Veronica Girma


Veronica Girma

Microbiology & French 

  • Participated in: Winter 2008
  • Internship Organization: Children's National Medical Center (CNMC), Administrative/Research Intern
  • Previous Position: Assistant to the CMO & CMIO, Institute for Human Caring at Providence St. Joseph Health
  • Current Position: Administrative Coordinator, Global Office Services at Capital Group
  • LinkedIn:

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 endpoint with the Washington program ultimately led me to my starting point in the work world.

Alumni Update

Lessons Learned: Embracing Uncertainty 

As I reflect on the years passed since the 2008 financial crisis, every challenge and hardship that came about was preparing me for an opportunity that I couldn’t foresee at the time. For most of us, the emotional, financial, and psychological scar from 2008 is still evocative; many of us are still grieving that part of our lives. Yet as we ameliorate that crisis even today, we are now collectively facing another calamity in the form of the unprecedented global pandemic that has brought the world to a halt. Without a doubt, 2020 has been a whirlwind of uncertainties.

While uncertainty is deeply uncomfortable, it builds resilience. So, here is my humble story.

In 2008, I applied to the University of California Washington, D.C. (UCDC) program while I was at UC Davis. I vividly remember how nervous I was when I got an invitation for a panel interview. I had a deep pit in my stomach, sweaty palms, and flushed cheeks. Let’s just say talking about myself in front of a group of people was unnerving, and it was one of the many defining moments of my life. I took a chance and ran with the opportunity, having no idea how it would turn out. After a few weeks, I received my acceptance notice and I was beyond ecstatic! I gladly accepted and turned an uncomfortable situation into an adventure. Sometimes, all you need is an ounce of courage and a dash of faith to help you make that leap. 

Fast forward to a decade later and adventure has become a part of my journey. I have since been traveling and exploring new places, and the multitudes of experiences helped me perceive uncertainty through a different lens. It taught me the importance of embracing the precariousness of daily life. 

I am fortunate for the adventures in my life and immensely grateful that my first one started with the UCDC program. This program was a transformational experience and I hope anyone who is a part of the UC system takes advantage of this opportunity. Take a chance, apply yourself, and remain calm - the rest will follow.