intelligence course which ignited my interest in AI and machine learning. One particular notion that fascinated me was the idea of how machine learning is an “enabling technology.” Just as the invention of programmable computers replaced the need to make a new circuit – drastically decreasing software development time – machine learning has this same potential to help software engineers do their jobs more efficiently. It was an exciting class, and after it ended I couldn’t wait to get my feet wet in the real-world.
This summer, my internship will give me the opportunity to apply many of the machine learning techniques that I have studied this past year. I’m interning for Image Insight Inc., a company whose mission is to provide low-cost radiation detection to the general public. Radiation is prevalent in many aspects of our lives at various levels, and high levels of radiation are dangerous and hazardous. The technology we’re developing can aid users at a multitude of levels, including the military, first responders, and people who receive radioactive treatments.
While many advancements have been made, there are still some problems that need refining in order for this technology to be utilized at its highest potential. For example, different cameras detect varying levels of radiation, and consistently standardizing what a normal level of background radiation looks like is difficult even between identical cameras.
This summer, I will use a machine learning approach to solve this problem as well as several issues from the nature of radioactive randomness. Solving these problems will allow for smoother transitions from device to device. In 2015, there were reportedly over 24,000 different types of
android phones on the market so it’s not realistic to individually tailor a solution for every single kind of phone on the market. Instead, new approaches and fresh techniques may be just what we need to broaden the scope of this technology to make it more accessible in the market.
This summer, I’m excited to have my first professional experience in a software development and machine learning setting. I hope to make a valuable contribution based on what I’ve learned in class, and see how it applies to Image Insight’s needs. I’m also looking forward to learning how to navigate a professional environment, even if I have to do it over conference call. Originally, the internship was planned to be onsite, and due to COVID-19 I will be working remotely. Luckily, I’ve already met the rest of my team and have begun working with them. I look forward to learning a lot and am very excited about what the rest of the summer has to offer.

Week 1 at The Quad Manhattan

About The Quad

This summer, I am working as a Psychosocial Intern at The Quad Manhattan, a summer camp based in New York City (now online). The Quad was founded as a learning space for twice exceptional (2e) children, a term that Psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman defines in his book Twice Exceptional

Twice exceptional individuals demonstrate exceptional levels of capacity, competence, commitment, or creativity in one or more domains coupled with one or more learning difficulties. This combination of exceptionalities results in a unique set of circumstances. Their exceptional potentialities may dominate, hiding their disability; their disability may dominate, hiding their exceptional potentialities; each may mask the other so that neither is recognized or addressed. (7)

The Quad’s mission is to provide a space where gifted children with learning disabilities can gain the skills they need while still being challenged in a range of creative activities. Many of the learning deficits found in our campers are related to language and academic development, as well as social skills. Therefore, we tailor our support and approach to each child’s unique set of strengths difficulties.

My Responsibilities

An image of my core age group via The Quad Manhattan.

As an intern, my job is to support campers during times of confusion and encourage them when they are inspired. This summer, I will be working with a team of educators, fellow interns, and psychologists to create learning plans for a core group of campers. My group is Core 1, which is for children aged 6-8.

I am currently in a two-week training period to grasp strategies for learning and behavioral interventions and techniques derived from CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). Although I will not be providing therapy, I will look for signs that indicate children need help during camp activities to make sure their needs are met and to avoid distress.

I have been assigned two campers within my core group with whom I will work more closely to develop a rapport and solutions to problems that arise. Throughout the summer, I will keep records of these campers’ progress in a case study, which I will complete with the help of my supervisors.

The Quad in a virtual setting

Due to the COVID-19, things will look a bit different this summer with our new online format and the added stresses of a pandemic. In training, we have been discussing the potential impact and foresee that while our campers may face fewer social challenges, they may also face a new set of complications arising from technology (i.e. glitching, leaving the Zoom call, playing video games off-screen). There may also be children whose family members have been infected with COVID-19 or impacted by the systemic racism that remains pervasive in our country, whether it be at the hands of the police, the healthcare system, or both.

While we cannot singlehandedly solve these larger societal problems, we will provide support and outlets for our campers so that they can process and decompress in a safe environment. The Quad’s long-term goal is to give the children the tools they need to thrive in a general education setting and in life beyond schooling.

Summer goals & excitement

My personal goals for the summer are to learn and implement new skills of my own, such as the various intervention techniques I am studying; learning how to map a child’s progress and structure a case study; making connections with other students and professionals in my field; getting a taste for the worlds of social work and school psychology; and finally, learning how to properly support kids who are struggling and finding solutions to support their unique needs.

After days of reading about my campers, I can’t wait to meet them when camp begins and to get to know them throughout the summer!

Post 1: My first month with the National Consumers League

Since early June, I have been working with the Health Policy department at the National Consumers League. NCL aims to “protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad” through a variety of programs and branches. I work with the department on a variety of issues, especially related right now to COVID-19. We’ve been working on several different projects surrounding vaccine hesitancy and opioid usage during the pandemic, among others. I chose to work with this particular section of NCL because I believe that right now, health and health care should be a priority of every American and every American government official. The current pandemic shows no signs of slowing down, and it’s become obvious that the people most impacted by the coronavirus are Black and BIPOC communities. The COVID-19 issue is a racial issue, a health issue, an economic issue, and ultimately a social justice issue. It appears that health and health care have not been made a priority by the U.S. government, so it’s important to have groups like NCL that are looking out for consumers and their best interests at this time. 

I’ve been working with NCL for almost a month now. In this time, I’ve written a blog on vaccine hesitancy and the unique challenge of COVID-19, done research on health-related issues that NCL is working on, and have assisted in multiple Zoom webinars either hosted by NCL or including remarks by NCL’s executive director, Sally Greenberg. I also helped in the steering committee that determined the winners of NCL’s “Script your future” challenge, who will be announced in the next couple of weeks!

Through this work, I’ve come to learn the way that the National Consumer’s League addresses the issues that they prioritize. For example, when it comes to vaccine hesitancy, NCL submits comments to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, who will then submit their official comments to the CDC. This will inform both organizations what NCL thinks about the impending coronavirus vaccine, and how they should approach immunization. NCL’s opinions are important since they directly voice the concerns and prioritizes of consumers around the nation. 

Over the course of the next month, I’d like to take on as much work as possible to help NCL further their goals. Since the government directly controls the “victories” in this particular area (health and health care), celebrations can be few and far between. I would like to help my department be as best informed about these issues as possible. My next area of research will be on state reopenings and their subsequent spikes in cases. We’ll be tracking three states in particular, and looking at how their case spikes are leading to more shutdowns. To me, these small steps mean ensuring that NCL has all of the tools necessary to ensure that the American public is well informed about the virus and all of its implications. I think the biggest “victory” would be to see another aid package pushed through the government, and a safe and effective vaccine developed. These are obviously huge goals that would be huge accomplishments, but I believe that with bipartisan support and prioritization of the health of the American people, they would eventually be possible.  

(This is not a health-related image, but here’s just one of the many “offices” I’ve adapted since starting my internship! While I wish I could be working in person, it’s been nice to be remote and be able to work anywhere. I’m lucky that my house and neighborhood have some great outdoor spaces to be in).

Post 1: Interning for The Right to Immigration Institute

Hello. My name is Wenjing Wynne Qin and I’m a rising senior at Brandeis University. This summer, I am interning for The Right to Immigration Institute in Waltham. The Right to Immigration Institute (TRII) is an independent 501(c)(3) organization that trains and supervises students and community leaders to represent immigrants in immigration proceedings, trials, and appeals, and immigrant communities in human rights causes, including but not limited to housing, employment, health care, education, hate crimes, and domestic violence.

I was originally fascinated by the ambition of TRII to provide a platform for undergraduates to participate in the legal system. After learning from students who work for TRII, I made my decision to apply for this internship because of my personal connection to its mission and my confidence that I could maximize my utility as an intern. This has been a tremendously difficult time, especially for the immigrant community, who will likely be disproportionally impacted by the pandemic. Therefore, any kind of help I can give to alleviate the burdens they are suffering from would be my primary goal for this internship.

During the pandemic, with all the courts delaying opening, many of the cases the institute was working on were frozen. Therefore, I have not been doing what I expected to do originally, including getting first-hand experience observing immigration lawyers dealing with immigration cases. Instead, I have been helping more with the general operation of the institute in relation to fundraising and administration.

The specific work I have been doing so far mainly involves research, including how minority–i.e., immigrants–communities have been disproportionally affected by the pandemic, and on the recent lawmaking change proposals of regulations regarding asylum. For the purpose of my research, I have attended several virtual trainings hosted by Hollaback. I tried to identify how Asian-Americans are being affected by hate crimes stimulated and further perpetuated by the pandemic, and what those discriminations look like. This research will be used by the institute to better understand how racial minorities have been affected by the pandemic. 

Slides from anti-harassment training

I have also been assigned the task of conducting research on the recent rule-making change proposed by the Department of Homeland Security. And, I have been doing research on future asylum seekers who would be negatively affected by the rule change, in order to help the Institute prepare its response. My research results will be used to form critical comments on the rule change and be reported back to the Department of Homeland Security.

 

Training slide from Defending Asylums in Court training

Because of the pandemic, everything has been out of the schedule, and there have been some communication problems here and there between me and my supervisors, I am trying my best to keep the schedule going forward. And, hopefully, I can be more involved in client-specific cases in the near future. There have been recent cases the institute is handling in regard to immigrants’ housing problems, and I plan to get involved in cases like this when any new case comes in.

Post 1: Political Activism with the Sierra Club – My First Weeks as an Intern

For the past several years, I’ve known that I wanted to work as a professional environmentalist. More than anything, I love being outdoors and find significant value in spending time in natural spaces. The idea that human behavior is driving climate change, and permanently altering the face of our planet – destroying ecosystems, exterminating wildlife, depleting natural resources, and making our communities unlivable – is deeply disturbing to me. However, I quickly discovered that protecting the environment for the sake of nature alone is impossible, and often problematic. Social issues including economic and racial injustices, access to healthcare and housing, and political participation are intimately connected to the environmental challenges our world is facing. Marginalized and oppressed populations are systematically exposed to greater environmental harm, have less access to environmental benefits, and as the effects of climate change worsen, they disproportionately bear the burden of our degraded world. Combating these injustices requires wide-scale political change, and the passage of progressive policies that simultaneously protect the environment and human rights.

Sierra Club is the largest grassroots environmental organization in the country, with nearly 100,000 members and volunteers in Massachusetts alone. They create environmental educational opportunities, promote access to nature by running outdoors trips for their members, and engage in political activism for issues relating to environmental justice. Most importantly, their mission is to “protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment,” centering human rights and social justice in their activism.

This summer, I’m working for the political arm of the Sierra Club, at their Massachusetts chapter, based in Boston. Their team and its members engage in political advocacy through several mechanisms, including organizing rallies, lobbying in the State House, phone banking and canvassing, and endorsing local politicians who reflect their values. As a political intern, I was assigned to work on the Erika Uyterhoeven campaign, a Sierra Club-endorsed candidate who is running for State Representative in the 27th Middlesex District, representing Somerville.

Erika Uyterhoeven’s endorsements, including Sierra Club. (This is a graphic I designed for a fundraising campaign).

Erika is a young, first-time candidate for elected office who is running on a progressive platform of structural reform, fighting for affordable housing, single-payer healthcare, fully-funded public education, a transparent democracy, and–most directly relevant to the Sierra Club–a Green New Deal for Massachusetts. She believes in a government that works for the many, not the few–referring to the powerful corporate interests that control our political systems and create social and economic injustices that leave marginalized and low-income populations behind. She is a grassroots activist for environmental causes, and her values and legislative aspirations closely reflect those of the Sierra Club. Therefore, as an emissary for the Sierra Club on her campaign, my role is to provide her with additional resources to help her win, ensuring that a progressive, environmentally-conscious candidate is elected.

My remote summer workspace

Due to the fact that State Representative races are typically small-scale and low-budget, Erika’s campaign staff is limited, and she relies heavily on volunteers and political organizations to assist with the leg-work of campaigning. This means that I am fortunate enough to play a fairly large role in the day-to-day work of the campaign. My tasks have included curating her social media strategy, organizing fundraisers and volunteer recruitment, engaging in phone banking (the primary form of voter contact, due to the constraints of COVID), drafting policy platforms, creating content for the campaign’s website, applying for additional endorsements, and participating in daily organizing calls with the campaign staff. The diversity of work I have been assigned, in several different policy areas, has already given me a well-rounded understanding of the dynamic challenges faced by a candidate for public office.

I have been given an opportunity to have hands-on exposure to environmental and political advocacy, and I have been made to feel as though my work will have a tangible impact on electing a candidate whose platform I truly believe in. Although the fast pace of politics has definitely involved a steep learning curve, I am grateful for the experiences this campaign has offered me, and I am learning that the seemingly minor tasks I am doing day-to-day are substantive contributions towards creating policy change.

Post 1: Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont’s Office

This summer I am working in the Office of Governor Ned Lamont in Constituent Services and External Affairs.

I started my internship about 2-3 weeks ago. Since we are not allowed in the building the experience is a little less than what I was expecting to get. Normally, we would have physical letters to go through, and proclamations to create, however, there is nowhere for anyone to mail in to and no machines to print proclamations. Therefore, we just sort emails all day.

A lot of people have many concerns during this time, ranging from COVID to police brutality. So far I’ve learned to respond to several types of emails on my own, one of them being people who have yet to receive their unemployment checks. I get about 100 emails to go through a week and if there are any I feel like I can’t respond to, my supervisor and I go over them together and he gives me further instructions. I’m actually getting to a point where he wants me to start drafting responses for myself and having him look over it. I just have to get used to the language used by the office and learn a lot more solutions.

One example of that is creating a “case”. This is when a constituent has emailed us with a problem significant enough for a course of action. I then would have to go online and create this case where I’m sending the email directly to a person who can solve this constituent’s problem. That said, our mission is to get through as many emails as possible so that we can help people with their problems in these rough times. Here is a website we send constituents for updates.

My goal by the end of this summer program is to familiarize myself with the different components of local government. When I went for my training back in December, the people in the office taught me so much about the local government it was crazy. I had no idea how oblivious I was to what my local government does due to the fact that everyone always has an eye on federal politics. However, I believe that if people want the machine that is the government to start working in their favor, they must master local politics. When I say master I mean become educated about its components and then utilizing them: emailing the governor, going to open sessions, protesting in the lobby, etc.

I chose to look for an internship in my city because, hopefully, when I become a lawyer, I want to work back home where I can help my people. This internship will not only get my foot in the door but it will give me a lot of the knowledge I need to eventually be able to make a change in my community. My supervisor is also pretty nice, he gives me a lot of room to ask questions and he works with me a lot to make sure I’m situated.

Post 1: My Internship at Wilson, Brock & Irby, Law LLC

Hello! My name is Roland Blanding, and I am a rising senior at Brandeis University. On campus, I am the president of the Men of Color Alliance, and the issues facing communities of color are of tremendous importance to me. One of my goals is to find a way to reverse the displacement of gentrification and find innovative ways of building mixed-income residential neighborhoods. I want to break the generational pattern of poverty by giving diverse communities access to home equity. Given that mission, I pursued and began my internship at Wilson, Brock & Irby, LLC in my hometown of Atlanta under Larry Dingle, one of the most prominent black lawyers in Georgia.

Wilson, Brock & Irby, LLC is a small law firm specializing in commercial real estate. They are based in Atlanta, but operate through the entirety of the state of Georgia. Their work ranges from massive infrastructure and commercial development contracts with the city of Atlanta to volunteer representation for small business owners and homeowners that would not usually be able to afford their fees. One of the reasons that the firm initially stuck out to me was their commitment to help service organizations find venues. For example, Mr. Dingle represented the Community Food Bank in their suit to open a new facility a few miles away from my home. Much of the work consists of understanding the intersections of government and businesses. This means conferencing with commercial clients, meeting with city officials, and drafting contracts that allow both parties to benefit. The goal of these conferences is often to rezone property, for example, from residential to commercial to allow the construction of a multifamily unit within the inner city. Conversely, for some especially unique tasks, like building a cell tower in the middle of the town—which would typically violate several building height limits—the firm requests to open a lease with the city, because municipal governments are immune from their own zoning rules. Every case is fresh and brings a new set of challenges.

This summer, my goals are to prepare for the LSAT and familiarize myself with case law, especially in the state of Georgia. Wilson, Brock & Irby, LLC gives me unique access to their library of cases at the district, state, and federal level that revolve around contracts, real estate, zoning, and land use. My day to day consists of video conferencing with the partners at the firm to review case law and the cases they are actively working on. I also manage the delivery of documents to and from the offices of officials in city hall and participate in conference calls with clients. Working at a law firm during coronavirus has been unique compared to last year because a lot of the work that lawyers do is in person, face-to-face. As a result, almost all the operations in the firm are being carried out through video conferences, to maintain the health and safety of the firm as well as their clients.

Post 1: Interning at the CARE Lab

My internship at the Cognition and Affect Research and Education (CARE) lab actually began in January, and I’ve been lucky enough to have the opportunity to continue what started off as a spring position into the summer. The lab operates within the Behavioral Health Partial Hospital Program (BHP), which is an intensive day program at McLean Hospital in Belmont, MA for those seeking treatment for various mental health issues, including mood, anxiety, thought, and personality disorders. It uses a behavioral therapy approach that provides comprehensive, skills-based treatment aimed at reducing a patient’s symptoms, improving their functioning, and transitioning to outpatient treatment, with the average length of treatment being three to ten business days.

The BHP

Besides the program itself, the BHP conducts extensive research (of which the CARE Lab is a large part) to improve the understanding and treatment of psychiatric disorders. It uses an integrative approach where research informs clinical practice, and clinical practice informs research. The program’s research focus includes predicting who will respond best to treatment, understanding why the treatment works, and developing new and innovative interventions based on that information. Patient data is collected through daily computerized self-report measures and a diagnostic interview, and this information is used to inform individualized case conceptualization and treatment planning, as well as assess treatment outcome, symptom severity, and more. The CARE Lab, which is more specifically where my internship is taking place, conducts research to identify cognitive and affective mechanisms underlying emotional disorders, translate those findings into new treatments, and implement those treatments in real-world clinical settings.

One of the projects I’m most involved with this summer is a cognitive control training (CCT) study for urgency. Urgency is the tendency to respond impulsively to strong emotions, and it’s closely tied to cognitive control, or the ability to resist impulses and make decisions based on one’s goals. The main aim of the study is to investigate whether a CCT intervention, involving brief computer tasks to improve memory and self-control, is feasible in a clinical setting and accepted by patients, as well as whether it improves cognitive control and impulsivity. While I was in-person during the spring semester, I was running participants through the study sessions, but over the summer I have already started to help with some preliminary analyses and aggregation of data in R and SPSS, which helps move the study toward the full analysis stage.

Another thing I’ll be working on this summer is my own independent project. It will likely evolve over time, but as of now, it will be looking at the relationships between distress tolerance, current emotional state, and cognitive performance. I’ll use data collected from the CCT study (both self-report and task data) to investigate whether distress tolerance and current emotional state independently or jointly relate to one’s performance on cognitive tasks involving working memory, response inhibition, and cognitive flexibility. Currently I am just at the beginning stages of it, doing reviews of the literature to see what’s already been studied, but as the summer progresses, I’ll progress in this project too.

In terms of my goals for the summer, I have two main ones. First, I plan to get a PhD in clinical psychology and eventually become a clinical neuropsychologist, so I hope to gain career related skills and experience, especially first-hand through my own research project. Second, I want to hone my collaboration skills and work with, and learn from, experts in the field I plan to pursue. I have one-on-one meetings with my supervisor and will also attend lab meetings, so that, combined with the actual content of my internship, will give me plenty of opportunities to achieve both of these goals.

– Jenna Sandler

Post 1: Building an “Everyone a Changemaker World” with Ashoka

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?” This quote from Martin Luther King has inspired me so many times throughout my life and is the reason why I chose to participate in the field of social justice.

This summer, I am interning with a nonprofit organization called Ashoka. Compare to other organizations, Ashoka has a rather unique mission and theory of change, that is, to build an “everyone a changemaker world,” and all of their programs and work revolve around this. Through establishing programs in more than ninety countries, Ashoka tries to accomplish its mission from three main approaches:

  1. Finding and supporting social entrepreneurs around the world by providing financial help, connections and consulting; Ashoka enables these entrepreneurs to make changes and address social issues such as unequal education and women’s rights.
  2. Partnering with major corporations, helping to evolve their organization model, culture and governance through various workshops, assessments and training. The goal of this is to make companies a powerful source of social change.
  3. Assisting the next generation to have critical skills regarding initiating social changes and social innovations through various programs such as Ashoka University and Ashoka Youth Venture.

I was drawn to Ashoka almost immediately when I saw it during my job search. To build an “everyone’s a changemaker world,” a world where all citizens are powerful contributors to positive changes, is something I’ve always envisioned but didn’t know how to realize. I chose to intern with Ashoka because I was impressed by the diversity of their programs and the scope of their impact. There are a lot of nonprofit organizations focusing on addressing one specific issue, and I definitely do recognize and appreciate the significance of them, but I’ve never seen any organization like Ashoka. Many may think Ashoka is being too ambitious, but in my perspective, great ambition is the first step toward great change.

Ashoka’s internship programs are very well-developed. Firstly, the interns working under the same branch or department of the organization will be put into a team, and they will be assigned a supervisor. You may think that since there’s a team, the team must be working on one project together, but that’s not the case in Ashoka, and that’s what I love about the organization. Even though the team meets several times weekly to share progress, everyone in the team actually got assigned their individual projects.

The project I’m working on in Ashoka is called knowledge management, that is, to develop a space for my department on Confluence, the internal platform Ashoka is using. The process of developing the space involves designing a structure for the layout of materials, organizing all the existing internal decks, and building out individual pages. Since Ashoka is a global organization with offices around the world, internal communication between different offices becomes especially important. With that being said, the purpose of the space I’m building is to provide a knowledge base where all materials are organized and shared logically, and the staffs can utilize the space to work more efficiently and effectively together. Even though my project is not associated with any of Asoka’s external facing programs, I do think there’s a significance to working on internal development, as it’s the backbone of every well-functioning organization.

Though due to the Covid-19 crisis, my internship in Ashoka was entirely remote, I have learned so many important skills and gained so many inspirations in the past four weeks. I believe the knowledge and lessons acquired here are broadly applicable to every aspect of my life and will benefit me enormously in the future.

Post 1: Helping Veterans Find Jobs Regardless of COVID

Recalling the moment when I submitted my resume at a virtual career fair, I realize that more than three months have passed. After I secured my internship opportunity, I tried to envision my tasks in the future, but the fact is that since the start of this internship, my experience has been truly unexpected and interesting.

The organization I am working for is Brave For Veterans Inc. It is a non-profit organization whose core mission is to contribute to veterans’ well-being by helping them secure self-sustaining employment. Brave closely collaborates with the state government, research institutions and other organizations to identify and provide career resources and services. Brave is also planning to launch business projects that gather funding to better support its own sustainability and fulfillment of its mission.

When I applied for this position at Brave, I was unsure about whether I could be offered the chance to work. However, I was pretty sure about why I wanted to give it a try. I have always wanted to apply what I learn to making an impact on society. Not only are veterans honorable individuals who I would like to support, but I can also relate the work at Brave to my major, which is economics. Researching the employment market can be meaningful and educational to me. In fact, as the virus continues to cause job losses across the country, finding employment has become a growing challenge for many, and it can be especially hard for veterans. Therefore, I hope what I am doing now with my colleagues at Brave can be helpful in this special time.

Screenshot from the current website

Currently, Brave is taking actions and trying to restructure its strategies according to the situations that are continuing to change due to the virus. We are looking at various data and statistics to predict the future and prepare for it. One thing we see is that as the economy starts to reopen, there will likely be an increasing demand of labor from the employers, but the competition in the labor market can be fierce. Many branches of Brave are working to further our mission in different areas of focus, including legislation, research, and communications etc.

My main task is to connect with potential employers that may be interested in hiring veterans, learn about their needs, and identify mutual benefits, while marketing the employment services that Brave provides. Through my work, I hope to help Brave form long-term strategic affiliations with employers.  My other task at the moment is, as Brave plans to rebuild its current website as a major platform for resources and promotional materials, I will help select information that will be posted on the website to maximize the marketing effect, which includes information about employers and strategic partners. We hope that this can assist in Brave’s core mission of helping veterans secure jobs.

Post 1: My Internship at United for a Fair Economy

This summer, I am interning at United for a Fair Economy. United for a Fair Economy is a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that supports social movements working towards a resilient, sustainable, and equitable economy. United for a Fair Economy addresses the social issues of economic inequality and the uneven wealth distribution that deepens the racial divide, tears communities apart, and corrupts democracy. The organization uses popular economics education, trainings, and creative communications to address these issues. United for a Fair Economy works closely with communities and specifically uses three programs to help support their mission: Economics for Everyone workshops, the Responsible Wealth Project, and the Inclusive Economy Project. Economics for Everyone workshops use the popular education methodology to engage movement leaders to democratically and collectively develop political analysis. The Responsible Wealth project engages business leaders, investors and people who fall within the top five percent of income/wealth in the U.S. to advocate for tax fairness policies. The Inclusive Economy project uses the Living Wage Network to connect and uplift employers who pay a living wage, and Raising Wages NC–a coalition of working people, unions, community organizations, faith leaders, and policy advocates–to help advocate for raising the minimum wage to a living wage for vulnerable communities. 

I choose to work at United for a Fair Economy because I agree with the mission and understand the importance of economic inequality and its detrimental relationship towards upward mobility. Having experienced how economic injustice and unfair policies negatively impact lives,  I am passionate about economic justice and would like to continue to work towards social justice in the nonprofit sector. I value education, community building, and political advocacy as important pathways too. I found UFE to be a model nonprofit organization that holds the same values that I do. I admire the organization’s work and how they put great emphasis on working with communities. I believe that through an internship with United for a Fair Economy, I can learn more about the development and planning it takes to work towards economic justice. 

Jeannette Huezo, the Executive Director & Popular Educator, and I during our meeting!

This summer, I am the development intern working closely with the fundraising and operations associate, Morgan Cowie-Haskell, and the resource mobilization director, Sara Sargent. I am primarily tasked with managing the database and tracking donations, making thank-you calls to donors, writing blog posts, and assisting with website updates. My work this summer will help further the organization’s mission because, as a nonprofit organization, donations and visibility are extremely important to operations. As I help increase visibility for UFE and help with database and donations, I help UFE better organize their operations and fundings. 

I enjoy working alongside all the team members and learning more about the workplace environment. I am excited to continue working with United for a Fair Economy this summer!

 

The team and I during our bi-weekly staff meeting!

Thank you Brandeis University’s World of Work fellowship for allowing me to do this work!

-Jermeelah

Post 1: Interning at Speech Pathology Private Practice

I am interning for My Speech Matters, a speech therapy private practice for adults and children. I have aspirations to become a speech pathologist and would like to get insight into the working of a private practice and how they cater to NYC students. However, those who might have access to these things are still slighted. According to “NYC’s Special Education Crisis” written by Kevin Mahnken for The 74 Million, 50,000 NYC students were denied “students were denied special education services to which they were legally entitled in the 2016–17 school year.” Mahnken goes on to note that this is ¼ of city children who ultimately did not participate in the programs they were meant to take part in.

IEPs, or Individualized Educational Programs, is a document developed for each U.S. public school child who needs special education. Mahnken continues to give figures on just how many schools have IEPs and implement strategy from initial consultation. They note that 180,000 of NYC’s 1.1 million schools have IEPs. However, 23% of those are partially receiving those services and 4% were not receiving them at all. Though these numbers have grown compared to previous years, they have not grown enough. 

At My Speech Matters licensed, speech therapists have extended knowledge in the field and provide speech services to students attending DOE schools and private schools. While this does not completely correct the insufficient care that some may be receiving inside of their schools, it does work to acknowledge the need for a better IEP program overall. Parents are not directly involved in in-school sessions between students and therapists. These sessions may also be group sessions in which students may not be catered to individually.

The questions of why isn’t every student who is in need of the services being evaluated properly through IEPs, and why are some students not getting the services they need are still present. There is also worry about the quality and timeliness of the services that students who are “fully receiving” services recommended through IEP receive. In the 2016-2017 school year “4,500 students had to wait more than 60 days — roughly one-fifth of a 10-month school year — for an IEP meeting after an initial evaluation.” Students who have learning impediments such as ADHD, autism, deafness, and speech related conditions miss out on the services that can be significantly aiding in their learning. 

In recent news, amidst the pandemic, schools have naturally curtailed many services as the transition to virtual classroom learning in its initial stages are presented to be arcane and challenging. Special education programs have bared the brunt of these cutbacks. It is important to acknowledge that many students do not have access to technology at home as they would in the classroom. Just how services like occupational therapy and speech therapy will now be provided remotely has been under consideration. According to Alex Zimmerman in “NYC Gives the OK to shrink special education services amid coronavirus upheaval” for Chalkbeat some were concerned as to how meticulous educators will be about special education programs granted they were not obliged to replicate the classroom setting. 

Some child sessions with My Speech Matters are essentially, outside-of-the-school sessions for students whose schools do not have in-house speech therapists. Most of the IEPs that these young children come to sessions with are watered down, and do not genuinely reflect the unique needs of the students. We can look towards the overwhelming need for supplemental educational services and underwhelming, unmatched supply. During these times My Speech Matters has been giving teletherapy sessions to all, and while they may not look 100% like in person sessions, they work to continue this need despite the shutting down of schools.

I have been able to sit in on many of these sessions with children who attend public NYC schools and take notes on the session basics, cataloging any questions that I may have. Issues with technology will always be an issue, but the sessions I observe work to further the organization’s implied mission of bringing the appropriate services to those who rightfully need them. 

My Speech Matters is continuing to have speech therapy sessions through telecommunication.
My Speech Matters is continuing to have speech therapy sessions through telecommunication.

I will continue to observe these sessions which have been supplemented by collecting information on parent groups, and school speech pathologists in the area in hopes of piecing together my introduction into this internship. These are only small steps. The real change will come once the DOE takes IEPs seriously and once the services provided are all encompassing and do not turn away students based on bias or perceived lack of need.

Post 1: Virtually Building a Hospital in Bukwo, Uganda

This summer I am interning at Love4Bukwo Regional Hospital in Bukwo, Uganda. For years, the people of Bukwo have had to travel more than two hours into Kenya to seek out healthcare in hospitals. However, sometimes they would be unable to make it all the way to the hospital. The founders of Love4Bukwo have made it their mission to create a hospital bringing accessible services and healthcare workers directly to the town. No longer would the people of Bukwo be required to (sometimes unsuccessfully) drive two hours on treacherous unpaved roads. They would instead they would have immediate access to hospital health services in their own backyard.

Love4Bukwo Regional Hospital

I chose to intern at this organization for a few reasons. I am a rising senior majoring in International and Global Studies as well as Health: Science, Society, and Policy, and combining international work and community healthcare was very important to me. Another reason I chose to work with this organization is that after graduation I hope to be a Community Health Volunteer with the Peace Corps. Working with Love4Bukwo would allow me to combine my two courses of study and provide me with valuable work experiences applicable to being in the Peace Corps.

My main project is to work on developing an extensive set of policies and procedures for the hospital to use when it is fully operational. However, there are many issues that need to be addressed for the hospital to be operational, so I am assisting however I can virtually. Already, I have contributed to the application for the USAID Limited Excess Property Program, a program designed to support overseas development and humanitarian aid programs. As individuals in Bukwo have been working to continue construction onsite, I have begun posting daily updates about the work they are doing there.

Although I am unfortunately not in Bukwo this summer as planned, the work that I am doing will greatly impact the organization. While COVID has greatly affected life globally, it has been particularly difficult for the people of Bukwo, as they typically rely on having open borders with Kenya to get resources from their neighboring country. Facility construction on site had to be halted for an extended period due to the closed border because of COVID. Right now, my job is to work on projects that can be implemented virtually while also helping out wherever my supervisors need help.

The video is from a volunteer able to travel and help with the hospital.

Building a fully operational hospital is difficult. Contributing to the development of building a fully operational hospital thousands of miles away definitely has its difficulties. However, I know that the work that I am doing for Love4Bukwo will be beneficial for when the hospital opens, as it will address many socioeconomic issues in Bukwo. Progress takes a long time and Love4Bukwo knows it, but complications like COVID will not stop the hospital from opening. Love4Bukwo Regional Hospital is focused on the long-term effects of opening the hospital and the lives that will change with having access to healthcare in town.

Post 1: My Internship at The Valera Lab

This past year I was a Lurie Undergraduate Fellow in Disability Policy Research at the Heller School where I was mentored in research practices and studied the relationship between opioid use and traumatic brain injury (TBI). While conducting a literature review, I encountered fascinating articles written by Dr. Eve Valera at The Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging. The Valera Lab’s impactful work resonated with me as I have a pre-conceived notion that the field of academic and clinical research is driven by producing papers and garnering recognition, however this lab goes out of their way to ensure that their work directly helps the population that they are researching. After discovering that the lab is located nearby in Charlestown, MA, I reached out to Dr. Valera in hopes to join her lab’s very important work. Shortly thereafter, I was offered the position of a research intern for summer 2020 and gratefully accepted this amazing opportunity.

The Valera Lab, affiliated with the psychiatry department at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, studies TBIs caused by intimate partner violence. This lab utilizes MRIs, blood tests, and other biological indicators as primary data. However, in light of COVID, the lab has switched its typical activities to an online interview protocol, and I assist in conducting interviews with women who have sustained TBIs as a result of IPV. These interviews consist of surveys regarding alcohol and drug use, traumatic brain injury, relationship history, and intimate partner violence. Furthermore, I also administer computerized neurocognitive examinations and balance testing. My work conducting interviews will allow for greater understanding of the cognitive, emotional, and behavioral manifestations of IPV in women.

I work with the P.I., Dr. Eve Valera, the clinical research coordinator, and two other student interns, one of which joined at the same time as me. Everyone in the lab feels so passionately about the study of traumatic brain injuries caused by intimate partner violence. There is a diverse pool of knowledge and experience in the field between the five of us. As of now, we have spent a great deal of time practicing the administration of study screener interviews and running the protocol of the study. I do all of my practicing and training with the other new intern, Sarah. It has been lovely to train alongside someone else my age who is also excited about what we are studying. Although I am very sad that I do not get to spend time with my lab, especially my co-intern Sarah, I feel grateful that we are still able to form connections and share this experience. Here is a photo of a Zoom meeting with Sarah, myself, and the clinical research coordinator, Annie!

Screenshot of a Zoom meeting with my co-intern Sarah, the clinical research coordinator, Annie, and myself.

Coming into this internship I had two primary goals. First, to learn more about the neurobiological manifestations of traumatic brain injury. Second, I hope to learn how to work in a collaborative environment with other researchers, as in my prior research internship I was the only person working under my research mentor.

I am so excited to continue this awesome work and to see what I accomplish this summer. I would like to thank Brandeis University’s World of Work fellowship for allowing me to do this work.

– Maddy Pliskin

Post 1: Compassionate and Creative Counsel at the Legal Aid Society

The Legal Aid Society is a nonprofit organization that offers legal assistance to indigent clients in the city of New York through myriad practice areas. LAS works to help clients through direct legal representation, legal advocacy, and partnerships with many internal and external social services. Speaking more abstractly, LAS represents, in my opinion, the best of what legal aid can be: a holistic approach to counsel that puts the client in the best position to not only win their case, but to feel supported in other aspects of their life during, and often after, the period in which their case is being fought. This means that clients are connected to any number of social services they may need, including medical, physiological, housing, and  monetary support. Lawyers may call to just check up on the client–and really listen. Employees constantly push each other to be the best advocates they can be, through trainings, talk, and honest conversation. This holistic and compassionate approach to counsel is what I love about LAS, and why I was so excited to intern here!

I am working for the Immigration Unit at LAS. The first two weeks were spent in trainings, which really shows how dedicated the organization is to ensuring that every part of the organization is operating to the best of its ability. We got crash courses in all types of immigration-related topics, as well as trainings on case management and ethical lawyering.

I have two supervising lawyers who give me all different sorts of assignments. Like you’d expect, some of my time is spent filling out paperwork. It is less tedious than it sounds, as that means I get to call clients and ask for information, which is great practice. This also allows me opportunities to check up on them, which I enjoy. I am also working on a creative video project for an asylum case. This includes corresponding with the client and her family, editing the video, and writing a memo to document the legal precedent for such evidence. I am also interviewing a client for a Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) petition, a special type of protective immigrant status, and writing her affidavit. Additionally, I am working to compile evidence to demonstrate how the Chinese government contributes to the negative treatment of citizens with mental health issues. As a side project, I work to help clients answer their unemployment-related questions, and I will soon be working on DACA applications. Other than that, it is just small tasks here and there.

Like any nonprofit, LAS is very “all hands on deck.” In that way, every task I do helps the organization run as smoothly as possible. I definitely don’t feel like my work is getting lost in the mix. Everything I do feels like it has a direct and concrete purpose.  I hope I am furthering the mission of the organization by showing clients compassion, patience, and care during our interactions.

Progress doesn’t look like any one thing. Progress takes form in getting a client on Medicaid, or gaining enough trust to have them open up about really painful things. Progress takes form in the constant email chains on the LAS server where advocates push each other to be better. Progress is also a Supreme Court decision like that of DACA. Progress means combating negative changes to immigration laws, and in doing so creating a better future for all immigrants and native-born Americans.

To anyone reading who is able, I urge you to submit a comment ( by July 15th) to tell the Administration that the newly proposed asylum regulations, aimed to dismantle asylum as we know it, are disgusting and despicable. To learn more, look here, and to comment, look here.

Post 1: My Internship at Ecomingling

Eco:Mingling, the non-profit start-up organization I am interning for this summer, is a Sustainability Accelerator. This means that the organization both creates and cultivates environmentally-focused coalitions. These coalitions are formed by uniting environmentally-driven businesses, organizations, grass-roots movements, educational facilities, municipalities, and academics by focusing them all on one collective sustainable initiative. By uniting stakeholders from different backgrounds, Ecomingling is able to create the right conditions for sustainable change. Located in Tel Aviv, Israel, but rapidly expanding to the rest of the country, Ecomingling encourages connection and interactivity in a way that makes Israel’s sustainability sector much greater than the sum of its parts. Click here to visit the Ecomingling website!

Ecomingling’s current project is the creation and maintenance of Israel’s first and only anti-plastic coalition, called the Israeli Plastic Pollution Prevention Coalition (IPPPC). Because Ecomingling is a start-up and the establishment of this coalition is Ecomingling’s first major project, there is endless work that needs to be done. My principal responsibility has been creating and upholding all social media for both Ecomingling and the coalition itself. Click here to visit the Israeli Plastic Pollution Prevention Coalition website!

My largest project thus far has been creating and working on two separate Facebook pages: one for Ecomingling and the other for the Israeli Plastic Pollution Prevention Coalition. One aspect of this task is organizing the layouts of each page. This aspect of the job includes, but is not limited to, the creation and publication of cover photos and profile pictures, choosing which tabs to display and filling in the relevant information, drafting and posting the “About” sections, linking “Call to Action” buttons on each pages’ home screens, and much more. 

Another responsibility of managing the social media campaigns for both Ecomingling and the coalition is researching, drafting, and posting all content that is published on both pages. One aspect of this job is choosing the correct graphic to include in each post. Here are some images that I have included in the posts/ have helped to create:

I have created many Excel Spreadsheets to organize the schedules and information regarding both pages. For instance, I have a spreadsheet schedule for each Facebook page that includes the date, time, text (in Hebrew and in English), and hashtags for every post. I have another schedule spreadsheet that contains all the research I have compiled of various Facebook groups and pages that Ecomingling or the IPPPC can post in to promote their page visibilities. I have another spreadsheet that contains a list of all of the coalition member organizations, along with the contact information (name, email address, and phone number) for each of their social media coordinators. I use other spreadsheets to track when coalition members post on behalf of the coalition and to schedule the coalition’s “Spotlight” posts, in which we highlight the particularly unique or beneficial work being done by a coalition member. Overall, this job includes a lot of planning ahead and endless communication with various individuals involved with either Ecomingling or the IPPPC.

I know that my work on establishing, sustaining and enhancing the social media presence of both Ecomingling and the IPPPC will significantly impact both groups in a positive way. We live in a time where businesses must use social media to build their reputation, remain accessible to their clients, and showcase everything they have to offer. 

One of my goals this summer is to hone my written communication skills. Operating two social media campaigns has forced me to challenge my typical writing habits and thus enhance my writing skills in a new way. Another goal I have is to learn more about environmental start-up organizations. I have already witnessed and learned so much about the various aspects and challenges of running a start-up organization and I look forward to learning even more. I am also particularly interested in the environmental aspect of this organization, and I hope to learn more about what it means to be a true environmentalist throughout the course of this internship. 

Post 1: First few weeks

I have been working at Ms. (Ms. Magazine) for three weeks now, and I’ve been really enjoying the opportunities the internship has presented thus far. Ms. is based in Los Angeles, but of course, my internship is remote. It’s been interesting to work on the East Coast but with an organization in Pacific time; I’ve had to learn how to restructure my day to make sure that I am online during relevant hours. While doing that, I am still trying to maintain home life with my family and non-work activities. 

Ms. is a national publication founded by Gloria Steinem in 1972. In 2001, ownership of the publication was transferred to the Feminist Majority Foundation. The Ms. Classroom program makes Ms. a prominent resource on college campuses, and the online and print magazine strives to provide in-depth reporting on feminist issues and information. 

My work consists primarily of writing and editing for the online publication. Since starting the internship, two articles of mine have been published. The first was titled “100 Years of Women Voting Means Defending the Right to Vote for All.” In the course of writing and researching for it, I was able to explore both historical and current issues, and my academics in American studies and journalism really helped me in writing and researching the piece. My second piece was the first issue of a bi-weekly column I’m co-writing with another intern. The column is called “Tools of the Patriarchy,” and the first issue was on naming (how women traditionally take their husband’s last names after marriage). Co-writing has been a great experience so far and writing this column has allowed me to do some in-depth research on patriarchal systems/tools while learning about cooperative teamwork in a really hands-on way. 

In addition to writing my own pieces (and co-writing pieces), a large part of my responsibilities involve editing pieces for the online publication. I really enjoying editing tasks; as editing others’ work helps me improve my own writing skills. It’s also helpful to act as a contributor to the larger team effort of putting a publication together. As the internship progresses, my work will also involve fact-checking for the print magazine, working on Ms. social media, learning more about journalism in general and gaining professional skills to that end. 

My academic goal for the internship is to gain hands-on experience in American journalism to apply to my studies as an American studies major and a journalism minor. My career goal for the internship is to gain experience in a professional journalistic environment, something I already feel that I am experiencing only a few weeks in.

Even remote, the internship is a serious endeavor (in the best way possible). I have been able to imagine what a full-time career in journalism would look like and it makes me excited to pursue a career in this field. Finally, my personal goal for this internship is to improve my own journalistic and non-fiction writing and to gain experience writing with an activist lens. Already, I am making great strides towards this goal with the editing work I am doing and the feedback I have received. I’m also learning so much about feminism and how to appropriately incorporate that into my writing. 

Post 1: Building a Better System for Survivors at Jane Doe, Inc.

This summer, I have the privilege of remotely interning with Jane Doe, Inc. in Boston, MA. Jane Doe, Inc. is a non-profit that seeks to create change by addressing root causes of domestic and sexual violence, as well as promoting justice, safety, and healing for survivors. JDI has three strategies in tackling the injustice of gender-based violence: advocacy, collaboration, and innovation. JDI advocates for state and federal legislation and funding that benefit the lives of SA/DV survivors, as well as for public and private systems to improve access to services, resources, and justice. Right now, they especially focus on protections for incarcerated survivors in MA during COVID-19, and intersecting economic and racial justice for marginalized communities in the Greater Boston area. JDI also promotes collaboration between member organizations to create innovative solutions and improve the lives of survivors. JDI works alongside partners like the ACLU of Massachusetts and the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence. This coalition works towards common goals to break down institutional barriers that survivors face. Some preventative projects that JDI has worked on with partners include the #ReimagineManhood campaign, the #MeToo initiative, and #RESPECTfully in collaboration with Mass.gov. 

During my walks around the city, I usually end up at one of my favorite spots: Quincy Market!

Like other WOW Social Justice Fellows, I was interested in joining an organization that was committed to promoting solutions for issues between society and individuals. At Brandeis, I am majoring in Politics and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and minoring in Legal Studies. I wanted to find an organization that covered the intersection of my academic course of study: advocating for women’s rights within legal, public policy, and social justice fields. JDI is a perfect combination of all my academic and personal interests. They also go beyond these areas to cover all the complex intersections of attaining gender equality, such as race, economics, housing, immigration, and others. The inclusive environment of my (virtual) workspace is incredibly uplifting. As an Arab-Muslim woman, working in this type of professional setting was highly important to me during my internship search. 

Here’s my workspace for the summer. Remote work calls for lots of natural light and a good view!

Throughout the first month of my internship, I have been working on numerous projects within a variety of departments. With the support of the rest of the team, I plan to dedicate my time and energy to working on two main projects while at JDI. One is researching and crafting an op-ed on the sexual abuse to prison pipeline and the necessity to reallocate Massachusetts state funding towards decarceration. I am also developing a panel event  on multiple truths in sexual assault survivors’ identities and voting decisions in the 2020 elections. This event arose from my frustration regarding the political injustice and degradation of survivors in conversations around the upcoming elections. Before coming to JDI, I had no idea how to craft substantial change on this issue. Now, within my role, I am working to host this virtually later in the summer to validate survivors’ experiences at the polls and beyond. Alongside these projects, I collaborate with other members of the JDI staff on smaller-scale projects, which are more long-term and work towards permanent progress. These include tracking domestic violence-related homicides in Massachusetts, writing personal narratives for each victim with the Director of Communications & Development, and updating JDI’s Civic Engagement Toolkit with the Policy and Advocacy Team. 

Stocking up on Modern Pastry’s cannolis!

Although my internship this summer is remote due to COVID-19, being a WOW fellow has enabled me to experience this incredible opportunity while living in Boston’s North End! When I’m not working indoors, I’m out taste-sampling cannolis at various bakeries, shopping at Italian grocers, and taking long walks around the city. To settle the age-old debate: yes, Modern Pastry’s cannolis are better than Mike’s.

Post 1: Barriers to Combating Intimate Partner Violence During COVID-19 Are Even More Prevalent in Jewish Communities

“Domestic violence is a sign of anger issues.”

“The safest thing to do in an abusive relationship is just to leave.”

“Violence and abuse don’t happen in loving relationships.” 

These statements are some of the countless beliefs held by many people about intimate partner violence. In fact, domestic violence is about power and control, not anger. The most lethal time in an abusive relationship is when one party tries to leave. And violence can occur even when two partners truly love and care for one another.  

Dinah is a nonprofit organization founded in 2018 that trains volunteer attorneys to work with Jewish clientele to handle myriad legal matters associated with intimate partner violence. Dinah educates communities on how to be a better first responder to domestic violence and advocates to leaders inside and outside of synagogues to best support community members in need.

There are many different types of domestic violence, and intimate partner violence is only one of them. This abuse can take many shapes such as physical abuse, emotional/psychological abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, financial abuse, and spiritual abuse.  While there are many organizations around the world that focus on helping victims of intimate partner violence, very few provide a particular intervention method designed for Jewish women suffering the effects of such violence. In addition, The Jewish community in general experiences domestic violence at the same rate as the national average (about 25%), but Jewish survivors stay in relationships 5-7 years longer than the average. This is partially due to the fact that Jewish women are “the least likely of any ethnic or religious group to utilize available resources or implement self-help remedies such as women’s shelters, support groups or social services,” according to Adam H. Koblenz writing in the Maryland Law Journal. 

The America that we see ravaged by COVID-19 is uncharted territory for everyone, including organizations, both Jewish and secular, that work to prevent domestic violence. Across America, many family courts and supreme courts are open, but they conduct most cases remotely and in general are hearing limited cases. Jewish law requires divorced couples to get a get, or a Jewish marital divorce contract, but many Batei Dinim (Jewish legal courts) are putting gittim on hold until the pandemic is over. In my short time working for Dinah so far this summer, I have gained a greater understanding of how COVID-19 further complicates the issue of domestic violence in both the religious and secular worlds. I am currently working on the organization’s social media presence and creating programming about healthy relationship practices for middle school and high school students.

Anyone from any walk of life can experience intimate partner violence, but Jewish women often face unique challenges when seeking help. Jewish tradition dictates that the social and religious realms belong to the man, whereas the hearth and home are the realms of women, and thus women are to perform the tasks that maintain the family’s health and happiness, and to support the growth of the children. There are so many more barriers to leaving abusive relationships in both religious and secular Jewish communities, including laws surrounding Shalom Bayit or peace in the home, Get refusal, and Mesirah or getting other Jews in trouble and stigmas such as lashon harah, or being labeled as a shonda. With these barriers in mind, Dinah works to ensure that no Jew is alone when facing domestic violence. 

Post 1: Working with System-Involved High School Students in Boston

This summer, I am grateful to have the opportunity to work for the H.O.P.E. (High Expectations, Opportunities, Purposeful Pathways, and Encouragement) Institute with the Boston Mayor’s Office Director of Strategic Initiatives, Janelle Ridley. This is just one of the many incredible projects for Black and Brown youth in Boston that Ridley has spearheaded.  This program, implemented by the Office of Public Safety, is still in its nascency. However, it makes a major impact on at-risk youth in the Boston area. All forty program participants are referred to us by the Boston District Attorney’s Office. This program works with youth who individually are identifying challenges and barriers that they see as stumbling blocks along their journey. Each student works both independently and collectively to bring forth solutions and strategies based on their personal circumstances. These particular youth, who are faced with challenges, traumas, and conditions, are directly effected by environmental and generational disparities and systemic oppression. This program gives disadvantaged youth a special opportunity they may not otherwise receive. 

Through this program, each student will gain both professional and academic skills, in addition to their personal development. The H.O.P.E. Institute has partnered with faculty and staff from seven Boston-area institutions (including the Heller School at Brandeis) that will create and lead workshops such as learning about the social determinants of health, ethics and morals, and community building through storytelling. 

By the end of the program, students will be given the opportunity to become research assistants and lived-expert interns with the colleges they worked with all summer. Finally, the students will receive training from the Northeastern University Center for Sport and Society in the Mentoring in Violence Prevention (MVP) Curriculum. The primary goal of the H.O.P.E. Institute and the Office of Public Safety  is to institute violence intervention and prevention programs and policies in Boston neighborhoods, and this program is starting where it can make the most impact: with the youth. They’ll be able to share what they learned and give back to their communities in an effective manner once they’ve completed the program. 

As an intern, I assist with the overall development and oversight of the program alongside my boss. I meet with the other interns, my boss, and our partners weekly to discuss plans for the program while ensuring that they meet the standards we’ve set. I also designed the podcasting project the students will conduct throughout the duration of the program. Furthermore, I assist with scheduling, planning, and coordination among all parties involved, since communication is essential to a large operation like this. Finally, I help in any way I can. For example, a project I was tasked with recently was creating an informational flyer to present to the District Attorney’s Office that could be distributed to the parents of the program participants. At the end of the day, whatever my boss needs me to do for the program, I take care of it. 

The informational flyer I created that was presented to the Boston District Attorney’s Office!

I wanted to work for this program this summer because it is making a legitimate change in the world. Even if it is on a small scale, and just in Boston, you never know what the participants of the Hope Institute will do after the program is over. They might become doctors, lawyers, Nobel Prize winners, or scientists. The possibilities are endless. What I love about this program’s mission is that it’s giving the students a chance at something bigger than their neighborhoods in Boston. I’ve quickly learned over the last few weeks that the willingness to cooperate is the first step that leads to change on a larger-scale. There are many offices, organizations, and universities that are involved in making this project successful. Every party’s full effort and desire to make a difference will undoubtedly lead to the change the program sets out to make. What does that change look like? In this particular setting, you’ll see it by the end of the summer or in a few years when the program participants are accomplishing great things in this world.