Nikki – Connecticut College

Public Policy Associate

Being part of the AFSP team as Public Policy Associate this summer has been an incredible and meaningful experience. Since I have a personal connection to suicide and have taken part in the Out of the Darkness Overnight walks since 2012, being able to intern for an organization that has become such a big part of my life was truly an honor and a privilege. It was incredible getting to know the DC team, John, Trevor, Nicole and Liz, and they consistently made me feel valued and appreciated. Going into the internship as a Psychology major, I knew little about public policy, but under the DC team’s guidance, I learned quickly and feel fortunate to have seen into a side of AFSP and suicide prevention that deepened my understanding of the efforts needed to further raise awareness and take action against this devastating loss of life.

My learning objectives going into my internship included gaining a better understanding of how public policy works and expanding my understanding of suicide prevention from this standpoint, to become comfortable in a new city, and to learn about the main issues that suicide prevention is faced with currently, and what initiatives are being taken to tackle these issues and further educate the public about this urgent cause. I was lucky to start at AFSP at the very beginning of June 2016, just two weeks before their biggest event of the year, the annual Advocacy Forum. The other three interns and I hit the ground running to help the Public Policy team prepare for this important event in which advocates from all fifty states gathered in DC with the opportunity to meet with their state legislators on Capitol Hill to advocate for suicide prevention efforts. I found myself learning on the go, absorbing information about suicide prevention data, stories, and challenges, as well as learning about how public policy works and how speaking with our country’s representatives and senators could change the course of mental health reform.

I am incredibly grateful for the new skills and knowledge I acquired over the past couple months at AFSP. Working beside John, Trevor, Nicole, and Liz this summer definitely strengthened my interest in the field of mental health and suicide prevention. Going forward, I plan to pursue a career in suicide prevention and to continue efforts for better mental health and suicide prevention resources and awareness on my college campus.