All Hands On Policy
MSPH candidate Kelleigh Eastman helps Senator Barbara Mikulski “raise hell.”
Kelleigh Eastman was working as a massage therapist when she was inspired by an undergraduate course in public policy. The desire to deeply impact health on a larger scale led her to the Bloomberg School.
Now she is interning in Senator Barbara Mikulski’s office, a hands-on opportunity that would have slipped through her fingers if she hadn’t turned her attention to Health Policy and Management.
“My coursework definitely prepared me for this,” says Eastman, who will earn her MSPH in May 2015, having already completed the Food Systems, Environment and Public Health certificate program. “All the knowledge fell into place when I started watching the Senate floor everyday and meeting with constituents.”
This last chance to work in Mikulski’s office has been “incredible,” says Eastman, alluding to the fact that the Maryland Democrat who has served in Congress for 30 years—longer than any other woman in history—plans to retire in December 2016.
“I get to work on issues related to agriculture, nutrition, environment, energy—all topics that I really care about,” Eastman says.
Among her jobs: keeping Mikulski well informed by writing memos and briefings on issues that concern constituents. For example, she recently wrote a memo to Mikulski about a drilling project off the Atlantic Coast.
“This internship has been extremely valuable in helping me understand the day-to-day of Capitol Hill and the policy-making process on the federal level,” she says.
In her short time on the Hill, Eastman has seen how difficult it is to pass legislation based on scientific evidence. Undeterred, she rolls up her sleeves to knead research into her writing for the sake of public health. Biostatistics and epidemiology classes have helped her interpret technical research papers that could bolster Mikulski’s platform.
“Senator Mikulski is a real inspiration to me,” says Eastman. “I would love to move into a full-time position on Capitol Hill as soon as I graduate—to help raise hell.”