Reflecting on a Summer of Health Policy & Human Rights Work

Grace Wang, COL ’26, Plano, TX

This summer, I had the privilege of interning at The Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, a legal-advocacy organization based in Washington, DC. This opportunity perfectly combined my interests in legal advocacy, human rights, and health law & policy, giving me the chance to further my career goals and network with respected professionals and attorneys in the legal industry. Moreover, I’m especially thankful to Penn for granting me the Turner Schulman Endowed Human Rights Internship Award, which graciously compensated the work I contributed to The Bazelon Center as an intern.

As a summer intern, I had the opportunity to work with Bazelon in advancing and defending the rights of individuals with disabilities, mental illnesses, and seniors by promoting equal access to an enriching education, employment opportunities, safe housing, and accessible healthcare through high impact litigation, legislative policy & advocacy, and public education. A notable project that I participated in as an intern was working with Bazelon’s Policy and Legal Advocacy Attorney to draft Noticing Comments to send to two government agencies. I got the opportunity to write to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in response to their new proposed rule on ensuring access to Medicaid services, and the US Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) in response to their plans to update Section 504 regulations, raising concerns that people with mental disabilities should not be excluded from proposed Medicaid and affordable housing improvements. In the process of writing both sets of Noticing Comments, I honed my research and legal writing skills, learned more about the impact of government agencies’ regulations, and most importantly, directly participated in hands-on policy reform.

Throughout this internship, I also helped lead a variety of campaigns for The Bazelon Center. For example, I assisted Bazelon’s Director of Engagement in curating and publicizing a response to the Talevski v. Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County Supreme Court Decision, which ultimately secured the continued right of nursing home residents and Medicaid beneficiaries to sue state officials in federal court for violating provisions of the Medicaid Act.

Finally, this internship gave me the opportunity to engage in the legal industry at Bazelon and beyond. I had the privilege to attend staff meetings with the CEO and Director, observe court cases that Bazelon was involved in, and attend White House Briefings. As a Pre-Law student at Penn, this opportunity allowed me to take the legal knowledge I learned in my classes and apply them in real world legal scenarios.

Overall, my experience at The Bazelon Center reaffirmed my interests in the health policy field and allowed me to learn how organizations can make an impact on government and policy on a national level. Ultimately, this internship allowed me to take a critical step forward in entering the important space of policy reform and human rights, equipping me with the tools to help contribute to bettering health outcomes for marginalized populations in the future.

This is part of a series of posts by recipients of the 2023 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they spent their summer. You can read the entire series here.

By Career Services
Career Services