UH West Oʻahu student Destiny Mabalot was on Capitol Hill in May, visiting the offices of senators and representatives to update them on the importance of a program supporting student research projects.
Mabalot, who will be a senior in Social Sciences this fall, traveled to Washington D.C., to update elected officials and staff about the the importance of the Institutional Development Award program (IDeA) within the National Institutes of Health. Mabalot joined other students in detailing how the program is important to their own research work, their careers, and states. Mabalot has been a beneficiary of the IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) program, having worked on biomedical research projects and displaying the results at annual INBRE symposium at the John A. Burns School of Medicine.
“Our job, as students, was to update and thank them on the progress of the IDeA programs in our states because without them and their funding, our research programs would not be possible,” Mabalot wrote in an email. “It was very refreshing to get to explain our projects and what is going on in our states to people who were so eager to hear from us.”
Mabalot was part of a group of students that met with U.S. Representatives Ed Case (D-Hawaiʻi), Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaiʻi), Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R), and U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawaiʻi), Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire), Maggie Hassan (D-New Hampshire), and others.
Mabalot said before heading for Congressional visits the students were educated on what was proper to say and not say, important people they might run into, governmental issues circling Congress, and other insights for visits with Congress.
“It was all such a go-go busy environment,” Mabalot wrote. “Definitely different from the island life I am used to.”
Mabalot was selected to represent Hawaiʻi after she responded to an open call on the INBRE email listserv. The National Association of IDeA Principal Investigators, Van Scoyoc Associates, and EPSCOR/IDeA Foundation selected her and one student each from New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Oklahoma, Kansas, Mississippi, West Virginia, Louisiana, and South Carolina.