The Hemophilia Federation of America (HFA) team welcomed a new group of students to its summer 2021 internship program. The students participated in this annual advocacy internship virtually, developing their passion in health care policy and self-advocacy. They participated in regular webinars and online training about legislative, policy and advocacy issues, as well as learning about legislative hearings and what it means to work on Capitol Hill. Throughout all these tasks they built communications and media skills.

Ryan Bernstein

Rising junior at Stanford University studying psychology and biology, with plans to attend medical school.

Bernstein enjoys studying the brain and behavior. He 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鈥檚 book about hemophilia. In his free time, he likes to read, solve crossword puzzles and go on walks with his family.

Bernstein wanted to be an HFA intern because 鈥淚 wanted to learn more about the community and support an organization I believed in, as well as meet new people, and learn how to be a more effective advocate.鈥

Silas Teasdale

Graduating in August 2021 with a bachelor鈥檚 in political science from Montana State University.

In Montana, Teasdale did not grow up with a nearby HTC, so his dad and a hemophilia community in Denver taught him how to live a healthy and self-sufficient life with a bleeding disorder. After high school, Teasdale knew he wanted to study political science. This internship will provide him the opportunity to explore advocacy and policy on the national level while simultaneously working for a cause he is passionate about. In his free time, Teasdale enjoys music, painting, cameras, local politics and activism, ultimate frisbee, nature and trying to keep houseplants alive. After college graduation, he hopes to move to Madrid, Spain, to work in the public school system.

Justin Najimian

Rising senior at Rutgers University, studying public health and taking part in a dual program that allows him to take courses toward a master鈥檚 degree in epidemiology.

Throughout Najimian鈥檚 life, he has always made an effort to be involved in the bleeding disorders community. He has assisted in infusion workshops at his local hemophilia treatment center (HTC), volunteered with HFA as a teenager and also served as a counselor and volunteer at the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Ashford, Connecticut. After taking part in the 2020 Youth Adult Advocacy Summit, he was eager to expand his advocacy horizons and become an HFA intern.

Exploring policy and the federal side of the bleeding disorders community is a new area of involvement for Najimian that he is excited to explore. Throughout his internship, Najimian looks forward to strengthening his own role as an advocate in the bleeding disorders community.

Makayla Dawkins

Rising junior at University of Connecticut double majoring in human development and family sciences, and women, gender, sexuality studies, with a minor in Africana studies.

At UConn, Dawkins has worked with the Undergraduate Student Government Student Services as a sexual health and education advocacy coordinator, where she has implemented a menstrual care package program and created legislation in solidarity with the UConn queer community. She is also a resident assistant in arts learning communities and has worked with LGBTQ people through the Rainbow Center. Dawkins hopes to become a health administrator overseeing a health facility while also serving families impacted by incarceration. She also 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.

Read about the HFA interns鈥experiences through blog posts here.聽

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