Tuesday, January 29, 2013
by Taylor Scott
Dedicated to Rita Pink
I awake a little drowsy at 7:45 a.m. expecting a departure within the hour to take on the biggest challenge since my last final before graduation back in May of 2012. I have only been working with Nevus Outreach for a matter of weeks and now I have appointments with Tulsa area Congressman John Sullivan, and Oklahoma Senators Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn! This is a big day for me and even if I just mention Nevus Outreach, who knows what great opportunities could come from this. I need to be on top of my game today. I need to take my mountain of information to the Hill.
Ideas flow through my head like rain as I get ready, and go downstairs for breakfast. I arrive at breakfast to find out that my first appointment had been moved up, and no one had told me! I called Karen Ball, my stand in Oklahoma patient advocacy representative, and tell her the news. She, luckily, is already on the hill and ready to head to the appointment with Senator Tom Coburn.
This totally changed my approach to the morning, now I was in a massive hurry to get to the capital. I run outside and wait for the pre-arranged shuttle which happens to be running late. Oh, good, an opportunity to hail a cab. Like a professional, I grab the first cab passing the hotel and tell him to hurry; now I have 30 minutes until my meeting with Senator Coburn. We hit just enough traffic on my way to the Hill to cause me to miss my first meeting, and if it was not for Karen I would have been miserably embarrassed, but at least she could attend the meeting. I begin navigating the capital and find my way to the right building.
I get through security and meet up with Karen, and she tells me that we were not on the Senators schedule for the day! She waited for nothing, and I felt bad, but slightly relieved. Frankly, nothing really happened until my next meeting. We arrived at Senator Inhofe's office a few minutes early. I enter the office and I'm told the Senators and Congressman are at a September 11th memorial and will return in a few minutes. About enough time passes for me to get comfortable waiting and two of Senator Inhofe's aides enter and usher us to a comfortable couch in the corner of the room. The first piece of important information I learn is that both of these aides are from my hometown of Tulsa, and one of them even went to my alma mater! This takes a lot of pressure off of me, but I still need to remember all the information I have been preparing for this meeting. For the life of me, I don't remember a whole lot from this meeting. I remember we engaged in colloquial banter for a few minutes and then Karen and I lead the conversation to business. We hit all of the talking points and eloquently throw in our own elevator speeches about our non-profit organizations. Both aides are very interested in Nevus Outreach, and just as I'm feeling a little verbose, our time runs out. The aides professionally wrap up the conversation and curtly excuse themselves. Karen and I leave the office, and I breathe a huge sigh of relief. I made it through my first very professional meeting, and I had adequately prepared!
No time to sit on my laurels though! I have to rush to my third and final meeting. I don't know if I will be meeting with Congressman Sullivan or one or maybe two of his aides, but I need to keep my composure either way. After navigating the halls and floors of the congressman's building Karen tells me that she needs to get to a meeting with her actual group and that "you're on your own kid". Strangely, I feel a sense of peace. I can do this. I enter the congressman's office and immediately the Congressman enters and directs me to his office. I know I don't have much time with the Congressman, so we sit down, I introduce myself and get straight to business. I tell the congressman about each point I had been instructed to bring to the congressman's attention. I spend a significant amount of time on the issue of a bill that he will have the opportunity to vote on that could potentially decrease the National Institutes of Health cancer research funding. I tell him about how the patients my non-profit represents suffer from an increased likelihood of skin cancer and NIHs research into cancer is very important to us. He responds very stoically to the great information I am relaying to him. I wrap up the conversation just as his assistant calls him to another meeting. We part ways and I feel like on top of the world! Never in my life has this young Oklahoma boy had an opportunity to bring issues of this importance to people who can actually make change in this great nation. Today, I am on top of the world. I can only think how lucky I am to have met Nevus Outreach, and then to be given this opportunity. Triumphantly, Mr. Scott leaves the office, exits the building, and is on his way to explore the United States capitol on the anniversary of September 11th, 2001.
Epilogue to this Travelblogue:
This day was a turning point for me. This was my first professional opportunity to prove to myself and Nevus Outreach that they made a good decision and that our relationship will be healthy and fruitful. I may not have a nevus, but I hope in future I will have more opportunities to advocate for people who do. My great hope, is that everyday, I can take steps to do good work for Nevus Outreach.
Thank you for reading this Travelblogue, I hope you have enjoyed this series, stay tuned for more stories from the Travelbloguer.