This is the final post in a series of six posts written by the Summer 2021 Honors Internship Fellows. The students received a stipend that enabled them to work at non-profit organizations for the common good.
Author: Aya Harel, sophomore
I was thrilled earlier this year to be chosen as an Advocacy Intern for Unchained At Last, the only organization dedicated to ending forced marriage and child marriage in the United States through direct services and advocacy. The nonprofit boasts a variety of direct services for survivors of forced and child marriage, including pro bono legal aid, childcare, and emergency financial assistance. On the advocacy side, where I worked, the organization tirelessly fights to end child marriage through legislation. When I started at Unchained, only four U.S. states had ended all marriage before age eighteen, no exceptions. Now, New York has recently become the sixth state to end child marriage. My work consisted of contacting legislators in states with pending bills to end child marriage and encouraging their support. Being a fellow this summer allowed me to purchase new personal electronics with which I made calls, sent emails, and participated in company events. I have found a new passion in the fight to end child marriage, which would not have been possible without the support of the Honors Program Summer Fellowship Grant.
As my work was supported by the Honors Program, being an intern at Unchained called upon abilities I had gained and strengthened during my first year as an Honors student and hope to apply to my future career. Cold-calling legislators and convincing them to listen—or even answer the phone, in all honesty— is no easy task. I relied heavily on the communication and persuasion skills instilled by my Honors professors, who encouraged clear, concise writing with carefully chosen words. I kept their advice in mind and produced a convincing script for my calls and emails, leading to many productive conversations with legislators and staffers.
My first experience in the professional world was invigorating and inspirational. The support of the Honors Program allowed me to pursue a new passion, fostering a new belief in myself and my capabilities.