AU Interns Reflect On Their Summer Of Church-State Separation Advocacy

Believe it or not, it’s already August. And that means many of Americans United’s interns are wrapping up their church-state separation projects and getting ready to go back to school. Here’s what they have to say about their time with AU. (To reacquaint yourself with this year’s roster, read the introduction to our interns here.)

Jeff Bishop, New York University School of Law - Legal Department: A second summer with AU’s legal team has firmly established that – when it comes to producing cutting-edge legal arguments that protect all Americans’ freedom of conscience – AU is the real deal. As difficult as it may be, AU has managed to assemble a talented group of lawyers who daily exude an unparalleled passion for their work. I’m humbled to have been a part of such a team, working on the issues that matter. Organizations like AU continue to impress on me the importance of fighting for the little guy – even when the times are tough.

Brenna Culliton, American University Washington College of Law - Legal Department: Interning with the AU Legal Department this summer has been incredibly rewarding. Having the privilege of working with and learning from such intelligent and dedicated people is something I will always be grateful for. Learning the ins and outs of AU as a whole and seeing each department work together to effect positive change is nothing short of inspiring. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.

Sam Hainbach, Brown University - Communications Department: One of the things I like most about having been in the AU Communications Department is its centrality to the entire organization. If you’re going to craft an effective message about an organization, you have to know what every other department is doing! This summer, I’ve been privileged to get glimpses into all facets of AU’s work, from field organizing, to litigation, to legislation. It’s been an incredibly valuable experience.

Courtney Marsh, University of Chicago - Field Department: Americans United has shown me the goals that a dynamic, compassionate and dedicated group of people can achieve together. I have learned so much about grass-roots organizing and how advocacy organizations, like Americans United and their many coalition partners, can truly come together and affect people’s lives in a real and positive way. I will always be grateful to AU, their staff and all of the other interns for allowing me to learn from and with them and for the opportunity to do my part in safeguarding the rights of all people.

A few of AU's summer inters: from left, Genevieve Mesch, Brenna Culliton, Madeleine Scott, Rachell Mosquera and Courtney Marsh. 

Genevieve Mesch, Georgetown University Law Center - Legal Department: Interning with the Legal Department at AU has been a wonderful opportunity to both develop professionally and to participate in meaningful work. Not only have I had the chance to learn from gifted and enthusiastic legal thinkers, but I have also been able to engage with the people whose everyday lives are changed by the constitutional guarantees many take for granted. The staff of AU, inside and outside of the legal department, exemplify how passion can be transformed into action and real change.

Rachell Mosquera, Sarah Lawrence College - Field Department: Being able to work for Americans United was incredible. It showed me a different and more hands-on experience than other internships. Working for the Field Department taught me the significance of grass-roots organizing, especially within public policy. The positive change this organization contributes to is amazing and being able to be part of it even in the smallest ways is awesome. It has shown me that advocacy goes a long way and to continue fighting for the issues that are important to me.

William Moss, Wesleyan University - Legal Department: This is my second summer working in the Legal Department of Americans United, and what I appreciate most about AU is the access it has offered me: access to brilliant and passionate minds, access to the issues I care most about, and most of all, access to mentors who truly care about my development as an advocate for church-state separation. I consider myself incredibly lucky to be able to pop into the office of a co-worker and discuss at length any legal issue I don’t quite understand. Americans United has shown me that its dedication to church-state separation extends far beyond current legal battles – AU takes an active role in shaping the next generation of advocates eager to carry on its work.

Madeleine Scott, University of Chicago - Legal Department: During my time so far as a legal intern, I’ve loved getting the chance to learn about and contribute to AU’s litigation efforts. As a rising college senior, I appreciate the insights I have gained into law as a potential career path. And overall, I have gained an understanding of the continual work required to maintain separation of church and state in America.

Young people interested in learning more about internships at Americans United or youth activism should visit Students For Church/State Separation.