YC has empowered many alumni participants to be advocates for people with disabilities. Saphire Murphy has taken her advocacy all the way to DC! This summer, she was an intern at the American Association of People with Disabilities, a leading national disability-led and cross-disability rights organization. Saphire was part of a cohort of 20 interns with a variety of disabilities.
“YC was part of the reason I felt so comfortable taking that position in DC,” Saphire said. “[YC] was a place where I got used to being around others with disabilities.”
The internship included work placements, class time to learn about disability advocacy, and group projects. Placements were at Congressional offices, federal agencies, and nonprofit and for-profit organizations within the Washington, DC area. Saphire was placed at the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs, where she worked as a disability justice intern and helped implement diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) into their HR policies. In other words, she helped ensure that their internship opportunities were inclusive for all.
“The solutions take time, but they are very simple,” Saphire said. “I gave examples of how racism and ableism coexist and how ableism and sexism coexist.”
For Saphire’s group project, she also used her experience at the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs to work with several other cohorts to draft a federal inclusive sexual education curriculum.
In addition to her hard work, Saphire got to sightsee around DC! She saw various monuments, including the MLK Jr. Memorial, the Abraham Lincoln Memorial, and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial (Franklin D. Roosevelt was in a wheelchair in the memorial!) Other highlights included touring the White House and being at the exact place the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed, and visiting Gallaudet University, the first college for those who are deaf and hard of hearing.
“The greatest advocates are those that take risks and go out of their comfort zone,” Saphire said. “I hope that this can show people even if your comfort zone is a county line, go out of your comfort zone. You can find some of the greatest adventures you’ll cherish for the rest of your life.”
For more information about the American Association of People with Disabilities Summer Internship Program, click here.