Biological Sciences Grad Talks Health for the Obama Campaign
October 26, 2012
SAN LUIS OBISPO – "We do it all," Cal Poly’s Biological Sciences Department claims, and 2010 graduate Rachel Hornstein certainly proves the point. While pursuing her graduate degree in health policy and management at UCLA, she applied to work for the Obama campaign’s health policy team and has been with the campaign since June 2012. Below, she answers a few questions about life on the campaign trail.
Question: Describe your job.
My personal journey since graduation has been eventful and exciting. I am currently working to help re-elect President Obama at the National Campaign Headquarters in Chicago, Ill. Working for the campaign is electric. It is truly a team effort with hundreds of volunteers working collaboratively with professionals to effectively talk about President Obama’s values, accomplishments and vision for the country. My own work centers around health policy.
I help to create blog postings and briefing memos and answer various organizations' health care questions. It is truly impressive to watch how well the organization operates, and it is personally very satisfying to be a part of this important re-election effort.
I love my job. I enjoy being a part of a team that is working hard to re-elect the president and move the country forward.
Question: How did you get interested in the Affordable Care Act?
My interest in health-related issues began at Cal Poly. As a biology major, I was always interested in our body's functioning and in promoting health issues. This natural science background was supplemented by my minor in Women's Studies, which introduced me to the barriers and challenges women face across the health care system. During the summer of my senior year, I volunteered for two Washington, D.C. organizations advocating for comprehensive health care reform.
When I returned to Cal Poly, I was surprised that health care reform was rarely discussed either in classrooms or in public. With the help of a supportive faculty member, I created a three-part speaker series that sought to educate students, faculty and the community about the reform efforts being debated nationally. The series attracted hundreds of students and community members, and I hope in some small way helped to support the passage of the health reform law in March 2010.
To continue my focus on improving the health of our nation, I chose to pursue a master's degree in Health Policy and Management at UCLA.
Question: How did your Cal Poly education prepare and inspire you to do this work?
I believe my education at Cal Poly was extremely influential in my current work and advanced studies. For me, the emphasis on Learn by Doing was a great fit. It allowed me to translate my classroom learning into practical applications in the community. Also, there are skills you can only Learn by Doing, including working in a team, improving your listening and communication skills and learning to manage conflict and develop trust.