Studying Public Health as an undergraduate student exposed me to many policy questions that sparked my passion for public policy. I became interested in the social determinants of health, how a person’s surroundings socially intersected with all aspects of their health. With the understanding that policies shape the environments we live, work, and interact with others on a daily basis made me want to do something to influence policies to improve health outcomes. That understanding and passion are the reasons I decided to go to law school.
I chose the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law for its Capital Lawyering Concentration and the Legislative and Public Policy Clinic. Knowing I wanted to go into public policy, I used my time at McGeorge to prepare me for a career in public policy.
I knew the Capital Lawyering Concentration’s focus on preparing students to go into government and other related public policy careers was the best choice for me. The opportunity to have practical experience working in the legislative process through the Legislative and Public Policy Clinic was an added bonus. I knew being a part of it would be an unparalleled experience.
The clinic is for third-year students, so I set my sights on participating in the clinic from my first day at McGeorge. I built my academic resume during my time at McGeorge to best prepare me for participating in the clinic during my third year. Going into the clinic with a solid foundation of how the bill making process works has allowed me to engage with legislative staffers and know what to expect when my bill is up in committee or goes to the floor for a vote.
That said, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I actually started in the clinic; being in the clinic has exceeded all my expectations. It is rewarding to be surrounded by knowledgeable professors who know the process and fellow students just as driven to make positive changes through legislative action.
Participating in the Legislative and Public Policy Clinic has taught me many practical skills I will carry into a career in public policy. I now have practical experience turning an idea into legislative language and pitching a bill to policy makers and legislative staffers. Moving a bill through the legislative process has allowed me to use the theoretical information I have learned in other classes and now apply it in real-world situations.
In addition to observing the legislative process from the inside, I am making connections in the building that I will be able to utilize going forward in my career. In a networking-based career, having the opportunity to build my network while I’m still in school is incredibly useful and will serve me well in the future.
Ultimately, the most rewarding aspect of the clinic is knowing that a simple idea my colleague and I had at the beginning of the year may bring about an actual legislative change.