This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the 2018 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending their summer. You can read the entire series here.
This entry is by Wesley Neal, COL ’20
Mazzoni Center is a hugely important service provider to LGBT community members in the city of Philadelphia. Whether it is medical care, legal services, or counseling, Mazzoni Center represents the safety and positive experiences that are often denied to members of the LGBT community when they are seeking services. In addition to these services, Mazzoni Center has a growing Education Department, which “has a vision to inspire acceptance, inclusion, affirmation and integration of LGBTQ people in all spaces.” The Education Department offers both professional development and youth education.
It is in the Education Department that I spent my summer internship developing my understanding of the practice of LGBT inclusion education, and of LGBT inclusive education. One one hand, Professional Development trainings represent contact with medical and behavioral health providers and the potential to work collaboratively with these providers to improve the experiences of their LGBT clients. In my position I was able to lend my personal experience with medical providers as a tool to create impactful trainings by serving as a reader for medical education curriculums a fellow intern in the department, who is a medical student, was developing.
On the other hand, youth education serves as an opportunity to provide a more general education in a way that doesn’t alienate LGBT members of the classroom. Mazzoni provides education on sexual health to high school age youth in Philadelphia. The opportunity arises to provide sexual health education that doesn’t gender body parts and takes space to discuss what safe sex looks like across relationship types. In my role I helped to develop the visual aids for these high school programs, making them visually entertaining to encourage youth participation. Translating the concepts that needed communication into interactive activities served to solidify my understanding of how providing these LGBT inclusive lessons and materials impacts the education of all youth in a way that benefits LGBT students.
Perhaps the most transformative experience of the summer was the opportunity to take part in the Philadelphia Trans Wellness Conference, which is a program the Mazzoni Center puts on each year. The conference both serves as a professional development space through its Professional Development Tracks aimed at behavioral health, medical, legal, and education professionals, and a community space through the General Track which has sessions relevant to members of the transgender community. After spending part of the early summer helping the Professional Development Coordinator contact Professional Development presenters about providing the information necessary for credentialing and ensuring the proper presentation information was displayed on the website, I was excited to see the conference come to fruition. As an intern, I was able to attend portions of the Professional Track aimed at legal professionals, which was beneficial to my development as a pre-law student. One of the sessions, titled “Movement Lawyering: Tools for Survival and Success” proved especially interesting, as it covered lawyering in relation to social justice for transgender individuals, something I hope to focus on in my future career. As a result of both the conference and my overall experience at Mazzoni Center, I am prepared with a wealth of knowledge which will serve me well in both my legal future and as a student who often finds himself serving in an education role through LGBT related leadership positions. I have emerged more knowledgeable and more confident utilizing my knowledge, and came out of the summer with a continued school year internship position with the Education Department.