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AIC’s Alexander Clark Interns with Hampden County DA’s Office

SPRINGFIELD — American International College (AIC) senior Alexander Clark is putting his summer to good use. Clark was afforded the opportunity to intern with the Hampden County District Attorney’s office and is gaining valuable real-life experience while being mentored by AIC alumnus Antonio Simmons, the office’s director of Community Safety and Outreach.

At a recent press conference, Hampden County District Attorney Anthony Gulluni announced the formation of the Hampden County Addiction Task Force (HCAT), a collaboration of community resources including local and state law-enforcement personnel, healthcare institutions, service providers, schools, and community coalitions whose goal is to focus on a county-wide approach to address drug addition, overdose, and prevention.

HCAT lists five primary objectives, including the development of consistent messaging for addiction and addiction-related issues. Clark was tasked with creating a social-media plan in support of HCAT’s efforts. On June 15, he presented his plan to members of the task force. “Social media will help give the campaign a face and communicate a consistent message throughout the community as well as promote events that are taking place around these issues,” he said.

Clark suggested a three-pronged approach to the social-media campaign using Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to get the word out while utilizing Hootsuite to manage all three sites, schedule posts, and provide analytics. “Facebook will be the primary go-to site,” he explained. Everybody uses Facebook, including my father, my grandmother, and my great-grandmother.”

Clark supported the use of Instagram to best reach his constituents, adults 18 to 30 years. “It’s where I get most of my news. It’s heavy with images which engage my age group.” Twitter “stirs conversations,” he added, and will do so relative to discussions around opioid addiction and prevention in the community.

Clark identified growing online followers as “our biggest challenge.” In an effort to further promote his social-media plan, he offered to personally attend community events that will help educate and engage the community about HCAT.

His supervisor and mentor, Antonio Simmons, said he is impressed with Clark’s contributions to the team. “Alex gives HCAT that input needed from a youth’s perspective. His knowledge of social media will be very helpful. Alex has very good communication and leadership skills that will be an asset to the team. I am impressed with his drive and determination to get involved and make a difference.”

When Clark returns to the AIC campus for his senior year, community outreach will continue to be a priority, as it has been since beginning his college career. Clark served as a representative to AIC’s student government his freshman year and president his sophomore and junior years. He continues to serve as the legislative chair for AIC’s Model Congress, the oldest of its kind in the country. He is an executive board member for POWER, a non-partisan political-activism organization on campus whose mission is to raise awareness regarding current issues and get students thinking about politics and the world around them.

Clark is one of 137 students selected nationally (only three from Massachusetts) to participate in College Debate 2016, a national, non-partisan initiative to empower young voters to identify issues and engage peers in the presidential election. The group met in Los Angeles this spring to strategize and will reconvene there in September. He is doing all this while he pursues his undergraduate degree in political science and works two jobs to help put himself through school. “My parents were excellent role models for working hard,” he said.

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