Veronica Girma

Participated in: Winter 2008

Major: Microbiology & French 

Internship Organization: Children's National Medical Center (CNMC), Administrative/Research Intern

Previous Position: Administrative Specialist in the Department of Pediatrics at UCLA

Current Position: Executive Support Officer at Victorian Health Promotion Foundation


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How has your experience with the Washington Program affected your career trajectory?

I am grateful to have had such a wonderful experience with the Washington Program. It was a great way to experience Washington, D.C. and at the same time be surrounded by other University of California students. I was probably one of the few students who had an internship experience outside of the political realm, but I loved it. I got to work closely with the Research Assistant for the Psychiatric Department at CNMC and also had time to shadow two Psychiatrists and they worked with kids who behavioral problems and eating disorders. 

Have your career goals evolved since your participation in the Washington Program?

I've worked and interned in different capacities, but the one constant that has stuck with me for a very long time is the need to be involved in improving children's lives. The dream is to make a difference and my goal is to make the dream happen. 

Describe what you are currently doing, and how your experiences in DC relate to your current position.

I'm now working in the Department of Pediatrics at UCLA. I assist in the administrative and events coordination capacity, but I'm learning a great deal about what it means to do research, apply for grants, etc. My experience working with both physicians and research staff at CNMC has many similarities with my current role as Administrative Specialist. The only difference is that I don't see patients directly.

Do you have any advice for future Washington Program participants?

Any opportunity that gives you the option to learn outside of the classroom should not be missed. It's your best time to explore what you like and don't like, but more than that, it's your chance to be thrown into the unknown and learn just how fun it can be to meet other people who are probably doing cool things. I met great people during my stay in D.C. and in fact ended up moving there for a few years after graduation. My first official, full-time job was with the D.C. Department of Health (DCDOH) and it would have never happened if it wasn't for my experience at CNMC. 

One of our biggest assignments at the Washington Program was to write a research paper about a topic that was important to you and mine had to do with the HIV/AIDS rates and trends in D.C. I interviewed one of the Pediatricians who did a lot of work in that field through collaborative work at DCDOH. As you can see, my end point with the Washington program ultimately led me to my starting point in the work world