For most of my undergraduate career, I thought I had it figured out. Pre-med and focused. My long-term goal was to become a doctor, so I majored in neuroscience because it seemed like the best combination of things I found fascinating (i.e. the brain) and pre-med courses. However, after an internship in Washington, D.C. with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), everything changed.
Entering a distinctly political atmosphere was both intimidating and exhilarating. After my first day, I realized there was a lot to catch up on. Hundreds of years of political history to be exact. My time in Washington as a National Political Advocacy intern consisted of me conducting electoral research and soaking up every bit of knowledge D.C. had to offer. This type of work was entirely different than what I had been accustomed to doing—pipetting, memorizing human anatomy and learning periodic table trends. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed every second of it.
I became engrossed with the current state of Washington. I sat through Senate hearings and closed-door meetings, learning about family separation at the border in real time. The news we read from the comfort of our homes became tangible. I began to recognize how dangerous political apathy can be. The more time I spent in Washington, the more I wanted to become a part of the solution. I always knew I wanted to help people, but for most of my life, I thought that meant becoming a doctor.
My future no longer seemed clear. As I considered post-grad opportunities, my Google searches included: is medical school for me, jobs in politics, graduate programs, etc. I first heard about Orr Fellowship through a second-year Fellow at the end of my junior year. At the time, I never thought I’d apply. I had it figured out, remember? Thankfully, that same Fellow reached out again my senior year in the midst of my Google searches.
I was told “Orr Fellowship is great for those who don’t know what they want to do.” My interest piqued. I attended Orr Fellowship recruitment events with an array of questions, trying to find a deal-breaker. No matter what question I asked or what answer I received, a few things stood out to me. Every Fellow I met talked about community involvement and the chance to take two years to grow, both professionally and personally.
If you would have asked me a year ago what my plans were post-grad, I would have 1) started to sweat, and 2) told you I’d be doing anything but an office job. But here I am, at my office job, feeling grateful.
Growing up as an immigrant without access to health insurance helped me understand the significance of affordable and accessible healthcare. I now work for a company that seeks to lower the cost of healthcare by providing people access to free, patient-centered primary care. Orr Fellowship offers me the opportunity to go to work every day and integrate my background in medicine, my interest in politics and my desire to help others. My #stORRy has only just begun.