When third-year student Betsy Havens entered law school, she was committed to helping the less fortunate. This dedication has led her to recently receive an Equal Justice Works post-graduate fellowship at Florida Legal Services. The two-year fellowship, set to begin in August, 2011, will allow Havens to work on the Children's Medicaid Rights Project that she developed.
"I am thrilled and honored to have been selected to be a 2011-2013 Equal Justice Works (EJW) fellow," says Havens. "The Children's Medicaid Rights Project will help disadvantaged children in Miami to gain access to essential health care services guaranteed to them under the federal Medicaid Act through legal representation, community outreach, and public policy advocacy."
Havens, who has a Master's Degree from the University of North Carolina's School of Public Health, previously trained lay health workers about HIV in South Africa, volunteered at a free medical clinic, and evaluated numerous public health initiatives aimed at reducing or eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities. For Havens, basic health care is an intrinsic part of social justice and she has dedicated much of her efforts to advancing health care as a HOPE Fellow and intern with Florida Legal Services. In addition, she is a member of Miami Law's Moot Court Board and serves on the Public Interest Leadership Board.
"Betsy has consistently dedicated herself to providing access to legal services and the Children's Medicaid Rights Project is the next logical step to her leadership and vision as an advocate," says Marni Lennon, Assistant Dean for Public Interest and Pro Bono. "A Miami Scholar and HOPE Fellow, Betsy continues a wonderful tradition of Miami Law Equal Justice Fellows."
While Havens has many passions, healthcare reform in the United States is her mission.
In the summer of 2010, she worked at the National Health Law Program in Chapel Hill, working on Medicaid litigation and health care policy across the country. She assisted lead attorneys with legal research related to litigation, advocacy education, and policy briefs.
"Dean Lennon, the University of Miami's HOPE programs and the CEPS program have been integral to my being able to pursue this work," says Havens. "I had previously received a HOPE fellowship and a CEPS summer fellowship to fund my work at Florida Legal Services, before they hired me on as their law clerk. The fellowship and the ability to do this work is truly a dream come true. It is exactly what I wanted to go to law school to do – help people gain equitable access to quality health care."