Summer Student Work: LGBTQ nonprofit intern Jason DeFelice ’17

Here’s what it’s like to spend the summer as an intern for Outright Lewiston/Auburn, an organization that creates safe and affirming environments for area youths, 14 to 21, who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or questioning.

Jason DeFelice '17 of Salem, N.H., an intern with with Outright L/A, poses at the Lewiston Public Library prior to leading a Q-and-A with LGBT youth. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

Jason DeFelice ’17 of Salem, N.H., an intern with Outright L/A, poses at the Lewiston Public Library prior to leading a Q-and-A with LGBTQ+ youth. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

Name: Jason DeFelice ’17

Hometown: Salem, N.H.

Major: Neuroscience

Summer funding: Harward Center for Community Partnerships

1. Why did you pursue this internship?

As a Bonner Leader at Bates, I feel that it is very important to support local nonprofits that seek to better the Lewiston-Auburn community.

I knew that working with Outright L/A would give me valuable experience in working with minority youth and would be incredibly helpful to an organization that, like so many nonprofits, has had funding struggles.

Additionally, since my parents identify as lesbians, it is very important to me to offer others the kind of supportive environment that I always had growing up.

2. How does the internship reflect your neuroscience major?

My goal is to become a psychiatrist and work with youth, especially transgender youth. Since there is a much higher percentage of mental illness among LGBTQ+ individuals, being able to provide a supportive and affirming environment for youth this summer has reaffirmed that goal.

3. What have you learned?

I have learned a great deal about nonprofit organizations, particularly how difficult it is to find and apply for funding.

I also learned many practical things that aren’t specific to this work but are important skills to have, like how to organize and plan events. I’ve gained insights into the essence of this work: how to provide a safe place where youth feel like they belong.

4. In a given week, what were you responsible for?

Every Monday and Wednesday I was required to attend Q-and-A programming sessions, which included planning and executing educational workshops, art activities, and field trips.

The other days of the week I researched grant opportunities for Outright L/A and prepared a new program, modeled on Big Brothers Big Sisters, partnering Outright L/A youth with Bates students.

5. At a recent program at the Lewiston Public Library, Dean of Students Josh McIntosh talked about college aspirations. What was it like to work with him in this community context?

Dean McIntosh was very engaging with the youth during the Q-and-A sessions and really made them feel welcomed and comfortable in the space.

He also asked questions and brought up very important points during our discussion on college aspirations and transgender healthcare workshops. As Dean McIntosh moved to the area just recently, it was great to see him engaging with members of the community outside of Bates.

6. What did you learn about the Lewiston-Auburn community that you didn’t know before?

There are so many individuals in the area who are dedicated to serving youth and bettering the community in any way they can. The thing that makes Lewiston-Auburn so great is not the amazing restaurants or the fantastic art walks, but the people who live there.