Jessica Gorak, Class of 2015

Major: Science in Society Program; Organization: Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin; Location: Madison, WI

Jessica Gorak, Class of 2015

The backdrop of my internship with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin was ever-changing—sitting amongst reporters at a courthouse hearing, representing the office at a community fundraiser, delivering thank-you notes to legislators in the Capitol, connecting with community members at rallies and festivals to educate them on recently introduced legislation, giving a speech at a Citizen Action press event, sitting among dedicated staff at weekly meetings—a kaleidoscope of settings gifted me exposure to multiple career paths and facets of the professional world. 

What struck me most, however, were the bill hearings that I got to attend. Public policy being an important component of the office’s work, I sat in boardrooms listening to representatives, senators, and leaders of interest groups discuss women’s reproductive rights. It was an engaging and revelational experience for me—I had always assumed that my inherent pacifist was not well-suited to the heat of politics—but instead of overwhelm, I felt passion and intrigue. Slowly, my career path materializes: The journey has been great, beginning at a drive-through window of McDonald’s at 14 years old, and later spanning to an office whose mission I admire in the bustling downtown Madison. Although still not certain or definite, when curious counterparts now remark, “Oh, Science in Society…what will you do with that, exactly?” I can tell them, “I’m quite interested in public policy and public health, actually,” and so the threads of my professional and academic experiences weave together, arranging themselves into something beautiful and meaningful.

I would like to thank Paul Turenne, Makaela Kingsley of the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin, and Jim Kubat, without whom I would not have received an opportunity of such personal and professional growth.