August 23, 2016 - As an undergraduate at the University of Houston, Kevin Dyer committed himself to a legal education and changed his major from biomedical engineering to political science.
But the 2015 alumnus of the University of Houston Law Center would soon re-visit his fascination with medicine from an attorney's perspective.
"I had been intrigued by health law as an undergrad based on the developing science of medicine," Dyer said. "Then I caught the law bug, and the classes in law school on health law combined the two appreciations into one for health policy where I feel fairly well-suited."
Dyer recently returned from a congressional fellowship in Washington, D.C., where he worked with U.S. Rep. Gene Green '77 as part of a 10-week program sponsored by the Law Center's Health Law & Policy Institute. Green serves as the ranking member on the House's Subcommittee on Health.
Some of Dyer's work involved funding for mental health bills, initiatives to fight the Zika virus, and writing and proofreading memoranda. One of his favorite aspects of the fellowship was sitting in on a subcommittee meeting.
"I enjoyed my time in Washington, D.C., quite a bit," Dyer said. "Seeing all the representatives there; actually negotiating the brass tacks of a bill and what their strategy would be, it made me get a bit of an itch for politics that I hadn't felt before. It made me think, 'I want to be at that table someday.' "
Dyer said he credits instruction from Law Center Professors Jessica Roberts and Barbara Evans for nurturing his passion for health law. But it was a Health Legislation & Advocacy course taught by Allison Winnike, research director of the Health Law & Policy Institute, that gave him his first hands-on experience at the state level.
Dyer and classmate Bobby Dale 3L drafted legislation for the Texas Legislature on telemedicine and testified before the Texas House Committee on Public Health. The bill was passed by the House in May 2015, but was not voted on by the Senate before the 140-day session came to a close.
"I was fortunate to have Kevin in my Health Legislation & Advocacy course where he developed and honed his legislative lawyering skills," Winnike said. "Based on his performance in class, I was fully confident in his ability to enhance his skills in the nation's capital."
Winnike urged other students to participate in similar health law policy clerkships.
"We are so fortunate to partner with Congressman Green to provide such a unique fellowship opportunity for our students," Winnike said. "I encourage our health law J.D. and LL.M. students to take advantage of both our flagship health law fellowship opportunities: the Health Law Congressional Fellowship in Washington, D.C., as well as our Health Law Legislative Fellowship in Austin, for which we are currently accepting applications for the January 2017 Texas Legislative Session."