CUIMC Students Travel to Albany for Advocacy Day
Twenty students from the Mailman School of Public Health and the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons traveled to Albany Jan. 30 to lobby at the state capitol and learn about policymaking and advocacy. Speaking on their own behalf, the students lobbied New York state legislators and executive branch leaders on issues of importance to them, including access to health care, reproductive health, and others.
"This is the second year we have brought students up to Albany, and it was wonderful to have Mailman students join the VP&S students this time,” says Ross Frommer, vice president for government and community affairs at CUIMC. “Our students are ideally positioned to help policymakers understand how the decisions they make will affect people's health, and it’s also a great opportunity for the students to learn more about policy and advocacy. Our students did an excellent job and will become great advocates for their patients and the populations they serve."
The group started the day by meeting with New York State Commissioner of Health James V. McDonald, MD, who was accompanied by First Deputy Commissioner Eugene Heslin, MD. They also met with state Sen. Gustavo Rivera, who chairs the Senate Health Committee; Upper Manhattan assembly members Al Taylor, Manny De Los Santos, and Aileen Gunther; and state Sen. Robert Jackson, who allowed the group to use his office as a home base for the day.
Later in the afternoon, the group traveled from the legislative office building to the state capitol, where they observed assembly proceedings. Assembly Health Committee Chair Amy Paulin introduced the group and extended the privileges of the house.
“Public health leaders and practitioners have the chance to create lasting change by educating others and advocating for greater health equity,” says Melanie Jenkins, a Mailman student in the Population and Family Health program. “We can also inspire others to advocate for their own health. Going to Albany for advocacy day gave me the chance to refine these skills in a real-world setting.”
Students were joined on the trip by Heather Krasna, PhD, adjunct assistant professor of health policy and management at Mailman; Kristina Montville, associate director of career advising and residency services at VP&S; and Daniel Neghassi, MD, assistant clinical professor of medicine at VP&S.