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Eleonora Piga

27 March 2024, 8:25 UTC Share

Reflections on my time at UPEN

At last, my time as Comms and Membership Policy Officer for UPEN has come to an end, and it is a bitter-sweet moment for me.

The past 9 months have been an incredible learning experience, that has equipped me with new professional and personal skills that I will take with me onto my next role. I have had the pleasure of meeting some wonderful people, who put great care and effort in the work that they do. Their work ethic and willingness to bring a positive change have inspired me, and their openness and enthusiasm have made me feel welcome in a space which has sometimes felt daunting and inaccessible.

I was lucky to have started at a very excited moment for UPEN, which was last year’s Annual Conference. It was also the first time for me taking part in an event on academic-policy engagement and, despite some hiccups with acronyms, I found it to be an exciting and interesting space to be in. The in-person events are the highlight at my time in UPEN, as they have been a chance for me to put a face to a name, and to delve deep into current and urgent discussions on how to use evidence to influence policy.

Curating the UPEN newsletter has been a privilege for me, as it has given me the opportunity to find out about the work of other academics and professionals, while also providing a very much needed service to the community. To me, the newsletter is a way of communicating with the network every week, and the positive responses have further highlighted the importance of providing a useful summary of the academic-policy engagement sector.

It is a bittersweet moment because, despite its end, I believe that the connections that I have made will go beyond the role, and will lead to more opportunities and connections. In the future, I will look back at this experience with gratitude, as a continuation of my Master’s learning journey from theory to practice. Now, I am confident in my understanding of the role of evidence in policymaking, and the potential positive outcomes that can result in making steps toward achieving collaboration between academia and the government. By curating the weekly newsletter, I saw first-hand the impact that the UPEN network can have in diversifying and advancing inclusiveness in academic-policy engagement, and I personally witnessed quiet voices become louder through continuous support.

A special thanks for this opportunity goes to Laura Bea, who not only works tirelessly for the organisation (and it shows), but has also been a friend and a mentor to me.

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