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Summer 2023 Internship Fellows

William & Mary's Schroeder Center for Health Policy provides financial support for selected undergraduate students who are considering unpaid or low-paid policy-related summer internships. In Spring 2023, we were proud to award three W&M undergraduates Summer 2023 fellowships for internships with the Department of Health Behavior & Policy at VCU, Triage Cancer, and the Mental Health & Addiction Coalition in Cincinnati.

Below are brief reflections from the students on their experience:

Peyton Bernstein BA/MPP '25

Peyton Bernstein, ’24, MPP ’25, majoring in Public Policy with a minor in Data Science       

Internship: Department of Health Behavior & Policy at Virginia Commonwealth University (Richmond, VA)

Among many tasks, my priority was to assist the department in compiling, organizing, and sending research surveys as part of an ongoing effort to evaluate Virginia Medicaid and its various programs. Much of the internship experience revolved around the surveys themselves and I gained valuable skills and insight related to the research and policy evaluation process throughout my time at VCU…I appreciated being able to observe and contribute substantively. This substantive piece came in the form of a policy brief I drafted for DMAS relating to the prevalence of substance use disorder (SUD) among individuals recently released from prison. This specific population endures significantly higher rates of SUD than the average person and are thus more likely to benefit from the Addiction Recovery Treatment Services delivery system within Virginia Medicaid. This project was a perfect opportunity to demonstrate my skills while crafting a public-facing brief with valuable information.

Emily DeCotiis '25


Emily DeCotiis, ’25, majoring in Public Policy with a minor in Data Science    

Internship: Triage Cancer (Remote)  

Throughout my internship, I was given the opportunity to work on a variety of projects, from conducting research to assisting with community outreach efforts. One of my favorite projects was helping to create a School Costs Checklist/Education Quick Guide Resource to make it easier for those affected by cancer to navigate their finances during the college process...Working on a project like the School Costs Checklist was something that felt rewarding because it allowed me to create a resource that could directly benefit students affected by cancer in their journey through the already arduous college process… In addition to the projects I worked on, I was also able to collaborate with team members and attend meetings that gave me a broader perspective on the field of public policy in healthcare. These meetings helped me understand the challenges and opportunities that exist regarding cancer advocacy, and how policy decisions can have a significant impact on people's lives. 

Sarah Johnson '25


Sarah Johnson, ’25, majoring in Public Policy with a minor in Data Science       

Internship: Mental Health and Addiction Advocacy Coalition (Cincinnati, Ohio)

My main responsibility in my internship was doing research on mental health insurance parity. I looked into federal and state level parity laws and enforcement efforts. I also helped create a survey for behavioral health providers in southwest Ohio to get a better understanding of potential parity issues that they see in their work. I compiled my research into a white paper that covered parity’s impact on behavioral health in Ohio, the background and history of parity policies, and solutions and recommendations for better parity implementation… In connection with the research that I did, I participated in several meetings with government officials on the topic of parity. Others from the MHAC and I met with a member of the Ohio House of Representatives about his interest in parity, a representative from the Department of Labor to learn more about parity enforcement at the federal level, and representatives from the Ohio Department of Insurance to learn about work that they have done regarding parity. I also had opportunities to present an overview of my research at an advisory committee meeting for the Regional Behavioral Health Workforce Coalition and at one of the MHAC’s Southwest Ohio Steering Committee meetings.