My name is Maddie Bright and I worked as an intern to the Director of Operations at the Center for Independent Living of Central Pennsylvania (CIL CP) in Camp Hill this past summer.
I never intended to work at a CIL when I started my summer internship search. However, after around fifteen job applications were rejected for various reasons, I turned to my vocational rehabilitation counselor for help. The rest of the story falls nicely into place: I got my job contract signed and showed up for work without any idea of what to expect.
Well, that’s not exactly true. I certainly never expected to enjoy my work here as much as I do. Coming out of my freshman year studying computer science at Drexel University, I figured that I would just work with computers. Thankfully, I got to do so much more than that.
My office invited me to go with a small group of employees to NCIL’s national conference this summer, where I learned more about the independent living movement, participated in the march, spoke to legislators, and met some really cool people. That experience really lit a fire for advocacy within me. I took the opportunity to network with Liberty Resources, Inc., a CIL in Philadelphia, so I could continue to remain involved in independent living even after I moved back to Drexel in the fall.
My internship even helped me figure out a way to combine my interests in disability advocacy and computer security. While doing technical support for our CIL , I discovered an appalling lack of resources for people with disabilities about cybersecurity and accessible tools for protecting themselves. I want to help fill this knowledge gap in some way and give people the tools to feel in control of the security of their devices and their online presence.
Although I love it at CILCP, I couldn’t wait to get back to Philadelphia, where I have mentors to help me flesh out my ideas. I’m also looking forward to getting Boba tea with my friends, going to Pi Nu Epsilon fraternity meetings, and playing my French horn in Drexel’s band. I’ll miss my friends, family, and rabbit in central Pennsylvania, but the world is so wide. I can’t wait to keep having experiences like this internship where I learn more about myself and the ways I can use my skills to work on causes I believe in.