My time as the Dalmas Taylor Fellow was a truly great learning experience. As an academic, policy implications of research are often spoken about, but not in great detail. Being able to immerse myself in policy and research in Washington, D.C. proved to be a challenging, yet wonderfully rewarding experience. Throughout my fellowship, I worked with the policy coordinator at SPSSI, Alex Ingrams, and all members of the Government Relations Office at the American Psychological Association. Though I specifically focus on immigration, I was able to work on a variety of social issues such as discrimination, human trafficking, and HIV/AIDS. I attended briefings on Capitol Hill, as well at the Center for American Progress and the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Several times I was able to meet with legislative aides to discuss social issues and how research helps provide scientific evidence on certain aspects of social issues. The majority of the policymakers I spoke with were enthusiastic about the role of research in policy, which was comforting for the future since there is clearly a gap between research and policy that needs to be bridged.
Working on social issues that differed from my own interests was incredibly helpful in understanding social issues in general, the different ways to address social issues, and how to work on prevention and intervention. Overall, I believe the experience as the Dalmas Taylor Fellow will prove promising in my career as I am now a more well-rounded researcher. It has always been important for me to link research and policy together, and I am now much more confident in being able to address the sensitive, yet necessary, relationship between the two.