Canadian Parliament Internship

On May 12, 2017, I moved to Ottawa to begin my five weeks interning with a member of the Canadian House of Commons. While there, I had the incredible fortune of working in the office of the Honourable Don Davies. As an intern, I got to conduct research on federal health policy, analyze election results, write parliamentary statements, and correspond with constituents.

The most impactful part of my time in Ottawa was the confidence that I gained. Going into my internship, I was struggling to create a concrete career goal. While I had interned at the Ohio Statehouse earlier in the year, I was still having a very difficult time imagining myself working a 9-5 job and enjoying it. I had changed majors during my freshman year, leaving behind my pre-medicine track, and everything that I had originally planned for myself. Throughout my sophomore year, I really worked on getting my bearings in my new public affairs major in addition to my public health major. I knew that I wanted to eventually work in civil service. Yet, I still struggled throughout the year to feel confident in this new path. My experiences and the passion that I found I had for the work I was doing reassured me that I am moving in the correct direction.

My work, the people I worked with, and the beautiful city of Ottawa all had a huge impact on me in finding my confidence. There was a “jack of all trades” aspect of the work I was doing. This was especially true of my research. Mr. Davies is the New Democratic Party’s Critic for Health for the the first session of the 42nd Parliament. Consequently, Mr. Davies represented his party on the Standing Committee for Health. Throughout my time in Ottawa, I did much of the background research preparing for these committee meetings. This allowed me to gain a breadth of working knowledge on a wide variety of issues. These ranged from Lyme disease to antimicrobial resistance. It required that I understand Canadian law and regulations related to these topics and present my research in a concise manner. I found that I love digging into new material. It was incredibly gratifying to see the way that my research was translating into potential new policies that could positively impact the health of Canadians.

Throughout my time on Parliament Hill, I met incredible people. The passion for pubic service that I saw astounded me. Not only did I enjoy working with my mentors and supervisors, I found a home in my office. It may have only been five weeks, but I learned how to build strong professional relationships quickly. This paid off. It allowed those in my office to trust me with important work. Throughout my time as an intern, I regularly received high praises from those that I worked with. This reinforced the confidence that I was already gaining from my love of my work.

Finally, Ottawa, with its history and sights, provided me with a new home. The combination of an incredibly positive and productive work environment with a city that I quickly grew to love allowed me to thrive.  Ottawa gave me the chance to explore, giving me an extra boost of confidence and reminding me of my love for new places.

 

This experience was an incredible new chapter for me. Already, it has motivated me to apply for a new internship for the coming semester, working on a local politician’s reelection campaign. It has give me the knowledge that I am gathering the skills necessary to succeed in the work that I hope to do. Finally, it has given me the confidence to continue to pursue my goal of working in civil service.

Sophomore Year Timeline

Autumn 2016

  • Interned at the Ohio Statehouse in the Senate Minority Caucus
    • Conducted policy research focused on health issues in the state
    • Explored a potential career in state government and the roles different staff members play
  • Started serving as the High School Outreach Co-Chair for OSU Global Health Initiative
    • Helped to organize and plan educational workshops on public health and the role that it plays locally, nationally, and globally
  • Worked as an Office Assistant in the Houston and Houck Residence Halls
  • Began working as a Resident Advisor in Morrison Tower in the International House Learning Community
  • Participated in the Second-Year Transformational Experience Program (STEP)
  • Accepted into the Canadian Parliamentary Internship program
  • Regularly volunteered at the Mid-Ohio Foodbank as on the Columbus Have a Hart Day City Captains
  • Awarded the John Glenn College of Public Affairs 2016 Alumni Scholarship
  • Recognized on the College of Public Health Dean’s List
  • Achieved the goal of a 4.0 semester GPA

Spring 2017

  • Attended Population Connection’s Capitol Hill Days for the second time
    • Led an 80 constituent lobbying meeting with Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio’s office
    • Participated in a three day conference focused on international and domestic family planning topics
    • Lobbied my elected officials in Congress for three key international family planning policy changes
  • Helped to create an ongoing volunteer partnership between the Student Life International House Learning Community and the Mid-Ohio Foodbank
  • Received my DICE (Diversity, Inclusion, and Civic Engagement) certification through the OSU Multiccultural Center
  • Joined the Gamma Rho Lambda Sorority
    • Volunteered with Stonewall Columbus
    • Helped to organize a fundraiser for the Trevor Project
    • Elected to be a Autumn 2017 New Member Educator for Gamma Rho Lambda
  • Inducted into Chimes Junior Honorary
  • Volunteered at the Columbus Boys and Girls Club with OSU Global Health Initiative
  • Continued to regularly volunteer at the Mid-Ohio Foodbank
  • Recognized on the College of Public Health Dean’s List

Capitol Hill Days 2017

Advocacy and Lobbying on Capitol Hill

For the second year in a row, I got the opportunity to attend Population Connection Action Fund’s Capitol Hill Days in Washington, D.C. This three-day conference culminates in a lobbying day with our Congress members. The educational sessions and lobbying focus on American global public health policies, especially women’s health policies. Because I am originally from Pennsylvania but go to school in Ohio, I ended up with five lobbying meetings. These meetings ranged in size from eighty people to just myself meeting with a representative of my PA U.S. Representative.

Additionally, because I was a returning participant, I was chosen to lead the eighty constituent meeting with representatives from Senator Sherrod Brown’s office. This meant that I began and ended the meeting in addition to helping run our planning session. I put on the spot, but I really enjoyed this small leadership opportunity. All of my meetings went very well. In addition to learning and lobbying, I got to see the cherry blossoms blooming in D.C. for the first time and explored more of my favorite city!

This incredible experience touched on two of the Honors and Scholars G.O.A.L.S: Global Awareness and Leadership Development. My favorite thing about public health and public affairs is that they work on a small local level or they can work towards making huge global changes. In this case, I was lobbying for increased funding for women’s health internationally. Today the world is so small that something my local Congress member votes on can impact the life of a woman and her family hundreds of thousands of miles away. Increasing this kind of understanding of the significance of our actions will help us to create a healthier, more compassionate, and peaceful world. My experience suddenly becoming a group leader gave me more confidence in my leadership skills. Confidence is key to developing as a leader. Even if you know all of the right things to do, if you don’t lead with confidence, you’ll never be the best leader you can be. I am incredibly thankful for my time at Capitol Hill Days, and I hope to return next year.

 

Sophomore Year Refection – Part 1

Chapter 2 – New Beginnings

Going into my sophomore year, I didn’t know what to think. I knew that it wouldn’t be the same as freshman year, but I never could have expected what Autumn 2016 would hold.

The first new beginning was my internship with the Senate Minority Caucus. For years I had contemplated working in the government. Finally, I got the chance to see what a job in the field might hold. I was hooked. Immediately, I knew that I had made the correct choice adding my second major in public affairs. That experience, combined with STEP led me to apply for Ohio State’s Canadian Parliamentary Internship program. At the end of the semester, I learned that I had been accepted into the program. I was thrilled!

At the beginning of the semester, I also began my role as one of the High School Outreach Committee Co-Chairs for the Ohio State Global Health Initiative. This position has given me the opportunity to work with a partner to plan and do outreach to local high schools and other organizations that work with youth. The purpose of this committee is to introduce youth to public health and the way that it impacts their world at a young age. I love the opportunity to educate others on something as important as public health. Unfortunately, we struggled to create a long lasting partnership with any high school teachers in the area. Consequently, moving into the Spring 2017 semester, my partner and I knew we would have to get creative to meet the mission of High School Outreach.

The final – and biggest – new beginning was my employment by the Ohio State Office of Student Life. In my freshman year, I had applied to be an Office Assistant in the residence hall where I lived but did not receive the position. I decided to apply again at the beginning of the autumn semester after volunteering during move-in weekend as an Ohio State Welcome Leader Coordinator (OWL-C). As an OWL-C, I got to work with the Senior Staff in my residence hall and realized that I enjoyed helping to create a great atmosphere for students in their new home. I was incredibly excited when I learned that I was hired as an Office Assistant in the Houston-Houck Residence Halls. My positive experience working at the front desk motivated me to apply to be a Resident Advisor. Originally, I had intended to apply to become an RA starting in the Fall 2017 semester. Instead, I was hired to begin immediately as an RA in Morrison Tower. In a whirlwind, I accepted the position on a Saturday, met my new Hall Director on Tuesday, moved on Friday, and began working on Sunday. While it was a challenge to take on this huge responsibility in the middle of a semester, I could not be happier with my decision.

 

 

Ohio Statehouse Internship

During the fall semester of 2016, I had the incredible opportunity to intern at the Ohio Statehouse. I worked in the office of the Senate Minority Caucus.

The Ohio Statehouse, Columbus, Ohio

It was a noteworthy time to be interning with any governmental body, especially one in Ohio. Because of the then upcoming elections in November, the Senate was preparing for “lame duck.” After the election, bills would be rushed through the legislative process, and every legislator and staffer would be trying to make the most of the end of the legislative session. At the same time, Ohio was experiencing a deadly opioid crisis with repeated calls for the state legislature to address it.

As a result of this unique combination of circumstances, I got my first opportunity to do policy research. The Caucus’ Deputy Chief of Staff recognized my interest in public health and policy. Consequently, I spent much of the semester researching anything and everything related to the opioid crisis. It started with gaining a working understanding of what was happening in Ohio and the series of events that had preceded the current crisis. From there, I helped to examine what other states were doing, contacted locals doing great work in their communities, and helped to develop a potential funding framework.

Not only was this internship an incredible experience, it addressed two important G.O.A.L.S. Because much of my work focused on research with a vague outline of what I was supposed to accomplish, I gained an appreciation for Original Inquiry. While in many ways my research was guided by the needs of the Caucus staff, I had the freedom to explore different ways the others had addressed similar policy issues and look at ways in which those potential solutions could be applied in Ohio. Additionally, this internship spoke directly to Academic Enrichment. While my majors in Public Health Sociology and Public Affairs are complementary, there are few opportunities to bridge the gap between them in a class setting. This is partially due to their being based in two different colleges. Yet, in reality, the subjects are closely intertwined. My work gave me the opportunity to see how closely public health and public affairs principles work together to address the needs of individuals and communities.

The most important things that I learned from this internship, however, weren’t from research. Instead, I gained an understanding of what it means to work in an office everyday. It takes internal motivation to keep digging through hundreds of pages of legislation and writing reports. It’s not easy. Yet, I also learned that I love it. The knowledge that something that you find – whether it’s a program, contact, or idea – could be implemented to one-day help someone is incredible. In some ways, it creates a huge amount of pressure. Yet, it makes the sometimes frustrating work incredibly rewarding.

 

Becoming an RA

Throughout my time as a counselor at Interlochen, I realized that I really enjoy helping others work through problems that they are having. This realization, combined with my own experience working through a difficult freshman year, motivated me to apply to be a Resident Advisor.

To my surprise, I not only got the job, but I was also hired to start immediately. Consequently, I moved across campus on a Friday, got organized on Saturday, and started working on Sunday. I joined the staff at Morrison Tower as an RA for the International House Learning Community. It was a whirlwind starting a new job at the end of November, but I couldn’t be happier about this opportunity.

Volunteering with Hillary for Ohio

The first presidential campaign that I can remember is George Bush versus John Kerry in the 2004 election. I was in second grade. My elementary school had a table set-up in front of the gym with two boxes where we could vote. We all thought that it was very important even though our teacher had explained that only adults could actually vote.

Fast forward twelve years: George Bush served another term as president, President Obama is finishing his second term, Hillary Clinton is the first women to be a major party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump is clashing with the Republican Party’s establishment, and I am getting ready to vote for president for the first time. My interest in politics grew out of a love of history and fascination with current events. It was fed by the debates in the kitchen with my grandparents, the my grandmother’s of marching in the 1960s, and the car conversations with my mom about the news on the radio. I’m incredibly thankful that adults in my life gave me the opportunity to discuss politics, express my opinions, and question my preconceived notions. Without that support, I do not believe that I would be having the experiences that I am now.

Last night, I had the incredible opportunity to volunteer with Hillary for Ohio when Hillary Clinton came to speak on Ohio State’s campus. The diversity of people attending the event was inspiring. The kindness and well wishes of attendees towards the volunteers were heartwarming. The enthusiasm of over 18,000 people joined together for one cause was exhilarating.

Hillary Clinton speaking at Ohio State during the 2016 Presidential Campaign

I have a class in which we discuss public service and civic engagement at length. Volunteering last night gave me the opportunity to see principles of civic engagement, particularly political engagement, in practice. I was surrounded by volunteers from all walks of life who chose to take the time out of their busy schedules to advocate for a cause to which they are dedicated. Like the volunteers, attendees also took time out of their schedule to see one of our candidates for president. Everyone at the event got the opportunity to listen to Secretary Clinton without the filter provided by the media and immediately form their own opinions and notions. It represented the importance of creating a positive environment in which people can engage with their leaders, gain information freely, and express their views.

Throughout the event, I spent nearly five hours registering voters, encouraging attendees to volunteer for “Get Out the Vote” campaigns, and taking in the energetic atmosphere. Of course, there were protestors, but the words that truly stuck with me were spoken by a woman in the crowd after Secretary Clinton finished speaking:

As soon as the applause died down, other volunteers and myself immediately started encouraging people to register to vote.

The women said, “You keep doing the good work!”

Keep doing the good work. That is what drives me and so many others who wish to pursue a career in public service. While the world may focus on the negative political climate, scandals, and controversial policies, there will always be people working everyday to keep doing the good work to ensure that everyone in this great nation has the opportunity to thrive.

Freshman Year Reflection

Chapter 1 – What if?

When I think back on my freshman year, my mind immediately jumps to an office hour visit to a professor who has become a mentor. I was in the process of exploring second major options, and I was putting too much pressure on myself to make the “correct” decision. My professor gave me the simplest, yet most striking advice I have received. She said, “Listen to yourself and just keep going down the path that feels right, even if it wasn’t part of your plan.” Listen to yourself and let your passions pull you down the path. I remember being over-whelmed in the sea of opportunities, drowning in “what ifs.” Learning about myself and truly listening guided me through the confusion. Self-awareness, listening to myself and my passions, became the theme of my freshman year.

I joined the Global Health Initiative (GHI) student organization immediately after the Involvement Fair. In a whirlwind of smiling faces with brochures and information, GHI stuck out and drew me in. It gave me the opportunity to volunteer throughout Columbus at the Helping Hands Free Clinic, the Autism Society of Ohio, LifeTown Columbus, and Red Cross Blood Drives. I was able to use my creativity and passion for empowering young people as a part of the High School Outreach Committee. Together, we organized, planned, and presented to high school students on global health topics. These ranged from “What is Public Health?” to an interactive presentation on infectious diseases. It was amazing to see the interest in the students’ faces when they realized that public health is a diverse field full of opportunities. Through GHI, I also got the opportunity to attend Population Connection’s Capitol Hill Days. Those four days in Washington, D.C. were truly a transformative experience. For three days, we attended a conference with other students and professionals focused on international and domestic family planning. We heard stories from professionals working in the field in distant corners of the globe; experts led discussions major foreign policy topics. Finally, I was able to lobby my elected officials in Congress. I was the only person present from my Pennsylvania Congressional District, so I met with one of my Congressman’s aids by myself. I was terrified walking into that meeting, afraid that I would do something embarrassing or unprofessional. Afterwards, however, I walked out feeling confident and proud of the work I had done over the past four days. Capitol Hill Days ignited my passion for contributing to big changes that can impact lives on a small scale.

My freshman year has become a series of memories that fly through my mind, mostly good, many inspiring, and some bad. Yet, I can confidently say that I made the most of my year and followed that advice from my professor. “Listen to yourself and let your passions pull you down the path.” This motto continues to guide me as I am about to enter my second year at Ohio State.

Freshman Year Timeline

Autumn 2015

  • Volunteered as a 1girl program facilitator at Cassady Alternative Elementary school
    • Worked with fifth and sixth grade girls
    • Taught goal-setting and emphasized the importance of respect for self and others
  • Joined the Ohio State Global Health Initiative, an organization that has become my home in the Ohio State Community
    • Helped to plan and present global health topics to Columbus high school students as a member of the High School Outreach Committee
    • Volunteered as a member of the Local Volunteering Committee
  • Declared Public Affairs as my second major and joined the Glenn College of Public Affairs
  • Achieved the goal of dean’s list

Spring 2016

  • Began training to become an HIV test-counselor at the AIDS Resource Center of Ohio
  • Selected to become a High School Outreach Committee Co-Chair in the Global Health Initiative
  • Inducted into Alpha Lambda Delta and Phi Eta Sigma Honor Societies
  • Attended Population Connection’s Capitol Hill Days
    • Participated in a three day conference focused on international and domestic family planning topics
    • Lobbied my elected officials in Congress for three key international family planning policy changes
  • Applied to and was selected for the State Government Internship Program through the Ohio State Government Affairs office
  • Achieved the goal of dean’s list

Preparing for a New Start

I have a love-hate relationship with the month of August. As a student, it takes January’s place as the month for new beginnings. It is a time to reflect, reset, and prepare. It is also the time when summer comes to an end, and the real work – school – begins again. Yet each summer is a time for growth, just as each school year is a time to evolve as a student and a member of the community. We do not notice our own growth in day-to-day life until we take the time to pause and reflect. When I think about where I was in the August before my Senior year of high school, I am astounded and proud by the person I have become. Cheers to new growth, each and every year.