Intern Spotlight: Alegnta Mezmur

What are you studying and why? 

I am currently majoring in Global and International Studies with a focus in Economics and minoring in Statistical and Data Science with a pathway in Entrepreneurship. I am pursuing these fields because it allows me to have a holistic and deeper understanding of global issues. It will provide me with the necessary tools to analyze certain situations in different contexts. Thus, preparing me to provide better solutions.

How did you get involved with HelpAge USA?

I was introduced to HelpAge USA through Age-Friendly DC. During my spring semester, I had applied to be an intern at Age-Friendly DC, and in the interview process, I had a wonderful conversation with Age-Friendly DC City Coordinator, Gail Kohn. After the interview process, she informed me that I did not receive the position, but she wanted to recommend me to HelpAge USA. She set up a meeting for me and the CEO of HelpAge USA, Cindy Cox-Roman. The meeting went well, and I had the opportunity to meet the whole team and later, I was offered a full-time internship with HelpAge USA for the summer of 2021.

What have you learned about older people and/or aging during your internship that you didn’t know before?

Through my internship, I observed how the older population is truly the most vulnerable population as they are neglected and are highly underrepresented in the non-profit industry in comparison to other age groups. Moreover, I have gained a new understanding of the common but false stereotypes regarding older people and aging. For instance, I learned that the word “elderly” is considered a derogatory term as it is observing the older community through a negative optical lens suggesting that they are fragile and financially dependent. Through my work at HelpAge USA, I have observed the extent to how much the older population contributes to society as they are essential contributors to their families and communities, especially in low and middle-income countries. Thus, I hope to continue advocating for the older population by combating these misconceptions through educating others.

How has your time with HelpAge USA contributed to shaping to your future career goals and passions?

My internship at HelpAge USA for the past three months has been a wonderful experience where I learned new things every day. It has allowed me to advance in my interpersonal, organizational, research, and writing skills. It has also allowed me to grow my professional network. Moreover, this internship has provided me insight into the non-profit sector and its operations which has made me keen to work in the non-profit industry in the future. By researching several projects through my internship, I have gained a new passion for project management. Through my exposure at HelpAge USA, I am excited to further explore this field.

What are you planning to do next?  

I will be starting my junior year by studying abroad in Switzerland, the global hub of diplomacy, where I will partake in the International Studies and Multilateral Diplomacy program. The program will provide me a deeper understanding of the complexity of international relations, diplomacy, and security in our rapidly changing world. I will also be conducting an Independent Study Project where I will be pursuing original research on my topic of choice.  

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