An Advocate for Recovery Resources Katana Evans '22 used summer enhancement funds to intern with Rep. Julia Brownley's office and Recovery Organization Resources.
Hometown: Bryant, Arkansas
Majors: Cognitive and Behavioral Science, American Politics
“These experiences strengthen and supplement my academic and professional interests in public health and public policy.”
Q: You had quite the busy summer! Will you tell us first about your work in the office of Rep. Julia Brownley (D-CA)?
I was the press intern for Congresswoman Brownley’s office in D.C. I drafted scripts for videos, award speeches and one-minute floor speeches on legislation she authors or co-sponsors. I also drafted social media posts and social media toolkits relating to key legislation or breaking news. My first toolkit was posted by over 50 representatives! I also regularly attended Congresswoman Brownley’s committee hearings, which include the House Committee on Natural Resources, Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, and Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.
Q: What did you enjoy most about working for her, and what was the most challenging part?
It was exciting to hear my writing on the House floor, and I enjoyed learning about how the House Democrats shape their messaging and operate communications. The D.C. staff were also great people to work with. The most challenging part was working virtually since everyone else was in the office for most of the summer. My internship was entirely remote.
Q: What is Recovery Organization Resources, and how have you been involved in that?
Recovery Organization Resources (ROR) is a new nonprofit organization dedicated to developing and distributing recovery resources for women, veterans, BIPOC, people with disabilities and LGBTQ+ people. The 12-step program dominates the recovery field, and historically, certain social groups have been alienated and kept out of these programs. We want more recovery programs to embrace multiple pathways of recovery, harm reduction models and a holistic healing approach. This summer, I helped to develop the nation’s first LGBTQ+ Recovery Housing Training with over eight modules.
Q: As if that wasn’t enough, you also completed the 72-hour Virginia Peer Recovery Support Specialist Training this summer. What made you decide to do that?
I have been an active member of the Washingtonian Society, W&L’s collegiate recovery program, since my first semester. This fall, I will be W&L’s Peer Recovery Support Specialist (PRSS). I am the first undergraduate student, woman and person of color to hold this position. To prepare for this position, the school offered to pay for the state-approved training. I learned so much about how to provide support to people with mental health and substance use issues and how to make the most out of being a PRSS.
Q: How did you get connected with these opportunities?
For Recovery Organization Resources, I have been in the recovery field for a couple of years now because of the Washingtonian Society. I met the executive director and founder through Stop the Addiction Fatality Epidemic (SAFE) during my sophomore year. During winter break last year, after she started her own recovery organization, I reached out to her to volunteer because I strongly believe in ROR’s mission. Although I did not end up volunteering, the executive director reached out to ask if I was interested in interning this summer instead.
For the press intern position, I looked over the weekly House Vacancies announcements that lists current job and intern openings. Congresswoman Brownley represents my mom’s family in Ventura County and where I was born. My father was also deployed at the Naval Base in the district decades ago, so I had multiple connections to the district. They called me the next day to begin screening applicants.
Q: Why are you so passionate about working in the recovery field?
When my health worsened after coming to W&L, I connected with the Washingtonian Society, W&L’s mutual aid group for college students with mental health and substance use issues. This recovery community transformed my life by offering me resources and a sense of healing and hope. I have embraced the leadership and advocacy opportunities through our recovery program to investigate and develop programs on the political, social and cultural factors regarding access and quality of mental health services in various courses.
Q: How do you expect these experiences to impact your W&L education and your future career?
These experiences strengthen and supplement my academic and professional interests in public health and public policy. In fact, my politics honors thesis and CBSC capstone will be related to work I have done in these internships. In the future, I want to provide legal and emotional support for individuals who would benefit more from having proper resources and support rather than being fined or caged by the criminal legal system. My experiences with ROR and PRSS trained me to use a trauma-informed and community-based approach to facilitate recovery and healing for others. My experience with the House of Representatives strengthened my communications skills and deepened my understanding of the legislation process.
Q: What have you learned at W&L that helped you in these endeavors?
W&L gave me incredible opportunities to learn about Congress and a career on the Hill. Professor Brian Alexander’s Congress and Washington Term courses prepared me by teaching me about the legislation process and offering career and professional development guidance. My CBSC research courses have prepared me for researching, developing the presentations, and writing and organizing a report.
Q: Did you have time to do anything just for fun this summer?
Yes! While I stayed busy, both of my internships were part-time, so it was manageable. Good time management and setting boundaries allowed me to make time for my family and friends. This summer, I attended the Hot Air Balloon Festival and a couple of live outdoor concerts in Rockbridge. I also drove up to D.C. for Pride and Otakon. In late July, I flew home to Arkansas for a couple of weeks and saw my family. I also hung out with other W&L students to swim, do yoga, cook, play video games, watch movies and explore Lexington.
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