The JDRF Advocacy office is lucky to have three wonderful interns with us this spring. You’ve already heard from Leighah, so next up is Henna!
My name is Henna Ramchandani and I am from St. Thomas, a 32 square mile gem of an island that is part of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Looking back four (!) years ago, as a senior in high school, I remember that when contemplating where I wanted to go to school, D.C. was always at the top of my list. I was leaving my year-round 80 degree weather and white sand beaches for the mainland U.S., and I needed to go somewhere equally exciting. Always intrigued by the political scene, D.C. offered a dynamic city environment where it seemed almost everything was headquartered, complete with the tourist environment I was already used to. Now, as a senior at American University in my final semester, I find myself in the heart of McPherson Square, joining the JDRF Advocacy team as an intern.
The path that led me to this internship is a little longwinded. I came in to school uncertain of what I wanted to do, but the Poli Sci bug that infects most college students here got to me, and I quickly immersed myself in an internship at the Legislature back home. Most of my classes, however, surrounded around public policy and advocacy, and I soon realized these were the classes where I actually wanted to read the textbook. After declaring a major in Public Communications, I knew I had my passion figured out. It intrigued me how much there was that went into the behind the scenes of not only a political campaign, but anything that dealt with public opinion in general. After spending my last college summer studying abroad in London and having (as cliché as it may be to say) the absolute time of my life, I was ready to come back and spend my last semester getting some hands-on experience that aligned with my interests. And then I saw this position.
I do not have diabetes, but JDRF is an organization that as far as I can think back, I have always known of. My first experiences with the disease far extended my knowledge: a few of my family members, including my grandmother, had it. When I was around fourteen, my baby cousin was diagnosed, and that is when I realized the full extent of just how a type 1 diabetes diagnosis (T1D) affects a life. Here was a little girl who could not sneak a piece of candy whenever her parents were not looking, or run off to play at her friend’s house without a care in the world, or who even had a chance to develop the deep fear of needles that most kids do. As resilient and will-powered as she is, I’ve always wished that she could go through her day without having to worry about her blood sugar, a heavy burden to bear at such a young age. This is why JDRF’s mission stood out to me.
As February picks up, I am excited to be joining the team and contributing to the meaningful work the Advocacy office does. It seems this internship will leave me with incredible learning experiences, both in helping my professional development and in the understanding of a disease that hits home for so many people. Just in my first few days, I can already see how JDRF’s efforts have impacted those affected across the board, whether they are someone living with T1D, family members, lobbyists, or even politicians. I am also beginning to understand just how much the word “advocacy,” encompasses, and cannot wait to work on our upcoming events! I’m looking forward to seeing everyone at Government Day!