Calling All McCarthy Center Alumni!

We’re excited to announce the formation of the McCarthy Center’s Alumni Committee — to rally our alumni around the Center’s new students, events and the upcoming 15th Anniversary! A small group of dedicated undergraduate and graduate alumni have come together to organize our support of current and future students, and the USF community as a whole.

The committee is comprised of active and dedicated alumni volunteers from all McCarthy Center class years, programs, and majors. The current committee includes:  

  • Rebecca McDowell, Master of Public Affairs 2016, Mayor’s Office of Education
  • Rodd Lee, Master of Public Affairs 2014, BART
  • Jennifer Ratliff, Master of Urban Affairs 2016, USF School of Management 
  • Pete Byrne, Master of Urban Affairs 2016, San Francisco Office of Short Term Rentals
  • Lunna Lopes, B.A. 2006, Public Policy Institute of California
  • Nico Bremond, SF Magic Zone
  • Andrea Wise, M.A. 2013, UC Berkeley Public Service Center

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The mission of the Alumni Committee is to create a strong and unified alumni presence at all signature McCarthy Center events, activities and traditions in and around our community. They will work closely with the McCarthy Center Board and staff. A strong alumni coalition also presents the opportunity to continue spreading the word about McCarthy Center undergraduate and graduate programs.

The Committee members were initially invited by the Center’s Director to serve for a minimum one-year term. Going forward, the  Alumni Committee will develop a subsequent application process and the length of terms during the first year.

While USF currently has a strong alumni relations network, this Committee will focus on specifically serving McCarthy Center students and alumni with the priorities of:

  • Adopting the alumni relations core values of excellence, lifelong relationships, lifelong learning, inclusiveness and diversity, global citizenship, advocacy, and USF pride;
  • Participating in alumni board meetings and functions, regional alumni chapter events and other university functions
  • Organizing at least one alumni event with assistance from McCarthy Center staff during the spring or summer semester;
  • Communicating the mission and purpose of the McCarthy Center and Alumni Steering Committee to the wider alumni population;
  • Supporting a strong relationship between the McCarthy Center Board, alumni and current students in career planning, placement and transitions;
  • Encouraging highly qualified and diverse prospective students to attend USF and enroll in McCarthy Center programs and degrees.

What’s Next?

McCarthy Center Alumni are encouraged to stay tuned for an update from the committee. There will be a variety of ways to become involved including:

  • Upcoming events including the 15th Leo T. McCarthy Anniversary celebration, November 9, 2017 and the speakers series, Conversations for the Common Good beginning in 2018
  • On-going recruiting efforts
  • Networking opportunities
  • Welcoming and mentoring students
  • Supporting job and internship searches for current students and recent graduates

In the meantime, if you are one of our alumni, undergraduate or graduate, please make sure to update your contact information here!

See some of our alumni at the recent 15th Anniversary Kick-off in Sacramento held last month at Frank Fat’s in our Flickr album.

Changing Transportation: My Path from USF to Sacramento

Simonds train photoshoot

Shannon Simonds
Master of Arts in Urban Affairs ’16
Transportation Planner, Caltrans

When I started at Master of Arts in Urban Affairs program at the University of San Francisco I just knew that I was interested in understanding the opportunities to mitigate climate change through urban transportation policies and planning. To be working for the state of California as a transportation planner at Caltrans just two years later as an alumna of the Urban Affairs program is still a little crazy to me; but also very exciting.

As a graduate student, I tailored my classes and research to focus on different aspects of transportation as it relates to the environment and urban spaces—and it worked! I get to work in the field I studied and get to learn something new every day. I currently work on the Rail Planning team developing the 2018 State Rail Plan. I am working to coordinate commuter, regional and intercity trains with freight and local bus routes to create a truly integrated, state-wide system. I like that I get to learn about a new area of transportation for me—rail while bringing in a new perspective that tries to incorporate climate sensitivities and equity into the rail planning processes.

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Diving into our Nation’s Capitol

Presley Attardo

Presley Attardo

As a Media Studies major, I had always been interested in the news, but desired a deeper understanding of political processes. When I heard about USF in DC, I jumped at the opportunity to participate to broaden the scope of my education at USF. Through the program, I gained experience and critical insight to our political system through working, studying and living in our nation’s capitol.

USF in DC is unique since it requires students to work a full-time internship while attending politically oriented classes. For my internship, I worked as a video production intern for the progressive think tank, The Center for American Progress. Since the video department only consisted of two full time employees, I had many individual responsibilities including producing and editing short explainer videos, recording and livestreaming events and guest lecturers at the center, and transcribing audio for our short documentary pieces.
Each week on my day off from work, I attended three classes that focused on political journalism, research, and professional writing. Since the classes dealt with current news headlines and happenings, they often analyzed the subjects I produced videos on for The Center for American Progress. While studying and working in politics concurrently was intense, the combination of theory and praxis gave me a dynamic understanding of how our government operates.

Even outside of my internship and classes, politics dominated most conversations I had in DC. It was exciting living in an environment where everyone was politically savvy and hyperaware of current events. I was always extra motivated to be on top of the latest news in order to join in on conversations and jokes in the student lounge area of the UCDC building and at happy hour after work. These conversations were interesting since, compared to San Franciscans, DCers had a wide range of political viewpoints. Not only did I learn how to navigate conversations with people of differing opinions, but I also learned to be a better listener and learn from those with alternative perspectives.

When I reflect on my time in the USF in DC program, it amazes me how much I experienced in just four months. The skills I gained in DC have carried over into places that I least expected. For example, the professional writing skills I honed in DC improved my overall communication ability and enabled me to excel in my next position as a marketing intern. Additionally, the political knowledge I gained in the program added depth and meaning to course work in my major upon returning to USF. In my media theory classes, I often make connections between the media and politics and am able to share unique insights and anecdotes during class discussions.

Public Service and Community Engagement Minor Opens Doors

Leadership for Civic Engagement adThe Public Service and Community Engagement Minor guides students to explore and analyze intersections between themselves, their communities, and pervasive social justice issues while integrating a range of opportunities to develop and implement skills for effective civic engagement.

This 20-unit minor draws on courses from across disciplines to provide a holistic learning experience that is relevant and engaging to students with diverse majors, interests, and career paths. A new 2-unit Leadership for Civic Engagement course, launched this Fall serves as an introduction to the PSCE Minor, providing a framework for analyzing the program experience, and connecting students in an intimate learning community.

Lunna Lopes

Lunna Lopes, Research Associate with the Public Policy Institute of California

Lunna Lopes, a 2006 USF alumna with a PSCE Minor reflects back on the value of the Minor.

“The Leo T. McCarthy Center Public Service Minor was really a great opportunity for me to just meet a lot of really interesting fellow students who are still some of my best friends. I’ve even lived in London with one of my friends and fellow Public Service Minor where we both had the opportunity to gain international public service experience.

Back home in San Francisco, the Public Service Minor allowed us to get to know a lot of public servants, from Mayor Art Agnos to a historian, Kevin Star. They were able to come into our classrooms’ small seminars where could truly talk to them in-depth about what it’s like to work for the people of California and develop policies that could really improve their lives. Having that opportunity to sit in such a small seminar class and engage with guest speakers was useful to get some insight into what the life of a public servant actually is and the different type of public service that you can pursue in your careers.”

Reflections from a USF MoPA Alum: Collaborate, Communicate, Have Courage

Alia Al-Sharif headshot
Alia Al-Sharif
Senior Project Manager, Barbary Coast Consulting
Master of Public Affairs ’12

When I reflect back on my experience as a graduate student at the University of San Francisco, I can’t help but think about how fast the last two and a half years since graduation have flown by.  My mind immediately starts thinking about how incredibly fortunate I am to apply everything I learned in graduate school to my job. People usually stop and stare blankly when I say that, but it’s true! From media pitches to developing authentic community engagement strategies, the Masters of Public Affairs (MoPA) program was where I cut my teeth in San Francisco politics. The MoPA program also helped me strengthen vital skill sets that have been crucial to me as a working professional.

As students we were pushed outside of our comfort zone to collaborate and work closely with others in every course and even outside of the classroom. Throughout our coursework we were challenged to compellingly communicate our thoughts, whether it be in our writing or our presentations. We also needed to have the courage to stand up and voice our opinion on controversial topics and to defend our work.

These three skills came up time and time again in the program, and come up time and time again in my role as Senior Project Manager at Barbary Coast Consulting. As a political consultant, collaborating with colleagues is instrumental to our work. It’s not about who comes up with the best idea, but how can we work together to develop a concept and strategy that will successfully achieve our goals. I’m challenged to think outside of the box to creatively communicate complex topics and translate these messages across audiences. Even when having an unpopular opinion; when you know it’s the right one you must have the courage to share it and believe in everything you do and say 100 percent of the time.

I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to have worked closely with a student currently enrolled in the MoPA program, Jasmine Conrad.

Alia Al-Sharif blog 2Jasmine has been working at Barbary Coast Consulting this summer for her graduate internship.The thread that ties us together is one of passion, purpose and pride of doing things differently and wanting to make a positive impact in a city we care so deeply about. It has been such a joy to work with her! I’m grateful to the MoPA program, its staff, its faculty, and its students, for being a community where we can all rely on each other. We’ll continue to collaborate, communicate, and have the courage to leave this world better then we found it through the professional fields we all enter. When you know someone is a graduate of the MoPA program or another program at  the Leo T. McCarthy Center, you know you’re working with someone who has as much of a commitment to serve the common good as you do — and that’s truly incredible!

Watch Alia along with two other recent MoPA graduates here.

Alia Al-Sharif

A Year’s Work Together with Faithful Fools and Martín-Baró Scholars

Sam_Faithful_FoolsSam Dennison
Community Advocate, Educator / Faithful Fools Street Ministry

For the past year, Faithful Fools Street Ministry and the Martín-Baró Scholars, a year-long live/learn community of freshmen students at USF, have worked, learned, and served together. During the year, the students shared two classes and one large service-learning project with Faithful Fools. At the end of the school year, we talked about what worked and what didn’t. The one thing that the students, faculty, and the Fools all said was “Our best days of learning were the days we worked together on-site at the Fools [headquarters].”

Our service-learning project was bringing together 5 volumes of our poetry & arts anthology, Living in the Land of the Dead into one comprehensive anthology of anthologies. This project served the Fools and it served the learning outcomes for the students’ literature and rhetoric/communications requirements. We Fools, were a bit overwhelmed when we realized that the poetry of Tenderloin Poets, curated by Tenderloin editors, and published on the Fools’ office printer had achieved the status of college literature textbook. We write and produce these journals for the sake of passion, as a human vocalization of the panoply of emotions that ebb and flow through the streets, but we never thought that someone at a University would one day include our poetry in a syllabus or that students would read it with the same respect they give Carl Sandburg or Alice Walker.

But the Martín-Baró students did read our poetry and then they went to work. They talked with the Tenderloin poets and journal editors, and they imagined what this anthology of anthologies would look like. One student said, “I read the poetry, I talked with the poets, and then I felt like I was living the poem from the inside out.” Another student saw the poetry as a map of the Tenderloin and in that moment began the design process for the new volume. The students saw the poems as intersections between human experiences of hope, fear, and tolerance and this place called the Tenderloin. And so it is that the sections of the new volume holds poems that belong at the crossroads of “Lust and Ellis,” and “Tolerance and Larkin.” This new anthology is a work of art worthy of these Tenderloin poets.

So, yes, a very successful year, but what made it so successful was the fact that we spent a lot of time together and much of that time was here at Faithful Fools. The implications of this has taken a while to become clear. We worked with other service-learning classes this year and with varying degrees of success. What we have discovered is that there is a direct correlation between the amount of time students spend at the Fools and the success of the service-learning.

We also learned that even when we ask students to come to us, if it is not facilitated either by the syllabus or by the instructor, it sometimes doesn’t happen until too late. Students, as we all know, have many motivations for prioritizing what they do (just like faculty, just like Fools, just like anyone else in our culture), but one way to ensure that students have the time to form relationships necessary for success is allocate class time to meet with community partners, and better yet for the syllabus to identify times to go to the community partner site.

Oh, I know this is a lot to ask. But it is the working together, the time spent on site, and the relationships that students build with the community and the people that best serves both academic and service-learning outcomes. As experiential learning develops as a strong partner to academic modes of learning, we will find that institutional policies will need to change to facilitate student learning outside of the classroom. We will also find our roles as community partners requiring that we set aside time to get to know students and facilitate learning — for them and for us.

Faithful Fools

Faithful Fools is USF’s Leo T. McCarthy Center’s Community Partner 2015 award winner