Xiaoqing Zhang, a doctoral candidate in the School of Health Technology and Management and President of GSO, shares her experience as an intern.
Interning with Stony Brook’s Office of Government Relations in Washington, DC, this summer was such a valuable educational experience that has better prepared me to be a strong and effective advocate for scientific research funding and other important issues as I continue to represent the graduate students of Stony Brook University.
Since I joined Stony Brook as a PhD student in the School of Health Technology and Management in Fall 2016, I served as a senator and a treasurer of the Graduate Student Organization (GSO) until I was elected as a GSO president in May 2019. In these three years of working closely with the GSO Executive Committee and Senate, I found myself very interested in federal policy and funding related to scientific research. Working with the federal relations arm of Stony Brook’s Office of Government Relations, I learned the crucial importance of effectively advocating for scientific research and understanding how federal policies affect graduate students’ research, work, and life. My internship provided me with a comprehensive view of the critical impact that public policy has on scientific research regarding both funding and regulations, as well as a rare opportunity to observe and participate in advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill.
During my internship, I met with members of Congress, congressional staff, and representatives from the Department of Defense (DOD). I also sent letters regarding immigration reform to relevant New York senators and House members on behalf of GSO as part of our federal advocacy efforts. Additionally, I assisted Stony Brook researchers during SUNY DOD DC Day, an exclusive and interactive two-day networking event that brought together 90 outstanding researchers across eight SUNY campuses to meet with DOD leadership and program managers. I joined the strategic advocacy meetings with fellow higher education and research advocates from across the country and attended fascinating congressional hearings on topics concerning technology, science, higher education, and immigration.
I learned many valuable lessons during this DC internship with the Office of Government Relations, but my greatest takeaway is how important it is for researchers and students like myself to learn how to effectively advocate for scientific research and play an active role in the legislative process.