NEOMED convened its annual Legislative Day on July 22, giving students from the University’s partner schools an opportunity to try their hand at policy-making. Students from the University of Akron, Kent State University and Youngstown State University had the opportunity to present policies addressing community health care concerns to state senators and representatives.
To qualify for the event, student teams were required to first research a topic for seven weeks and then submit a policy brief to be reviewed by the legislators. The students put together presentations on the following topics: Environmental Health and Water Quality; Food Security in Infants; Immigrant Health & Sociocultural issues; Hoarding: The Mental & Physical Manifestations in High-Risk Counties and Prisoner Health & Multidimensional Treatment Protocols.
Seven students from the B.S./ M.D. program at Youngstown State—Olivia Antonescu, Vishnu Bhola, Nathan Dang, Reha Rabbani, Koshala Selvakumar, Venkat Tondapu and Andrew Whipkey—presented on “Environmental Health and Water Quality” to Rep. John Boccieri and to Bryce Miner, a legislative aid for Tim Ginter.
The student team spoke on the need to maintain safe water quality in Columbiana and Mahoning counties. The team focused on community landmarks such as Mill Creek MetroParks, where two strains of E.coli were found. The students discovered three reasons the water became contaminated: algae blooms, collapsing infrastructure and heavy metals. As a solution, the students proposed creating a volunteer education program to educate the public about how watersheds affect drinking water.
“People need to be more aware of water problems,” said Reha Rabbani. Her teammate, Olivia Antonescu added, “For such a basic necessity, having good water is definitely a problem.”
Once the presentation was finished, the representatives and senators gave feedback, telling the students what they did well, what could be improved and if the proposal was possible. From the students’ point of view, “We hope our presentation got them thinking about the issue,” said Andrew Whipkey.
Additional government officials attending the event were Rep. Christina Hagan, Sen. John Eklund and Sen. Tom Sawyer.
Legislative Day teaches students the legislative process to allow them to be the voice of underserved communities.