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Putting Public Health Policy to Work on the Campaign Trail

Marisa Bremer and Senator Gillibrand at campaign event

August 6, 2019

New alumnus fought for her values alongside a 2020 presidential candidate.

On graduation day, on June 14th, Marisa Bremer, BS ’19, received the news that she was officially hired to work on Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s 2020 presidential campaign in Iowa. Taking the job meant she would leave behind her friends, family and home, but it was an opportunity to use her public health policy skills to fight for a better, more equitable future.

Senator Gillibrand is a “personal hero” of Bremer. “As a brown, queer, first-generation woman living in America, Senator Gillibrand is the person I trust and believe in to fight for my values,” she says.

Completing her undergraduate degree at the Dornsife School of Public Health (DSPH) prepared Bremer for this role by training her to use evidence-based research to inform policy, even in the current political landscape.

Specifically, Bremer recounts completing her final undergraduate capstone project on evidence-informed abortion policy in the United States and Jennifer Breaux, DrPH, MPH, CHES, director of Undergraduate Studies at DSPH, inspiring her to stand by her beliefs. “She told me, ‘There’s going to come a day when your commitment to your values are challenged and the choice you have to make will be easy and obvious, but following through with that decision is going to be a challenge.’ These words were significant to me,” she says. “I would not be where I am today without the guidance and support of faculty throughout my time at Drexel.”

While on the campaign trail, Bremer was fully-immersed in the communities of Iowa. “I met with Iowans and listen to their stories and concerns, learned from their experiences and helped to craft policies that will address the issues affecting them,” she says. “The most rewarding part of my work was the relationships I have been able to build, and the community I found.”

Another opportunity was working with the Iowa Harm Reduction Coalition (IHRC), a nonprofit whose mission is to create health equity in Iowa communities through advocacy, education, and drug-user health services. Bremer helped to plan a presidential forum to discuss federal policy proposals to address drug use in the U.S. with the executive director of the IHRC.

“Though Iowans are impacted by the opioid epidemic, methamphetamine use continues to be incredibly problematic here. We are advocating for federal policies that could promote harm reduction for all drug users in the United States,” she says. Methamphetamine is becoming purer and more available in Iowa, according to the Governor's Office of Drug Control Policy.

In the future, Bremer looks forward to pursuing a JD/MPH degree and someday running for office. In the meantime, “I'm living out my wildest dreams,” she says.