SDI staff and volunteers gathered to celebrate three young women who have made significant contributions to us through their internships in 2017. A celebratory dinner was held in their honor on July 27th, before they returned to school for the fall semester.  

Katie Fields, a junior at Webster University, has been working with us since last winter. Katie, a marketing major, helped David Newburger create and publish a series of instructional videos for human resources professionals on how to be more disability-welcoming. This very successful series is now published on both the SDI website and the You Tube channel as a free resource for companies. 

Katie thoroughly valued learning about disability employment during her internship experience with us. “Prior to my internship with SDI, I enjoyed spending time with people with disabilities, but never fully engaged myself because I didn’t want to say the wrong thing,” Katie shares.  

“Now,” Katie explains, “people with disabilities are just people; but their obstacles, challenges and rights are always on my mind.” She’s constantly thinking of accessibility and accommodations. “It’s a great feeling.” 

Katie thanks the SDI staff for taking her on as an intern. “I have loved every minute of being part of such an incredible organization,” she says. “I am so excited that I can continue to stay connected through the Young Friends.” We’re excited too, Katie! 

Molly Dwyer is a second-year student at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University. Molly did a practicum with SDI, working on the pilot program, Dream Big. Because she is pursuing her Master’s degree with an emphasis in nonprofit management, we designed a practicum experience allowing Molly to participate in the full range of program activities, from grant writing and fund development to program design and implementation and measurement.  

Molly dove head-first into Career Camp, working one-on-one with students to create a memorable week of self-exploration, discovery and fun.  

“My internship with SDI was unlike any internship I’ve ever had; it was an incredible opportunity,” Molly emotes. “Not only did I greatly enjoy the people I was able to work with,” she continues, “but I felt like my work really mattered, that I was directly contributing to SDI programs and initiatives.” 

Rachel Ellis, a sophomore at Ball State University, interned over the summer in the area of photojournalism. She used her camera to show disability to the world through a new lens. Rachel photographed all of our special events over the summer, including Career Camp and the Young Friends event.  

Rachel also profiled 10 Starkloff Career Academy graduates who have gone on to find jobs they love. She captured them on the job and in their daily life. We will use Rachel’s beautiful photography to tell the compelling stories of our Academy graduates and shine a light on to the issue of disability employment.  

Rachel really enjoyed the social responsibility she was given being our photojournalism intern. “I am beyond thankful for this opportunity, would do it again in a heartbeat,” Rachel said. “It meant a lot to have a talented, passionate and genuine group of people rely on my abilities. I would love to stay in touch, to stay in the loop.” 

“SDI is a better place for the contributions of these brilliant young women,” Lori Becker, COO, said as they gathered to toast the interns. “They contributed not only their talent and skill, but great energy and ideas that make our work on behalf of the disability community more informed, more vibrant, more dynamic. We are very grateful for their help and we wish them well in their continued studies and in all their future endeavors.”   

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© 2015 Starkloff Disability Institute