Graduate Degree: Harvard Medical School
Undergraduate Degree:University of Miami
Area of Interest:Public Health Issues
Mentors:Audrey Morse Gasteier, Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector and Araceli Gutierrez, Harvard School of Public Health
Agency:Office of Jeffrey Sanchez, Massachusetts House of Representatives
Supervisor:Representative Jeffrey Sanchez
Project Description:This summer, Daniela worked at the office of Representative Jeffrey Sánchez, the House Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Health. The bulk of her time was spent on a project about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, which is a program through which U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services gives lawful status to youth who entered the country before they were 16 years old. Youth must complete an application process and pay a fee, after which they receive a driver’s license and a work permit. Daniela brought the importance of this issue to the attention of the Chairman and his staff and worked to bring together about 40 different providers in the greater Boston area, from community organizations, to school representatives and academics, to discuss ways to help the youth. She was responsible for the planning logistics of a luncheon where providers shared ideas on the needs and challenges of this population in greater Boston. Furthermore, she is coordinating the development of a strategic plan to host DACA renewal clinics and outreach, and the formation of a regional network of providers that collaborates on this immigration issue. In addition, Daniela was given the task of keeping the Chairman informed on the current Medicaid Waiver, and she met with the Commonwealth’s Medicaid experts and wrote several debriefings for the Chairman.
As a medical student with no previous policy experience, working with Representative Sánchez and his office taught me the ins and outs of the legislative process, for example the importance of staying tuned to the bills on the floor as any change in language can greatly affect an entire community. It reinforced my believe on how critical it is to gain trust from the community when wanting to make changes, as I saw the ties the Chairman and his staff hold with the Bromley-Heath community members. In addition, this experience renewed my commitment to use my career in medicine to be an advocate for poor and minority communities and it helped shaped my vision of my career plans. As a future physician, now I have a better understanding of the importance of being a well-informed clinician who can collaborate with city and state officials on public health and health care legislation.