Internship field report, Molly Welch-Marahar @ Breast Cancer Action, San Francisco

July 21, 2016

Maureen (Molly) Welch-Marahar (MPP '17) submits this internship field report from her summer 2016 service with Breast Cancer Action in San Francisco, California. 

I’m one month into my 10 weeks here at Breast Cancer Action and I already feel at home. The friendly, witty, and all-female staff have done a great job of making me feel welcome. Next week I’m going with one of my co-workers to a poetry reading, and the week after that we are all going out to get food and play board games. The work environment here is super warm and inclusive and all of the walls here are painted yellow. With the windows facing Mission Street, the office feels sunny all the time, even when the fog rolls in off the bay (I’m told by the deputy director here that the fog has a name and that name is Carl).

Figuring out my commute into San Francisco from Oakland (where I’m staying) was a little rocky at first, but I finally have a solid morning routine that involves public transportation, lattes, and arriving to work on time. It definitely helps that I’m living with two of my best friends from undergrad who are familiar with the area. They took me to volunteer at the Alameda County Food Bank and hiking out in Point Reyes National Park (where we got lost and ended up having to hitchhike with a couple who, turns out, went to U of M! Go Blue!). I also got to attend the Pride Parade here in the city, which was particularly powerful in the wake of the Orlando massacre.

Breast Cancer Action has a legacy of independence, feminism, social justice, and truth-telling that has fueled my enthusiasm for the work I am privileged to do as an intern here. I have reveled in the opportunity to hone my skills as an activist. My favorite project so far has been drafting an activist's guide to legislative meetings. Through researching and drafting this toolkit, I’ve gained precious insight into the logistics of meeting with legislators, as well as strategies for making legislative visits impactful.

In addition to the activist’s toolkit, I’ve done some research into data sharing amongst BRCA1/2 gene databases. While the subject of this project is highly technical and not within the scope of my expertise, the challenge of navigating these gene databases added skills to my wheelhouse which are particularly valuable to someone interested in pursuing a career in health policy.

I’ve also been formulating a plan for the dissemination of BCAction’s antifracking brochure, mapping out which legislators and interests groups in which states are the best potential allies in the fight to ban fracking. I’ve never been so grateful for PubPol 510 ("The Politics of Public Policy"). Thank you Rick Hall!!!

I’m loving this Cali weather, delicious food, and, of course, all of the brotherly love :) From Breast Cancer Action in San Francisco this is Molly Welch-Marahar, signing off.

Maureen (Molly) Welch-Marahar holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan and is interested in health policy and addiction recovery and support. Her internship with Breast Cancer Action is made possible through generous support from the Gilbert S. Omenn and Martha A. Darling Health Policy Fund.