Blythe – Hendrix College
Public Policy Associate
The semester I spent in Washington, D.C. was brief, but the things I did during that span of time were incredible. As an intern for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, I lobbied for legislation related to suicide prevention, acquired graphic design skills and a Mental Health First Aid certification, wrote weekly emails and a blog post that reached over fifteen thousand people, and witnessed my political idols discuss the future of our nation on Capitol Hill. These opportunities all came about because of the support and trust of AFSP’s Public Policy Team. John Madigan, Vice President of Public Policy, acted as the dissenting opinion every time my self-doubt got the best of me. He often surprised me when important events and meetings came up by saying, “Great, you can go!” It seemed like every time this happened I would automatically think, ‘Um…are you sure?’ I came to appreciate his confidence in my abilities and the reassurance that I was capable, even when I could not see that myself.
I wanted to work for an organization that allowed me to advocate for the improvement of mental health services and learn about public policy, so AFSP was the perfect fit. This semester the four Public Policy Associates, including myself, followed the activity of ten Congressional Committees and ninety-four bills. At first this seems like a daunting and Sisyphean task, but each of us walked away from the internship knowing we’d actively helped to push legislation through and inform Congressional Staff members on viable suicide prevention efforts. I also learned a significant amount about suicide, current mental health services, and the legislative process. The freedom to explore my passions and the respect I was shown made this internship experience invaluable.
Looking back on my time here, I am proud to say that I have grown as a professional, an advocate, and an individual. I know now that I am capable of making a difference, and I am confident in my abilities to create change in my community. I plan to continue what I have done as a Public Policy Associate by pursuing law after undergraduate. My hope is to return to D.C. someday, but I will hang on to the memories I made and the kindness I was shown until then. Thank you AFSP for making these last three months the best time of my life, and I look forward to seeing what the future intern team accomplishes!