Deborah – Vassar College

Public Policy Associate

I was initially drawn to this internship because it seemed like the perfect combination of my Psychology major, my volunteer work at a suicide prevention helpline, and my involvement in student government. However, I came into this position with absolutely no knowledge of policy or our political system outside of what I had learned from The Daily Show and School House Rock. By the end of my first day as a Public Policy Associate for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, I already had a news update published on our website and got a free lunch and a cupcake. By the end of my first week, I had visited six congressional offices to advocate for national policies and initiatives related to suicide prevention.

Coming to DC as a cynical college student from the Northeast, I was blown away by how much of an impact our organization could have on both a federal and state level, and even more amazed that I personally could make a difference during my 10 week internship. After our Advocacy Forum, I corresponded with all of the congressional offices from ten states to follow up on our national lobbying efforts. I also got to help recruit volunteers from around the country, and was stunned to see our grassroots base grow from 750 to 850 Field Advocates in just those two months. Additionally, I learned much more about the state legislative process through my participation in various stages of the process of the development of legislation that would require school personnel to get trained on suicide prevention in several states.

The best part of the internship for me was all of the amazing people I had the opportunity to meet. Apart from the incredible AFSP staff and other interns, I met volunteers from across the country of all different backgrounds and with various beliefs and ideologies, who could all come together over their overwhelming passion for and dedication to suicide prevention. I was so proud to be a part of it, and so grateful for the experience and the connections I’ve made.