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Meet the 2015 Youth in International Development and Foreign Affairs Interns!
Neelam Dhadankar received her Bachelor in Psychology and minored in political science at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Currently, she is a first year graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and pursuing a Master of Social Work (MSW). Neelam plans to continue her graduate studies and will apply to the MPH (Masters of Public Health) program in the fall of this year.
Neelam has a strong passion for social causes, including advocating for people with disabilities. Her advocacy work focuses on the rights of people with disabilities in the areas of education and employment. As an intern at the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), Neelam started a blog for the PROMISE program, which helps youth with disabilities between the ages of 14-16 gain community-based employment. Through her blog she empowers, educates, and encourages youth with disabilities to become proactive and improve their quality of life through educational and employment opportunities.
In the future, Neelam hopes to work in the field of policy to make a positive impact on the lives of people with disabilities and other disadvantaged groups. In addition, she is working on a project to start an accessible school for people with disabilities in India. Neelam has been working on this project for a while and is determined to start a school someday, and make an impact globally through education.
In the summer of 2015, Neelam will be completing her internship at World Learning, which works to empower people and strengthen institutions through education, development, and exchange programs.
Connect with Neelam Dhadankar via her LinkedIn profile at:
Callie Frye is completing her graduate degree at DePaul University in International Public Service this summer. She completed her bachelor’s degree at Gallaudet University with a major in International Government and a minor in French. After her internship experience at Cameroon Deaf Empowerment Organization (CDEO) in Cameroon, Ms. Frye became inspired to pursue a career in advocating for disability inclusion in humanitarian assistance, especially in refugee care. She knows intermediate French, basic Italian, and is currently learning Russian. She is also fluent in International Sign and in American Sign Language. She plans to pursue a career in international disability inclusion within the humanitarian assistance and refugee care sectors.
During the summer of 2015, Callie will complete her internship at Handicap International, which supports people with disabilities and other vulnerable populations living in conflict and disaster zones and in situations of exclusion and extreme poverty.
Connect with Callie Frye via her LinkedIn profile at:
Lisa Guerra is from the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas and is a recent graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor in History and a minor in Government. Currently, Lisa is working for the Austin Independent School District as a long-term substitute teacher. She hopes to start graduate school in the fall of 2015 in the School of Social Work at UT Austin, specializing in Community and Administrative Leadership. Lisa is passionate about social justice and hopes to work with policymakers to reduce the culture of victim blaming in the legal system.
During her undergraduate studies, Lisa was involved in student government as the Advocacy Policy Director and pushed for accessibility on campus for all students. Lisa was a member of various committees, and completed an internship with the Intellectual Entrepreneurship Consortium. She also worked with pepnet 2 as an undergraduate research assistant.
Lisa is currently serving as President of the Texas Latino Council of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and is a member of the planning committee for the 2016 National Deaf People of Color Conference.
In the summer of 2015, Lisa will be an intern with the International Foundation of Electoral Systems, a non-profit development organization that has helped citizens from more than one hundred countries participate in free and fair elections.
Connect with Lisa Guerra via her LinkedIn profile at: http://www.linkedin.com/in/lisaguerra
Dylan Hedtler-Gaudette is currently a student at the Northeastern University College of Professional Studies where he is pursuing a Master of Science in Global Studies and International Relations with a concentration in conflict resolution. Dylan earned bachelor degrees in Political Science and Economics with a concentration in international studies from the University of Southern Maine.
Dylan is both blind and hard of hearing; he grew up in the Portland, Maine area prior to moving to Boston, Massachusetts, in order to attend graduate school. His professional experiences have ranged from working for civil society organizations based in New York City devoted to preventing mass atrocities, working for his local American Civil Liberties Union branch, and working as a research associate at the Muskie School of Public Service Justice Policy Center.
Dylan intends to continue his pursuit of social justice and human rights through international development, advocacy, and the prevention of conflict through the promotion of sustainable peace in the developing world. This pursuit could land Dylan at the United Nations or the United States Department of State, or with a civil society organization dedicated to the mission of social justice. Dylan also plans on pursuing a Doctorate in International Relations in the near future.
Outside of his academic and professional endeavors, Dylan is an avid fitness enthusiast and experiments with cuisines from all regions and areas of the world.
In the summer of 2015, Dylan will complete his internship at Legacies of War, an organization that works to address the impact of conflict in Laos during the Vietnam War era, including removal of unexploded ordnance.
Connect with Dylan Hedtler-Gaudette via his LinkedIn profile at
Justine “Justice” Shorter
After two years as a staff writer for GUMBO Teen Magazine, Justine Shorter became the publication’s first legally blind editor-in-chief. As the host of an award-winning college radio show, The Voice of Justice, she covered everything from blackface minstrelsy to women’s rights.
In the summer of 2009, Justice served as lead teacher for a program she created at Urban Day Middle School that teaches middle school students advanced writing and public speaking. In the summer of 2011 she traveled to Cape Town, South Africa where she studied Community Development and Social Entrepreneurship. Simultaneously, she completed an internship for the South African NGO Coalition and the Voice of the Cape radio station. Enlightened by her experiences abroad, Justice chose to study Peace & Post Conflict Reconciliation in the summer of 2012 in Uganda and Rwanda where she observed how inclusive development can be used to alleviate the effects of poverty.
Justice graduated from Marquette University in 2012 with a Bachelor in Journalism, with specializations in Justice & Peace Studies as well as entrepreneurship. During her first year out of college, she worked with two youth groups on social innovation projects aimed at addressing community problems through advocacy and entrepreneurship.
Justice is presently pursuing her Master in Sustainable Development: International Policy & Management at SIT Graduate Institute in Washington DC. She intends to soon launch JustUs, LLC, an advocacy communications firm designed to support policy reform.
During the summer of 2015, Justine will complete her internship at Women Enabled International, which promotes the inclusion of women and girls with disabilities in international resolutions, policies, and programs.
Connect with Justine “Justice” Shorter via her LinkedIn profile at
A proud native of Oklahoma, Austin Slaymaker is currently a Master in Public Policy candidate at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, concentrating in International and Global Affairs. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Oklahoma’s David L. Boren College of International Studies, he studied abroad with the University of Virginia’s Semester at Sea program. Before graduate school, Austin worked for three legislative sessions as an analyst for the State of Oklahoma’s Office of State Finance, advising the Governor’s office on legislative and fiscal policy implications in the areas of natural resources, education, and economic development. Austin is in preparation for a career in the United States Foreign Service.
Austin will complete his USICD program internship this summer with the U.S. Department of State in the Office of Development Finance.
Connect with Austin via his Linkedin profile at https://www.linkedin.com/in/austinslaymaker
Meet the 2014 Youth in International Development and Foreign Affairs Interns!
The USICD team is excited to host its second cohort of eight interns in our Youth in International Development and Foreign Affairs internship program this summer, which is supported by the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation (MEAF). USICD's internship program is meant to inspire youth involvement in international affairs and development careers. It is targeted at students with disabilities from across the United States who share a commitment to careers in the field of international development or international affairs. The program is one way USICD has been working to strengthen the mainstreaming of a disability perspective in all US foreign affairs issues.
Kathryn Carroll is a graduate of St. John’s University School of Law. While a law student, she interned at international consulting firm BlueLaw International LLP, as well as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. She received her B.A. in International Studies from American University in 2010. She has studied abroad several times, at the University of Oslo in Norway, the Norwegian School of Management, and Sciences Po in Paris, France. She has also participated in an abroad program with Mobility International-USA.
Kathryn spends much of her free time with advocacy organizations for people with disabilities. Most recently, she served on the executive board of the National Association of Law Students with Disabilities and as board member for a local chapter of the National Federation of the Blind. She currently works as a consultant for organizations trying to improve their inclusiveness regarding disability.
Kathryn Carroll is completing her USICD program internship at Burton Blatt Institute, which works to advance the civic, economic, and social participation of people with disabilities.
Connect with Kathryn Carroll via her LinkedIn profile at http://www.linkedin.com/in/kathryncarroll/
Vivian Fridas received her BA in Political Science and Sociology from Adelphi University in 2010. She has completed her graduate degree in Government and Politics in December 2013 from St. John’s University. With her concentration in international relations, Vivian plans to pursue a field in advocacy of human rights for the disabled in newly developing countries. Vivian is part of the Graduate Council at Guiding Eyes for the Blind, in which she acts as a representative between graduates and staff members. She has been asked in the past to speak at various functions concerning blindness and guide dogs. Additionally, Vivian has participated in lobbying for important issues to the blind community regarding fair wages, accessible technology, and accessible air travel. Vivian plans to utilize her skills and education in order to continue making improvements for the lives of individuals with disabilities around the world.
Vivan Fridas is completing her USICD program internship at the National Democratic Institute, which works to support and strengthen democratic institutions worldwide through citizen participation, openness and accountability in government.
Connect with Vivian Fridas via her Linkedin profile at:
Theophilus Worjlog Jlateh
Theophilus Worjlog Jlateh is a 2013 graduate of the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) with a dual undergraduate degree in International Studies and Political Science. He worked at the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis from 2010 to 2013. He has also worked at the IUPUI Math Assistance Center where he advocated for a special needs study room for students with disabilities. Theo also was elected as president for one of the largest student organization on campus at IUPUI, the African Student Association (ASA).
Theo was hired in 2013 at Rescare INC _Adept- Community Alternative as Direct Support Professional and became a Residential Manager few months later in 2014. This fall, Theo will start his dual master’s degree program in Health care management and international affairs at George Washington University.
Theo Jlateh is completing his USICD program internship at International Medical Corps, which works to save lives and relieve suffering through health care training and relief and development programs worldwide.
Connect with Theo via his LinkedIn profile at: https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?ID=341875434.
Lindsay Lee recently received her BS in mathematics from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She also majored in Spanish and minored in Portuguese. In Fall 2014, she will attend the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, studying for a MSc in applied statistics. She plans on utilizing mathematics and language in the public health field as a member of a governmental or non-governmental agency. She will use empirical data analysis and mathematical modeling to advocate for health care policies that benefit marginalized groups.
As an undergraduate, Lindsay founded Campus Disability Advocates, a student organization seeking to educate the university about disability issues. She also was an opinion columnist for the school newspaper The Daily Beacon and was a member of various administrative advisory councils.
Lindsay is completing her USICD program internship at the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, which has worked in more than 135 countries to support citizens’ rights to participate in free and fair elections.
Connect to Lindsay Lee via her LinkedIn profile at http://lnkd.in/dGA_B5B.
Diego Mariscal is 22 years old. He is originally from Mexico and is currently studying International Relations at American University in Washington, DC. Diego was born with cerebral palsy and has always shown interest and passion for disability advocacy. He first got involved in the disability community in 2002 by representing Nuevo Leon in the Mexican National Paralympics. After several victories in the sport of swimming Diego became a spokesperson for disability.
In 2007 he developed a student group addressing social issues of disability. This group evolved into what is now 2Gether-international. Diego is currently the Chief Executive Officer of this nonprofit and has received several awards for his work, including Architect of the Future in Vienna, Austria and Global Change Maker in London England. Diego is also a researcher for the Institute on Disability and Public Policy in Washington DC and a Mentor in the Compass Fellowship program. During his spare time Diego keeps swimming, enjoys reading, dancing and acting. Diego is completing his USICD program internship at the Inter-American Development Bank, which supports efforts by Latin America and the Caribbean countries to reduce poverty and inequality in a sustainable, climate-friendly way.
Connect with Diego via his LinkedIn profile at http://www.linkedin.com/pub/diego-mariscal/7a/378/636.
Maegan Shanks received her Bachelor’s Degree in English and Philosophy from Centenary College of Louisiana in Shreveport. Born and raised in New Orleans, the diverse city inspired her into the field of International Development. Her first experience with international development was an exchange program in Costa Rica with Mobility International USA (MIUSA).
After graduation, she worked under Foundation for Sustainable Development (FSD). FSD is a non-profit organization, sending interns to developing countries with personalized sustainable development projects. She served a 6 month internship with a NGO, Empowerment of Disabled Development Organization, in Kenya. Maegan is passionate about the empowerment and inclusion of youth with disabilities through educational opportunities. Maegan is currently a M.A. candidate in International Development at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C.
Maegan Shanks is completing her USICD program internship at World Learning, which works to empower people and strengthen institutions through education, development, and exchange programs.
Connect with Maegan Shanks via her LinkedIn profile at http://www.linkedin.com/pub/maegan-shanks/37/771/286.
Erum Siddiqui is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, College of Biological Sciences where she majored in Genetics, Cell Biology and Development. When Erum began her college career she did so with the intention of preparing herself for medical school. As a sophomore, she traveled to Cairo, Egypt where she was a student at the Kamal Adham Center for Journalism at the American University in Cairo as well as a participant in a Human Rights Law in Practicum program. She also taught English to members of Cairo’s refugee community.
Upon return to Minneapolis, Erum’s passion for public policy became reinforced. In the course of her studies, Erum realized that she is compelled by large scale change, that her drive to attend medical school was inspired by her experiences with systems of ineffective medical delivery and a drive to make them more efficient. Today she is hoping to utilize the skills she has honed during her academic career to contribute to organizations aimed at establishing systems of sustainable medical delivery in places of need. Erum is completing her USICD program internship at Management Sciences for Health, which works to improve the health of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people by closing the gap between knowledge and action in public health.
Connect with Erum via her LinkedIn profile at: https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=183044834&trk
Daniel Van Sant
Daniel Van Sant comes from Malvern, Iowa and is a student at Syracuse University working toward his Law Degree and a Master’s of Science in Cultural Foundations of Education. Prior to beginning law school, Daniel received a research grant that allowed him to live in Yamanashi, Japan for one year where he studied disability policy, social work, and special education at a local university. Prior to this, he worked at Disability Rights Iowa, a non-profit law center that advocates for the rights of Iowans with all kinds of disabilities.
Daniel holds a BA in International Relations, Rhetoric, and Politics from Drake University. Daniel plans to pursue a career in disability law and policy with a focus on the international sphere.
Daniel Van Sant is completing his USICD program internship at the DC office of Human Rights Watch, which works to uphold human dignity and advance the cause of human rights for all.
Connect with Daniel Van Sant via his LinkedIn profile at https://www.linkedin.com/pub/daniel-van-sant/96/955/643
Meet the 2013 Youth in International Development and Foreign Affairs Interns!
Ki’tay is a student at American University completing a joint MPA/BA in Public Administration and Law and Society. More importantly, he is a social justice advocate attempting to be a pioneer of possibility. His focus is on the incubation of social innovation specific to the realm of international disability policy. Within this pursuit, he focuses on community integration, social entrepreneurship and economic empowerment.
Outside of academia, Ki’tay is an active member of the AU Debate Society and Disability Rights Coalition. He has a strong commitment to racial justice and queer advocacy and has worked extensively on AU’s campus to create a more inclusive environment for people of color and the LGBTQ community. He regularly leads workshops at local universities and high schools in the D.C area on the disability rights movement, ableism and social justice in relation to disability rights. Post-college, Ki’tay will pursue a career in disability policy and social enterprise.
Ki’tay completed his USICD program internship at Handicap International, which is an independent and impartial aid organization working in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster.
Connect with Ki’tay Davidson via his LinkedIn profile at: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/ki-tay-davidson/45/320/7a7
Read Ki'tay Davidson's blog posts about his YIDA internship experiences at: http://usicd.wordpress.com/tag/kitay-davidson/
Katie Donahue is completing her Graduate Degree this fall. She is earning a Graduate Degree in Human Development and Leadership with a concentration in International Education Administration. She has previously studied abroad during the summer of 2010 in Seville Spain and had a great experience, which convinced her to pursue a master’s degree in International Education Administration. After she earns her degree, Ms. Donahue hopes to work for either a university in a study abroad office or hopefully work for a study abroad organization. She wants to assist other students with disabilities to study abroad. She believes that with determination and the right people to help them along their journey, they, too, will be able to study abroad! She completed her YIDA internship at World Learning, which works to empower people and strengthen institutions through education, exchange, and development programs
Connect with Katie Donahue via her LinkedIn profile at www.linkedin.com/in/katiedonahue.
Read blog posts by Katie Donahue about her USICD program internship experiences at: http://usicd.wordpress.com/tag/katie-donahue/
Chris Hutchinson joins us from Tampa, FL where he recently graduated from the University of South Florida Honors College with two undergraduate degrees; a bachelor of arts in international relations and bachelor of science in public health. Chris is currently working toward a Master of Business Administration from Saint Leo University, which he will place on hold starting this fall, when he begins law school.
With 9 years in the US Army, Chris plans to use his military, international, and public health experience to earn his Juris Doctor degree. With a JD and an MBA he foresees a future working with veterans and NGO's from his own law firm. He completed his YIDA internship at Medical Care Development International (MCD), which works to enhance the well-being of peoples and communities in developing nations through technical assistance in health and socioeconomic development.
Connect with Christopher Hutchinson via his Linked In profile at: www.linkedin.com/pub/chistopher-hutchinson/70/69a/390/
Read blog posts by Christopher Hutchinson about his USICD program internship experiences at: http://usicd.wordpress.com/tag/chris-hutchinson/
Anais Keenon graduated magna cum laude from the University of Oregon in 2012 with a Bachelor's degree in Journalism: Advertising. After her internship experience at Mobility International USA and free lancing a feature story on people with disabilities in Ghana, Ms. Keenon became inspired to pursue a career advocating for disability inclusion in development work. She is now halfway through a Master's program in International Development at Gallaudet University, known as the world's only major university for the Deaf, and is expected to graduate in June 2014. Anais completed her YIDA internship at the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), which has worked in more than 135 countries to support citizens’ rights to participate in free and fair elections
Connect with Anais via her LinkedIn profile at: http://www.linkedin.com/in/anaiskeenon
Read blog posts by Anais Keenon about her USICD program internship experiences at: http://usicd.wordpress.com/tag/anais-keenon/
For the past year, Bonnie Prestridge has interned at the US Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP). Her previous professional experiences have included working with bilingual students as a Spanish-language reading interventionist and as the founder and director of a Spanish-language summer camp. During college, she also held several leadership positions in the Berkeley Student Cooperative, the largest student-owned housing association in the United States.
Bonnie holds a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, where she concentrated on contemporary Latin America. She speaks Spanish, Portuguese, and basic French, and plans to pursue international careers in bilingual education, cooperative business development, and social entrepreneurship. She completed her YIDA internship at the National Democratic Institute, which works to support and strengthen democratic institutions worldwide through citizen participation, openness and accountability in government.
Connect with Bonnie Prestridge via her LinkedIn profile at www.linkedin.com/pub/bonnie-prestridge/52/899/771
Read blog posts by Bonnie Prestridge about her USICD program internship experiences at: http://usicd.wordpress.com/tag/bonnie-prestridge/
(Shana) Marisa Rafsky
Marisa Rafsky graduated Magna Cum Laude along with an International Baccalaureate Diploma from Bodine High School for International Affairs and is now a rising sophomore at Bryn Mawr College. She plans to pursue a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and then a Master's degree in International Security, specializing in counter-terrorism. A 2011 trip to Israel inspired Marisa to consider the impact of terrorism and security issues on the challenges of poverty. She is interested in improving bilateral relations between the US and foreign governments in order to solve international security concerns. Marisa aspires to become a U.S. Foreign Service Officer, serving the interests of the United States nationally and abroad. She also is interested in furthering Jewish and Latino communities in the US and elsewhere. Marisa completed her YIDA internship at Winrock International, which works with people in the United States and around the world to empower the disadvantaged, increase economic opportunity, and sustain natural resources.
Connect with (Shana) Marisa Rafsky via her LinkedIn profile at: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/shana-marisa-rafsky/70/a51/231
Read blog posts by Marisa Rafsky about her USICD program internship experiences at: http://usicd.wordpress.com/tag/marisa-rafsky/
Emily Robson hails from Portland, Oregon. She is a rising sophomore at Case Western Reserve University majoring in Nursing. In the summer of 2010, Emily gained experience in community development with the AMIGOS de las Americas program while living in a rural Panamanian community. She then spent three months in Eastern Africa in 2011. While volunteering with a health clinic in Uganda, Emily realized she wanted to pursue a career in International Health. Once she has completed her education, Emily hopes to live abroad and work on healthcare issues in Third World countries. Her goal is to treat those who go untreated. She wants people living in impoverished areas to receive the health education and care they deserve. Emily is completing her YIDA internship at the International Affairs Division of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which manages engagement with international emergency management partners and coordinates foreign visit requests at FEMA facilities.
Connect with Emily Robson via her LinkedIn profile at http://www.linkedin.com/pub/emily-robson/70/739/601
Read blog posts by Emily Robson about her USICD program internship experience at: http://usicd.wordpress.com/tag/emily-robson/
Youth in Development News
The USICD team was excited to host its first cohort of seven interns in our newly launched Youth in International Development and Foreign Affairs internship program this summer, which is supported by the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation (MEAF). USICD's internship program is meant to inspire youth involvement in international affairs and development careers. It is targeted at students with disabilities from across the United States who share a commitment to careers in the field of international development or international affairs. The program is one way USICD has been working to strengthen the mainstreaming of a disability perspective in all US foreign affairs issues.
Our seven interns were selected from among more than 130 applicants: Ki’tay Davidson, Katie Donahue, Christopher Hutchinson, Anais Keenon, Bonnie Prestridge, (Shana) Marisa Rafsky, and Emily Robson. The interns completed internships at various international organizations in the DC area in June and July 2013. Participating host organizations in 2013 included: the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Handicap International, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), Medical Care Development International, the National Democratic Institute (NDI), Winrock International, and World Learning.
One of our interns, Ki’tay Davidson, was recognized by the White House on a July 25 ceremony honoring eight Americans with disabilities as “Champions of Change” who embody the spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act. He wrote a blog post reflecting on this honor for USICD’s blog.
USICD program intern Anais Keenon delivered a graduation speech on behalf of our cohort of YiD interns at USICD’s annual meeting on July 25. Read the prepared version of her speech at: http://usicd.wordpress.com/2013/08/07/yid-graduation-speech/
All USICD program interns were asked to write blog posts throughout the summer about their internship experiences. Browse through their blog posts at https://usicd.wordpress.com/tag/usicds-internship-program/
The USICD team thanks MEAF for their support for USICD's internship program! We also thank the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) for collaborating with us on shared training and orientation events for participants in the USICD and AAPD internship programs! AAPD interns made a great video this summer in which they shared how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) had impacted their lives: this video also talks about the importance of the CRPD! http://t.co/70aGdLIf8w
USICD's internship program will be able to host another cohort of interns in the summer of 2014. The tentative dates for this program will be from May 26 to July 26: these dates may be subject to change. Students will be able to begin applying on November 11, 2013. Those who are interested can sign up for the USICD internship program mailing list to be notified when more details about the application process are available: www.usicd.org
YIDA Class of 2013 mingled with MEAF Executive Director Kevin Webb, USICD President Marca Bristo, USICD Executive Director David Morrissey, YiD Program Manager Andrea Shettle and USICD staff members Esme Grant, Eileen Magan and Suzanne Richard