The Charger Blog

U.S. Senator Speaks to University’s Public Health Students

As part of a graduate-level course, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal spoke to Chargers about national and international issues and answered their questions. Students reflected on the terrific opportunity they had to deepen their understanding of policy and further explore what they’ve been discussing in the classroom.

December 14, 2023

By Ashley Tudor ’24 M.S. and Poojitha Tiruvaipati ’25 MPH

Sen. Richard Blumenthal on campus in 2023.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal on campus in 2023.

As part of their “Law and Public Health” class, graduate students have had the opportunity to hear from a variety of prominent poliymakers and leaders this semester, including U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal and Connecticut Comptroller Sean Scanlon. Taught by Dr. Audrey Blondin and Dr. Matthew Blondin, the class offered students the chance to engage with leaders who offered their perspectives on the issues students have been discussing in the classroom and following in the news.

Below, two students refect on Sen. Blumenthal’s recent virtual visit.

Ashley Tudor ’24 M.S.

As an online student in “Law and Public Health” taught by Dr. Audrey Blondin and Dr. Matthew Blondin, I have been afforded the unique opportunity of listening to various influential leaders through guest lectures. One of our most notable guests was . What I found profoundly impactful was Senator Blumenthal’s passion for humanitarian efforts and advocacy for the people of Connecticut and society as a whole on a national and international scale. Senator Blumenthal spoke about various complex issues and demonstrated his genuine commitment to generating progressive change for humanity through the legislature he has been a part of developing and supporting.

Dr. Audrey Blondin and Dr. Matthew Blondin were excited for Sen. Richard Blumenthal to speak to their “Law and Public Health” class.
Dr. Audrey Blondin and Dr. Matthew Blondin were excited for Sen. Richard Blumenthal to speak to their “Law and Public Health” class.

One aspect of the presentation I enjoyed was the reciprocal nature of Senator Blumenthal’s guest appearance. He encouraged questions from our professors and the entirety of the class. Senator Blumenthal cultivated an inclusive dialogue through his willingness to answer every query regardless of the nature. Through Dr. Blondin’s questions, Senator Blumenthal was able to discuss the complex issues facing our society and the potential avenues for resolution.

With his firsthand account, Senator Blumenthal addressed his bipartisan trip to Israel. He stressed the crucial need for humanitarian aid and reduction of civilian casualties. Through his description of the complexities experienced in Israel, Senator Blumenthal advocated normalizing relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel while expressing support for a two-state solution as a conduit for peace. It was encouraging to learn that despite the polarized political climate we currently find our nation in, democratic and republican representatives could join together to demonstrate solidarity for Israel.

As a fire apparatus engineer with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, I found that the most impactful aspect of this class was gained from Senator Blumenthal's thoughtful response to the questions I presented. In my role, I constantly confront the relentless threat of wildfires in California.

Ashley Tudor ’24 M.S., a candidate in the University’s graduate program in emergency management.
Ashley Tudor ’24 M.S., a candidate in the University’s graduate program in emergency management.

As Senator Blumenthal mentioned, firefighters are exposed to the toxic chemical and carcinogenic fumes that are often ingested during extinguishment. Senator Blumenthal's recognition of cancer as a significant risk for firefighters and his support for improved respiratory protection and equipment highlighted a substantial understanding of the challenges experienced in the fire service.

Discussing my career with Senator Blumenthal provided a humanizing element to the government. As the general public, we often experience policy and legislation as a product of the government, and we never typically interact with the policymakers behind them. I sincerely appreciated Senator Blumenthal’s willingness to speak with our class, as it helped to dispel negativity surrounding the government, and it promoted a profound revelation that government is for the people, by the people.

Poojitha Tiruvaipati ’25 MPH

I am an international student. I have completed my Doctor of Pharmacy (post baccalaureate) in India and post-graduate diploma in global healthcare management in the United Kingdom. I interned as a cinical pharmacist at a government hospital in India for 12 months. I am currently pursuing my dream course and acquiring valuable experience, and I have been awarded a scholarship from the University of New 51. Having the opportunity to acquire an education from this university has been a tremendous honor for me. I consider myself very fortunate to have the opportunity to attend a university of this sort as part of my destiny.

I had the wonderful opportunity of enrolling in a "Law and Public Health" course taught by Professors Audrey and Matthew Blondin. The insights and life experiences shared by the professors significantly sparked my interest in the topics and broadened the horizons for my professional career. Because they have worked in a variety of public health roles for a considerable amount of time, we are able to gain knowledge from their vast expertise.

My professors exhibit a high level of professionalism, giving not just their opinions and information but also their experience and expertise. A number of current events that have an effect across the United States were discussed with us. The aspect that grabbed my interest was the opportunity to listen to one of the best speakers who had had a lasting impact on my mind: Senator Blumenthal.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal spoke to students via Zoom.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal spoke to students via Zoom.

He firmly believes that each day presents a fresh opportunity to fulfill the responsibilities entrusted to him by the people. His exceptional advancement from clerk to senator is a journey that will perpetually be remembered and cherished. The Senator discussed his visit to Israel, where he expressed support for the two-state solution as a means to promote stability and peace in the Middle East. He continues to believe that Israel must achieve victory against terrorist organizations while minimizing civilian casualties and increasing humanitarian aid.

In addition, he contends that the Palestinians' perspective must be heard in order to establish a two-state solution consisting of a Palestinian state with decent governance and adequate security for Israel. His optimistic and well-balanced solution has made me an admirer of him, and I have become a fan of his beliefs because of his willingness to initiate, support, and fight for the rights and health of women, as well as his opinions on the mental health of the younger generation and his efforts to build different programs to give assistance to them. He also believes in improved protection for young people from gun violence as well as an increase in the number of mental health services and healthcare services available to young people.

He added that he believes mental health challenges can be made worse by the use of social media. In light of this, the , was authorized by him and is currently co-sponsored by almost half of the U.S. Senate.

This was an excellent opportunity for me to listen to prominent political figures in Connecticut. I feel this subject and these sessions will help in building my career. I would encourage this kind of opportunity to other students, as it is critical to have these fantastic chances to engage with influential members of society, which might be challenging for foreign students in their native countries.

Ashley Tudor ’24 M.S. is a candidate in the University’s graduate program in emergency management. Poojitha Tiruvaipati ’25 MPH is a candidate in the Master of Public Health program.