My name is Samantha Merkel and I’m one of the WisconSibs summer interns for 2019. I really became a part of WisconSibs about five summers ago when I first became a counselor at SibDays of Summer. Since then I have continued to develop as a young leader with the support of WisconSibs programs.
My inspiration for everything I do comes from my 11-year-old brother, Aaron, who was born with Down syndrome. Because of his diagnosis, I have found myself a part of a unique and amazing community that includes the remarkable people of WisconSibs. In addition to my involvement with WisconSibs I am an active member of the Down Syndrome Association of Wisconsin- Fox Cities Walk Committee, I am working part-time for the Down Syndrome Association of Wisconsin- Family Services, and I am providing respite care for two sisters with Down syndrome, ages 12 and 14. This is, of course, in addition to my volunteer work as well as spending time with my family. In terms of schooling, I will be a junior at UW-Stevens Point this fall studying Communicative Sciences and Disorders for Speech Language Pathology with a minor in Spanish. During the academic year, I work in the Disability and Assistive Technology Center on campus.
I feel as though this internship is an amazing opportunity for me to gain relevant experiences, make connections, learn leadership skills, and to make a difference. I’m really looking forward to all the things that the people at WisconSibs have to teach me and the ways that planning for their events will help me to develop as a leader within my own life. I am also excited to work for an organization that helps a group of individuals that I am directly a part of and understand their need for resources and support. Given that I intend to work with individuals with disabilities within my career I feel that making connections with their siblings and their needs is a very integral part in ensuring the success of my future clients. Siblings are often some of the most important advocates in the lives of individuals with disabilities and I believe that investing in them leads to the achievements of their siblings with disabilities.
As the summer goes on I will be helping plan various fundraising, awareness, and leadership events to help benefit the siblings of individuals with disabilities within our community. I am so excited to be a part of the WisconSibs team!
Hello! My name is Calli Hughes and I’m the other WisconSibs summer interns. I just finished my Sophomore year at UW-Madison where I am studying Math and Community & Nonprofit Leadership. With aspirations to someday work in the nonprofit sector, WisconSibs seemed like a perfect fit! While WisconSibs is new to me, I already understand the great impact it makes on the community they serve. As someone who wants to explore the nonprofit sector and who is a sibling myself, WisconSibs seemed like a great opportunity to connect with a unique community.
Having a sibling with a disability, I have never really had the opportunity to connect with siblings, like myself in my town or at Madison. My brother, Dane, is Deaf and qualifies for blind services. He also has undiagnosed physical and cognitive impairments. As one of my best friends, Dane has been my inspiration for so much of my life. He is the reason I am who I am today.
While at WisconSibs, I will be focusing my time on the website, social media, and marketing. I hope to expand the reach that WisconSibs makes statewide so that more siblings can become knowledgable about their support. I hope to learn from fellow siblings about their experiences as well as just gain a deeper appreciation for WisconSibs and the community they serve!