Vinit Shah interned at CDF-Texas in Spring 2019. He is currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in public health at the University of Texas at Austin.
Before joining CDF-Texas, I’ve always only had a vague sense of what I wanted to do career-wise. I’ve always been passionate about medicine and healthcare; since the 3rd grade, I’ve dreamed of becoming a physician. I also have a strong interest in politics and policy, especially since the 2016 election, and chose to major in Public Health at the University of Texas at Austin because it intersects these passions. However, I’ve never really known how to bring both of my passions in my career of choice, given that medicine, to me, frequently fails to discuss the social determinants of health, especially on a policy level. Little did I know that CDF-Texas would be the perfect fit in terms of intersecting all of my passions and interests, opening me up to the world of health policy and introducing me to new career opportunities.
Learning about health policy in your classes is one thing, but being able to directly interact with them is another. At CDF-Texas, I’ve had the opportunity to directly shape health policies and advocate for them at the state and federal level, whether it be creating social media posts supporting the expansion of Medicaid in Texas, visiting state legislators’ offices telling them to advocate for CDF’s core legislative priorities, or drafting a public comment that was submitted to the federal government opposing changes in eligibility for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). In this way, I was also able to apply my passion for writing to solve health policy challenges and advocate for key priorities.
All of this sounds incredibly complicated (and it was), but none of this would have been possible without the help of an incredibly bright team of fellow interns and staff, who supported me throughout the way. I had initially come into CDF doubting if I was actually cut out for this type of work, as this was my first ever internship, and I had come in without significant legislative and communications experience. What kept me motivated was the incredibly supportive and collaborative environment at CDF; everyone was always willing to help me, teach me, and include me in major projects and meetings, no matter what their level of experience was. The staff at CDF also served as mentors to me, since many of them had similar passions as mine and provided invaluable advice as a confused undergraduate.
Through this internship, I gained new insights in the world of health policy, while also learning more about the importance of communications in supporting policy and advocacy work. While going into medicine continues to be my main goal, I hope to use my passion for medicine to effectively advocate for changes to health policy at the state level, something that I never thought I would be able to do without the skills I learned at CDF-Texas.
Spring 2019 Intern, CDF-Texas Austin office