Earlier this summer we welcomed our summer policy and governmental relations interns to our D.C. office. Jasmin and Dylan are part of the bleeding disorders community and were chosen to participate in a 10-week internship because of their leadership qualities and interest in the field of policy and advocacy. Throughout the summer, Jasmin and Dylan have gained experience with the following:
- Legislative, policy and advocacy training
- Attended hearings and Capitol Hill office visits
- Worked on Federal policy projects and advocacy materials;
- Toured a plasma donation center; and
- Assisted other staff members with projects
This week, Jasmin shares her thoughts on the internship. We’ll hear Dylan’s final reflections in next week’s post!
- What was your favorite part of your summer at HFA?
The fly-in was such an exciting part of the summer. Having the opportunity to meet with members of congress to express our concerns and share our stories was very empowering. Everyone’s story is so unique and they show legislators and their staff that these patients are not just their diagnosis, they are a human with an important role in our communities.
- What was the most surprising thing you learned over the summer?
The way non-profits function really surprised me this summer. It was interesting to learn about the different programs, positions, and goals at HFA. I am glad I had the opportunity to work for an organization like HFA, it made me excited about the possibility of pursuing work at a non-profit. This experience helped me understand how important and selfless nonprofit work is.
- What was the most important thing you learned over the summer?
Healthcare is such a broad and confusing topic, one that I really did not understand before coming to HFA. I am happy to say that I have learned so much about healthcare, including big debated topics such as Medicare-for-all, surprise billing, and short term “junk” plans. I have even developed a better understanding of the Affordable Care Act, private and employer sponsored plans, and drug pricing. I’m grateful I had the opportunity to expand my knowledge and learn about all these topics from the HFA team, my own research, and from attending many events and briefings.
- How has this internship helped you to become a stronger advocate and leader?
My internship has helped me grow into a stronger advocate and leader by empowering me to share my experience and perspective. Watching the HFA team in action has shown me the power we have. I experienced an eye-opening moment of the power of advocacy as a result of our team member, Sonji Wilkes. Sonji testified in front of Congress on her experience with surprise billing, and a few weeks later, I watched a congressman repeat her story to a whole new audience. I was amazed at how well he recounted her story and how it had impacted him. In this moment, I realized just how important it is to share these experiences and advocate for what we need. Without her story, it’s possible the congressman would have disregarded this important and impactful issue. Now I understand the power and importance of advocacy. I am more passionate than ever and cannot wait to apply what I have learned here in DC to my community back home.
- How do you plan to stay involved in the bleeding disorders community?Â
I am so grateful I had the opportunity to work with the bleeding disorders community on a large scale. I plan to stay connected and involved by attending more of HFA’s events in the future, such as their annual symposium. I also hope to get more involved at home in California. I am looking forward to researching local opportunities to share my experience and continue my involvement and advocacy for our community.
- Anything else you’d like to share about your experience?
I also had the opportunity to tour a CSL Plasma Donation Center while here. This tour provided me with tons of great information on the world of plasma donation and how these centers work to make many of our patient’s products. I was previously unaware of the high volume of plasma needed to make medication for the bleeding disorders community. This experience really raised my awareness to the importance of plasma donation.
HFA’s Policy and Government Relations internship is supported by a charitable donation from Takeda.