Major: Public Policy Analysis with concentration in biology
Profession: Government Affairs Analyst at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital
Hometown: Salem, Oregon
What are you doing now?
Currently, I work as a government affairs analyst at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital (NYP), the largest hospital system in New York City. We have been consistently ranked a No. 1 hospital in New York, as well as a top five hospital in the country by U.S. News and World Report. We strive to provide the highest quality and compassionate care to our patients in NYC. In my role, I focus on working with lobbyists, tracking policies that impact health and hospitals at the local, state, and federal level, advocating for legislation that would improve care for patients and the communities in NYC, developing briefings and memos for legislation, and helping maintain relationships with elected officials at all levels of government.
Outside of work, I train for numerous running races and triathlons throughout the year, continuing to stay active post-college athlete life. I volunteer for the Doula Project as a full-spectrum doula, where I spend a significant amount of time supporting patients as an abortion doula and (soon-to-be) birth doula. I am also always on the hunt for the best slice of pizza or bagel out here.
How did you get there?
My path has taken me all over the place the past few years. On a whim, I had applied for a master’s program at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health my senior year of college, not fully knowing what I was getting myself into, but knowing that I was interested in health care. I deferred my admission for a year to think about it once I had another gig lined up at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, CA. I spent the next year in the Bay Area working in areas of clinical quality and health information technology at Kaiser Permanente, then transitioned to doing administrative work at GLIDE [a nonprofit agency].
After deciding to pursue my master of science in public health in the Department of Population, Family, and Reproductive Health [at Johns Hopkins], I explored a number of interests and paths in public health during my time in graduate school. This included sexual and reproductive health research at different NGOs, quality improvement, hospital operations and program evaluation. I also took up more leadership positions during graduate school to explore other interests, including serving as vice president of community affairs and public health promotion for our school-wide student assembly, co-president of our departmental student association, and assistant director of a Vagina Monologues production. After grad school, I worked as a research consultant for a tuberculosis (TB) program in Vietnam for a few months, evaluating one of their active case finding TB interventions.
Ultimately, I ended up back at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital post-grad school after I had interned in operations there for my grad school practicum, which was focused on evaluating operating room turnover times. My first role back at NYP was on the community affairs side, where I helped out with our community health needs assessment, implemented a health lecture evaluation tool, and developed communication materials for the team.
My path has taught me that the connections and impact you make in all your experiences are important for propelling you in the right direction and getting to where you want to be. All of the people in my life have been so willing to help and mentor me along the way and I hope that I can do the same for others.
How did Pomona prepare you?
Being surrounded by some of the brightest and most successful peers was intimidating back at Pomona. I remembered feeling like I was never good enough and had imposter syndrome the entire time. As a first-generation, low-income college student, many of my peers had come from more experienced backgrounds in a lot of ways. Despite trying my best, I would constantly feel belittled whenever others close to me would complain about not getting an A, while I was nowhere close to that. Of course, none of that even matters now.
A lot of this imposter syndrome meant I took solace in other things I knew I was good at – swimming. While swimming didn’t necessarily lead to my career path and or anything else tangible professionally, college swimming taught me valuable life lessons. Goal setting, resilience, grit, time-management, and teamwork/collaboration were all lessons I took from being a college athlete and has translated into skills that I carry throughout the rest of my life. Post-college me was lost without swimming but eventually I’ve been able to find that same competitive spirit and self-motivation through running and triathlons. And while that imposter syndrome has seeped into my adult life at times, I have found my confidence and voice in other ways that has allowed me to be more comfortable with myself and the spaces I occupy.
I also valued the work experiences I had at Pomona that prepared me more realistically for the real world than what I thought classes could provide. Through Pomona’s internship funding, I was able to intern at Housing Works in Washington, D.C. and at GLIDE in San Francisco. I also had a practicum at Foothill AIDS Project through my public policy analysis (PPA) major. These internship experiences provided me with a better sense of how everything I was learning could be applied in the real world with real solutions. They also helped me establish relationships and connections outside the Claremont bubble.
Most importantly, the relationships I built at Pomona has prepared me the most for post-college life. I keep in touch with Claremont friends that live all around the world and some of my closest friends are ones I have made during my time at Pomona. This support system has provided some of the most important foundations for getting where I am now.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Five years ago, if you asked me where I saw myself, I would not have guessed that I would be where I am now. I never expected to stay on the East coast and live in NYC. If you ask me now where I see myself another five years from now, I honestly cannot predict either. However, some goals I have set for myself include joining a board for a reproductive health organization, (potentially) pursuing more education, assuming a more formal leadership role within the workplace, and completing a full distance triathlon.
Any advice for prospective or current students?
Take advantage of all the opportunities you have to explore your interests! Do not feel the need to stick to one thing unless you really like it. My path has not been very linear, and I have enjoyed being able to do so many different things and explore lots of different interests throughout college and after college. Get involved and do not forget to enjoy your college experience also. Keep fostering and building those lasting relationships with your peers because a lot of them are going to be your support system and lifelong friends.