Teacher's aide at Special Kids in Preschool / Resident Assistant at the Johns Hopkins' University Center for Talented Youth
Rock Island, IL / Los Angeles, CA
I was fortunate enough to participate in two internships this summer. For the first of these, I served as a teacher's aide during SKIP's four week summer program for eleven developmentally challenged children aged 3-6. The children had cognitive, physical and social development issues; most commonly autism and ADHD.
While my initial intentions were to work with the physical therapist on staff, I ended up finding myself more useful and content working in the two classrooms. Working with the kids one-on-one gave me a chance to know them on a more personal level, rather than on a patient/doctor level that can sometimes seem rather impersonal. The teachers created such a positive atmosphere for learning that it was hard not to get excited about helping out!
I enjoyed each day I spent at SKIP and learned a lot about myself and my capabilities. I learned that patience really pays off and that helping someone progress towards their goal, no matter how slowly or challenging it may be, can be an extremely rewarding experience. For these kids, it was helping them get one step closer to being integrated into a normal school and it was wonderful to have a part in that.
My second internship was VERY different from my first. I was a Resident Assistant for fourteen wonderful 13-16 year olds taking college-level courses through the Johns Hopkins' University Center for Talented Youth, or CTY. For most of the kids who attended CTY year after year, it was a safe haven, where they could feel comfortable in their own skin and embrace their giftedness. Many times these students are bored and unchallenged at their regular schools, so this was their opportunity to shine.
My girls embraced that they were "nerdy" and loved to hang out with other people who were at their cognitive level. The most rewarding part of the experience for me was building a sense of camaraderie on our hall and providing a community where they could thrive and have fun! In addition, I was able to use my gifts to create fun activities for the campers, my dancing abilities to choreograph a dance for my girls to perform in front of the camp, and it also bolstered my confidence in my own leadership abilities.
Many of the qualities needed for my intended career as a physical therapist where strengthened in my experiences at both CTY and SKIP. I am so thankful to have gotten the opportunity to explore many of my interests this summer during both of these wonderful internships.