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AEF interns listen to a tour of the Eaton Hotel

Meet the AEF Interns

Meet the 2023-24 School-Year Interns:

John "JT" Thompson, a young Black man, stands in front of brick background. He is wearing a navy blazer with the crest of Ballou's Academy of Hospitality and Tourism.

John "JT" Thompson

I am a senior in the Academy Hospitality and Tourism at Ballou High School. The most memorable things I’ve done in my Academy are: visit New York City with AEF last March and participate in the NatsPrep program, where I came up with ways to help the Nationals baseball team sell more tickets to young people. Sports is a passion and I plan on playing football at a university on scholarship. In my AEF internship, I am excited to network with different people working together to achieve the same goal.


Melany Mendez Casas, a young Latina woman, stands in front of a brick wall. She wears glasses and a black polo shirt.

Melany Mendez-Casas

I am a senior in the Academy of Mass Media at Calvin Coolidge High School. In addition to my internship and school, I’ve also worked in a ramen restaurant as a host since April 2023. Interacting with customers, kitchen staff and servers at my job has helped me gain more confidence and improve my communication skills. In my internship with Destination DC and AEF, I hope to gain management and leadership skills.


Nalisa Jacobs, a young Black woman, stands in front of a brick background. She is wearing thick rimmed glasses, a white blouse, and a sweater vest.

Nalisa Jacobs

I am a senior in the Academy of Hospitality and Tourism at Ballou High School. The most memorable project I’ve done is working at my school’s back to school night. I handed out shirts to students and answered questions about hospitality and tourism. Helping parents and families gain an understanding of what we learn in our Academy brings me joy. During my internship, I’m excited to learn more about the behind the scenes of hospitality and tourism and how we can share that happiness with other people.

Meet the 2022-23 School-Year Interns:

Mattison, a Black young woman, is a senior at Coolidge High School

Mattison McDonald

I'm currently a senior in the Mass Media Academy at Calvin Coolidge High school. The most memorable thing I've done at my academy is take pictures for different groups, such as the science fair. My aunt inspires me to express myself through pictures and I find joy in doing that. I look forward to gaining new skills to be a good businessperson, working in tourism and learning how to be a part of a diverse community.


Declan, a White young man, is a senior at Jackson-Reed

Declan Bianchi

I am a senior in the Hospitality and Tourism Academy at Jackson-Reed High School. I have been a member of the academy for the past three years and have gained experience and valuable knowledge about the service and business industries. One of my most memorable projects was working at my school’s 2022 prom. I directed traffic, set up and closed the event, and made sure the evening went well. I had fun while still helping people. It made me realize that work doesn’t have to be draining and that it can be something you enjoy and look forward to. I want to pursue business, and maybe have my own business one day. I want to help those in need and provide a service to those who are looking for comfort and luxury. In my internship with Destination DC and AEF, I hope to learn more about social media trends and retaining an audience. I’m excited to work in a professional workspace with people who share similar mindsets and bounce ideas off one another while building friendships and connections.


Jordan, a Black young woman, is a senior at Jackson-Reed

Jordan Goings

I attend Jackson-Reed High School and graduate in 2023. I am a social media intern for AEF and Destination DC. I remember touring colleges and cooking breakfast for nearly all of the DC Public School principals. We were able to tour Lincoln University, George Mason and Temple University. The academy has taught me what it means to be hospitable in my day-to-day life. After high school, I would like to have a career in sports management. I hope to find connections that can help me in the future. Maybe the internship can help me find my true passion and future career.


Aya Shaw, a Black young man, who is a senior at Jackson Reed

Aya Shaw

I am in 12th grade at Jackson-Reed High School and graduate in 2023. I have gotten an understanding of what goes on behind the scenes in tourism, especially in a tourism heavy city like Washington, DC. I also have visited various colleges and learned more about the different programs they offer. After high school, I want to pursue entrepreneurship and have multiple businesses. I hope to experience a work environment and gain an understanding of all the things you do as a member of the team. I also want to help plan events and be exposed to different areas of Destination DC

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