Intern Introspective: Meet our 2021 Policy & Government Relations Interns

The HFA team is excited to welcome a new group of students to our summer 2021 internship program! They will be participating in our annual Advocacy internship virtually, developing their passion in health care policy and self-advocacy. They will be participating in regular webinars and online training about legislative, policy and advocacy issues, learning more about hearings and what it means to work on Capitol Hill, building communications and media skills, and more.

HFA is pleased to welcome the following virtual interns:

Ryan Bernstein is a junior at Stanford studying Psychology and Biology. He enjoys studying the brain and behavior. Ryan is active in his community as a tutor for both college and high school students, as well as being a disability advocate. He is currently working on a children’s book about hemophilia. In his free time, Ryan likes to read, solve crossword puzzles, and go on walks with his family.
Makayla Dawkins is a rising junior from the inner city of New Haven, CT. She is double majoring in Human Development and Family Sciences and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies with a minor in Africana Studies at the University of Connecticut. When she isn’t studying, she is serving with USG Student Services as a Sexual Health and Education Advocacy Coordinator where she has implemented a menstrual care package program and created legislation in solidarity of the UCONN queer community. She can also be found fulfilling her role as an RA in the arts learning communities or working with LGBTQ folks at Rainbow Center. She hopes to become a Health Administrator overseeing a health facility while also serving families impacted by incarceration. In her free time, Makayla serves as an intern at Free All My Suns Inc., a nonprofit that connects families to the imprisoned and oversees their various programs. Additionally, she destigmatizes mental illness as an intern with the Holistic Huskies, a mental health podcast where she advocates for suicide prevention and mental health in communities of color.
Justin Najimian is 21 years old and a rising senior at Rutgers University, studying public health. He has also recently enrolled in a dual program through the Rutgers School of Public Health, where he is beginning to take courses towards a master’s degree in Epidemiology. Throughout Justin’s life, he has always made an effort to be involved in the bleeding disorders community. He has assisted in infusion workshops at his local HTC, volunteered with the Hemophilia Federation of America as a teenager and also served as a counselor and volunteer at The Hole in The Wall Gang Camp in Ashford, CT. After an enriching experience dipping his toes into advocacy through the Youth Adult Advocacy Summit, Justin was eager to further expand his horizons and become an intern for HFA for the summer. Exploring policy and the federal side of the bleeding disorders community is a brand-new area of involvement for Justin and a domain that he is incredibly excited to explore more. Throughout the process of this internship, Justin looks forward to strengthening his own role as an advocate in the bleeding disorder community.
Silas Teasdale hails from Montana and is currently finishing a bachelor’s in political science from Montana State University. Being from Montana, Silas did not grow up with a nearby HTC, so his dad and some amazing hemophilia folks in Denver, taught him how to live a healthy and self-sufficient life with a bleeding condition. After high school, Silas knew that he wanted to study political science, which he has loved, but he is not sure what he wants to do upon graduation. The internship with HFA will provide Silas with the opportunity to explore advocacy and policy on the national level while simultaneously working for a cause that he is very passionate about. In his free time, Silas enjoys music, painting, cameras, local politics/activism, ultimate frisbee, almost anything regarding nature and trying to keep houseplants alive!
Check back next week to hear more about the work our interns are doing at HFA.

Thank you to Takeda for a charitable donation for making the Policy and Government Relations internship possible.