We are incredibly proud of our Allen C. Crocker Interns whose dedication and talents continue to enrich the MDSC today! Each of the adults below gained valuable work experience, resources for community involvement, and leadership skills during their time with us. Their hard work and persistence advances the shared mission of the MDSC and Dr. Crocker, promoting the acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome.
John Anton, MDSC Legislative Specialist, served as the first Allen C. Crocker Self-Advocate Intern during his time in Washington, D.C. as a fellow in the office of Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers. A rising star in national politics, McMorris Rodgers was Chair of the House Republican Conference and co-chair of the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus. Her son, Cole, has Down syndrome.
In Washington, John impressed upon federal legislators the need to pass the ABLE Act. “It’s about our voice, our dreams, our futures, and to promote programs for people with disabilities and Down syndrome to increase awareness, ” John said in an interview. “And after this, I could be running for office.”
Focusing on legislative advocacy and public speaking, Ned Reichenbach served as the Crocker intern from March to October of 2015. Ned’s internship responsibilities included addressing advocates and legislators at the MDSC 2nd Annual Down Syndrome Advocacy Day at the State House on the MDSC priority bill related to funding for higher education opportunities. He traveled to Washington, D.C. as part of the MDSC delegation to the National Down Syndrome Society 2015 Buddy Walk on Washington. And, Ned shared his personal experience with teens and adults at the MDSC 31st Annual Conference Self-Advocate workshops.
After completing his internship, Ned transitioned to the State House where he assisted Representative Ruth Balser and her staff with administrative tasks, attended and observed legislative briefings held by advocacy groups and elected officials, observed and took part in lobbying/constituent advocacy meetings, and briefed the Representative and staff on central ideas communicated in briefings.
Felicia Patti began her internship in October 2015 with a focus on acting while simultaneously gaining experience and pursuing opportunities in advocacy and public speaking. During her time as the Crocker intern, Felicia addressed undergraduate students as UMASS Amherst, attended a check presentation at the Shirley Fire Department, advised teens and young adults at the MDSC AIM Program, co-led a mini-workshop on advocacy for self-advocates at the MDSC 32nd Annual Conference, and addressed runners and families at the MDSC Boston Marathon Luncheon. Felicia also assisted the MDSC Management Team each week with event preparation and administrative projects while she was in the office.
Because of her strong interest in acting, the MDSC connected Felicia with Nina Genatossio at Kazarian/Measures/Ruskin & Associates Talent Agency and Gail Williamson at Down Syndrome in Arts & Media. In January 2016, she auditioned for the ABC docu-series What Would You Do? in New York City – a monumental first step in her journey as an actress.
Completing her internship in May 2016, Felicia transitioned to a part-time position at Nan’s Café in North Reading while continuing to take acting classes and audition for new and exciting roles in the field. Felicia has landed roles on Love You More on Amazon Prime and Away on Netflix, starring alongside Hillary Swank!
Michael Avakian began his internship in June 2016, focusing on art marketing and sales while also developing and strengthening administrative skills. Seeking to make connections within the art community and gain experience in business development, Michael made great strides during the first few months of his internship. He developed his business brand, creating a following on social media and networking within both the art and MDSC communities.
Michael completed his internship in December 2016 with a strong vision for his art business and connections to continue his entrepreneurial journey. He has taken full responsibility for his online shop MichaelAvakianArt, which continues to thrive as he expands the variety of notecards available for purchase. Michael is eager to continue to pursue and develop relationships within the art community in order to reach his goal of becoming “the greatest artist in the 21st century.”
Sebastian Wang Sperling
Sebastian Wang Sperling was the Allen Crocker Intern from January to June of 2017. When asked why he would like to be considered for this position, he shared, “I would like to become more aware of what I want and maybe in the process inspire other adults with Down syndrome, too. I would like to tell a good, honest and inspirational story and hopefully start building a community.”
Sebastian’s internship focused on a video campaign to share his own and others’ stories with the belief that everyone has something special that makes them unique and able and everyone deserves to have their voice heard. Sebastian, seeking to engage more adults within the Down syndrome community and inspire them to raise their voice, scheduled individual and group interviews on a range of topics including teamwork, employment, and transition.
After his internship, Sebastian went on to work in the Athletics Department at Babson College, which combined his passion for and knowledge of a range of different sporting events with his desire to learn from individuals from various walks of life!
Leia Brown began her internship in July of 2017. When asked why she would like to be considered for this position, she shared, “I would like to help out other people with disabilities and their families by working in the MDSC office.” Leia was interested in gaining experience with administrative work. During her internship, Leia worked closely with the management team in preparing for the organization’s busy event season, including preparations for Buddy Walk & Harvest Fair, Buddy Walk & Family Festival, Educators Forum, and Bruins Alumni Hockey Game. She continues to seek public speaking opportunities that allow her to share about her active, healthy lifestyle with other self-advocates and their families.
Peter Johnson began his internship in January 2018. Passionate about educating people about Down syndrome, Peter’s goal included spreading awareness through public speaking.
“I believe our voices could be more heard to be better included in the community we all live in and share. I want others to learn about what it’s like living with a disability. We want what everyone else wants… to be accepted and treated with respect. We are all capable of holding jobs and getting around our community just like everyone else.”
Peter worked on an interview project, meeting with self-advocates to discuss various topics including legislative advocacy, housing, social media, relationships, and education. He is excited by the prospect of a position that would combine many of his passions – advocacy, public speaking, and education.
Ashley DeNoble completed her internship with the MDSC after participating in the Your Next Star Academy bootcamp in the summer of 2019. During her time at the MDSC, she fine-tuned her administrative skills and gained experience working on numerous projects and events, all of which she plans to apply in future employment opportunities. She was also the self-advocate keynote speaker at the 15th Annual Educators Forum, recounting her experiences in school and encouraging the audience to continue to advocate on behalf of their students. Ashley created and finalized both a written resume and a visual resume, which will be beneficial tools for her as she approaches her transition at age twenty-two.