Americans United is excited to welcome our team of 2018 summer interns! These passionate students hail from across the U.S. and are eager to contribute to upholding the constitutional principle of church-state separation. Today they’re sharing why they chose to spend their summer gaining firsthand experience in church-state separation advocacy.
Lily Berman, Legal Intern
About Me: I am a senior at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York where I study Political Science and Drama. I grew up in NYC and am excited to be back in a big city this summer. I am planning on spending my free time biking from air conditioned museum to air conditioned museum.
Why AU?: I am fascinated by the problems that arise when executing the Establishment Clause and am passionate about protecting groups whose rights are stripped away when the line between church and state blurs. In this political moment in which the church/state divide grows more fragile, AU’s work is particularly essential, and I feel especially fortunate to be joining the team.
Amy Fallaw, Advocacy Intern
About Me: I am a rising junior at Sarah Lawrence College concentrating in public policy with a focus on immigration. I’m originally from Waterville, Maine. I’m very excited to be in D.C. this summer because I have been lucky enough to attend college in New York City so this is another great chance to explore an amazing city.
Why AU?: I decided to spend my summer at AU because I wanted to continue my work within the field of non-profit activism that has captivated me for a long time. Systemic injustice on any level for any reason toward any people is something I’m extremely passionate about combatting, so getting involved in the religious sector of this fight is very exciting for me.
Rebecca Fate, Legal Intern
About Me: I just finished my first year at Harvard Law School. Before that I received my undergraduate degree from the University of Central Florida in Orlando, and before that I grew up in a small town in southern Oregon. This is my first time in D.C. (with the exception of one week-long field trip in middle school), so I'm excited to explore the area! You can usually find me wherever caffeinated drinks are sold.
Why AU?: I chose Americans United because although separation of church and state is an ideal stemming from the very founding of our nation, efforts to infuse religion into the state and to use religion as a tool to marginalize and discriminate against others are more pronounced than ever. AU works tirelessly to protect this fundamental ideal as well as those people, religious or otherwise, most harmed by these attacks. I am proud to contribute to that continuing legacy.
Emily Midyette, Communications Intern
About Me: I am a rising fourth-year student at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisc., majoring in biology and minoring in religious studies. I was born and raised on the beautiful Oregon coast, and I am excited to be in D.C. for my first East Coast adventure! I plan to spend my weekends wandering through museums and reading James Baldwin.
Why AU?: I grew up in a community that celebrated the merging of church and state. My high school biology teacher told my class that studying evolution is a waste of time, the principal banned Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye from my American Literature curriculum and students were “given the option” to read Bible verses aloud as a form of discipline. AU works to prevent future students from experiencing this, and I am excited to help them in doing so!
Mackenzie Price, Legal Intern
About Me: I’m a rising junior at Georgetown University and double majoring in justice and peace studies and sociology (with a minor in statistics!). I’m from Westchester, N.Y. but am happier in D.C. during the school year and am very excited to be here this summer. I plan to spend my free time learning how to cook, practicing guitar and boldly using the intimidating machines at the gym.
Why AU?: I strongly believe in AU’s mission to defend the separation of church and state. It is a fundamental right to receive equal treatment in this country no matter one’s religious beliefs or the religious beliefs of others, and I am excited to join AU in protecting this right.
Urjita Sudula, Legal Intern
About Me: I’m a rising third-year law student at Harvard Law School, and I graduated from American University with a dual-degree in International Studies and Interdisciplinary Studies (Communication, Law, Economics, Government) and a minor in Information Systems and Technology. I grew up in Plainsboro, NJ and I’ve spent the past 8 years moving around quite a bit. I love traveling and hope to end this year with at least 10 new stamps in my passport (I’m about halfway there!). When I’m not on a train or plane, I like to spend my time checking out restaurants with friends and working off the food at barre classes.
Why AU?: I chose AU because I grew up in a diverse community where people respected each other’s beliefs and didn’t try to blur the line between church and state. After leaving high school, I was exposed to the fact that this line is often blurred – or even disregarded – in many places, often to the detriment of minority communities. As a law student, I have focused on my passion for reproductive rights, which is one area where the separation of church and state has come increasingly under attack. I hope to contribute to AU’s fight to protect the rights of people who are harmed when the church/state divide is weakened.
Alexandra Willingham, Legal Intern
About Me: I am a rising second-year law student at Stanford Law School and a graduate of Swarthmore College, where I studied history and political science. At Stanford, I am editor-in-chief of the Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Journal and co-president of If/When/How, a national group that trains law students and lawyers in matters of reproductive justice. I’m also co-president of Stanford Law Students against Gendered Violence. As an adoptive New Yorker, I’m excited to now be in the country’s political and legal capital. In my spare time, I’ll be found running along the Potomac or at the National Gallery.
Why AU?: I was raised in a community of diverse beliefs where all creeds were respected, which convinced me that we cannot have true freedom of religion and conscience without clear separation of church and state. Moreover, in the reproductive justice sphere I constantly see certain religious beliefs used to block others’ right to choose. As a hopeful future impact litigator, I’m looking forward to contributing to, and learning from, AU’s multifaceted litigation strategy.
Nicole You, Advocacy Intern
About Me: I am a rising second year at the University of Chicago double-majoring in Political Science and History. I’m originally from Glenview, Illinois, but I grew up in Northwest Connecticut. I’m on the Women’s Rugby Team at UChicago, so I’ll be spending a lot of my free time this summer at the gym and running around the city.
Why AU?: I’m excited to work at Americans United this summer because there has never been a more important time to fight for our constitutional right of separation of church and state. I truly believe that it is our obligation to help defend this right not only for ourselves, but especially for those who are less fortunate and find themselves defenseless at the present time. I’m looking forward to spending my summer at AU working towards helping others!
(Top photo from left to right: Emily Midyette, Mackenzie Price, Amy Fallaw, Alexandra Willingham and Rebecca Fate. Bottom photo from left to right, back to front: Alexandra Willingham, Rebecca Fate, AU President Rachel Laser, Amy Fallaw, Urjita Sudula, Mackenzie Price, Emily Midyette, Nicole You and Lily Berman.)