Gabrielle – University of Arkansas

Public Policy Associate

When I came to Washington D.C., I didn’t know what to expect from my position as a Public Policy Associate. I knew that it would be bill tracking, hearings, and report-writing, but what I didn’t realize is that when you become part of AFSP, your perspective changes significantly about what mental health looks like in the U.S. I cannot adequately describe every element of my life that was affected during my time here, but I want to reflect on a few highlights.

My internship started with the Advocacy Forum, which takes place in the beginning of the summer and two weeks after my internship started. This served to be one of the most influential parts of my experience on The Hill. I got to advocate with fellow Arkansans to our elected officials about prioritizing suicide prevention and tell my story and why it was vital to have action behind advocacy. The forum is a unique to the summer internship experience. I got to see the efforts of all of the interns and staff from the year before me come to head, plus the added bonus of meeting 250 advocates who all had a similar goal in mind. I was lucky to see this part of AFSP.

After the forum was the Rally to Prevent Suicide, where I met Jamie Tworkowski, founder of To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA), and one of my childhood heroes. This provided additional opportunities that many interns do not get to have, where I spoke with Katie Mumper, who serves as TWLOHA’s communications manager. This opportunity not only changed my professional goals, but impacted the way I value my story of personal struggles with mental health.

Above all, AFSP provided me with more than just an opportunity to gain work experience. AFSP provided me with a direction for moving forward and allowed me to meet people who will always hold a special place in my heart.