Austin Nugent Discusses Time Spent with Kentucky Protection and Advocacy

Part-time MPA student Austin Nugent had a unique internship experience this summer. Austin works full-time and was not able to take on a traditional internship, instead opting to work on a project with Kentucky Protection and Advocacy. KY P&A is an independent state agency, housed within the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy, which protects and promotes the rights of Kentuckians with disabilities through information and referral, technical assistance, education and training, and legal advocacy.

"My day-to-day varied - because I did the internship project instead of a full internship, my tasks were driven by my interests. P&A was really wonderful about facilitating opportunities that would provide me valuable insight into the things I am most passionate about."

Austin spent part of her time working alongside P&A's legal unit to review the Administrative Register monthly and assess if and how proposed regulations impact Kentuckians with disabilities. She also spent time monitoring various facilities across the state to ensure the rights of people with disabilities and mental health conditions were not being violated. This included visiting prisons and the restricted housing units within them, residential care facilities, and psychiatric hospitals. P&A has unrestricted access to these facilities so she was able to get a very intimate view of these places and hear about people's experiences in them.

"I have always been interested in multisystems change and disability rights, but my internship solidified those goals and my perspective around the need to reform our systems."