COVES: Supporting People With Disabilities

By: Casie Slaybaugh
March 11, 2023
Posted in:
Est. Reading Time: 2 minutes
Our "Postcards" series shares the experiences of engineers and scientists who are taking early steps toward local engagement.
Share this with your network
  • Tell us about yourself.
Casie Slaybaugh, COVES Fellow with Virginia Board for People with Disabilities

I am a Ph.D. student at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. I study biomedical engineering, specifically pulmonary mechanobiology and acute respiratory distress syndrome.

  • What is important to you about engaging with your local government? 

I think it is important for scientists to educate non-scientists on the topics that affect the daily lives of citizens. Smaller state and local governments have a much greater and more direct impact on their citizens than the federal government does. Despite this, engaging with and making changes in local government is often overlooked.

  • What did you do?

I’ve always been interested in both science and politics. My undergraduate education was full of benchtop research, lab coats, and experiments; but also Model UN conferences, international affairs op-eds, and visits to the Tennessee State Capitol. When I went to graduate school for biomedical engineering, I thought my policy days were sadly over. When I learned about the Commonwealth of Virginia Engineering and Science (COVES) Fellowship, I was very excited to jump back into policy and even more excited to learn about Virginia’s state government.

  • What happened then?

I combined my interest in science policy with one of my personal passions when I was placed with the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities (VBPD) for my summer. Growing up as the daughter of a special education teacher, working with people with disabilities has always been second nature to me. I was excited to spend my summer learning about Virginia’s policies supporting people with disabilities and how those policies directly affect people I care about.

  • What did you get out of this experience?

Mental health, substance abuse, developmental disability, and aging services – I learned about the regulations and requirements surrounding these services and created a database listing information about each office and their services. I also looked into Virginia’s plan for broadband expansion and analyzed how the proposed project might better serve Virginians with disabilities. In addition to my work with VBPD, I was connected with many Virginia Academy of Science, Engineering, and Medicine members and had the opportunity to explore numerous career types within science policy, which was invaluable. Through the COVES Fellowship, I was able to hone my science communication skills and also learn about the daily workings of state government. I am greatly looking forward to continuing my education and training in science policy!

Interested in sharing your story? Tell us about a local engagement you participated in here. You can find guidance on how to craft your postcard here.

Engineers & Scientists Acting Locally (ESAL) is a non-advocacy, non-political organization. The information in this post is for general informational purposes and does not imply an endorsement by ESAL for any political candidates, businesses, or organizations mentioned herein.
Published: 03/11/23
Updated: 08/7/23
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram