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Kalyn Weber, HHS Communications Fellow, Spring 2014

Today is my last day as the Communications Fellow here at the Executive Office for Health and Human Services (HHS).  As a graduate student earning my Masters in Public Health (MPH) at Tufts University, this experience has been incredible to say the least. I came across the Fellowship while perusing the HHS Careers Site (something as a soon-to-be grad I do on a regular basis). Since my degree concentration is Health Communication, the opportunity to work in the Secretary’s Communications Office caught my eye. I was delighted to have been selected as the spring 2014 Communications Fellow for EOHHS in January of 2014.

Since starting my Fellowship, it has been a true privilege to work in the same office as the Communications Director Alec Loftus and Deputy Director Julie Kaviar each week. Both Julie and Alex have been amazing mentors for me– opening doors to opportunities that most nerds like me only get to dream about. For example, my second day here, I met the Department of Public Health Commissioner Cheryl Bartlett… which is basically as “big time” as it gets for a public health student. But one of the coolest moments of my Fellowship was riding on the same elevator as Governor Patrick on the way to a press conference. Yeah, that’s a big deal folks!

In addition to meeting various Commissioners from HHS, I have also had the opportunity to work around the corner from Secretary of Health Human Services, John Polanowicz, for the past 5 months. How cool is that? Before taking this position, I had seen Secretary Polanowicz speak at a conference for public health graduate students. While the Secretary’s statements on the direction of the Secretariat were certainly inspiring, I remember we were all impressed when he mentioned his own experience taking the SNAP Challenge – a pledge that a group of students at Tufts also took on this year.  Secretary Polanowicz’s commitment to citizens of the Commonwealth is remarkable and it has been a privilege to work in his office.

Obviously, it has not been all press conferences and public hearings in the Communications Office. As a Fellow, I was able to play an integral role in the day-to-day activities of the office. My regular duties included:

  • Searching for and collecting daily news clips involving HHS for internal distribution
  • Transcribing various interviews with the Secretary and media
  • Writing and editing blogs for HHS and contributing to other web-based communications
  • Compiling bi-weekly events of the Secretariat and reporting to the Governor’s Office

I learned a lot throughout this Fellowship. I have learned things that I probably could never learn in grad school about the different agencies in HHS… all 15 of them! In case you didn’t know, there are LOTS of good things that HHS does for people in Massachusetts. As a public health student and a resident of this Commonwealth, it has been encouraging to see first-hand that here in Massachusetts, we really are sincerely committed to improving the health and well-being of the citizens we serve. That is a something I will never forget and take with me as I explore my own public health career.

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Communications Fellow

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