FABBS offers undergraduate internship opportunities where students can gain experience in the fields of science communication and advocacy in the nation’s capital. This fall, FABBS welcomed two interns from the University of California, San Diego — Jennisa Bangal and Amanda McQuade. We invited them to share their experience and discuss the projects they are working on at FABBS.
Can you introduce yourself and what you’re currently studying in college?
Jennisa: I’m Jennisa Bangal, and I am a third-year public health major at UC San Diego in the UCDC program. I am incredibly passionate about mental health policy that would expand access to compassionate care and behavioral crisis response. In my free time, I love to spend time outdoors, draw, and create animations.
Amanda: Hello! My name is Amanda McQuade and I am currently a 4th year student at UC San Diego studying Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience. In my free time I have been enjoying exploring Washington D.C. and experiencing the fall season I don’t typically get in Southern California!
What interested you about FABBS and how might this align with your professional plans?
Jennisa: FABBS provides me a unique opportunity to learn more about how various research organizations and societies collaborate with federal policymakers to impact mental health policy. Also, FABBS’ focus in the social and behavioral sciences struck my interest because of the social and cultural impacts on the field of public health in the COVID-19 pandemic. Learning how FABBS amplifies the voices of researchers in these areas to impact public health legislation has been incredibly interesting because of the way that government agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF), are shifting their priorities to take behavioral sciences into account in their next projects. The work that I do at FABBS will provide me valuable knowledge about the federal policymaking process, as well as the interactions between researchers of different disciplines and the federal government that influence public health programs. Also, the writing skills that I will develop as I write newsletter articles of the various events that FABBS affiliates attend will be useful for learning how to communicate findings and recent news effectively in a public health role.
Amanda: What drew me to working with FABBS is the opportunity to intersect my very science and research heavy academic interests and exploring how this translates into society through learning about science policy and how scientific research findings can influence different disciplines, especially decisions on Capitol Hill. So far, during my time with FABBS I have already learned so much about the inner workings of science advocacy and the communication efforts necessary to properly advocate for scientific research interests and also to run a non-profit organization. Because FABBS is so widely interconnected, I hope to gain insight into what paths are available to me in terms of pursuing graduate school or discovering potential career options.
What have you been working on during your time with FABBS?
Jennisa: I have been attending congressional hearings, conferences, symposiums, and other events featuring public health experts to learn more about how these individuals are applying the health sciences to policy. The information that I gather from these events will inform newsletter articles that will be useful for FABBS’ members. Also, I have been working on an advocacy manual geared towards interacting with federal agencies to complement FABBS resources for engaging with Congress. This manual will assist FABBS’ members or the general public with advocating for specific actions carried out by government agencies.
Amanda: So far, I have been working on a variety of projects including writing newsletters, attending meetings on the Hill and with coalitions, and conducting preliminary research on FABBS projects. Longer term, I am working with FABBS and the coalition CNSF to compile their Annual Review Reports.
What are your plans post-graduation?
Jennisa: In the next five years, I hope to work directly in a government public health role at the local level or state level in California, and I wish to pursue a Master’s in Public Health to further my career.
After graduating from UC San Diego I hope to pursue a graduate degree in a field related to public health, psychology, or neuroscience. There is no specific career path I have in mind, so I am grateful for this opportunity to intern with FABBS in Washington D.C. to discover what opportunities my interests may align with.