Hometown: Old Saybrook, Connecticut
Degree and graduation year: Master of Public Policy & Administration, May 2022
Where I interned: The Safe Schools Program for LGBTQ+ Students, a joint initiative of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education and the Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ+ Youth.
What I did there: I conducted research on LGBTQ+ inclusive policies, practices, and curriculum in Massachusetts public schools. I also facilitated meetings and testimony workshops for the Massachusetts All-Inclusive Curriculum Task Force, an independent coalition of individuals and organizations working for the passage of S.310/H.618 (“An Act relative to LGBTQ+ inclusive curriculum”). Last but not least, I was proud to work with LGBTQ+ student activists on projects such as “Let Trans Athletes Play,” a day of sports and civic action for transgender student athletes.
The most important thing I learned: Student voices have tremendous power. The youth that I worked with this summer are incredibly driven to create change in their schools and in their communities — I learned so much from all of them!
The most challenging part of my internship: Public speaking! I struggle with anxiety, so I was extremely proud of myself for not only growing into a meeting facilitator, but also delivering testimony to the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Education.
What surprised me the most: I was so pleasantly surprised to see that even at the height of my internship office’s busiest season, my colleagues prioritized community health and self-care above all else. My supervisor always encouraged me to take breaks when I needed them, and meeting leaders often opened our conversations by asking, “What have you been doing to take care of yourself during this busy week?”
Why I’m studying public policy: I’m a proud queer/trans person passionate about education and social change. I’m studying public policy to ensure that all LGBTQ+ youth of all backgrounds have access to safe, supportive, and inclusive schools.
Future plans: I loved this internship, and I’m excited to report that it has been extended until May 2022! I hope to continue working for this agency or a similar LGBTQ+ youth-serving organization after I graduate.
About the School of Public Policy: Established in 2016, the UMass Amherst School of Public Policy prepares students for leadership in public service. The program’s focuses include social change and public policy related to science and technology.
Contact: Maureen Turner, associate director for marketing and communications, School of Public Policy