First Semester Tips


Monica Bejarano, M.A. Urban and Public Affairs, ’19

I did it. Turned in my last paper and finished my last presentation. My first graduate semester is over! Tired and rather chronically exhausted and all I want to do is lay on the floor and veg out to Netflix for an ungodly amount of hours. But, what do I do with all the information of the past four months? After the first semester, what do I take away to improve the subsequent semester in my academic journey? How does graduate school change me?

Well, just four months ago, I began my academic journey at the University of San Francisco Masters in Urban and Public Affairs Program. I walked in to my first class holding the book Imperial San Francisco by Gray Brechin, determined to unfold the array of questions I had after reading the introduction. I am not originally from San Francisco, but I knew by attending Urban and Public Affairs graduate program I would be fascinated by the roots of politics, activism, and urban change of the city. In this short amount of time I have come to realize that graduate school does not only teaches one new things, but it teaches one to question everything.

No longer is one learning about how history has changed the urban politics of the city, but one learns ways to question how it happened and how it was done and how it is affecting us today. I realized that I am not here to regurgitate information, but to be part of the conversation that creates it. This was a big step for me during my first semester.

I cannot emphasize enough how hyper-organized this program made me. After eight to nine hours of  classes each week, an internship at City Hall, and a part-time job I definitely understood the importance of time management. One learns valuable planning skills of when one can go out and have a drink and when one has to hunker down over a book for three hours for a paper due next week. Although graduate school has taught me to ask questions and be extremely organized with my time, I’ve also found it important to say “yes” to opportunities and take time to relax.


Branching out into new areas of higher education can help one discover her interests, ignite new passions, and keep a career fresh and exciting. I learned that employers may also prefer a well-rounded resume. The more responsibility one takes on, the more one will be able to learn and gain experience. In the first semester, one will learn to juggle graduate school, homework, internships, and a personal life. It’s about finding a balance between all commitments to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Make time to relax. Graduate school should not be one’s entire life. You are an individual and should prioritize your own personal health and well being first. Make time in your schedule to relax, spend time with friends and family, pursue your hobbies, etc. I find it helpful to schedule breaks during the day, even if they are only five minutes long. Being happy and healthy will boost productivity.

Everyone’s experience is different, but the experiences I’ve had thus far in the Urban and Public Affairs graduate program has prepared me for the next chapter of my academic journey. I had my ups and downs this past semester, but nothing that will stop me from continuing my education.  My passion to formulate equitable policy solutions for the community of San Francisco has been invigorated and I know it will only grow stronger as I continue this program.


Bo’living in Cochabamba


Juliet Baires, International Business ’20

Before coming to Cochabamba, I constantly told myself, my peers, Professor Dana, my friends and family that I had no expectations for Bolivia. I came to this new country with only the knowledge learned from class, an open mind, and excitement to begin my journey. As I approach week 5 and establish myself here in Bolivia, I am learning that immersing myself in a different culture has been both challenging and inspiring. I encountered a few unexpected ordeals the first three weeks: my health, navigating transportation, adapting to my new host nonprofit organization, host family and the food. I got sick in all types of ways: my eye, stomach, weight loss, and getting the flu was a challenge the first few weeks.

My host family is comprised of three generations: nine people including myself, two cats, and two dogs. I thought I would get home sick since I am very family-oriented, however, my host family is incredibly similar to my family at home: traditional. The dynamic of living with three generations in a household is interesting because I have been able to witness the various different perspectives politically and socially across the family. The middle-child, Jamil, hosted a talent show where Anahi, the youngest, performed a poetry piece where she won first place. Both are such extraordinary host sisters. The younger girls remind me of how I acted when I was their age. They’re so vivacious, sassy divas.

My work organization is called Pro Mujer, a nonprofit that recognizes that in order to develop a community of agents of change, they must provide their clients with comprehensive services to ensure long lasting sustainable impact for women and families in Cochabamba, Bolivia. I had a week to explore the various aspects of my organization. Then I designed my project to build supportive capacity trainings for women, while increasing capacity building opportunities for current and future clients. The regional director, regional finance director, the Pro Mujer staff, and the clients all have contributed to such an amazing first internship experience. Each person I have interacted with has been created a mutual and reciprocal learning experience. I have been able to learn how these business women have worked to get to where they are: their struggles and their strengths. They have given me wise advice that has helped me explore my own future aspirations. Interacting, engaging, and speaking with the clients and visiting the five locations of Pro Mujer across Cochabamba has exposed me to the way people live here: their struggles, their successes and so much more.
With all the travels, I’ve come to love Bolivia. So far, I’ve been to a festival in Sucre, the mines of Potosi, and hiking in Tunari and Apote. This past weekend, we went to ToroToro, a national park in Bolivia. Never in my life would I have said, “I walked on mountains” but I did. I have never seen anything so beautiful; quite frankly I think it is more beautiful than the Grand Canyon. It was an experience that had the most breathtaking scenery. Also, it was my birthday weekend. Our entire group including the people from other universities threw me a surprise birthday party. I’ve been able to create some interesting relationships with the people in my group. We have all been able to connect with the fact that we are working towards creating sustainable change. Everyday, I see all of us making it happen for ourselves, these communities, and organizations.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Meet Our 2017 McCarthy Fellows

In this summer program, McCarthy Fellows spend 12 weeks in full time internships at Sacramento institutions that contribute to the California policy-making process. Student engage in everything from conducting legislative research to responding to constituent concerns to drafting policy memos. Concurrently, they participate in a California Politics course focused on exposing and analyzing the structures and systems that frame our state’s policy making processes and helping students make meaning of their first-hand experience. Students live, work, and learn in the state capital, while taking advantage of powerful learning opportunities within the context of their internships, their academic course, and the co-curricular offerings that abound in their thriving host city.

Abilgail Fay-6-Edited

Abigail Fay, Politics ’18 

Abby has spent the past year as a legislative intern in the office of Supervisor and Board President London Breed. Her time there has helped her develop a passion for community development and constituent relations, as well as for the unique culture of California politics. During her time in Sacramento, she hopes to further hone her policy analyst skills and knowledge of the California legislative process to enable her to accurately represent, and advocate for the people of San Francisco.

Arely Escoto-1-Edited

Arely Escoto Pineda, Political Science ’18

As a first generation college student, Arely plans to use this fellowship as a new experience to gain a greater sense of independence. She hopes to use and expand the leadership and communication skills that she has learned from working for the local government in the City of Santa Ana. Arely will use this opportunity to gain a new perspective on the inner workings of the state capital.

Chiweta Uzoka-4-Edited

Chiweta Uzoka, Politics ’18

Chiweta is looking forward to gaining more knowledge about policy-making and developing stronger communication skills in a office in which serving the public good is a priority.

Crystal Vega-1

Crystal Vega, Critical Diversity Studies and Urban Studies ’18

Crystal hopes to bridge her existing knowledge of San Francisco nonprofits with her experience working in the state capitol. She is most interested in learning how to integrate intersectionality and community building into local politics.

Hallie Balch, Communication Studies, Media Studies & Political Science ’18

Hallie will be joining the McCarthy Fellows Program in Sacramento this summer to pursue a greater depth of knowledge of legislation. She plans to use this time to hone in her research skills and is excited to have the opportunity to work with her peers with similar passions and to learn from the immersive experience. Similarly, she will use her writing and analytical skills and use this program to aid her in becoming a legislative analyst.

Kayla Derby-3-Edited

Kayla Derby, Sociology ’18

Kayla is excited to be working and learning in Sacramento this summer. She plans to use her writing skills and Spanish fluency to help impact public policy surrounding immigration. Kayla hopes to apply the skills she obtains over the summer in her dream career of immigration social work.

Kelli Huges-7-Edited

Kelli Hughes, International Studies ’17

Kelli is looking forward to a future in public service promoting international trade and investment. While in Sacramento, Kelli hopes to use her research and analytical skills in supporting California reach its economic development goals.

Matthew Maulino-1 (1)

Mathew Maulino, Computer Science ’19

Matthew is excited to be a part of the 2017 McCarthy Fellows Cohort. Matthew will be working to further develop his leadership qualities, build his communication skills among a team, and foster his passion for service to his community. He is looking forward to taking full advantage of the unique opportunity the McCarthy Fellows Program offers, so that he can learn from this new experience and one day fulfill USF’s motto to “change the world from here.”

Rachel Chin-10-Edited

Rachel Chin, Communication Studies ’18 

Rachel is hopes to gain the skills to help her in her career as an environmental lawyer in the future. During her time in Sacramento, she plans to learn more about her career path and bring these skills back to San Francisco.

Maddelyn Bryan Photo

Maddelyn Bryan, International Studies ’18

Maddelyn is excited to build upon her skills for interpersonal engagement and research through an internship in Sacramento. She expects to gain an in-depth understanding of the California legislative process while developing field-experience relevant to a career in public service. After completing the program, she hopes to have new insight into how she can apply her skills to help resolve issues on multiple levels of society.

Playing the Blues in a Deeply Red State


Corey Cook

Corey Cook, Professor of Politics is currently on leave but is still a critical observer of local, state and national politics. Professor Cook regularly contributes to the Leo T. McCarthy Center blog while he establishes the School of Public Service at Boise State University.


Idaho was one of a handful of states that rejected both major party candidates during the nomination process. Both Secretary Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were dealt decisive defeats during the Idaho Democratic Caucus, and Idaho Republican Primary, respectively. Sure, turnout was low in both contests, but neither was particularly close. Trump received 28% in the primary, losing to Ted Cruz and finishing ahead of only John Kasich and a rapidly sinking Marco Rubio who withdrew his candidacy a week later.  Secretary Clinton fared even more poorly, scoring only 21% of caucus goes against Bernie Sanders’ 78%.

So suffice it tounnamedsay that folks in Idaho don’t seem too jazzed about next week’s election. At Boise State University, we’ve held debate watch events, hosted panels, and generally talked a lot about the election. But the more I talk with folks the more I get the sense that neither outcome will be particularly appealing to Idahoans. One prominent state Republican confided about the challenge this election has posed to mainstream conservatives – that neither candidate represents his values. Still, nobody expects the race in Idaho to be particularly close – in fact, the word on the street is that the results here will be quite similar to those in 2008 and 2012.

I’m still getting up to speed on Idaho politics, but it seems to me to be a mix of Alaska and Utah. Yet this race is playing out quite differently than in those comparable states. As in Idaho, both Clinton and Trump were defeated by Sanders and Cruz in the Alaska caucuses (Trump lost narrowly while Clinton was defeated by a similar 4-1 margin). And prominent Alaska Republicans, including both United States Senators, have withdrawn their support of Trump. Yet recent polls suggest that the candidates are neck and neck. The most recent survey has Secretary Clinton in the lead. The last time Alaska voted for a Democrat for president? 1964.

In Utah, something similarly remarkable, yet quite different, is happening. As in Idaho, Trump and Clinton lost their respective caucuses. Only in this case, Trump came in third (and last) behind Cruz and Kasich while Sanders defeated Clinton by a 4-1 margin. But in Utah, where Democrats seem willing to line up behind their nominee, opposition to Trump has fueled the independent candidacy of little/un- known Congressional staffer Evan McMullin into a highly competitive position. Some recent surveys have the three candidates locked into a dead heat. Trump is wildly unpopular (a recent survey had him at a net negative favorability of -43 points, an astonishing figure). And McMullin has gained some positive attention and has an outside chance to win the state. The last time a Democrat won in Utah? 1964. The last time a minor candidate had a chance of winning? Maybe never.

This has been one of the interesting themes of this election. As Democrats and Republicans grapple with wildly and historically unpopular nominees, traditional voting patterns have been disrupted. And down ballot races might be affected in ways that won’t be clear until after the election.

And yet Idaho, despite its similarities to Alaska and Utah, seems ready to reprise its previous vote tallies. Alternative candidates have failed to gain traction and despite the clear unpopularity of the two nominees, fellow partisans seem to have fallen into line.

Despite polls showing the race getting closer as election day nears, the potential for a generational partisan realignment remain significant. Just focusing on the traditional red state, consider some political implications. If Secretary Clinton wins, what will happen in Alaska, Utah, and Idaho to the growing gulf between mainstream conservatives and Trump voters? Will they coalesce as in Idaho, disintegrate into competing blocs as in Utah, or weaken allegiance to the party as in Alaska? And if Trump wins, how will governance change in those places? Will mainstream conservatives holding Senatorial seats and Governor’s mansions work effectively with the Trump White House, or will these splits emerge between the states and federal government?

For the next week, a lot of attention will be paid to who will win or lose the election. Sadly, far less attention will be paid to the important foreign and domestic policy implications of those outcomes. But while the elections are typically conceived as finish lines, they are more akin to water stations along a marathon route. The potential disruption of long term voting patterns and reshaping of partisan coalitions instigated during this election and that could gradually evolve over the next several electoral cycles, might be the most enduring aspect of this election.


For more on Corey’s thoughts follow him on twitter @CoreyCookBoise



To Be an American: Unpacking the Land of the Free



Isabella Gonzalez Potter

McCarthy Fellow ’16

Isabella Potter served as a McCarthy Fellow this past summer working as an intern for Tony Thurmond, Chair of Assembly Labor and Employment Committee. The following post is an Op-Ed that was written as a part of McCarthy Fellow course, taken in conjunction with the 12-week fellowship. Isabella graduated in 2016 with a B.S. in Environmental Science with a minor in Latin American Studies and is currently still working with Assembly member, Tony Thurmond.


I have been thinking a lot about separating the personal from the professional. But how can politics not be personal? How can my physical appearance or anyone else’s not be political within a system that has everything to do with the color of your skin? The neighborhood you were raised in. The family you belong to. The community that you come from.

In lieu of recent events (by events I mean murder) I have been spending a lot of time on Facebook, reading, digesting, attempting to process. Today one of my Facebook friends posted something that caught my attention and was receiving many comments; “…we are Americans before we are ethnic and racial groups.” My first thought was what type of kool aid is he drinking? He himself is a person of color and my intent here is not to call him out, but break down what this means to me. What this means on my timeline as I scroll through the hash tags, news articles and video clips of killing. The continual cries by myself and my friends who are scared for their life in this country. Who never really feel safe anymore because so many people who look like us are being killed everyday and you don’t want the next hash tag to be your name.

What does it mean to never really be free in a country that calls itself the land of the free? Living here in “America” (I mean the United States because everyone seems to have forgotten about Central and South America) undeniably awards us with privilege within this country. People have died to make this so, including of course Police Officers and other Armed Forces who fight and risk their lives everyday. What is missing from the dominant narrative is the story of people who risk their lives everyday by simply existing within a political structure that wasn’t made for them. It means fearing the people who are supposed to protect you. This NOT to say that I do not like police officers, or the law, but rather the fact that even when you comply you might end up shot 5 times because you are seen as a threat to the one who is pulling the trigger.

I am an American, yes. But, I am a young, brown woman born to Spanish-speaking immigrant parents who lives in America. I grew up in the America that legalized racial profiling in my hometown, banned Mexican American History at my high school, and that built a literal fence to keep out people who are seen as alien, including my family. Being an American in 2016 means you are your Ethnic group before you are a person, and that won’t change until people stop dying for the color of their skin.


Introducing our Fall 2016-17 USF in Washington, D.C. Fellows

USF in DC participants are undergraduate students selected for a semester-long program in Washington, DC that integrates a full-time internship with relevant coursework taught by USF faculty and University of California Washington Program (UC DC) faculty. Students choose from a range of elective courses and internship opportunities that meet their interests and skill sets and spend their semester engaging with peers from across the country in the heart of the capital, where they will live, learn, and explore all that DC has to offer. Meet our current cohort of USF in DC students and learn about their hopes and expectations for the coming semester.



Ali DeFazio ’18

Internship: Brookings Institution

Ali DeFazio is a junior at the University of San Francisco. While in D.C., she will be interning for the Brookings Institution, voted “Best Think Tank in the World” for the last nine years by the Global Go To Think Tanks Report. Ali says that getting to the front of the bagel line before the 8 AM crowd is the “Best Feeling in the World” voted by USF students. In addition to her internship in D.C., Ali plans to make it on the background of NPR’s “Live in Concert” and go to every Smithsonian.


Sydney Abel ’17

Internship: Department of Homeland Security – Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Sydney Abel is a senior this year at USF, majoring in Politics, minoring in Legal studies. When she isn’t playing rugby for USF’s champion woman’s team, you can find her slack lining at Golden Gate Park or walking along one of San Francisco’s many beaches. An avid traveler, Sydney transferred to USF from San Diego but not before she studied abroad for a year in Maastricht, Netherlands. Someday she would love to be voted into a public office, or just travel the world. Never one to miss a traveling opportunity, once she heard about USF in D.C., she knew that this program was just right for her. Eager to change the world for the better, she wants to learn everything there is to know about Washington and the political process.


Guadalupe (Lupita) Garcia ’18

Internship: Revolution Messaging

Lupita Garcia is a Sociology Major and triple minor in Criminal Justice, Public Service and Community Engagement, and Chican@-Latin@ Studies. While in D.C. she will be interning with Revolution Messaging as a Digital Strategy/Client-Service intern where she will be working on advertising projects for campaigns using mobile messaging and social media. Through her participation in USF in D.C., she hopes to gain the skills that will prepare her to gain a career in public policy advocacy and continue to cross borders and discover home.


Gabbi McDaniel ’17

Internship: UN Population Fund

As a senior International Studies major, Gabbi McDaniel will be applying her USF education in the field as an intern for the UN Population Fund. USF in D.C. will allow her to pursue her ideal internship, take classes on politics and advocacy, and develop a network within our Nation’s capital. She is looking forward to experiencing everything Washington D.C. has to offer especially during a Presidential election.


Diana Conteras Chavez ’17

Internship: Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund

This fall Diana will be interning with the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund. She is excited to learn more about immigration policy and advocacy in D.C. Since it is her first time in D.C., Diana is thrilled to see the monuments and museums, and try out all the new brunch spots!


 Tara Kahn Sac ’17

Internship:  Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi

Tara Khan is currently pursuing a degree in International Studies with a minor in Middle Eastern Studies and focus in Global Politics & Societies. Following graduation, she hopes to relocate to Washington D.C. and work for the U.S. government while also studying for the Foreign Services test. She is spending her semester in D.C. working on Capitol Hill, interning for Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Working in the House of Representatives has been an extremely rewarding and eye-opening experience, none of which would have been possible without the Newmark Scholarship. Being a Newmark Scholar has convinced her that she made the right choice in her decision to pursue a career in politics.



Assala Mami ’18

Internship: Center of American Progress

Assala is a Politics major with a double minor in Legal Studies and French Studies. She has an interest in foreign affairs and public policy and is excited to get to know the political scene in D.C. While in the  nation’s capitol, Assala plans to visit all the monuments and museums, of course and take trips to neighboring states.