Discovering My Passion For Public Health

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Mutale Mulenga, Kinesiology, Child and Youth Studies, Sociology, ‘20

This summer I interned with Planned Parenthood, one of the most liberal organizations in the country. They are known for their outspoken progressive messaging and advocacy for reproductive rights. I worked in the California Affiliates office, where they are in charge of seven local affiliates and make sure legislation is passed to ensure reproductive rights are secured and protected in the state. When I walked into the office on my first day I was surrounded by pink. The values of feminism surrounded the entire office. As I walked through the hallway there were words of empowerment. In the boardroom, the walls were covered with past legislation they have passed with elected officials. 

During my freshman year of college, I became involved with Intervarsity, which is a Christian club that integrates social justice and religion. Through that club, I was exposed to community service and education for marginalized communities in the Fillmore district.  The club sparked my initial drive to be more involved in social justice, which ultimately led to me being interested in the Esther Madrid Diversity Scholars program (EMDS). The program allowed me to explore sociology and helped me further develop my passion for social justice and my lifelong love of hip-hop. My initial excitement to learn more about the history and the foundation of hip-hop turned into my overall desire to know more about social change and how I can take part in creating it. 

I then joined the McCarthy Fellows program, which has helped me pursue my passion for public health policy by facilitating an internship with Planned Parenthood. I had the privilege to work with an organization where I’ve been able to apply the skills I have learned in the classroom. I’ve been able to work as a campaign and advocacy intern and utilize my knowledge from previous campaign experience. My internship has refined my multi-tasking skills and increased my knowledge of reproductive health policies in California. The work culture in the office was stressful at times but I saw how committed the staff was to Planned Parenthood’s mission, even sometimes working throughout the night to complete a project on time. I truly enjoyed working under the leadership of Crystal Strait. Crystal makes sure that no matter what your position is, your voice and opinion matters in the office. As the summer is ending, I am considering working for Planned Parenthood in New York because of my great experience at Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California.

Two women

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