A photo of Madeline Carr

Madeline Carr

  • Area of Study: Law
  • School: Gettysburg College
  • Degree Program: BA

This past summer’s internship with Project HEAL reinforced my desire to pursue a career in the legal field. I’ve always wanted to legally defend those who may not be able to defend themselves, and throughout my time with Project HEAL, I acquired invaluable knowledge pertaining to special education law. I especially enjoyed being a part of the virtual MCDD staff meetings as well as the informative webinars that the MCDD presented to various audiences. Although I was not able to intern in-person, training at a program like Project HEAL not only provided me with a different perspective regarding special education law, but also enhanced my research skills.

One of the most fulfilling research projects Hanna and I completed this summer was sponsored by the Coalition to Reform School Discipline, which is co-chaired by Project HEAL staff attorney Alyssa Thorn. I really enjoyed providing relevant research regarding school resource officers in Maryland to the coalition as that research attempts to support legislation in this area.

Additionally, I was thrilled to be a part of the Project SEARCH at Kennedy Krieger Institute program. Although I did not get to spend a lot of (virtual) time with Project SEARCH’s interns, I admired the joy and enthusiasm they brought to every meeting. This program was another reason why I have really enjoyed my time with the MCDD and Kennedy Krieger this summer. Seeing Project SEARCH ‘s interns on their graduation day was especially heartwarming.

As an aspiring lawyer in my senior year at Gettysburg College, I am grateful for the numerous opportunities I had to meet with lawyers who are established in their fields. These individuals have interesting backgrounds and show true passion for the children on whose behalf they advocate. Their advice and guidance are invaluable to me.

The time I spent with Project HEAL this summer, although remote, was everything I could have asked for. From sitting in on individualized education program (IEP) meetings to drafting proposals, I learned skills that will serve me as I pursue a law career. This has been some of the most fulfilling work I have ever been a part of, and for that, I am truly grateful!

A photo of Hanna Leonard

Hanna Leonard

  • Area of Study: Law
  • School: University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, year 3
  • Degree Program: JD

Growing up, my grandmother frequently repeated to me that “To whom much is given, much is expected.” I feel incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to attend law school. As a third-year law student at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, I am earning a certification/concentration in health law. Accepting the internship at Project HEAL for my summer experience was such a wonderful decision, not only for building connections and blazing my own career path, but also for recognizing my purpose within the legal field. This experience has allowed me to recognize the passion that I have for helping others.

During my internship, I most enjoyed the experiences that some would find tedious: making routine intake calls to new families, attending IEP meetings, and listening to the experiences of those working in the field. I loved feeling that I was making a difference, regardless of how small it may have seemed. Although it was difficult at times to communicate remotely, those small connections made the largest impact on my experience. I also enjoyed researching legal questions that were unique to the COVID-19 reality, including whether face masks should be mandated as a requirement for everyone, regardless of disability.

Working remotely was definitely a learning experience, but I am so glad to have gone through it with such a wonderful team. This is an experience that I am grateful to have been a part of.

Hilary Tebeleff

  • Area of Study: Law
  • School: University of Maryland Carey School of Law, year 1
  • Degree Program: JD

Working with Project HEAL at the Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities (MCDD) has been an invaluable opportunity. After leaving the teaching field for law school, I wanted to have an experience that would help connect my interests in law and education. At Project HEAL, I completed client intakes over the phone, drafted correspondence to opposing counsel and state complaints, assisted in representation for clients in Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings, and attended training sessions on best practices for advocating for children with disabilities. This gratifying experience has broadened my writing, communication, and advocacy skills, as well as reinforced my commitment to improving the educational opportunities for a vulnerable population --- low-income children with disabilities.  Lastly, this experience has taught me how different disciplines such as law, medicine, and education can effectively work together to holistically help a child. After working at Project HEAL for two semesters, I know that I want to continue volunteering for Project HEAL as well as ultimately pursue a career in child advocacy.

Julia Baller

  • Area of Study:  Health Policy
  • School: Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
  • Degree Program: Ph.D.  (December 2014)

My experience with Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities (MCDD) has enabled me to get a much better sense of the policies in place the both help and impede families from getting the services that they need by interacting with people with disabilities, meeting families, physicians, researchers, advocates, and lawyers in the field. It has helped shape my dissertation research, and I have no doubt will continue to affect my future endeavors. One of the greatest opportunities at Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities are the multitudes of meetings, webinars, grand rounds, and other resources that enable trainees to hear about a diverse set of experiences and meet people from around the state and country that are committed to a similar set of issues. It may seem overwhelming, but taking advantage of the opportunities will greatly enrich your experience. More than anything else, I now know that Maryland has an extremely knowledge, dedicated work force committed to improving the lives of individuals with disabilities.

Viola Woolums

  • Area of Study:  Law
  • School: University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law
  • Degree Program: J.D.

My work at the Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities (MCDD) has given me a variety of enriching experiences. My legislative activities taught me to more fully appreciate disability and education policies and the effects they have on individuals, children, and families living with disabilities. I gained a greater understanding of the wide variety of issues that affect individuals with disabilities and what a favorable outcome could look like for them. One of the best things was collaborating with self-advocates and other individuals who are very directly affected by our work. The whole experience was enlightening and educational. This experience allowed me to put my problem-solving and critical thinking skills to the test to determine what our next course of action should be in Annapolis. My work was very hands-on, and there is nothing more beneficial to a student than learning by doing. I appreciate the opportunities that the MCDD has given me to make a positive impact on the lives of individuals with  intellectual and developmental disabilities in Maryland.

Amanda Wylie

  • Area of Study: Department of Population, Family, and Reproductive Health
  • School: JHSPH
  • Degree Program: MPH

I am a second year MSPH student in the department of Population, Family, and Reproductive Health at JHSPH, focusing in child health and development. I am interested in working with children with special health care needs by studying the predictors of child development and disability and interventions that target early childhood. I previously earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biobehavioral health at Penn State University with a minor in health and human development. Prior to this internship, I worked as a student trainee in the Epidemiology branch of the NICHD, and I am concurrently working as a research assistant for the PICS Study at JHSPH.

I am very excited for the opportunity to work for the Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities (MCDD) at Kennedy Krieger because I am afforded the opportunity to gain an understanding of the trials and triumphs of individuals with disabilities and their families, and learn and work alongside professionals who are making lasting contributions to the field. I am grateful for the welcoming atmosphere that the MCDD has created for student trainees and I am already inspired by the determination of the faculty and friends of the MCDD.

Eric Rubenstein

  • Area of Study:  Epidemiology
  • School: Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
  • Degree Program: ScM (May 2014)

Training at the Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities (MCDD) has given me practical experience and a real world perspective of the developmental disability research field. Through my coursework, I have learned a great deal about research methods and approaches, but not until training at the Center had I gotten the opportunity to use my skills in real world applications. The opportunity to work on a grant, from idea formation to submission, was a great experience that engrained lessons that will follow me through my career. Additionally, seeing how the staff at the Center goes about their projects was a great example of leadership and management that I will like to replicate one day.

Julie Gearty, 2019

“This was the best internship I've had. I feel like I learned a lot and discovered new interests all while enjoying everyone I got the chance to work with. I would recommend working at Project HEAL to anyone with even the slightest interest. It was a really fantastic experience.”

Holly Long, 2019

“I could not be more satisfied and thankful for my internship experience at the Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities (MCDD). My time spent with Project HEAL and Resource Finder has not only increased my knowledge on the field of disabilities but has personally impacted me in ways I did not expect. Maureen van Stone, Mallory Finn, Alyssa Navarrete, and Jenny Jones each ensured that I was exposed to a variety of unique learning experiences and they were always there to help me when I needed it. I have truly developed a stronger understanding and love for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and I am now 100% sure that I am meant to work in the disability field in some way. I am truly blessed to have been placed at the MCDD for my internship experience!!!”

Ndeye Mariam Ndiaye, 2019

“I really enjoyed my time at MCDD and Project HEAL. It influenced my desire to pursue community health that includes people of all abilities and backgrounds through medicine. Through my time at Project HEAL, I learned that have a regular clinician is not the only factor of health, but health requires the balance of basic needs (food, shelter, electricity, etc), family support, and an appropriate (and perhaps enjoyable) education. As I apply to medical school this year, I hope to find a school at which I can influence the curriculum to teach future doctors to better listen to families and serve children with disabilities. Also, I hope to learn more about health policy and ways that I can influence disability policy, working alongside advocates of all backgrounds. I enjoyed meeting and working with everyone at MCDD and Project HEAL, and I hope to keep in touch with you all. Thank you!

Xueqi Qu, 2019

“I really love my intern experience in MCDD. It gave me opportunity to walk in life of individuals with DD and understand struggles and challenges that DD individuals and their parents face. It also taught me how to link the community to vital findings from scientific research. This internship inspired me to consider developmental disability from multidiscipline perspectives and reconfirmed my determination to involve myself in the studying developmental disability. Moreover, the colleagues here are all very nice and supportive. I would like thank Dr. Ofonedu, Tylea and all the colleagues for their help during this process.”

Anjuli Rajprasad, 2018

"This semester was the best semester of my law school. The experience that I have gained over the last three months is something that I not only will treasure for life, but also it has provided a strong foundation for my career in special education and intellectual & developmental disabilities. The work environment was amazing and I congratulate Project HEAL for building a team with such integrity and strength. Everyone here is friendly and cordial and the team approach to everything makes the functioning more efficient. I always had a tremendous amount of respect for people working in public interest but doing with a smile on your face is what makes Project HEAL special. I feel truly privileged that I got to work with this wonderful team. I wish the team great success in their future endeavors and thank them for giving me an opportunity to work with them."