I have genuinely loved every minute here in Washington, D.C., but it sure has put me well out of my element. Unlike my fellow ASU students, all of whom are studying various forms of Political Science, I am instead studying the fields of Medical Microbiology and Global Health. Because my background so heavily lacks political science, my time here in DC has served as an intense and sudden immersion into the field. It has been quite a culture shock. Since I arrived here, I have spent numerous hours researching governmental operations, American history, and various current politicians, trying to get a sense of what is in effect around me. I’ve enjoyed being thrown into such an unfamiliar environment, as it serves as a challenge for me.
As a health policy intern at a women’s health organization headquartered here in DC, on my first day I was given a brief orientation, and was then told to simply do research for the remainder of the week on any health policy topics currently relating to women’s health. It sounds simple in concept, just do some research. However, for someone who doesn’t have a policy background, I wasn’t at all sure what I did and did not know. I spent my first week immersing myself in women’s health research, health policy briefings, and rallies.
I’ve advocated for preventing the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), preventing the passing of the American Health Care Act (AHCA), preventing any caps or cuts to Medicaid, and promoting a restructured sex-education for our schools, one that doesn’t only teach abstinence. Essentially, I’ve fully emerged myself in politics, which is something that I was never very fond of but have now begun to take a genuine interest in.
Understandably, you might be wondering why I would be interested in interning in Washington D.C. when I am not a Political Science major. Well, I’ll tell you! Interning in DC has allowed me to immerse myself in a city I have never been to and have access to governmental health organizations and health-focused non-profits that are not available back in Arizona. Additionally, I have always been interested in the rich history that Washington DC has to offer in addition to its beautiful memorials, monuments, and educational museums.
I was drawn to apply to the Capital Scholars program in particular because I was actively looking for internship opportunities here in Arizona, but couldn’t really find anything that fit my field. I also have always wanted to visit Washington DC, so having excellent internship opportunities in Washington DC on an ASU sponsored program that provides ASU credit was perfect. Additionally, with the program having been going on for about 20 years now, the faculty have connections with past capital scholar students who now work in DC, allowing for us to have connections in the internship field and while we are here in DC. During the first week, there are numerous faculty guided events to help us both learn more about DC and understand how to safely get around. It was a nice transition time.
If I could offer future students any advice from what I have learned during my first two weeks here in Washington DC it would be to always bring blister bandaids with you wherever you go, especially during your first week. Walking ten miles in sneakers is apparently very different than walking .5 miles in short heels. Also, always carry a collapsible umbrella with you as it rains here unexpectedly, despite whatever the local news says.