This summer, upon receiving an OLSPIF stipend, I had the opportunity to intern with the Lane Coalition for Healthy Active Youth (LCHAY). LCHAY proved to be an invaluable inside look and participation in the development of public health law; under the guidance of LCHAY’s Executive Director, Eugene City Councilor Claire Syrett, I buried my head in assessing the legal feasibility of nutrition policy, in an effort to decrease rising childhood obesity. I conducted legal research, wrote memorandums, and gave bi-weekly reports to my supervising attorney on issues including police power, preemption, a Fifth Amendment takings challenge, substantive due process, the dormant commerce clause, and free expression under the Oregon Constitution.
Amidst honing my creative problem solving and legal writing skills, LCHAY provided me with numerous opportunities to improve upon my networking and oral communication. Not only was I able to interact directly with LCHAY’s Board of Directors, I interviewed numerous city planners to better understand Oregon municipal zoning codes. I also represented LCHAY at the 50th International Making Cities Livable Conference in Portland, Oregon, where public officials and public health advocates were brought together to discuss the relationship between the built environment and health. This conference became pivotal in solidifying the important of interdisciplinary discussion and decision-making in policy.
This internship, with the support of OLSPIF, has become the first step in what is sure to be a rewarding career in public health. In addition to the professional growth provided by LCHAY, this summer has cemented my dedication and passion for public health and has encouraged me to expand my educational aspirations to include an MPH. I eagerly await building upon such a solid foundation that would not have been possible without OLSPIF’s support.