Florida State Alliance of YMCAs, St. Petersburg, FL
Working with the Florida Alliance of YMCAs as their Policy Intern taught me many things about Florida policy and about myself. The Alliance is a nonprofit organization that represents Florida Ys. It bolsters their support for Healthy Living, Youth Development, and Social Responsibility in Florida’s communities through advocacy, policy, and statewide programming.
My primary assignment for the summer was recreating the advocacy tools that the Alliance distributes. The first part of this task was adapting a Kentucky YMCA local advocacy guide to match Florida’s profile. I read and annotated the document and enjoyed the ability to incorporate my knowledge of Florida. Next, I began rebuilding the Alliance’s Quorum advocacy page. The new page was to have consolidated policy briefs with contemporary statistics. I was assigned five issues: Community Health and Health Equity, Safety Around Water (SAW), Civic Education, Mental Wellness, and Literacy. I started by reading the existing Y resources, checking if those statistics were current, and taking note of which topics received the most attention. I then researched the issues myself. This forced me to dig deeper for policy research than ever before; to find literacy and civic education statistics, I learned how to hunt down the studies referenced by other nonprofits’ websites.
I also helped the Alliance run its USF St. Pete Civic Fellows program. Most of the time I helped the students prepare for meetings with state and local government members, but in the interim, I networked with the invited guests. Representative Ben Diamond remembered me from a meeting in early 2020. He was pleased to hear of my acceptance to Williams and invited me to work on his congressional campaign in 2022. Rep. Diamond is the only member of Florida Congress I know well enough to give my approval, so I am very excited to be a part of his national campaign. While at the event, I also witnessed firsthand the politicization and veto of a bipartisan civics bill (SB 146). This experience illuminated the efficacy of disinformation for me.
Lastly, the internship gave me insight into my own working style. The Quorum task seemed so gargantuan that I felt overwhelmed. Eventually, though, I had to realize that it was necessary for me to appreciate small bits of progress instead of stressing about the large overall task. It changed the way I look at my workday, and I know it will help me destress this semester. I am also proud to know that the work is bipartisan and directly helps Florida’s communities and youth. On top of the opportunity for next summer, this internship has given me a renewed passion for combatting the terrible statistics I worked with in my post-graduate plans.
I’d like to give a big “Thank You” to William Chapman ’64 and the ’68 Center for Career Exploration for making this experience possible.