INTERN AT STATE HEALTH DEPARTMENT

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INTERN AT STATE HEALTH DEPARTMENT

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Portrait of Cal U Senior Claudia Pehowic

Senior Claudia Pehowic is working for the state Department of Health as part of a 15-week internship sponsored by Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education.

Pehowic, who has dual majors in communication studies and political science with a minor in French, is one of 12 students participating this fall in The Harrisburg Internship Semester (THIS) program.

THIS gives students from each of the State System universities the opportunity to work in some aspect of state government while earning a full semester’s worth of credits. Pehowic and her fellow THIS interns will attend academic seminars and complete an individualized research project as part of the program’s requirements.

Pehowic works for the Health Department’s Office of Legislative Affairs, on the eighth floor of the Pennsylvania Health and Welfare building, where the office of the state Secretary of Health is located.

She is working directly with legislative aide Emily Holladay, a former THIS intern from West Chester University.

“I was very fortunate to land another really neat internship opportunity,” said Pehowic, who interned this summer with Talk Media News at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. 

“Since starting here (on Sept. 6), I’ve already seen and been in more offices than I realized even existed!”

Pehowic’s duties include working with legislative staffers to resolve constituent concerns about vital records, hiring processes and upcoming legislation.

For example, when a state plan emerged to address a backlog of untested rape kits, a number of constituents who feel strongly about the issue called the capital with questions and offers to volunteer their time.

“When representatives’ and senators’ offices call the Department of Health with constituent questions, I find the appropriate resources to answer them,” Pehowic said.

“In the process, I’m constantly intercepting, reviewing and learning information about the state’s public health policy.”

She also tracks health-related legislation in the General Assembly and monitors upcoming changes in statewide

health legislation around the nation, focusing on states and issues relevant to Pennsylvania.

“I’ve found that the definition of terms used in bills can be extremely influential, and I’ve spoken to lobbyists who seek to influence that terminology,” said Pehowic.

“All of these things become extremely important when the law is implemented. All parts of the complex legislative process become necessary.”

Pehowic, of Northumberland, Pa., returned to campus in August. She took part in a Constitution Day panel on Sept. 16 and the Cal U Council of Trustees meeting, as secretary of the group, on Sept. 21.

“The legislative process now reminds me of Chockablock Clock (a large and intricate timepiece) in Strawberry Square,” she said laughing. “This has been a great experience.”

For information about THIS, students may contact the program’s Cal U faculty coordinator, Dr. Melanie Blumberg, at blumberg@calu.edu; or call the Dixon University Center in Harrisburg at 717-720-4089. Details are available at www.passhe.edu/this.