Amplifying Voices and Promoting Addiction Recovery Through My Internship at Shatterproof

By Andres Perez

Since 2017, Vanguard has partnered with the Cisneros Hispanic Leadership Institute to fund Comunicadores for the Future, a paid internship program that supports the next generation of Latinx communicators. Andres Perez is one of the program’s 2023 interns.

I am a 20-year-old Puerto Rican, a fourth-year student at The George Washington University. I’ve lived in five different countries and attended nine different institutions. This reality has not only been a blessing, but it has allowed me to meet and learn about other cultures and ways of thinking. Through these experiences, I have developed an interest in psychology and want to help those that need mental health support the most. This summer I was able to join Shatterproof, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to reversing the addiction crisis in America, where I have been privileged enough to serve as a communications and PR intern through the Comunicadores for the Future program.

Founder and CEO Gary Mendell established Shatterproof 10 years ago after losing his son to addiction. Since then, the nonprofit has been committed to uniting millions of Americans and empowering them to create change and raise awareness of a disease that is so often overlooked. Shatterproof has been growing rapidly over the past few years as Atlas, their online resource to help people find addiction treatment, has made it to 12 states and counting.

Shatterproof’s Atlas is translatable to Spanish on their website, and one of their goals is to promote more of their resources to Latinx individuals. Being one of the only Spanish speakers on the team, I have been able to help advance that goal and am currently pitching media to Spanish-speaking podcasts across the United States. In addition, Shatterproof continues to hold their annual walks across the country as they bring communities together to honor those who lost their lives to this disease, celebrate those who are living in recovery and bring hope to the millions that are still experiencing addiction.

As a communications and PR intern, my main task is to plan and pitch media for the walks and to update Shatterproof’s website with correct, up-to-date information. Coupled with helping out with lots of small tasks, I’ve been able to get a wide range of experience that has allowed me to grow my writing skills and improve my organization and time management. Being able to be a part of an organization that is centered on mental health has been inspiring and has reaffirmed my passion for psychology.

Through training with Vanguard Communications and the Cisneros Hispanic Leadership Institute, I have grown exponentially in my communication skills. I have found confidence in my abilities and it has sparked a desire in me to continue to be a voice for the Latinx community.