Every year, DRNC offers internships to several law students interested in disability rights and public interest law. This year, we expanded our internship program and offered internships to several undergrads as well.
Meet DRNC 2020 summer legal interns
Nicholas Derico is a second-year law student at North Carolina Central University, with a special interest in civil rights. He received his bachelors degree from Georgia Southern University (Savannah Campus). Over the summer, he will be working with voting team. When he gets some free time, which hasn’t been often since starting law school, Nicholas enjoys being outside in nature.
Sarah Hoffman is a third-year law student at the University of North Carolina and second-year master of public policy student at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy. Her interests are focused on the intersections of criminal justice, mental health, and expanding healthcare access in North Carolina to marginalized populations. Prior to coming to DRNC, Sarah worked on mental health, disability, and substance abuse policy as a behavioral health fellow at the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services and served as a law clerk in the mental health division of the D.C. Public Defender Service. This summer she will be working with DRNC’s community inclusion team. When she’s not working, Sarah enjoys baking, Krav Maga, spending time with the cutest three-year-old in the world (her niece), and playing music.
Rebecca Robison is a second-year law student at Campbell Law. She is on the pro bono council and is the coordinator of Campbell’s Death Row Visitation Project. She wants to help others, particularly vulnerable populations with her law degree, which is why she chose to intern at Disability Rights NC. This summer Rebecca will be working with DRNC’s disaster recovery team and expanding her knowledge while doing meaningful work. In her free time, she enjoys reading, riding bikes, and being outdoors.
Montana Vaughn is a second-year law student at UNC School of Law from Asheboro, North Carolina. Before law school, he attended UNC for undergrad where he majored in peace, war, and defense with a minor in social and economic justice. During that time, he also interned with The Arc of Greensboro where he first started working with people with disabilities. This summer, Montana will be “floating” between different DRNC teams, working on whatever projects need extra help. Outside of work, his interests include regulatory and transactional law, Carolina basketball, and long-distance running.
Communications and Development Intern
Sophia Keil is a rising junior at Oberlin College and Conservatory, where she is majoring in flute performance with a concentration in law and society. Being totally blind, Sophia uses her seeing eye dog (a female yellow lab named Bree) to help navigate campus. Sophia aspires to become a public-interest attorney, combining the detail-oriented and collaborative nature of music with a sense of empathy through lived experience. In her free time, Sophia enjoys talking and skyping with her friends, going on long hikes with Bree, and spending an ungodly amount of time studying Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings universe.
Our inaugural group of voting interns are the next generation of leaders and grassroots organizers. During this internship, they will learn about voting rights and the voting process, and they will develop a Get Out The Vote (GOTV) plan for their campus. The goal of their GOTV plans will be to increase student, faculty and community voting participation by 20% within a two mile radius of their undergraduate campus. All of our interns identify as a people with disabilities.
Matthew Greene joined the DRNC team in June 2020 as a voting intern. He is currently pursuing an associate’s degree in agribusiness technology at Beaufort County Community College. A self-advocate, he is passionate about helping others with disabilities. In his free time, Matthew enjoys playing with his dog and hanging out with his friends.
Tayla Jones is a native of Elizabeth City, North Carolina and a rising senior. She attends Elizabeth City State University, majoring in special education with a minor in business and entrepreneurship. This internship is extremely important to Tayla, as she has a younger brother with autism spectrum disorder. She has a passion for helping others, and making sure that everyone’s voice is heard and that they are treated fairly.
Aaliyah King joined DRNC as a voting intern in June 2020. She is from Durham, North Carolina and currently attends Durham Technical Community College. Prior to joining DRNC, Ailiyah spent over 10 years working in early childhood education. She also went to Bennett College to study early childhood education for three years. Throughout her childhood, Ailiyah has personally experienced what it feels like to have a disability and not be able to let your voice to be heard. She strongly believes this internship is a great opportunity for her to use her gift of creativity and the arts to inspire others to form their own paths. In her free time, she loves to draw outside, listen to music, and spend quality time with her family.
Naomi Thombs is second year psychology major at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. She lives in Raleigh, North Carolina and is an alumna of Saint Mary’s School. Naomi joined DRNC as a voting intern in June 2020. With this internship she hopes to create a safe space for students with disabilities on her campus to learn more about voting and their voting rights.
Thomas Warren joined DRNC in 2020 as a voting rights intern. He was born and raised in Salisbury, North Carolina. He is a recent alumnus of Winston-Salem State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in exercise science. Being diagnosed with a learning disability at a young age, Thomas is excited to now have the opportunity to advocate for other individuals with disabilities.
Joshua White joined the Disability Rights NC team in 2020 as an intern for the Access the Vote initiative. He was diagnosed with autism on September 11, 2001 at the age of 21. He lives in Boone with his partner and their kids and cats. Joshua received his associates degree from Nash Community College in Rocky Mount, and is a recent graduate of Appalachian State where he received his bachelors of social work. When he’s not busy with his family or working, Joshua enjoys gardening, playing Minecraft, and shopping at the farmers market.