While many Hamilton students end up pursuing their passions professionally after graduation, some start earlier. Carolyn Kossow ’17 is spending her summer in an internship with the Health and Reproductive Rights section of the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) in Washington, D.C.
The NWLC is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of women’s rights and the protection and advancement of the progress of women and girls “at work, in school, and in virtually every aspect of their lives.” Kossow received funding to support her internship through the Levitt Center’s Public Service Internship program.
Kossow discovered her internship through a social connection on campus. “This fall, I participated in the ‘Yes Means Yes’ discussion series,” she explains. “A senior in the group and I met one day to grab coffee and talk about her experiences interning with a non-profit that advocates for women’s rights. She recommended that I apply to internship programs at a few specific places in D.C. that were doing great work for women’s rights. The NWLC was one of them, and after looking into the organization, it quickly became my top choice. They offered me a position in April, and I was so excited,” she said.
As an outreach intern for Health and Reproductive Rights, Kossow’s responsibilities include the creation of visual graphics for the group’s Facebook page, contributing to the NWLC blog, planning and organizing events with other non-profits, and staying on top of recent developments regarding health and reproductive rights in the Supreme Court. “Today, for example, I am drafting tweets from a report the NWLC created that explains the existing legal barriers that prevent active servicewomen from accessing abortion clinics while deployed,” Kossow reported.
“As a women’s studies major,” she said, “I’m really interested in taking my knowledge from the classroom at Hamilton and actually applying it to real advocacy work, and working at the NWLC allows me to do just that. I feel like my work, although at times tedious, actually has an effect on the livelihoods of American women and families, and that is just so empowering," Kossow added.
Kossow said that this experience has been invaluable to her development of professional skills. “At the NWLC, I have learned a lot about the importance of messaging, and framing a message correctly to your audience. I’ve learned how to tweet, post on Facebook and Tumblr, and maintain successful social media sites, as well as how to create visually appealing graphics, and how to appropriately frame them to the public,” she explained. “I've also attended a variety of conferences and lectures that specifically teach interns how to advocate through social media, lobby in Congress and more.”
Kossow’s work, however, is not merely aimed at preparing her for a future career; it is deeply personal. “I am a feminist, and very passionate about fighting for equal opportunity and rights for all women,” she said, stressing the inclusion of trans women, genderqueer women, and women of other gender and sexual-identifications in that mission, concluding “I feel personally, and very strongly, that this work is important, and I plan to continue doing it (at least in some capacity) for my whole life.”
Kossow is a native of Princeton N.J., and a graduate of Princeton Day School.