Melanie Egorin is the Senior Legislative Advisor to the Democratic House Ways and Means Committee. This position mostly entails making sure members on the committee are fully informed. She works heavily with health care and is obviously very excited by her work. She lights up when talking about what she does and will start doing so with very little prompting. She does not shy away from policy and her opinions on it. She clearly knows her stuff and brings great passion to her work.
She got me excited. Of all the influential, inspiring, and charismatic people we have met, she is the first that really got me thinking about working in government. It is partly because she is not elected and is not beholden to the beliefs of her constituency; instead she is more free to work off of her own beliefs. And yet unelected she still holds considerable sway in her area of passion and knowledge. That was very interesting to me. Even more interesting to me was that I could imagine myself in her place. Her path through life is one I can easily understand and see myself following. School in San Francisco, volunteering in a clinic, and eventually taking up administrative and policy work in Washington, DC. While I respect and admire the officials we have met, I do not feel very similar to them. They are of a different breed from me. I do not think I could ever be an elected official. At the end of the interview when she looked us all in the eyes and offered us jobs if we came back to her in four years, I thought “Now that, that I could do.”
As soon as Melanie Egorin walked into the room, there was something about her that spoke to me and resonated with me. It wasn’t until twenty minutes into our thirty-minute interview with Melanie that I finally figured out what it was; she was doing what I have always hoped to do in the future. Not so much in terms of being the Senior Legislative Advisor for the Democratic House Ways and Means Committee—although it was extremely intriguing to learn about her job—but more so in terms of her outlook on life and how she came to be in the position she is. I came to this realization when she was giving us advice about taking opportunities even if it may be out of our comfort zones. She said, “Say yes and learn it.” This resonated with me on a very deep level because during this trip I have been trying to stray from my comfort zone and push my boundaries, so that I can get as much out of this once in a lifetime experience. Hearing Melanie tell us that we should take any opportunity that comes our way despite any fear that we may feel towards it was very inspiring for me.
This interview was one of my favorites because of how casual and conversational it was. It didn’t feel like an interview; it felt like talking to a friend that you have the utmost respect and admiration for.
We had met Melanie Egorin on Tuesday when we were running back and forth from the Capitol to the Longworth Building. She had invited us to a Ways and Means Committee meeting, which was very interesting because it showed us the discussions behind governmental decision-making. Today we had a special brief window to interview her; the only catch was that we had not done our usual CIA-level background research and question formulation. We were in a small narrow conference room on the fourth floor of the Cannon Building. When she walked in we all stood up and she laughed and told us to sit down. She was wearing zebra print shoes. Who does that?! I don’t think anyone else really noticed, but for me that said a whole lot about her. Melanie told us that her job made her heart sing. She was the most passionate and excited person we have met so far. She loved the long hours and the hard fights. She told us a story about how she returned from work late one night, and while tucking in her son, s he explained how she was fortunate enough to be involved in helping 16 million people get affordable health care. Her son said that it was okay that she missed dinner because she was helping people. She, like Sam Farr and many others, spoke of how the drive to end suffering, or at least combat it, got them into politics. That drive, exuberance, and passion—but maybe not the zebra print shoes—are things I hope to incorporate into my future and my career.