The Story of a Brandeisian at NCL: A Match Made in Social Justice Heaven

Washington, D.C. is an amazing place to be for the summer, despite the humid heat and the high density of 20-somethings. This summer has been a particularly exciting time to be in D.C.: I’ve shaken Bernie Sanders‘ hand at a press conference, celebrated at the Supreme Court on the day of the marriage equality decision, watched a live taping of my boss speaking at FOX News, and met the 2014 Noble Peace Prize winner on the National Mall. I also ran into Jeff the Diseased Lung, who you may recognize from the anti-tobacco campaign that comedian/TV host John Oliver introduced on his show, before heading to a briefing on health care. While not at work, I’ve been kayaking the Potomac, attending intern networking events, and performing or watching improv comedy at various theaters. These past few weeks have been a whirlwind of excitement and I am sad that I am already halfway done with my internship.

Lobby at the Fox News headquarters in DC, where my boss spoke about the benefits of the new "female viagra" drug
The lobby in the Fox News headquarters in DC, where my boss spoke about the benefits of the new “female viagra” drug
I ran into Jeff the Diseased Lung on the Metro while headed to a health care briefing
I ran into Jeff the Diseased Lung on the Metro while heading to a health care briefing last week

Working at the National Consumer’s League is similar to being at Brandeis. If you’re like me, what some might describe as the “typical Brandeis student”, you’re passionate about a variety of social justice issues and you’re always busy at some meeting or event. My colleagues and I at NCL are interested in fighting for every issue you can think of regarding consumers and workers, from product safety regulations to bans on child labor. We attend events and meetings every week dedicated to solving these issues and we talk with policymakers and industry leaders about what they can do. I now know much more about consumer and worker issues and feel passionately about making people aware of these issues and solving them. While Brandeisians aren’t exactly lobbying Congress on a weekly basis, they’re always doing something to make change, whether it will affect our campus or the greater good. I hope to bring the same energy I’ve gained from working on various projects at NCL back to the clubs I’m involved with at Brandeis and look for new clubs to join that align with my new-found passions and growing skill set.

At the Consumer Product Safety Commission hearing in Bethesda, MD, where I learned about regulations for laundry detergent pods, table saws and ionization smoke alarms
At the Consumer Product Safety Commission hearing in Bethesda, MD, where I learned about regulations for laundry detergent pods, table saws and ionization smoke alarms

I write blogs, articles, and press releases on behalf of NCL, and although they are much shorter than the papers I write at Brandeis, they often require a similar amount of in-depth research. Since my start at NCL, my writing and research skills have improved. My co-workers and supervisor have offered me advice on writing and given me additional work to help me practice these skills.

I have also been writing questions for NCL’s program LifeSmarts, which is a consumer education competition for middle and high school students to help them develop consumer and marketplace skills. While researching a variety of topics that relate to health, technology, the environment, worker rights, and personal finance, I have become a smarter and more responsible consumer. I now know more about my rights and responsibilities when I enter the workforce and how to manage my finances. NCL has another program called Script Your Future that has taught me about managing medicine and various health issues.

For my next four weeks in DC, I hope to learn even more that will help me navigate my future, including but not limited to surviving the heat here. I hope that the work I’m doing and the people I’m meeting in the capital and at National Consumers League will be a part of that future because it is hard to imagine leaving both behind in August.

– Rebecca Groner ’17

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