Ariannwyn Carver

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

My experience with Project HEAL has helped me get a much better understanding of the laws affecting children with disabilities in our country and the real ways these policies affect them. Every opportunity was a learning experience – whether it was working with a different department within the Institute, shadowing a Project HEAL staff attorney at an individualized education program meeting, conducting research on a legal question, or attending committee meetings with practicing attorneys in the field. Along the way, I felt like I was helping make a real world impact. More than anything, this experience has solidified that I want to focus on disability rights advocacy or policy.


Emma Barbato

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

Overall, working at Project HEAL was a very positive experience. I appreciate their mission and the role they play in families’ lives as they navigate the special education process. It was also helpful to see the myriad of other services families often need in conjunction with representation in special education matters. This ranged from providing resources for guardianship to Supplemental Security Income assistance. It was certainly difficult to get a feel for the culture of Project HEAL while working remotely, but it was clear how much energy and care both Alyssa and Mallory put into their work and their clients. I think that one of the most helpful aspects of my time at Project HEAL was simply how much one-to-one client interaction I was able to do. Through emails or phone calls, I spent quite a bit of time talking to clients and doing intakes. Over the semester my ability to spot issues and ask meaningful questions improved. While I was initially concerned at the amount of time I worked on intakes, I came to realize that clients are at the heart of the practice of law and the more experience I have interacting with a wide variety of them the better off I’ll be I the long run.


Kacie McDonald

  • Area of Study: Health Education and Promotion
  • School: Towson University
  • Degree Program: BS

My time spent at the Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities (MCDD) has been nothing short of an amazing experience. Although virtual this semester, I was presented with many opportunities to grow in the field of health education. My time at the MCDD consisted of planning, implementing, and evaluating different health programs through Zoom. I was able to learn about the lives of individuals with disabilities from the point-of-view of the parent, patient, and peer, specifically, through the different experiences and projects. The MCDD team is dedicated to exposing trainees to many different topics, webinars, and virtual tours of other departments. Not only are trainees part of the MCDD family during the training experience, but they also want to make sure you continue to be successful and continue to grow after your time there ends. No matter what your field of interest is, the MCDD training experience will expand your knowledge of improving the lives of individuals with disabilities.


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.


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."