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Gaining a New Perspective

June 25, 2013

A smiling man in a blue shirtChris Hutchinson joins us from Tampa, FL where he recently graduated from the University of South Florida Honors College with two undergraduate degrees; a bachelor of arts in international relations and bachelor of science in public health. Chris is currently working toward a Master of Business Administration from Saint Leo University, which he will place on hold starting this fall, when he begins law school. 

With 9 years in the US Army, Chris plans to use his military, international, and public health experience to earn his Juris Doctor degree. With a JD and an MBA he foresees a future working with veterans and NGO’s from his own law firm.  He is completing his internship via USICD’s Youth in Development (YIDA) internship program at Medical Care Development International (MCD), which works to enhance the well-being of peoples and communities in developing nations through technical assistance in health and socioeconomic development.  Chris wrote this post soon after his arrival in Washington DC in late May.

I want to start off by thanking USICD and their amazing staff for selecting me to be one of only seven interns chosen out of over 130 candidates. It really is an honor to have this opportunity. Now that I have been in DC for two weeks and have gotten settled in a little bit, I think I am adjusting nicely. DC is a far cry from Tampa, FL. In the two weeks that I have been here though, I have seen my share of ups and downs. The orientation week was great. I got to meet a lot of new people with a wide array of different perspectives on things ranging from one end of the spectrum to the other. I was introduced to new ideas and information that I had previously been completely unaware of. Orientation was definitely a huge eye opening event for me as someone who is only recently disabled. I have done a decent job of coping with my disabilities in a manner that keep them hidden from view. Once I accepted a service dog into my life, things started to change for me and then when I was brought to DC, there was nowhere to hide. No longer do I feel as much on the outside of the disabled world, but now I feel like an insider with my own voice.

On the downside though, I did have my first experience of discrimination since being in DC when I was told to leave the Lincoln Memorial with my service dog because the officers there said I didn’t look disabled and my dog must be a fake service animal.  Thankfully though, the information put out to me in the orientation week helped guide me through the experience, and USICD and other colleagues are working with me to resolve the issue so that it does not happen to me, or any other person with a disability, again.

My host organization is Medical Care Development International (MCDI), a public health organization that works primarily in Western Africa, but has projects all over the world. The people here are great! Everyone is very nice and easily approachable. The work is tough but will hopefully be a good introduction as to what to expect when I finish school and start working.

YiD, so far, has been a great experience and one I am glad I opted to do. Coming in as the senior most intern at 29 years old puts me in an interesting position. I have a ton of life experience so far, but even so, this internship is opening my eyes to new experiences and forcing me to come out of my shell a little bit. The perspective on the world that I came to DC with will definitely not be the one I leave with.

Until next time, my name is Chris Hutchinson and I can be reached at

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