How did this experience influence or aid your future career plan?
This experience has influenced my future career plan because it has provided me direct exposure to the health policy world and the legislative process. It has made me realize that my passion truly lies in health policy and that there are many disparities that need to be addressed in both the state and the federal level. The University of Florida and the Cancer Center are making such important strides and it is truly an honor to work with the Federal Relations team to support their endeavors.
Can you describe your tasks and the work you had done over the course of the internship?
Some of the tasks that I did during this internship include attending health subcommittee hearings at the U.S. House of Representative buildings and U.S. Senate building, and writing hearing briefs highlighting what the hearing was on and what the witnesses and Florida members had to say about an issue that is of interest to the University of Florida. Other projects I have completed include creating a Florida Delegation portfolio, attending meetings with legislative staff and speaking to congressional health staffers about UFHCC’s NCI designation application letter of support and reached out to congressional members to sign on.
What did you achieve through this position?
I have achieved many skills through this position including stronger communication skills, the ability to draft proper emails and letters, and the skills to present your case and defend why an issue should be prioritized. Finally, I have achieved a sense of reassurance that women of color can be successful in the policy world.
What was the most helpful or interesting aspect of the internship?
The most helpful part of this internship was all of the connections I was able to make. The dean of my college, Dr. Perri, came to the University of Florida’s office of federal relations and I was able to sit in on a meeting between him and Sarah Mathias, the director of federal relations, and was able to introduce myself and speak to him about public health and my work that I have been doing. Attending the subcommittee hearings was a really interesting aspect of the internship because you are able to hear such important issues like drug pricing and reauthorization of the higher educational act being discussed and you’re seeing representatives and senators express their views right in front of you. I was also able to meet Alexandria-Ocasio Cortez, a representative for New York, so that definitely was a highlight as well!
What were some challenges you faced during this experience and how did you overcome them?
Some challenges that I faced during this experience was learning to be comfortable with who I am as a woman of color and realizing that I bring a valid perspective into the policy world as well. Other challenges I faced during this experience include learning the importance of following up with people if you do not hear back from them and learning how to manage multiple small projects at one time.
How does this differ from other UF cancer-related or other institutions’ policy internships?
This experience is different from other UF cancer-related internships or other institutions’ policy internships because you are have the opportunity to work on Capitol Hill and are experiencing the policy process at a federal level from start to finish. You learn how to navigate barriers that come up and you begin to problem solve. You learn how to reschedule a meeting that might have fallen through or how to move forward even if you don’t always receive the answer you were expecting. Interning at the University of Florida’s federal relations office provides you with experiences that are truly one of kind and gives you skills that can be applied moving forward in one’s career.