2011 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Betsy Havens
Name of Host Organization: Florida Legal Services, Inc.
City, State: Miami, Florida
Issue area: Health Care, Children/Youth
Sponsors: The Florida Bar Foundation; Greenberg Traurig
The Children’s Medicaid Rights Project will help disadvantaged children in Miami access vital health care services by eliminating systemic barriers through direct client representation, community engagement, policy advocacy and impact litigation.
After I graduated with my master’s degree in public health in 2006, I worked for nearly two years for the Florida Medicaid agency. During that time, I visited health clinics across Miami and learned that many children were not getting some of the basic health care they desperately needed due to limits placed on Medicaid services and resources. I was driven to go to law school so that I could help advocate on behalf of some of these most vulnerable people in our community: underprivileged, sick children. I was convinced then, as I am now, that the only way to advance equity in health care is through community education, and improved laws and policies.
Making the connection:
During my time as a Master of Public Health student, I worked with a number of community organizations focused on eliminating persistent racial and ethnic health care disparities. I recognized how laws and policies dictate health care access and affect outcomes. I went to law school in order to become a more effective advocate to help all people gain access to affordable, quality health care.
Surviving law school:
Find professors, administrators and students who are passionate about public interest work. They will help keep you inspired to gain skills to promote social justice. They can guide you toward exciting public interest work and volunteer opportunities as well as introduce you to invaluable mentors.
Affirmative Acts by June Jordan, an outstanding, inspirational collection of essays from a strong, social justice-minded woman. Everything she writes is golden.
Assata by Assata Shakur, an awe-inspiring narrative about the struggle of one woman's determined battle for racial justice.
Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, a beautiful collection of wisdom written around 600 B.C.E.
Words to live by:
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly."
~Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.