Mallika Hari

Major: Political Science - Public Service


 Tell us about your internship – what kind of work did you do? What did you find rewarding?

I worked for the American Public Health Association as the Affiliate Affairs and National Public Health Week Intern. In this position, I had the opportunity to serve as a liaison between 53 State and Regional Public Health Associations and the American Public Health Association. Here, I learned more about the nuances of state public health affairs and built on my interpersonal communication skills through working with State Public Health Associations’ leadership boards and their 11,000 members nationwide. I helped prepare for the Annual Meeting, which had 12,000+ people in attendance. I enjoyed supporting the coordination and execution of business meetings, scientific sessions, and the National Public Health Week booth at the Annual Meeting in Boston. Witnessing 12,000+ people who are all passionate about public health efforts gave me hope for the future of public health.

Have your career or life goals changed as a result of your internship? If so, how? 

This internship solidified my goals of working in public health policy. Working for the Affiliate Affairs Department helped me explore my interests in state and local public health policy, and I hope to pursue public health work opportunities in my local communities in the near future. I believe in community agency, that is, ensuring that those most affected by disparities or policies, are at the forefront of the conversation and have a voice in key decisions that affect their respective communities. This is something which flows through state and local health affairs, so I hope to be part of the movement to ensure community agency at all levels of public health.

When planning for National Public Health Week, I had the honor of being the lead author of the Sexual and Reproductive Health Factsheet which will be uploaded to the American Public Health Association’s webpage by April, 2023. This factsheet enabled me to explore my passion in working to reduce disparities and stigma surrounding sexual and reproductive health care; I have found that I want to specifically work on reproductive justice causes in my future.

Share an exciting memory from your internship – something unexpected, an accomplishment, someone you met. 

An exciting experience during my internship was attending the Annual Meeting in Boston, MA. There were 12,000+ people in attendance. All these people came together to support and advance public health efforts and work throughout the nation and the world. It was so inspiring to hear discussions on Reproductive Rights and Justice, as well as those which focused on addressing Racial Disparities in Public Health. The keynote speaker for the Opening Session at the Annual Meeting was Loretta Ross, a recipient of a MacArthur Fellow, Class of 2022, for her work as an advocate of Reproductive Justice and Human Rights. She was the National Coordinator of the SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective and co-created the theory of Reproductive Justice. It was an honor to work for the organization that hosted her as a keynote speaker!

Did your internship lead to any opportunities?

My internship experience opened my eyes to the nuances of state politics and public health efforts. It is not always easy to work on controversial issues within public health when state politics heavily impact how certain public health topics are viewed. During this experience, I connected with Executive Directors of many State Public Health Associations, and I was able to create my final paper in my seminar course at UCDC based on the work I was doing within the Affiliate Affairs Department. It was a journalistic style paper which covered how State Public Health Associations have been impacted in their abortion rights and access advocacy work following the overturning of Roe. Each State Public Health Association has a unique structure, with different state politics surrounding them. I learned so much from working with State Public Health Association leaders, and it was a treat to connect my coursework at UCDC with my internship.


Share a story about something special you did in Washington – an event you attended, a place you went, an exciting talk, etc. 

Something special that I did weekly in Washington DC was dinner with my housemates. Every Thursday, we would research a new place to eat at in DC and find different cuisines to try. All of us were either vegetarian or vegan, so it was a special bonding experience between all of us. DC has such delicious food options, so these housemate dinners were always something to look forward to at the beginning of each week.

How has living in the nation's capital for a quarter changed you?

Living in the nation's capital was such an exhilarating experience. Every weekend, there was something to do. Whether it was visiting Georgetown, catching a musical at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, checking out the monuments, or getting to see the numerous museums, most of which were completely free. I have become more independent as a result of navigating the nation’s capital and all of its wonders.

Do you have any advice for future UCDC students?

My best advice for future UCDC students is to make the most of your time in Washington DC. Time flies, and before you know it, you will be on your flight back home. Make sure to connect with fellow students at the UCDC Center and learn from their experiences -- you will all grow together! Most people make lifelong friends through the program, and it is so special to be able to meet students from all over the UC system, from so many different walks of life! If you have a chance, please do the program. You will not regret it one bit!

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