The Summer Experience Grant: Internship Plunges Student into Health Policy

Chris Goy ’09 is used to finding opportunities for himself. A graduate of a public high school in Albuquerque with the highest SAT scores in the state, Goy chose to attend Wesleyan, although few of his friends left the Southwest. Also fluent in American Sign Language, he is the hearing son of two deaf parents.

When he was in his first year on campus, he began visiting Wesleyan’s Career Resource Center. This summer, because of a grant program he’d learned about at the Center, Goy held an internship in Washington, D.C., with Dr. Andrea Barthwell ’76, and still met his financial aid self-help obligation. It was the Summer Experience Grant.

“I knew that this grant was what I needed if I wanted to do something far from Albuquerque,” he says. “I couldn’t have afforded to live away from home otherwise. I could count on one hand the people from my high school graduating class who went farther than one state away. I’m the ‘one who got away,’ so I have a reputation to uphold there,” he jokes.

Chris had begun to think about a summer ’08 internship during the fall semester of ’07. He made sure he attended a “Meet the Trustees” opportunity in Zelnick Pavilion, despite his rigorous schedule (a double-major in government and psychology, he is also president of Psi U, Campus Democrats, and manages $800K as the Student Budget Committee Chair). It was there he first met Wesleyan Trustee Dr. Barthwell.

Intrigued by Barthwell because she was one of the first women to enter Wesleyan in its second era of co-education, he engaged her in conversation, which revealed—to his surprise—that she is a Republican. “I love it when first impressions are wrong,” he admits. “It keeps people humble when they realize that you have to take time to get to know someone as an individual.” As president of the Wesleyan Democrats, he says that he makes sure that the Wesleyan Republicans remain a vital part of campus activities “because what is the point of having political discourse, if everyone agrees with each other?”

Barthwell also recalls the conversation and the student as a standout: “A big topic that evening was divestment. Chris caught my attention because he respected the minority opinion; he did not want a Wesleyan in which you could not express all points of view.”

Later in their chat, Goy expressed his interest in finding an internship in a major city. Barthwell told him that she’d keep him in mind. A few months later, she offered him an internship at the company of which she is founder and CEO, EMGlobal, in Washington, D.C. She is based in Chicago, so Goy was to work closely with her founding partner on their current public policy project to help craft national policy on prescription drug use by first creating consensus among the many different constituencies involved in the dialogue. The importance of this, explains Goy, is that public policy on this has always been reactive, a response to a tragic event and the ensuing media outcry. As former deputy director at the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy, Barthwell was a prime figure to lead the discussion.

Goy was thrilled with his internship. Barthwell was equally delighted with his work, which she described as a “commitment of the heart.” Midway through the summer and much to Goy’s astonishment, Barthwell asked him to make presentations on current legislation at their national consensus meeting, slated for early August.

The week before this meeting, Goy was in high gear: “I’ve been doing research and learning about the intricacies and complexities of pain care in America. I’ve been reading everything, from the neurological effects of opiod analgesics, which are the most common pain relievers on the market, to law enforcement and the role of pharmacies in the Internet era. But all the people who will be in the room are the experts in their fields. The fact that Dr. Barthwell and [EMGlobal cofounder] Mike Barnes trust me enough to speak to this group is incredibly flattering and—more than anything—says a lot about the faith that alumni have in the Wesleyan experience.”

Barthwell concurs, and encourages other alumni and parents to work with the Career Resource Center to find interns. “Wesleyan has selected an outstanding group of students who can perform in a complicated environment and hold their own and contribute to the discussion,” she says.

Goy says he has gained an important lesson from his experience. “It’s one of Wesleyan’s core beliefs that working to benefit the lives of others is not just a noble idea. It’s the charge, the moral imperative,” says Goy, as he recalls Senator Barack Obama’s commencement address at Wesleyan last May. “I think if I had to take home one lesson from all of this and my four years of Wesleyan, it is that the goals of the public and private sector do not have to be mutually exclusive.”

Barthwell adds: “I’ve had very good mentors, and that, I think, makes a big difference in the relationship you make with an intern. We expect that the relationship we have with Chris will be ongoing.”

Director of the Career Resource Center, Mike Sciola invites inquiries from alumni and parents looking for interns. He also encourages students who have an internship lined up but don’t think they could afford to live away from home to apply for the Summer Internship Grant.