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MAEC Internship – Lily Klam

MAEC has been lucky to have a thriving internship program with dedicated, enthusiastic interns who share our passion for education equity. In fact, some have permanently joined our MAEC team full time! We interviewed MAEC intern Lily Klam on what education equity means to her and to learn more about her experiences with MAEC.

Tell us about yourself!

My name is Lily Klam and I am a senior at the University of Maryland, College Park (“UMD”). I’m in an accelerated 4+1 program, where I work toward my master’s degree alongside my undergraduate degree. I am pursuing my master’s in public policy with a concentration in education policy, and an undergraduate degree in government and politics, minoring in rhetoric. I have a passion for art and creativity, including drawing, painting, design, and creative writing. I firmly believe that thinking creatively is essential in education policy to imagine “out-of-the-box” policy solutions that can lead to more equitable educational environments for all students.  

I have worked at eight different jobs in college, including interning for the Mayor of Annapolis, the Maryland General Assembly, the University of Maryland Writing Center, and the Maryland State Department of Education. I have lived in Maryland for my whole life and grown up kayaking in the Chesapeake Bay, eating crabs, and putting Old Bay on everything. 

Why do you choose to work in education equity?

I first discovered my passion for education equity when I began volunteering as a tutor for DC public schools at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The coordinator of the program was a teacher who explained to me that she had not heard from half of her students since the transition to online learning. Although I was inspired by her commitment to start a program serving all students in the district, I was heartbroken to discover how much the pandemic was affecting students’ learning.  

The more I researched, the more concerned I became about the disproportionate impacts of the pandemic on students’ learning. I volunteered to be the assistant director of a UMD student-led initiative to provide free learning pods to students who were struggling during the pandemic. In 2021, we tutored 168 students in Prince George’s County, MD.  

I work in education equity because I believe that our society has the ability to create a more equitable future for all students. I believe that every student deserves the right to a quality educational experience and I work to challenge the social norms and disrupt the system that has led us to unacceptable learning disparities. 

What does education equity mean to you?

Education equity means that each student is celebrated because of – not in spite of – their differences. At a bare minimum, this means ensuring each student has the opportunity to find their unique voice in a safe, healthy, and clean environment. Education equity means that every student, regardless of their socioeconomic status, race, sexual orientation, or disability, is uplifted and embraced for their uniqueness and celebrated for their differences.  

Achieving education equity will mean a much more equitable society and the promise of a completely changed world. As Sonia Sotomayor stated, “Until we get equality in education, we won’t have an equal society.” As long as our educational system is inequitable, I believe there is little hope for a more equitable world.

What do you do as an intern at MAEC?

As an intern on the CAFE team, I have been involved in many different projects, including researching and writing a publication, providing webinar support, assisting with grant-writing, and preparing materials for equity workshops. My favorite project is a presentation on equitable family engagement strategies. I grew passionate about equitable family engagement when I learned that equity is often left out of the conversation on family engagement. Current family engagement research excludes strategies that are accessible to families from all different backgrounds. In the presentation I am developing, I will have the opportunity to contribute to a conversation that demands our attention.

 What has been a highlight of your experience at MAEC so far?

As an intern, I’m usually the person in the room with the least amount of experience and knowledge on the topics that we discuss. However, I have never felt like “just an intern” at MAEC, and everyone is extremely receptive to my ideas and willing to include me in different projects. I have learned so much as a result of the willingness of the staff to support my involvement in a variety of projects.  

Additionally, everyone that works at MAEC is deeply passionate about education equity and social justice. This common devotion has made it so amazing and effortless to work with everyone, learn from them, and hear their opinions on some deeply important and complex issues. Sharing these core values with all of the employees here has been a highlight of my experience. 

How do you see this internship factoring into your work after MAEC?

In this internship, I have strengthened so many different skills, such as research, writing, presenting, public speaking, and data collection and analysis. I have gained so much knowledge about our educational systems and received diverse and meaningful insight on important issues regarding education equity. My experience at MAEC has not only given me hope for a more equitable future in education: it’s made me even more passionate about working towards education equity and confident in my ability to make a difference. Overall, I have learned essential skills and knowledge that I know will stay with me for my entire career. 

 

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The MAEC blog is designed to engage hearts and minds of school and district leaders across the country to engage in issues that you have identified as being essential in education. Opinions do not necessarily reflect the views of the organization.

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