Barakat pursuing healthcare professional career with a policy lens

Judah Barakat is a biology student with plans to pursue a career in optometry. He chose to supplement his education with a health policy Portrait of Judah Barakatcertificate through the La Follette School because it offered him a valuable opportunity to gain insights into real-world healthcare experiences and emphasized the focus of holistic patient care in the medical field.

“The courses I took while pursuing my certificate provided me with a deep understanding of how governmental decisions trickle down throughout all areas of society,” Barakat says. “These courses also helped me develop my advocacy and leadership skills, empowering me to effectively champion healthcare reform and take a leading role in shaping health policy initiatives.”

Barakat’s La Follette coursework has allowed him to understand how policies influence access to healthcare, exacerbate health disparities, and impact healthcare quality, better equipping him to drive positive change in these areas. “Healthcare professionals serve as pillars of support during individuals’ most vulnerable moments, lending an empathetic ear to their fears and concerns,” Barakat says. “Armed with this intimate understanding, we are uniquely positioned to advocate for systemic changes that prioritize patient well-being.”

Barakat completed an internship in Representative Shelia Stubbs’ office in fall of 2023. He admired Rep. Stubbs’ role as a passionate advocate for justice and equality. “Rep. Stubbs’ historic election as Wisconsin’s first African American to the State Legislature from Dane County spoke volumes about her dedication to breaking barriers and amplifying the voices of the marginalized, regardless of the challenges,” Barakat says. “She displayed a remarkable ability to bridge partisan divisions, championing bipartisan legislation and facilitating unprecedented progress in the legislature.”

Barakat says his time interning with Rep. Stubbs and her team was an eye-opening experience, teaching him that no challenge is insurmountable and that every cause is worth fighting for. Barakat was exposed to the deep insights and intricacies of policy implementation and witnessed the profound influence of constituent engagement in decision making. “Most importantly, it instilled in me the belief that change is attainable. Just because something has been done a certain way for years doesn’t make it right,” Barakat says. “With perseverance and dedication, anything is possible.”

– Story by Clare Brogan

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