This post was written by current student Ben Lasley.
For those of you who may not know me, my name is Ben Lasley and I just finished my first year of the MPA Program. I am from Summerfield, N.C., and I graduated from UNC in 2019, majoring in Environmental Studies and Political Science. After graduation, I was a community organizer in Philadelphia and witnessed the strained relationship between neighborhoods, nonprofits, and governments. This struggle over food sovereignty and environmental justice prompted my return to UNC’s MPA program.
After a rigorous first year, I am excited to witness and implement classroom concepts, while also taking a breather from readings. And with that, it is now time for my professional work experience.
My job will be as a Policy Analysis and Communications Intern with the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) Office of Air Quality and Planning Standards (OAQPS) in the Research Triangle Park. I found this opportunity on USA Jobs, and the MPA program advertised it as well! I’ve long envisioned working on environmental policy at the federal level, and this pathways internship opens the door to participating in the regulatory process. Here are a few pictures of the campus!
I will be responsible for:
1) Program evaluation of teacher environmental education workshops
2) Communication and community outreach plans for proposed regulatory actions
3) Internal OAQPS newsletters highlighting intern experiences
4)Observing and briefing congressional hearings
My first week has been off to a great start. Upon arriving, my badge was already incorrect, but a new order would be delivered in two weeks. A photo of my desk can be seen below. Thus far I have spent my time learning the ins and the outs of the OAQPS division, as well as swimming through federal onboarding videos. My first project will be assisting community outreach on a proposed ethylene oxide rule.
And the rest of the week I have the opportunity to network across the EPA and explore the RTP campus (where I can have unlimited free coffee). Thanks for joining me, and I look forward to updating you more next week!