Intern Introspective: Meet Alexandra and Catherine

Meet HFA's 2018 Interns - Catherine and Alexa
Earlier this year, we opened applications for a ten-week policy and government relations internship* for this summer. We are excited to introduce you to the two candidates that we selected! Alexandra Abreu Boria and Catherine Anderson, who are part of the bleeding disorders community and have been chosen because of their leadership qualities and interest in the field of policy and government relations.
During the summer, Alexandra and Catherine will engage in a variety of hands-on activities including:

  • Legislative, policy, and advocacy training
  • Attending hearings and Hill office visits
  • Visiting with executive branch agencies (ex.: FDA meetings, NIH)
  • Team and network building
  • Collaborative activities with HFA partners and coalitions, like NORD, APLUS, CAT, PPTA, PBC, etc.
  • Authoring a specific policy work paper or issue brief
  • Building communication and media skills
  • Supporting HFA staff on activities including Dear Addy, action alerts, and social media outreach
  • And more!

Throughout the summer, Alexandra and Catherine will be telling you what they’re doing and learning. Get to know these two future leaders of the bleeding disorders community!

What school do/did you attend? What is/was your major?

Alexandra: I’m currently a second-year graduate student at the Columbia University School of Social Work. I am in the process of obtaining a Master of Science in Social Work with a focus on Social Policy and International Welfare.
Catherine: I attended The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio and completed my Bachelor of Arts with a major in Anthropology. Studying Anthropology has allowed me to pursue a variety of research interests around the world and throughout time. I plan to continue my studies at the postgraduate level with a stronger focus on health and medicine.

Why did you apply for the HFA policy internship?

Alexandra: I applied to this internship because I have a deep interest in social policy, and how individuals can create change through advocacy actions. In addition, as an individual who is diagnosed with a bleeding disorder, I felt inclined to use my own experience to improve the life of others.
Catherine: I’ve been involved with bleeding disorder advocacy for a few years and wanted to take it to the next level! My previous participation in advocacy events in my home state and here in Washington, D.C. has always left me feeling energized and wanting more. The policy internship is a great opportunity for me to engage on a deeper level with the work that has been so inspirational to me.

What does it mean to be an advocate in the bleeding disorders community?

Alexandra: Advocacy, to me, means change. Therefore, being an advocate in the bleeding disorder community is a way to demand better policies and outcomes for those who are members of the community. As advocates, we take great responsibility in ensuring that the needs of the community are being addressed and fulfilled.
Catherine: Being an advocate for people with bleeding disorders means using my voice to raise awareness in the public, and working with decision-makers to uplift and protect our community. It means making sure members of my community have access to the knowledge and resources they need. Sometimes it’s as simple as being a good friend such as: helping newly diagnosed individuals feel prepared for their hematology visit, mentoring young women during their adolescence, or making sure that local meetings are welcoming spaces for the variety of members in my community.

What excites you most about being at HFA?

Alexandra: I am excited to be in the heart of public and social policy of the United States. I am looking forward to gaining a deeper knowledge of the hard work that is involved in policy making and advocacy efforts. Furthermore, I am also excited to learn from individuals who are passionate about bleeding disorders.
Catherine: I’m really looking forward to be a part of an organization where it’s normal to have a bleeding disorder! Joking aside, I am excited to be a part of a team that is so passionate about advocating for people with bleeding disorders. My condition is an important part of who I am and the lives of some of the people I love most – it’s a privilege to be able to work for their well-being in the ways that I can.

What is one thing you hope to get out of this internship?

Alexandra: I hope to gain first-hand experience in policy-making and improve my public speaking skills; both which are extremely important in a career within the policy field.
Catherine: This internship will be a great way for me to gain experience at the intersection of the lived experiences of the bleeding disorders community and the legislative process. I expect that by the end of the summer, I will be more confident and better able to use my voice in discussions about insurance, access to healthcare, and the ways policy can support the needs of our community.

What are you most excited about living and working in Washington, D.C.?

Alexandra: I am excited to meet other individuals who are also interning or working in similar fields as me.
Catherine: The museums! Coming from an Anthropology background, I have a lot of interest in archaeology, history, and culture. Washington has an exceptional variety of museums, and I plan to visit as many as possible during my time here. The rich food culture here doesn’t hurt, either!

Anything else you’d like readers to know about you

Alexandra: I have a passion for traveling. If you want to start a conversation with me, let’s talk about traveling and I promise you, we will talk for hours!
Catherine: My primary research interest is the conceptualization and treatment of bleeding disorders throughout history. Ask me about the first mention of hemophilia in a historical text, or treatment of menorrhagia in the Tudor period!

*Thank you, Shire, and CSL Behring for their unrestricted advocacy grant to make these internships possible.