My name is Samhita Chundury I am a senior Bioengineering major and a student in the Terrapin Teachers program at the University of Maryland. I was introduced to the Department of Energy’s (DOE) internship through the Global Fellows program due to my passion for serving underrepresented communities. Through this internship I worked with amazing mentors and met a culturally and professionally diverse group of DOE employees.
Deputy Director of the Office of Minority Programs, Vincent Quarles, was an exceptional supervisor. He picked up on what I truly cared about and ensured I was working on projects that were focused on those topics. Vince connected me with Christy Jackiewicz, Chief in the Office of Minority Program’s Minority Educational Division, with whom I conducted research on student perspectives on educational programs. In addition, I attended weekly networking sessions, facilitated by Christy, known as “Tuesday Talks.” During one of those Tuesday Talks, I was introduced to Shalanda Baker, newly appointed by President Joe Biden as the Office of Minority Program’s Deputy Director for Energy Justice and Secretarial Advisor on Equity. After seeing my enthusiasm in that meeting, Vince presented me with a new, exciting opportunity and connected me to Shalanda. I became her first staff member.
I aided Shalanda in preparing for and implementing the Justice40 initiative, which has been transformative in prioritizing communities that have been systemically taken advantage of and ignored. I loved going through legislation, attending collaborative meetings, and synthesizing data to support the initial groundwork necessary. I also enjoyed studying the DOE’s initiatives through a social justice lens, determining where minority and low-income communities are being supported.
In the DOE’s Office of Economic Impact and Diversity, each person I worked with took the time to get to know me and championed my passions and goals. Through the work I have done, I’ve gained confidence in my own analytical capabilities and discovered a new passion in the field of energy justice. I am beyond grateful for my time here and hope to have the privilege of working with the DOE in the future.