Meet the AHA Intern: Kelly Damerow

HNN:  What’s your educational and work background?  

Kelly: I received my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in elementary education from the University of Florida. As a practicum component of my Master’s degree I taught a semester of kindergarten. I loved working with the students, but those involved in the day to day operations of education had little say in the policies shaping it, so I enrolled in law school. During my summer breaks I had great experiences working for private firms and judges. I graduated from the University of Florida Levin College of Law in May 2011 and spent the summer studying for the bar exam. After passing the exam and being admitted to the Florida Bar, I moved to the DC metro area with my husband to pursue my passion for public policy. I am applying to become a member of the DC Bar.

HNN: How did you first learn about humanism? 

Kelly: I first learned about humanism on the Wikipedia page of Joss Whedon. I’m a big fan of his movies and television series. On his page he is described as a humanist, and having never heard of it before, I read the Wikipedia page on humanism. I immediately identified with views of humanism. It felt like I found something I didn’t realize I was looking for.

HNN: Did you grow up in a religious tradition?

Kelly: My grandmother is Irish-Catholic and I completed a religious education, including the traditional sacraments of first communion and confirmation, because I knew it would make her happy. When attending Sunday school I appreciated the morals behind the stories we were taught, but was unsure of the traditions and beliefs of the Catholic faith. I was conflicted, because I enjoyed the weekly reminder to be a good person but felt dishonest participating when I didn’t believe the supernatural elements.

HNN: What interested you most about interning for the AHA?

Kelly: When I first discovered humanism I was amazed that such a large and organized group of people felt the way I do. I looked into AHA chapters in my local Florida community. Once we made the decision to move to the DC area I again looked into the AHA and found the perfect combination of my humanist ideals and public policy pursuits in the Appignani Humanist Legal Center. I contacted them through the website and was ecstatic to receive a response inviting me to visit the center and discuss an internship.

I started in early January and am already putting my legal knowledge to work to defend the separation of church and state in education. I am proud that I am working toward the goals that first lead me into law and appreciative of the legal research and writing experience I am gaining from this internship.

HNN: What’s your favorite book? Have you read any other good books lately?

Kelly: My favorite book is All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. It reminds me of the importance of being polite, kind, and sharing, and other lessons I taught to my kindergarten students, but may escape the minds of adults in our busy lives. Most recently I read Tina Fey’s Bossypants, which was a fun, light hearted look at the challenges of growing up and earning respect as a woman in a career dominated by men.

HNN: If you could have dinner with any three people (living or dead), who would they be?

Kelly: Lucille Ball. I was an I Love Lucy fanatic as a kid and respect her immensely as the first woman to head a studio in Hollywood. I imagine she would be a fun and interesting dinner guest.

Hillary Clinton. She achieves so much in areas I care about deeply. She is a woman, wife, and mother. She is a lawyer and lifelong advocate for children. She is a leader in government who has navigated harsh political climates to really make a difference. I just want to ask her “how?!” then take detailed notes.

Benjamin Franklin. His knowledge spanned many areas of study. A dinner discussion with him could include science, politics, or music. His famous quotes suggest I would be in for a fun and humorous talk about serious ideas.