September 10, 2015
Emily Holladay is completing her final West Chester semester as an intern in the Pennsylvania Department of Health's office of Legislative Affairs. Her assignment as one of The Harrisburg Internship Semester (THIS) students meshes well with her major in public health: health promotion.
Sponsored by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE), THIS accepts one student from each of the 14 state universities from any major each semester. Interns are placed with agencies that best fit their interests and majors.
Holladay's supervisor is the department's Executive Legislative Specialist William Freeman. She spent the initial part of her 15-week internship "taking calls from legislative offices with questions regarding birth and death certificates; helping with the weekly legislative report sent to PA Department of Health Secretary Dr. Karen Murphy; analyzing the daily report on bills and amendments looking for subjects of interest related to health that our office would then need to track." She will attend session meetings on health bills as they progress through the house and senate.
"The other interns and I meet formally every Wednesday for a policy seminar class from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Dixon Center [PASSHE's offices]," Holladay reports. "Our internship coordinator speaks with us about our internships and experiences as well as the THIS syllabus, going over the research paper we complete for the program." Guest speakers also address the interns on such subjects as lobbying and PASSHE's philosophy.
Although they sometimes work late, the interns occasionally meet to bond and explore the Harrisburg area. Holladay says her Lock Haven home is too far to commute, but the stipend from the program allows her to share an apartment with another THIS intern; PASSHE provides a list of facilities that have housed previous interns and the students make their own arrangements.
Holladay is enjoying "seeing the workings of the state government and its complexity from the inside" and may have already found her niche following her December graduation. Her "goal is to stay in Harrisburg and hopefully get a job with the Department of Health. … I feel it is the best place for me to help make the biggest impact on improving the health and lives of Pennsylvanians."