Anna Gu, a Master of Public Affairs candidate at the LBJ School in the University of Texas at Austin, interned in the CDF-Texas Austin office in Spring 2019. She had this to say about her experience.
distinctly remember being called over to the Children’s Defense Fund – Texas booth at my graduate school’s career fair. I met Cheasty, and we immediately launched into a conversation about her work to oppose the abuses of migrant child detention centers. Although I was hesitant to take on the time commitment of an internship alongside a packed course schedule, she insisted that interning during the legislative session would be an incredible experience.
I am so grateful that I heeded her advice. Although it was not my main project, getting to contribute to CDF’s advocacy work during the 86th Legislative Session has taught me what the day-to-day-to-week-to-week work of coalition building looks like, from putting together testimonies to actively visiting with allied representatives and senators. I got a much better understanding of how state stakeholders talk about health and education as policy priorities.
My main focus was the Medicaid in Schools project, a research initiative to understand how schools draw down funding from Medicaid to support health services and community outreach improving health care coverage. I learned about the Central Texas context: the types of health services that districts offer, the ways different districts take on administrative hurdles like data-sharing regulations, and ways that some districts could get more federal dollars for programs they are already running. I helped compile statewide data detailing funding amounts by district and worked to gather more information through a survey to administrators across the state.
My years working in education helped me see the importance of integrating health services in schools, but this project helped me understand the nitty gritty of how educators accomplish this work. Working alongside the tireless advocates at CDF made me feel even more certain about wanting to concentrate my future work specifically in Texas and specifically around improving the systems that help support the most vulnerable young people.
Spring 2019 Intern, CDF-Texas Austin office