20 Year Old's Perspective on Women Empowerment in US Politics

Working in Congress for Carolyn Maloney, Representative of the 12th District of New York, was a wonderful and eye opening experience. Coming from the island of Jamaica, American politics was not something I grew up experiencing. However, attending a boarding school in Connecticut and eventually coming to The George Washington University in DC, being involved in US politics was inevitable. Luckily, my experience as an Intern at Capitol Hill was the best transition I could ever receive into the world of policy making and supporting important values that are worth fighting for on a political level.

As a Psychology Major, I would not have expected the exposure to Psychology in the political world until my Internship. I attended a Congressional briefing on the early detection of mental health disorders that included a panel of 4 speakers, who were all lobbying to put Early Detection training on the floor for voting. They argued that if we all have access to first aid training, then why is there no option for early detection training in mental health? Specifically, one speaker - Kirsten Haglund got my attention immediately as she specifically focused on the importance of early detection training for eating disorders. I immediately texted Arden saying that I would be part of this congressional briefing and funny enough, she had previously met Kirsten too!

During this briefing, Kirsten spoke about her personal experience with eating disorders and how early detection personally could have affected her life. She mentioned that she had suffered with her own eating disorder for quite some time until she got treatment. This simply shows that we must all be aware of signs and symptoms of eating disorders - or any mental health disorder - amongst our family, friends, peers and coworkers so that the process for recovery can come much faster before it is too late. My experience listening to Kirsten’s speech was very powerful and moving, and instilled in me a drive to support and fight for issues I believe in. I learned through this internship that while one person compared to the powerful group of politicians seems intimidating, a collective voice matters and is extremely powerful.

Even more so, I was in the middle of a historical period for this country, and for women. I received multiple calls during my internship of constituents calling to voice their opinions on bills for the Congresswoman to pass, and worked alongside legislative assistants to bring light to many issues and concerns risen from the 2016 presidential election. After the conclusion of the election, I was moved by the massive number of people flying and taking trains in DC for the Women’s March the day after the presidential inauguration. I am so grateful for the opportunities I have had to be a part of these wonderful experiences in American politics. It warms my heart to see the power in people’s voices and the passion to fight for people’s health, safety and rights. I am so lucky to have been able to be a part of this.

- Arden & Neelam