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Blog: The CHCI Experience

Share the excitement and personal growth of the 2014-15 CHCI-PepsiCo Foundation Graduate Fellows, who will be blogging monthly about their Washington, D.C. experience. Follow the blog to get the latest updates on what it's like working on Capitol Hill, living in Washington, D.C., networking with Latino leaders, and more.

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CHCI-PepsiCo Foundation Graduate Fellow Blog Series: Grant Barbosa

Eduardo Gonzalez
October 10, 2014

2014-15 CHCI-PepsiCo Foundation Fellows

Grant Barbosa, CHCI-PepsiCo Foundation Health Graduate Fellow

Hello again! I’m excited to be blogging month. While we’re only maybe a month and a half into the fellowship (side note: wow!), I’ve had the opportunity to do a great deal of substantive work and learn a significant amount through my work at the American Public Health Association (APHA) as well as CHCI’s Friday programming. 

At APHA, I have worked on a great deal of issue areas and topics in a variety of settings. I’m currently in the process of drafting guides for APHA’s membership in order for them to better understand the acceptable bounds of personal advocacy as well as how to reach out to a congressional staffer. I also had the chance to utilize my legal background and review amicus briefs that the APHA’s outside counsel was working on as well as briefs that organizations had asked the APHA to join. I imagine one of the organizations was a bit surprised when we forwarded a slew of substantive edits, but a few were actually incorporated into the brief that was filed with the Supreme Court! I also wrote the state level and international policy briefs in the monthly legislative updates that APHA sends to its members.

I’ve served as APHA’s representative in a variety of settings. I’ve met with administration officials from agencies such as the Office of Management and Budget. I’ve observed meetings for the advisory board of the National Institutes for Health’s National Advisory Council on Minority Health and Health Disparities, which advises the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, and the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, an academic advisory committee that supports the Department of Health and Human Services and the USDA in developing nutrition policy for the dietary guidelines for Americans. On Capitol Hill, I’ve been to briefings on opioid abuse as well as crime prevention and youth development. Finally, I’ve participated in strategy meetings for coalitions of public health focused nonprofits, which will serve as an interesting counterpoint to my experiences on the Hill this spring.

In addition to the work that I am doing for APHA, I’ve also attended CHCI's weekly programming. The greatest experiences in programming have been our meetings with people in a variety of positions in government and nonprofit organizations. The meetings with Mildred Otero, the education counsel for the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Maria Teresa Kumar, the CEO and president of Voto Latino, were especially impactful. Mildred was very frank in discussing her experiences on and off Capitol Hill, offering us a great deal of advice and insight. With Maria, we discussed major policy issues, such as increasing Latino voter turnout. These interactions with people who previously were in similar positions as the current fellows (either in fellowships or recently out of graduate programs) show what type of trajectory that we may be going on, but also allowed us to engage in the types of discussions reminiscent of those that took place in the salons of the French Enlightenment. Sorry for being aggressively nerdy with that last line, but if you have made it this far, thanks for reading.

Until next time!

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CHCI-PepsiCo Foundation Graduate Fellows Arrive in Washington, D.C.

Eduardo Gonzalez
September 4, 2014

2014-15 CHCI-PepsiCo Foundation Fellows

Grant Barbosa, CHCI-PepsiCo Foundation Health Graduate Fellow

Greetings and salutations everyone! I'm Grant Barbosa, one of the CHCI PepsiCo Health Graduate Fellows. I hail from the great state of Illinois and have just graduated from law school. In law school, I worked extensively on policy relating to public health, health care, and food access.  My placement for the first half of the CHCI Fellowship is with the American Public Health Association.

Orientation week was a blast! We had the opportunity to meet with several people with amazing experiences in a variety of government positions, including Maria Meier and Alejandra Castillo. Additionally, we received significant guidance on what to expect during our time in D.C. as well as support from previous fellows on what the experience provided them. Orientation also included an experiential component, featuring a high ropes training course that Araceli, another PepsiCo Health Graduate fellow, and I partnered to conquer.

I look forward to sharing updates throughout the year, but, more importantly, to use this opportunity to help influence health policy for the better! Ciao!

Araceli Gutierrez, CHCI-PepsiCo Foundation Health Graduate Fellow

As a CHCI-PepsiCo Foundation Health Graduate Fellow, I am excited to have arrived in Washington, D.C. Having recently graduated with my masters of science from the Harvard School of Public Health, I am certain this fellowship will provide me with the opportunity to develop my leadership and advocacy skills in generating innovative approaches to improve the level of access, quality of health care and social policies impacting Latino communities. I look forward to beginning my congressional office placement in the office of Congresswoman Lucille Roybal Allard.

During the first week of CHCI orientation, I had the opportunity to meet a wonderful group of accomplished, committed and inspiring CHCI staff, alumni, and fellows. I look forward to working with and learning from them during the course of the fellowship and beyond!

Israel Nery, CHCI-PepsiCo Foundation Law Graduate Fellow

My name is Israel Nery. It's a great honor to have been selected as the CHC-PepsiCo Law Graduate Fellow. I just recently graduated from the University of Illinois with my juris doctor. For the first half of my fellowship I will be placed with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), the nation’s leading Latino legal civil rights organization.

We just concluded orientation week, and it's been a transformative experience so far. Being introduced to Latino leaders in the public, private, and non-profit sector has been an eye opening experience and testament of the improvement of Latino representation in these sectors. In essence, it has made me realize that I also can eventually earn one of these coveted positions with hard work. Getting acquainted with my cohort of fellows has also been amazing. Every fellow has done something amazing in their respective hometown, and being surrounded with great minds, and passionate people will only help cultivate the purpose that has driven me to pursue this fellowship and work in D.C. 

I'm excited with the challenges that will be presented during my fellowship. I know that in the future, I will look back to this fellowship, and credit it with propelling me to great success. 

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