SPH student experiences politics and policy firsthand through Capitol Hill spring internship


Published: March 13, 2018

By Sally Crocker

MeganBhattiThe last few months have ushered in a whirlwind of change for UNTHSC School of Public Health student Megan Bhatti (MPH, Health Management and Policy), who is interning this spring in Washington, DC, for U.S. Congresswoman Kay Granger, representing the 12th District of Texas.

Bhatti applied for the internship the day before Thanksgiving and learned the very next week that she had been accepted.

She was assigned to start on January 8, which meant planning for a move in record time, in the midst of finals, end-of-semester projects and the holidays.

Luckily, a cousin who lives in the area offered a temporary place to stay until Bhatti could scope out housing.

With that covered, she still had the job of packing, making flight arrangements and getting everything settled at home for the next few months.

“It was exciting but also challenging in a lot of ways,” she said. “Just figuring out what to pack took some thought. Not only did I have to plan for colder weather, I also had to get four months’ of business clothes into just two suitcases.”

Bhatti is settled now in the DC scene, where days are busy attending briefings, answering citizen phone calls to Representative Granger’s office, hosting Capitol tours, running errands and working on special projects.

In between, she often finds time to sit in on Congressional hearings and attend various political events around town. Interns are encouraged to take advantage of the many different learning and networking opportunities available, to gain the most from their experience.

“So much of what you discover comes from being in DC itself,” Bhatti said. “Internships are what you make them. By keeping your eyes and ears open, and taking it all in, you learn a lot. Most people are also willing to give advice and answer questions if you ask, so it pays off to put yourself out there and engage with as many as you can.”

After graduation, Bhatti would like to work in health policy, analysis and advocacy.

“I’ve learned so much from my UNTHSC classes and relationships with my professors,” she said. “I first became interested in health policy after taking a class with Dr. Lykens, and later I was part of the 2017 spring legislative leadership class that visited the Texas State Capitol in Austin. Professor Ostensen’s public health law course also helped influence where I want to go in the future.”

By far, though, Bhatti said she believes that some of the most important things she’s learned as a student so far have come from outside the classroom.

“There’s no greater way to learn about health policy than by seeing it in action on the Hill,” she said.