After a Semester with USF in DC

 

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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.

Our USF in DC Fellows Have Arrived

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Congratulations to our USF in DC Spring 2018 cohort! They recently arrived in Washington, D.C., and have already attended the Women’s March, experienced a government shutdown, and explored the sights and sounds of our nation’s Capital.

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Jose Esquer Romero, Finance ‘18

Jose is a Newmark Scholar and is interning with Senator Kamala Harris. He plans on using his time to build his knowledge on a variety of issues, including immigration, climate change/sustainability, and tax reform. During his time at D.C., Jose hopes to gain experience working on Capitol Hill and learn about the intersection of government and the business world. He believes that his time in D.C. will help shape his future educational and career goals.

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Katie Chapman Pinto, Politics ‘19

Katie is a Politics major with a minor in Entrepreneurship. She is a recipient of the Newmark Scholar award and interning for California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein. As a member of the Saint Ignatius Institute, a University Scholar in the Honors College, and a Public Speaking Coach for the Rhetoric and Language Department, Katie has actively participated across vibrant intellectual communities throughout her time at USF.  Katie’s ideal world is one in which all social, economic, and political decisions are evaluated based upon the degree to which they work to advance collective human happiness, and she hopes to one-day push reality closer to this vision through a career in politics.

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Brianna Marcus, Communication Studies ‘19

Brianna is a recipient of the Newmark Scholar award and will be interning with Planned Parenthood in their marketing department. She plans to use her internship to build on her knowledge of women’s health and education policies. During her time in D.C., Brianna hopes to gain experience in working in our nation’s capital and seeing first hand change with women’s health and rights and applying that experience in her last year back at USF and in San Francisco.

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Taylor Scott, International Studies ‘19

Tayler Scott is currently a third-year International Studies student with a minor in Asian Studies and a focus in culture, societies, and values. The previous semester she studied Global Korean Studies at Sogang University in Seoul, South Korea. While in Washington, Tayler is spending her time as an intern at the Women’s Foreign Policy Group to further her understanding of international relations and to broaden her network of female leaders in the field. This semester she hopes to spend her free time attending unique DC events, visiting monuments and museums, and trying out new restaurants.

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Tyson Rhodes, Politics ‘19

Tyson is a Politics major with a minor in Legal Studies and will be interning with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. He plans on using his time with the civil rights organization to learn about political advocacy and grassroots movements to help secure and protect the rights of communities of color. In particular, he is interested in how criminal justice and prison reform can be used to bring an end to a system that has disproportionately affected low-income people of color.

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Gabriel Greschler, Politics ‘19

Gabriel is a Politics major with a minor in Journalism. He is interning at the Student Press Law Center, an organization that protects the First Amendment rights of student journalists. At USF, Gabriel is the News Editor of the Foghorn, which has given him the unique opportunity to connect his passion for journalism and public policy on campus. He intends to take advantage of his time in D.C., acquire new skills and knowledge, improve his writing, and use his time in DC to attend policymaking events and leverage networking connections in the nation’s Capitol.

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Isabel Malcolmson, Economics ‘19

Isabel is a recipient of the Newmark Scholarship and will be the Sustainable Analyst Intern at Sustainable Capital Advisors. Through her internship, she hopes to explore her interests at the intersection of economics and the environment, and more specifically learn about financing sustainable infrastructure and clean energy projects. Isabel is excited to get hands-on experience working in the industry and move the marker on energy-efficient solutions to meet the development challenges of public and private sector.

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Rosa Olascoaga Vidal, Politics ‘18

Rosa is a recipient of the Newmark Scholarship, majoring in Politics with a minor in Legal Studies and Chican@ and Latin@ Studies. This spring she will be interning for United We Dream, the largest immigrant youth-led network. As the daughter of Mexican immigrants, she has a deep passion for immigration reform. Rosa hopes to gain knowledge on policy and advocacy through comprehensive immigration reform during her time in D.C. and advocate for underrepresented communities.

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Jacqueline Garcia

Jacqueline is a Newmark Scholar as well as a recipient of the Betty L. Blakley scholarship. She will be interning at the National Immigration Forum and United We Dream. She hopes that her experience in D.C. will fuel her already potent passion for public policy for the years to come. She hopes to gain more hands-on experience in advocacy work, as well as gain perspective about the world outside of her progressive San Francisco bubble.

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Claudette van Maarschalkerweerd

Claudette will be interning with the Office of Congressman Darrell Issa (R- CA). Her internship will be focused particularly towards the tasks of the House of Representatives Majority Judiciary and Foreign Affairs committees, as well as working with the Millennial Action Project, and Congress’ Future Caucus. An international student from Singapore and the Nederlands, Claudette is excited to be immersed in the political center of the world, engaging with issues usually reserved for her textbooks and essays.

Reviewing 15 Years

 

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One month ago we celebrated our 15th anniversary. As part of the festivities, we created a photo collection of some of our most memorable moments over the years. The process allowed us to reflect on how many students, faculty, community partners and staff have contributed to our success. The photos capture moments ranging from our students traveling to Bolivia and India with the Privett Global Service-Learning program, interning at senate offices with USF in D.C., to protesting at the Women’s March in multiple cities, to inviting some of the most influential leaders of the day. The slideshow highlights our commitment to preparing students for lives of ethical public service and the common good. Thanks to all of our generous sponsors who make our work possible!

 

In D.C.’s Public Defender Service

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Vivienne Pismarov, Psychology ’19

This fall semester, through the USF in DC program, I’ve had the opportunity to intern with the Public Defender Service. Everyone working there is tasked with one job and one job only: do everything in your power to support your client. As an investigative intern, I request records, locate potential witnesses, serve subpoenas, canvass the scene of the crime, and more. Even though sometimes this role requires me to work late into the night and over the weekends, I’m honored to do this job because I believe every client deserves someone who is genuinely in their corner ready to fight against the giant criminal justice system. 

Working in the Special Litigation Division, we defend clients who were sentenced to life in prison as juveniles and are now eligible under the Incarceration Reduction Amendment Act to have their sentences reduced or eliminated altogether. To be eligible for re- sentencing, individuals must have already spent 20 years or more in the prison system. These institutions often do not prioritize the rehabilitation of their inmates; instead, inmates are exposed to terrible living conditions, daily violence, racism and abuse. Such conditions make a transition back into society difficult and also make successful re-sentencing challenging.

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My first client, who I have spent most of my time in D.C. working with, was sentenced to life in prison when he was just sixteen years old after being misidentified as the perpetrator of a drive-by shooting that injured four teenagers in his own neighborhood. While there were witnesses and multiple examples of false testimonies to prove that our client was not at the scene of the crime and that the police involved in the case bribed witnesses to lie, my client has been imprisoned for the entirety of his adult life. This injustice astounds me. I have grown up with the privilege of having a supportive family and an education that has opened up infinite doors for me. Meanwhile an innocent young black man from the Southeast quadrant of D.C. has spent this same amount of time wrongly imprisoned and deprived of experiencing the world that he so desperately wants to be a part of again. Every day I come to work with a goal that one day this man will be able to enjoy a life of freedom.

We have witnesses who’ve confessed that they lied to the police. We have a solid alibi for our client. And we have proof that one of our client’s friends actually committed the crime. But while serving time in prison, our client was provoked by other inmates and was involved in a fight. Before he knew it, our client killed another man in prison.

From the bottom of my heart, I know that our client was not involved in the drive-by shooting that relegated him to a life in prison. However, I also cannot deny that a man in prison was killed at the hands of my client but I certainly believe that he would not have killed anyone if my client was never wrongfully convicted in the first place.

My client’s situation is not an anomaly. He had a great defense going for him and an amazing likelihood that he would be released from prison given the evidence that we had gathered in his favor. However, the prison system cultivated an environment where my client felt that he had to resort to murder just to live another day. Now, my client will likely continue living within the four walls that he has been living in for more than 20 years, while I have the world at my fingertips.

Given my client’s situation, I still will not give up fighting for his rehabilitation and release. Avis Buchanan, the Director of the Public Defender Service in D.C., emphasizes making a connection with a client and recognizing their humanity is required to successfully assist them in their defense. This is the challenge of the criminal justice system.

Avis Buchanan says that when you cannot see the humanity in your client, “that’s when you know it’s time to leave.” My time participating in the USF in D.C. program has taught me to never forget that everyone is human and deserving of someone being in their corner. While my internship is quickly coming to end, I’m not ready to leave and I’m not ready to stop fighting for the people who have been overlooked by society. When I leave this internship program at the Public Defender Service in D.C., I know that I will continue to advocate for people like my client who have been victimized by the prison system.

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The Legacy Of Art Agnos

Kick-off Cocktail Reception for the 15th Anniversary of the Leo T. McCarthy Center at USF

The Foghorn’s editor-in-chief, Ali DeFazio, a McCarthy alumnae who participated in the the USF in DC program, recently interviewed former Mayor Art Agnos, who is the recipient of the inaugural Leo T. McCarthy Center award for Public Service. He is being honored at this week’s McCarthy Center’s 15th anniversary on November 9th.  His former colleague, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, is the special guest speaker for the event. Both of them were mentored by Leo T. McCarthy. Ali and Mayor Agnos discussed his impressive career, which included fighting the AIDS crisis in the city, standing up against housing developers and promoting diversity hiring, appointing people of color and LGBTQ individuals to key leadership roles in his administration. The interview highlights why Mayor Art Agnos is a model for public service and the common good. Read the full interview here.

Save the Date – Nov. 9 for Our 15th Anniversary

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On November 9, 2017, friends and supporters, alums, faculty and currents students will celebrate the Leo T. McCarthy Center and 15 years of training a new generation of ethical leaders. It’s an evening of recognizing the vision and legacy of co-founder Leo McCarthy, former San Francisco legislator, California Speaker of the Assembly and Lieutenant Governor.

We’ll mark this milestone by celebrating the continuation of Leo McCarthy’s values of service for the common good through the current programs of the McCarthy Center with students who have participated locally and internationally through the Privett Global Scholars, USF in D.C., McCarthy Fellows in Sacramento, Advocates  Community Engagement and our graduate degree programs in Urban and Public Affairs.

The night will begin with a reception followed by the presentation of the inaugural Leo T. McCarthy Award, to be given to the The Honorable Art Agnos, former San Francisco mayor, assembly member and regional head of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. 

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Today more than ever, the world needs future leaders who think critically and respond compassionately. Join us in preparing the next generation of ethical leaders and the programs that serve them—by becoming a sponsor or attending. Visit http://rsvp.usfca.edu/mccarthy-sponsorship-2017 or email Leslie Lombre, Associate Director at  llombre@usfca.edu or call (415) 422-2983.

Save The Date