This summer has been full of amazing memories, and I’d like to recognize the people and programs behind those memories.
To the Margolis Center:
My internship at the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy taught me about the interdisciplinary nature of policy research, the value of flexibility and a willingness to learn on the job, and the impacts of policy on real people. First, working in science policy has taught me that interdisciplinary knowledge not only streamlines work processes but also incorporates diverse perspectives. Knowing and understanding how seemingly disparate fields interact and complement each other aids in the writing of productive policies – making health care more accessible and bringing health policy to the top of political agendas. Second, I learned about the depth of research that goes into public policymaking from both academic and political perspectives. Although the policymaking process can seem strenuous and time-consuming, I have gained a greater appreciation for the time put into bringing voices to the table from representatives, constituents, and health experts. Third, my internship experience helped me understand the impact of public policy on people. Health care impacts everyone, and I’m grateful for the chance to advocate for health care access, affordability, and options for real people. Thank you to everyone at Margolis for teaching me that effective policies should directly address problems, dignify people, and set the groundwork for future advocacy. And for showing me that there are so many good people working on those policies!
At the DukeEngage Academy, Professor Williams (our Program Director) challenged our cohort to think of policymakers as stewards. This is something that I’ve put a lot of thought into throughout the summer, and I’ve experienced through DukeEngage. With my community partner, I learned the importance of thorough research and representation in the policymaking process. Through group discussions and events with the DukeEngage-DC cohort, I saw the value of engaging in difficult conversations and learning through narratives, all to become more conscientious of civic engagement. We spent many nights discussing ethical dilemmas and challenging each other to think more critically about things happening around us. We also met so many interesting people through speaker events and community service events who gave us new perspectives on science policy and life in DC. Additionally, weekly reflection sessions gave us space to process what we saw and learned – between a 9-5 internship, an abundance of enrichment activities, and living in an entirely new city, it was helpful to process our experiences as a group. In terms of stewardship, this summer has taught me that service has to incorporate and empower people being served – this is a difficult and continuous responsibility that I will keep thinking about and acting on. Thank you, DukeEngage, for this unique opportunity you’ve given me and for all the opportunities you will give to future students.
To Washington, DC:
You are a vibrant city with so much to offer. I think this experience sums up your beauty as a city: One evening, our cohort went to a drum circle at a DC park. There were so many people there, locals and tourists like us, and everyone was having fun enjoying the music, dancing, and talking. Everyone was living in the moment. While we watched the drum circle, the woman leading dances to the music came up to us and asked “Where are you all from? I haven’t seen you here before.” After we all introduced ourselves (and learned that she was a Broadway dancer!) she invited us to dance with her. Even though we were a group of college students who struggled to keep up with her dance moves (“struggled” is probably an understatement), her kindness and openness made an impact on me. She welcomed a group of strangers to her community without hesitation and with open arms. Although she showed us just a glimpse of life in DC, I felt welcome and accepted at that moment. DC – you are a city full of adventures, history, culture, and community. From busy metro rides to tours of Congress to evening walks around the National Mall, I’ve loved living here and I can’t wait to see you again.
Lastly, to this year’s DukeEngage-DC cohort, Professor Williams (our Program Director), and Joe (our Site Coordinator):
Thank you for the best summer. Experiences are only as memorable as the people in them, and this summer will definitely be one to remember. Thank you for always being present, supportive, and willing to learn. All of your dedication to science policy advocacy and civic engagement inspires me, and I couldn’t be more grateful for this community.