Four SIU Law students get a professional launch with a high-powered internship

Southern Illinois University

Four SIU Law students get a professional launch with a high-powered internship

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Four SIU Law students get a professional launch with a high-powered internship

April 30, 2013

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Thanks to the powerful relationships forged at SIU, four law students are gaining the kind of professional experience that will pave the way for their future careers, while getting the best possible real-life experience in conducting legal research. The students are collaborating with the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and NACCHO (National Association of County and City Health Officials), a Washington, D.C., organization that serves the nation’s local health departments. Together, the two organizations are working on radiation emergency preparedness, a project examining the laws that govern isolation, quarantining, and decontamination with regard to radiation incidents.

The legal problem came to light after the 2011 tsunami in Japan damaged the nuclear power plant in Fukushima-Daiichi. A film crew from Peru had flown to Japan to make a film about the disaster, and when they returned, they had a connecting flight in Texas, where they set off radiation detectors. What should or could be done when individuals are contaminated with radioactive material? Public health officials became aware that US laws on how to handle someone exposed to radiation vary from state to state. If there were to be a radiation event on our shores, what laws and statutes are in place to protect individuals and the population at large?

SIU Law students unknotting the problem

These are the large questions the SIU students are examining, compiling research and helping prepare a report for the 2013 Public Health Preparedness Summit in Atlanta, Georgia, the nation’s largest event of its kind. The summit will be a gathering of public health professionals, emergency managers, and other stakeholders, as well as the national news media. These students will be making a variety of professional contacts through this experience, in addition to providing important legal information for law- and policymakers to consider. And they are experiencing a real-world context that allows them to see what the law profession is like. This is the SIU Law Advantage in action.

The SIU Connection

This SIU internship was the brainchild of Andy Roszak, who is director of pandemic and catastrophic preparedness at NACCHO and himself an SIU Law alum. While at SIU, Roszak benefitted from an internship at Illinois’ Department of Public Health in Springfield. There he helped drafted various rules for state programs. Roszak’s career after SIU has been nothing short of meteoric, with stints in Washington, D.C., on a Congressional fellowship (the David A. Winston Health Policy Fellowship) and after that as the senior preparedness advisor for the Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County, Indiana, which gave him the opportunity to work on Super Bowl XLVIand the Indianapolis 500.

Now he’s reaching back to extend the kinds of opportunities he enjoyed to current SIU Law students. “I could talk to any law school in the country for interns, but knowing the resources at SIU, I knew this was a win-win situation for everyone.” The SIU students worked with CDC attorneys during finals week and their Christmas break, demonstrating the nimble thinking, versatility, and savvy know-how that will translate into professional longevity—and the chance to shape their careers to fit their passions.