Congratulating Our Holstein Scholars

Please congratulate our three Holstein Scholars for the 2018-19 school year who demonstrate a commitment to public service, scholarship, and public policy-making programs for the common good.

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Pascal Boctor, ‘19 – International Studies, minor Middle East Studies

Pascal Boctor is a Junior majoring in International Studies. He was raised in Egypt as a Christian in a Muslim majority country. Upon arriving in the U.S., he was exposed to issues of oppression and persecution, particularly in his own experiences in Egypt. His passion for public service developed when he attended public high school in Irvine, California. As a student at USF, and a current McCarthy Fellow in Sacramento interning for the CA Secretary of State, he continues to be involved with the Center and looks forward to participating in the USF in DC program in Spring 2019. Pascal intends to build the skills and knowledge to be a change agent and advocate for marginalized communities in Egypt and in the United States.

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Madeline Campbell, ‘20 – Politics, minor Public Service and Community Engagement and Criminal Justice Studies

Madeline first became involved in public service during her senior year of high school in Sacramento and has continued her engagement during her time at USF. Madeline started working with the McCarthy Center through their USF Votes initiative, helping to register over 1,300 new student voters in its inaugural year. She is currently a McCarthy Fellow in Sacramento and interns with Pinnacle Advocacy, a strategic advocacy and lobbying firm, and has will join the USF in DC program in Spring of 2019. Madeline also works with the ASUSF Senate and Reading Partners in SF.

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Aliyah Forbes, ‘20 – International Business and Cultural Anthropology

Aliyah Forbes is from Orange County, CA and comes from a family of five. Prior to USF, she had little exposure to social justice and activism. However, as a member of the Esther Madriz Diversity Scholars Cohort 12 and an Eco-Educator within the Office of Sustainability, Aliyah has developed a passion for public service and the environment. As a part of EMDS, Aliyah was an intern at San Francisco Rising and participated in public service throughout the Bay Area, in particular, organizing around the College For All ballot initiative. She plans on continuing her commitment to public service at USF by staying involved with SF Rising, studying abroad in the East and partaking in one of the McCarthy Center’s programs such as USF in DC or McCarthy Fellows in Sacramento.

Out Of The Closet And Into The Future

Male student

Nick Large, Master of Public Affairs ’18

Every June we celebrate LGBT pride here in San Francisco. Timed to coincide with the historic Stonewall Riots in June of 1969, pride is a time when Market Street dawns rainbow banners and corporations offer targeted pride advertising only seen in carefully selected markets. Bringing in upwards of 1 million into the city, San Francisco Pride is one of the largest pride festivals in the world, but has it lost its meaning? As someone who moved to San Francisco in 2011, my first pride celebration here brought a flurry of feelings. I had been to pride celebrations before, but it was odd coming to one so full of young people dressed ready to rave. How many rainbow tutus does it take to achieve equality?

Coming from suburban Los Angeles, my context of gay America was much different. In 6th grade, I remember learning about Dan White’s Twinkie defense. I didn’t fully understand it or have the historical context then, but I knew from one of my English teachers that he had basically gotten away with the murder of Harvey Milk, a gay man. Despite happening in 1978, I also knew that the history wasn’t as far in the past as it had seemed. Matthew Shepard was murdered in 1998 after all. I remember learning about his murder because I saw Ellen on TV crying at a rally. “Why is she so upset?” I asked.

I remember the day I first realized how different I was from the other kids asking each other to the school dances. I remember when I wanted to be a woman. It happened right off of Bank and Fair Oaks Ave. It was right before band class. I stopped exactly where I was, and it was one of those moments where you have a sudden realization and it changes your life. I thought it was a secret I would have to die with. Luckily it wasn’t.

Now, as a drag performer prepping for a busy month, I think about the changing landscape of LGBT people in San Francisco and the changing attitudes. Two years ago, I had a teenager in drag come up to me saying they were a fishier version of Divine. From the way they were dressed and from what they continued to say, it was clear they had no idea who Divine actually was. The experience was conflicting for me because I was glad this teenager was able to get creative with their gender expression, but in many ways, it was also symbolic of a loss of history of sorts that I think is dangerous.

As someone who has spent the past year studying LGBT movements in San Francisco, I firmly believe that the stories of the most marginalized among us can teach us the most. When you lose this history, you lose some of the most valuable lessons our society has struggled to put forth. Only being 28, it’s strange for me to think that I’m not much older than people experiencing their first pride, but that the context is still dramatically different. Discrimination is still very real for many under the LGBT umbrella, but there are also many who have no such experiences. Without the history to guide us into the future we are doomed to make the same mistakes. Doomed to continue the same policies that have created a homeless youth population that is roughly 50% LGBT. This pride, it’s time for us to listen to the most marginalized. It’s time to take the lessons of our forgotten past and apply them to the future, and importantly, it’s time to get some of these corporate pride groups to give their money to actually help LGBT causes.

Interested in marching with USF for the San Francisco Pride Parade on June 24th? RSVP here.

Why We Sat During The National Anthem

Graduation class of 2018

The graduating class of 2018, made up of Master of Arts in Urban Affairs students and Master of Public Affairs students, recently reflected on a decision they made during their graduation ceremony. Four of the students share their experiences here.

Jessica LindquistJessica Lindquist, Master of Public Affairs

A few days before graduation, my friend Amy mentioned to my cohort that last year the Urban Affairs students sat down for the National Anthem during the graduation ceremony to protest the racial injustice and oppression that plagues America. It took only moments for us to collectively decide we, both the Urban Affairs students and the Public Affairs students, would continue the tradition. I sat down to honor American heroes: the courageous nonviolent protesters who have at times risked everything to bring attention to the thousands of people who have lost their lives to police brutality and state violence. I sat down because as a white woman, society has endowed me with a tremendous amount of privilege that I did not earn. Toni Morrison said, “if you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else.” I sat down to be in solidarity with all those who are fighting for civil rights amid the most blatantly racist administration we have had in modern history. I sat down because through my own research I have seen how the financial services industry has been a major culprit of institutionalized racism in our county. What we did was a small symbolic action but I know it’s just the beginning. I’m eager to see what contributions my cohort makes to advance racial equity in our communities.

Bernice Rosas Belmonte 2

Bernice Rosas Belmonte, Master of Public Affairs

At one point after the National Anthem and midway through the graduation ceremony, a woman behind me leaned forward and asked why we sat down. “As a sign of protest,” I replied. “Yes, but why?” For a quick second, I hesitated not expecting her to ask another question. “Because we are protesting institutionalized racism and police violence. We are sitting because we are acknowledging that.” The woman said nothing and slid back in her seat. Yes, we were graduating today, but our degrees represent much more than a piece of paper. Our degrees represent two years of learning about economic, class, race and power struggles in our society and exploring solutions to these problems. We spent two years highlighting injustices and working towards solutions that can create a real, positive impact in our communities. We sat because we are non-conformist. We sat because each of us has seen society’s problems and have decided to dedicate our lives to work for the common good. We sat because this one action is just one of many actions we are going to take make a positive impact. We sat because we are in this together.

Amy Dundon 2Amy Dundon, Master of Urban Affairs

I sat during the national anthem because I am unwilling to accept or tolerate (let alone celebrate) the distraction of patriotism. I also sat because we, as a group, sat; I sat because my freedom is entirely contingent on the freedom of others (Lorde 1981). I sat to honor the lives risked and lost in crossing to get to this country; I sat out of love for those wrongfully relegated to silence, to detention, to death; I sat because Black lives matter. I sat in reverence for the 2,358 lives lost to police violence since the year I began graduate school (Tate, Jenkins and Rich 2018). I sat because I had to check that number this morning. I sat out of respect of others who have sat, knelt, raised fists before I even thought to remain seated. I sat to honor those that are disciplined, ridiculed, or met with violence for their own acts of protest; I sat in solidarity. I sat because it would have been dishonest to stand.

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Bri Gonzalez, Master of Public Affairs

Our cohort had just spent the past two years learning about the racial, economic, and social injustices that plague people of color in America, so it was only fitting that we would sit during the anthem while we graduated from the institution that opened our eyes to these oppressions. We protested and will continue to protest, a country that marginalizes groups based on the color of their skin and the shallowness of their pockets. We protested because of the never-ending cycle of gun violence that kills hundreds of children and people of color each year, yet is ignored by our leaders so as to not upset the NRA and the Republican base. We protested because the groups who are being gunned down by the police are not even allowed to protest the atrocities they endure without facing repercussions. In Ferguson and Baltimore, they were called rioters and were met with more violence by the same police force that had just murdered members of their community. In the NFL, players will now be fined if they kneel for the anthem, a blatant display of oppressing black and brown men. We protested because the Second Amendment is deemed more valuable than American lives. There are many reasons why we protested, and each of us may have our own versions, but we all agree that our country cannot continue down this path. Our gesture might have been small, but it was done to stand in solidarity with those who are fighting against these injustices and it is when we are all in solidarity that change can reverberate across the nation.

Works Cited

Lorde, Audre. 1981. Sister Outsider: Essays & Speeches by Audre Lorde. Berkeley: Crossing Press.

Tate, Julie, Jennifer Jenkins and Steven Rich. 2018. “2018 police shootings database: Fatal Force.” The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2018/national/police-shootings-2018/?utm_term=.41ecdc06633e

Love to the Class of 2018

Female student in cap and gown

Crystal Vega, Urban Studies and Critical Diversity Studies ’18, was awarded this year’s Leo T. McCarthy Award. Below is her commencement speech. 

Dear Class of 2018, I love you. You, the first generation students who paved the road for so many to come. You, the nonbinary and trans students who are constantly pushing the university to be a more gender inclusive space. You, the Black and Brown students who will not rest until this university makes everyone feel at home. You, the Pacific Islander and indigenous students who reflect the beauty, bravery, and courage of your communities. I am honored and humbled to be speaking in front of so many student leaders and activists. And lastly, I love me, the queer Chicanx with two jobs, two majors, one minor, and three years of college under their belt. I love you: I don’t use these three words lightly. And I’ve definitely never said it to a few hundred people but I believe it serves as a crucial last lesson.

Some of you in the room may be uncomfortable right now. Having a physical reaction to the word love. It’s okay, I was the same way. There was a point in my life where I stopped saying I love you to my friends and family. I started to feel weighed down by stories of trauma and my own experiences with misgendering, microaggressions, and discrimination. So I stopped. It wasn’t until I started a romantic relationship with my current partner of three years that I finally started using the words again. He helped me to see love as personal and interpersonal healing. Although I didn’t learn about love at USF, I did start to practice revolutionary love while in a classroom. I saw Valarie Kaur’s Ted Talk on revolutionary love and watched as she reclaimed love as “…sweet labor. Fierce. Bloody. Imperfect. Life-giving. A choice we make over and over again” and our greatest tool for social justice.

Throughout our years at USF, we have heard the phrase change the world from here. But what this phrase does not suggest is the burnout that happens after we resolve to do this. This is why we need to center ourselves in gratitude and love: a love of ourselves, for others, and for our opponents. Love not only allows me to envision a world of equity and inclusivity but can also empower me to run for local office and make that world a reality. Love can drive your passions whether they be in the public sector, reinvesting in low-income communities and improving our public transit systems, or in the private sector, reimagining how people connect to one another or innovating medicine as we know it. When someone says you can’t, when you tell yourself you won’t, center yourself in love. Wonder what you are capable of, value the humanity of others, and acknowledge those who see you as different because love wins. Congratulations Class of 2018!

Introducing the 2018 McCarthy Fellows

Group of USF students

Congratulations to our newest cohort of McCarthy Fellows in Sacramento. This upcoming summer, thirteen students will be experiencing first-hand the policymaking and advocacy in our California state capitol. In addition to a rigorous course on California politics, the Fellows will also be interning full-time at various organizations, department agencies, Assemblymember and State Senate offices.

This 12-week program combines a service learning course concurrent with a real-world application through a public service internship. Our Fellows will get a front row seat to observe and learn how public policy happens at the state level and build the skill set necessary to be change leaders in their communities.

A female student

Alexis Arellanes, Politics ‘18

Alexis completed her BA in Politics with a minor in Legal Studies. Her undergraduate work experience includes a congressional internship in Washington D.C, lobbying for funding on behalf of USF here in Sacramento, and working with various educational nonprofit organizations that aim to help underfunded schools. Throughout her academic and work experiences, Alexis witnessed first-hand how income inequality negatively impacts school funding and jeopardizes access to educational resources. During her time in Sacramento, she hopes her exposure to legislative research and policy-making processes will provide the knowledge and skill set needed for a hands-on approach to policy formulation.

Male student

Alhaji Kabba, Nursing ’20

Alhaji is a rising nursing student excited about joining the McCarthy Fellows cohort. He is originally from Sierra Leone and is excited to experience California state politics, particularly public policy issues as it relates and connects criminal justice issues with health-related policy. He looks forward to learning more about policymaking, improving his advocacy skills, and being in a better position to affect change at a community level and strengthen the capacity of vulnerable communities.

 

Male student

 

Pascal Boctor, International Studies and Sociology ‘19

Pascal Boctor is a Junior majoring in International Studies. He is most excited about to build upon the skills he has established at USF and to acquire new professional skills. His goal for the summer is to achieve a better understanding of state legislation and has aspirations of one day running for office on either the state or federal level. Pascal hopes that with the experiences gained, he will have a better understanding of topics, cultures, and identities that are different than his own.

Female student

Madeline Campbell, Politics, Public Service and Community Engagement ’20

Madeline is excited to join the McCarthy Fellows to acquire more knowledge about the policymaking process at the state level. Born and raised in Sacramento, she is well versed in the city’s issues but is eager to learn more about state politics. Madeline is interested in the intersection of criminal justice and education policy and wants to enhance her policy analysis skills so she can positively affect her community.

Female Student

Teresita Estevez, Politics and Peace and Justice ‘18

Teresita is excited to be joining the McCarthy Fellows in Sacramento this summer and looks forward to gaining first-hand experience working with and expanding her knowledge of California policy-making processes. Through this program, she plans to further develop her interpersonal engagement and analytical skills in the public service sphere.

 

Female Student

Tanya Leon, Chapman University, Political Science and Peace Studies ‘19

Tanya Leon, is a rising Senior at Chapman University. She is excited to expand her understanding of the unique Californian political climate and legislative process. She also hopes to continue to develop her research and analytical skills. Her time in the McCarthy Fellows program will give her the skillset to take what she learns in Sacramento and apply it back at home in Southern California.

Male Student

Glenn McDonell, University of San Diego, Political Science and Economics, ‘19

Glenn has spent the past two summers observing the convention process at the RNC as a media intern and interacting with policy in a non-profit advocacy setting. He will be joining the McCarthy Fellows Program in Sacramento this summer to gain an understanding of California policy-making and hopes to develop skills in research and writing. He also hopes to do discern a career path in policy, whether that means public service or non-profit advocacy.

Female student

Tara Minaee, Nursing, ‘20

Tara will be joining the McCarthy Fellows Program in Sacramento this summer to pursue a different side of nursing, the legislative side. She plans to use this time to see what goes on behind the scenes in healthcare, to get a better understanding of the policies and laws that she learns about and abides by in nursing school. With this whole other side to nursing and healthcare, she hopes to gain valuable experience that can be utilized throughout her nursing career.

Female Student

Mutale Mulenga, Kinesiology, Child and Youth Studies, Sociology, ‘20

Mutale has spent the past year working for San Francisco Rising, an organization focused on creating an electoral alliance that helps to build power for working class communities of color in San Francisco. She has worked on a year-long inclusive campaign to fund college tuition for Californians that would include the formerly incarcerated and undocumented students. The McCarthy fellowship will provide a different perspective of how change is made on a governmental scale compared to the grassroots level to help her navigate how she would like to create change in healthcare.

Female student

Cassie Murphy, Sociology & International Studies ’20

Cassie will be joining the McCarthy Fellows cohort to expand on her political research skills and see California environmental policy up close. She’s excited to expand her network and meet people with similar passions. After the program, she wants to apply this new knowledge as a starting point for her work with conservation policy in rural Peru as she conducts research abroad next semester.

Justin Nkemere6

Justin Nkemere, Communications Studies, ‘20

Justin is a rising Junior and is excited about joining the McCarthy Center cohort. He most excited about not only learning the in’s and out’s of state government, but also how to help his community in the future. He wants to expand his knowledge of how state and local politics works and how to best go about changing the inequitable circumstances of specific populations. Justin is also looking forward on sharpening his professional and networking skills through in this experience by working with and learning from various legislatures and agency organizations.  

 

Female student

Lillian Tu, Communication Studies & Environmental Studies, ’18

Lillian is really enthusiastic about learning the general California policy and politics this summer and becoming more familiar with environmental policies in particular. She is ready to take up a new challenge and get informed on some important local issues and their legislation. After completing the program, she hopes to apply her hands-on experience towards a future career in environmental advocacy and policy.

After a Semester with USF in DC

 

Girl in professional attire

Jacqueline Garcia, Politics ’19, is a Newmark scholar as well as a recipient of the Betty L. Blakley scholarship

USF in D.C.—what an experience! On many levels and in ways I didn’t expect, the semester I spent in Washington D.C. changed me. I’ve always had an interest in public service and the common good; one of that typical twenty-something-year-old, “change the world” mentalities. The McCarthy center gave me the opportunity to put my class teachings and my personal aspirations into practice. Experience is truly the best teacher.

During my USF in DC experience, I interned at the National Immigration Forum (NIF), a non-profit advocacy group pushing for fair immigration reform. I was the Field and Advocacy intern for the organization’s Bible, Badges, and Business (BBB) program.  This experience was extremely valuable. First, it gave me insight in regards to what an advocacy group looks like from the inside. I learned the tactics and strategies used to keep members informed and also how to include members in the process of action planning. Second, I acquired new skills while working at the NIF. In particular, I learned to use different software systems like Salesforce and Cision. Lastly, the BBB program is targeted at moderate to conservative-leaning groups. As a native Californian, some of the views these groups hold were foreign to me. At the NIF, I was provided the opportunity to get out of my liberal bubble and worked with people who had opposing views to my own. What I learned about myself was that I am more tolerant than I thought and that my own views are subject to change. This experience gave me a new perspective of the world I live in and my place in it.

While in D.C. I tried to get out into the city as much as I could. It’s a dynamic place with a lot to see and even more to learn. Nearly 50% of the population in D.C. is African-American. Almost every Lyft or Uber driver I had was an immigrant from either Africa or Latin America. This city runs on the labor of these minority groups yet the administration right down the street ignores their needs. So, going to D.C. was a great learning experience and also a form of validation for myself.

As young people, we have ideas of who we want to be, but there are inevitably moments of doubt that we can actually accomplish those aspirations. D.C. allowed me to expel that doubt. It energized my ambitions to work with the immigrant community. I took part in protests with organizations like United We Dream. I was able to experience advocacy work first hand. I sat in on conference meetings, press conferences, and networking events where I learned about research. I learned about career paths I’d never heard of. Although there is no way I could give a definitive answer to the question of what I want to do post-graduation, I have a few ideas. The ideas I have now differ from the ideas I had before my semester in D.C.

However, I gained more than professional insight. I gained perspective about myself and my place in this world. Self-care and self-love were practices that I learned to implement in my life while in D.C. How could I assist others if I wasn’t taking care with myself? I did not expect to come back with so much personal growth under my belt. As a young woman, this experience helped me find my voice. I am beyond happy with my experience. It helped me zone in on possible career paths for myself. And more importantly, it has influenced my thoughts and motivations. I’m extremely grateful and proud of the person I have become after my USF in DC experience.