AHA Foundation’s Interns Dedicate Summer to Fighting Gender-Based Violence

Brooklyn Hill (top left), Jackson Makl (top right), and Ophelia Li (bottom), were AHA Foundation's interns for this summer.

August 3, 2021

While many of their classmates are enjoying time off of school, AHA Foundation interns have dedicated this summer to fight for a cause close to their hearts. From data analysis to legislative advocacy, these interns have become a vital part of our fight against female genital mutilation (FGM), child and forced marriage, and honor violence. 

In our blog this month, our interns share with you about what compelled them to seek an internship with AHA Foundation, what surprised them the most about our work, and what they have learned about themselves during this experience.

Ophelia Li, Data Associate

Ophelia

Ophelia Li started as a Data Analytics intern with AHA Foundation in her junior year at Tulane University before becoming a Data Associate after graduation.

AHA Foundation: Please describe what you do for AHA Foundation.

As a Data Associate, I apply different data analysis methods to provide data-driven insights into AHA Foundation’s marketing, fundraising, and donor cultivation tactics. I also help identify donor trends and maximize the efficiency of reporting.

AHA Foundation: What are you studying/what did you study while in school?

I am a recent graduate from Tulane University, where I studied mathematics and economics.

AHA Foundation: What about AHA Foundation’s mission spoke to you when looking for internships?

I am passionate about women’s rights and human rights. I always wanted to work for an organization that fights for such rights. AHA Foundation offers a unique mission on issues that most people are unaware of such as FGM, honor violence, forced or child marriage, and much more. I came to AHA Foundation hoping to help protect women and girls from abuse.

AHA Foundation: While working at AHA, have you learned something about women’s rights that was surprising to you, and what was it? Why was it surprising to you?

It was shocking to see many girls and women in the United States are either at risk or suffering the consequences of FGM, honor violence, forced, or child marriage. Many people are not aware of how prevalent these practices are in the United States. After hearing survivor stories, I knew much still needs to be done to raise awareness about and fight against gender-based violence.

AHA Foundation: Have you gained new skills during your internship?

I have gained enormous new skills from working in different areas. On the technical side, I polished my data analytical skills and was able to apply some concepts that I learned in the classroom to solve real-data problems. I have also improved my soft skills. I became better at adaptability and time management while balancing a heavy course load and an internship.

AHA Foundation: Have you learned something new about yourself?

When I first started the internship, I was nervous about presenting data reports effectively to the executive team. But thanks to my supervisors’ support and guidance, I have become better at delivering data-driven presentations.

AHA Foundation: What are you most proud of in your time with AHA Foundation?

I am proud to see that AHA Foundation had the STOP FGM Act of 2020 signed into federal law. It is encouraging to see lawmakers step up and demand we protect girls from FGM. And I am proud that my data analytics reports have helped the team make better decisions.

AHA Foundation: What do you hope to do with your degree and experience from AHA Foundation?

Following my work at AHA Foundation, I will spend a year working and volunteering in Asia. I am confident that my interests in data analysis and experiences in non-profits will allow me to continue helping people who are less fortunate around the world.

Brooklyn Hill, Policy and Legal Intern

In her third week in the internship, Brooklyn represented AHA Foundation at the signing of Rhode Island’s child marriage ban.

AHA Foundation: What kind of internship do you have at AHA Foundation?

I’m a policy and legal intern so much of my research focuses on keeping track of current laws and pending legislation. On the policy side, I work with my team and collaborate with other organizations to advocate for bills with legislators. On the legal side, I research existing case law and statutes to determine any loopholes that may need to be abrogated.

AHA Foundation: What are you studying in school?

I’m going into my second year of law school at the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in California and I’m focusing my J.D. on capital lawyering and policymaking. I received my bachelor’s in political science from UC Davis in 2019.

AHA Foundation: What about AHA Foundation’s mission spoke to you when looking for internships?

I was really interested in working for a foundation that had a substantive impact on policymaking. When interviewing for the position, I fell in love with the idea of writing, advocating for, and researching types of legislation that aren’t as publicly well known. It was interesting to learn that the foundation’s work has a direct impact on girls my age.

AHA Foundation: While working at AHA, have you learned something about women’s rights that was surprising to you?

I think the most surprising thing about working with AHA foundation is that you discover that a lot of states lack sufficient legislation to protect women’s rights. When we advocate for bills, the public, and even the legislators, are always shocked that issues such as child marriage or FGM are still legal in many states. It’s interesting to see how much work really goes into passing common-sense laws that really cost nothing to implement.

AHA Foundation: Have you gained new skills during your internship?

Although I joined only recently, I have been able to develop my communication skills and a greater sense of confidence. I had the wonderful opportunity to attend a bill signing in Rhode Island my third week here and I am so grateful to have been trusted to represent the foundation.

AHA Foundation: Have you learned something new about yourself?

I did not know that I would be able to make strong legal arguments after only one year of law school, but while working on my current project, I learned that a lot of research helps you develop the strong argument necessary to represent those who need help.

AHA Foundation: What are you most proud of in your time with AHA Foundation?

I am most proud of the legal research that I’m currently doing in order to see if there’s a way to abrogate parental immunity from a minor’s civil action claim in regards to their parents’ consenting to an FGM procedure. Since there isn’t much case law, I’m grateful to be able to use my legal education to make the argument that parents should be liable for the harm caused.

AHA Foundation: What do you hope to do with your degree and experience from AHA Foundation?  

In the future, I hope to work either for a non-profit or government agency as legal counsel. My long-term goal is to end up in policymaking and work on child welfare laws.

Jackson Makl, Data Analytics Intern

aha

While working on his internship’s projects, Jackson learned how to be resourceful and find unique ways to deal with challenges.

AHA Foundation: Please describe what you do for AHA Foundation.

I am a data analyst intern. I focus on ways to utilize donor and campaign data to drive marketing strategy.

AHA Foundation: What are you studying in school?

I attend Fordham University where I study global business and computer science.

AHA Foundation: What about AHA Foundation’s mission spoke to you when looking for internships?

I thought that it would be really worthwhile to be able to use the technical skills I’ve learned in school towards something impactful. I have been interested in human rights since high school which is what led me to AHA.

AHA Foundation: While working at AHA, have you learned something about women’s rights that was surprising to you, and what was it? Why was it surprising to you?

One interesting thing that I have learned about women’s rights comes from working with our FGM data where I was really able to see the span of how this type of mutilation affects women in the US and abroad. I was able to gain a really in-depth understanding of the types of communities and areas of the world where this is prevalent. 

AHA Foundation: Have you gained new skills during your internship? 

At AHA you get a lot of ownership over your work, so I have been able to learn a lot of soft skills that help me manage my time in order to get work done. 

AHA Foundation: Have you learned something new about yourself?

One thing that I have learned is how to be resourceful. When working with a non-profit you may not always have access to all the data you need for a project, and so resourcefulness is what will really allow you to finish your assignment and find unique ways around issues that may arise.

AHA Foundation: What are you most proud of in your time with AHA Foundation?

I am most proud of the marketing analysis work I did for our monthly giving program, and our social media campaigns.

AHA Foundation: What do you hope to do with your degree and experience from AHA Foundation?

Once I graduate I plan on moving into the Data Science space where I will focus on applying economic insights to machines.

1 Comment

  1. Thank you so much for your blogs. We’ve learned a lot of things about ourselves.

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