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.

Preview the 2018 Capstone Symposium

Untitled design (8)

The University of San Francisco Master of Arts in Urban Affairs and Master of Public Affairs invites you to join us for the 2018 graduating classes’ capstone presentations on May 14th and May 15th.  The capstone project is the final requirement for the completion of their master’s degree and includes a well-researched analytical paper that applies the knowledge, skills, and methods of the program, in addition to an oral presentation. We are incredibly proud of our graduate students and believe their research will inspire positive changes for the common good.

rebecca-charlton-2.jpg

Rebecca Charlton, PublicAffairs ’18

That’s Not Our Job: Individualism and State Responsibility After Welfare Reform

In 1996 President Bill Clinton overhauled our nation’s welfare system with drastic spending cuts and new work requirements. This capstone will explore the legislation’s cultural framework, punitive impact on low-income women, and offer a policy re-write to lift single mothers out of poverty.

maya-chupkov-4.jpg

Maya Chupkov, Public Affairs ’18

Care and Cash: Addressing San Francisco’s Homelessness Crisis With A Basic Income

Maya is exploring the intersection between basic income and preventing homelessness in San Francisco. She situates her research with a case study of Care Not Cash, a measure passed in 2002 that altered the homeless delivery system. She performs an in-depth analysis of San Francisco’s current homelessness problem, including the preventive strategies that could be strengthened with cash assistance models.

amy-dundon-2.jpg

Amy Dundon, Urban Affairs ’18

Finding “Free City”

Finding “Free City” retraces the story of the City College of San Francisco, a public two-year community college, through its recent troubles and eventual resilience. In the span of five years, the college went from nearly closing its doors to offering classes free of charge to San Francisco residents. The research offers a critical analysis of the recent historical educational and economic policies that have shaped City College. Through the frame of class struggle, Finding “Free City” grants insight into community building and labor union organizing, questions normative economic systems, and evokes a new interpretation of the right to the city.

Leslie Gordon 3

Leslie Gordon, Urban Affairs ’18

Building a Better Map: Imagining Racial Equity in Oakland

Leslie’s research investigates visions of racial equity among institutional and grassroots actors who have a role in shaping Oakland’s urban space. As the city of Oakland works to codify and institutionalize racial equity through several initiatives, including the formation of the Department of Race and Equity and a new downtown planning process, how do we imagine a racially equitable Oakland? How would such a city look, feel, and function?

nick-large.jpg

Nicholas Large, Public Affairs ’18 

Fierce Landmarking: Representation and the Queering of Political Power

This capstone examines place-based organizing for the LGBT community in San Francisco. Comparing contemporary memorializations like the Compton’s Transgender Cultural District and the Harvey Milk SFO Terminal to the Stonewall Inn, it offers a look into the movement behind the places. Operating under a context of gentrification, this capstone asks if it is the story or the place that matters, and what the implications of each are for a rapidly changing community fighting for equity.

Briana Gonzalez 4

Briana Gonzalez, Public Affairs ’18 

The Invisible Population: Providing Family Services for Single Student-Mothers at USF

Briana’s capstone is on the growing population of single student mothers in academia. She conducts a comparative analysis of several higher education institutions, highlighting the family services they provide. Briana focuses on the University of San Francisco to raise awareness of the lack of family resources on its campus. In her capstone, she demonstrates why USF can no longer ignore this group of students and how the university can implement family resources of its own to assist single mothers in achieving academic success.

Bridget Mahoney, Public Affairs ’18 Rebecca+Bridget+Nolizwe copy (2)

Taking the Initiative: Are Ballot Measures Failing SF’s Homeless Crisis?

Through an analysis of the 2016 San Francisco Proposition Q campaign, this paper will analyze if the ballot measure/ initiative process is the best way to tackle homelessness. In doing so, I will explore why members of the Board of Supervisors continue to use the ballot instead of other legislative processes to correct this major issue.

bernice-rosas-belmonte-2.jpg

Bernice Rosas Belmonte. Public Affairs ’18

Room at the Table: Inviting Latino Familial Support into the Discussion of College Access

Bernice’s research examines modes of encouraging and supporting Latinx first-generation college student families, specifically in Stockton area high schools. Her findings highlight the necessity of bringing Latino families into the conversation of college access in order to further first-generation college students’ higher education goals.

Justin Balenzuela 3

Justin Balenzuela, Urban Affairs ’18 

Rounding Up Outlaw In-Laws

San Francisco is experiencing an economic boom that’s driving population growth and housing costs. As pressure builds, the accessibility of affordable housing options is constrained, and options are reduced to illegal or substandard housing conditions. Justin’ research focused on in-law units, which can be illegal and include substandard housing conditions, and addressing the conundrum of bringing units up to code without affecting tenants. His goal is to improve unit safety by encouraging the legalization of illegal in-laws, all while preventing the displacement of existing tenants while units undergo renovations.

Denise Garcia

Denise Garcia, Urban Affairs ’18

Just Transit: Governing Sustainability in Los Angeles

As more cities experience the detrimental impacts of climate change, the need for sustainable planning implementation increases. Throughout various cities, regions, and the state, sustainability plans have been developed and implemented, but questions remain as to whether their approach or implementation will have the desired mitigating impacts. Drawing from an equitable framework, this paper includes a comparison analysis to critique current sustainability plans developed from 3 different levels of governance.

aaron-gordon.jpg

Aaron Gordon, Public Affairs ’18 

Do Tech Workers Care About San Francisco? Analyzing Political Engagement

Over the past decade, there have been tensions between the tech Industry and long-term residents of San Francisco. Many people are concerned with the influence that large tech companies have on local politics. But what effect is the average tech worker having on San Francisco politics? This study aims to answer that question.

Erika Sandberg 4

Erika Sandberg, Public Affairs ’18 

The Secret Door: Transparency and Privacy in the California Juvenile Justice System

Erika’s research addresses the imbalance between transparency and privacy in the California juvenile justice system, and the effects this heightening of opacity have on judicial and governmental accountability. The rationales for increased privacy are rehabilitation and avoidance of youth stigmatization, yet decades of legislative enactments suggest a shift towards more punitive measures. This research will propose recommendations to optimize the balance between the two competing concepts while keeping the privacy of youths intact, because without insight, who are we really protecting? The children or the institution?

Jessica Lindquist

Jessica Lindquist, Public Affairs ’18 

Protecting San Francisco Residents From The Wolves of Wall Street: A Case Study

In response to the 2008 financial crisis, the Obama administration created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the federal agency responsible for protecting consumers from abusive, deceptive and predatory practices of the financial services industry. The CFPB’s consumer complaint database has been an important resource for the American public for the past seven years. However, the Trump administration has declared its intentions to remove the database from public view, an action lobbied for by the financial services industry. Jessica conducts the first deep data analysis of the public complaints filed to the CFPB Consumer Complaint database by San Francisco residents. Her case study highlights how consumer financial harms are a citywide problem: San Franciscans living at every income level and in every part of the city are struggling to resolve their financial issues with the wolves of Wall Street, the financial services industry.

unnamed.jpg

Ceaundra Thomas, Urban Affairs ’18 

Reframing Deficit Theories about Black Boys in Oakland Schools

Deficit oriented theories have been used in the United States education system as a means of justifying the disparities we see amongst gender and racial groups, specifically Black boys. Ceaundra’s capstone focuses on how these deficit theories can be reframed to more accurately capture the root of these disparities. Over time, systematic barriers have presented a multitude of obstacles that hinder people of color from receiving the same quality of education as their white peers. By focusing on the African American Male Achievement program implemented by Oakland Unified School District, she antagonizes the master narrative of Black boys underperforming because of their culture, and conceptualize ways that the education system can better serve Black boys.

Questions For John Chiang

JC

California State Treasurer John Chiang will be our fifth speaker to participate in Conversations for the Common Good, a new speaker’s series that invites inclusive voices to the challenge of serving the public good. Join us in meeting California’s Treasurer, John Chiang and POLITICO’s Carla Marinucci in conversations on Thursday, March 22nd, 5:00 PM on campus at USF’s McLaren Conference Center.

John Chiang has never been one to chase the spotlight, Chiang has been getting the job done throughout every successive tier of public service. He was first elected to office in 1998, as a member of the Board of Equalization. In 2006, California voters elected Chiang to serve as the State’s Controller for three terms. As Controller, Chiang managed the state’s finances throughout the Great Recession and prevented the state’s credit rating from falling into junk status. Chiang also reformed the pension system, and implemented programs to increase the state’s transparency and accountability to the public. In 2014, Chiang was elected as the State’s Treasurer, where he sold bonds, invested state funds, and managed California’s growing cash reserves. Chiang has seen it all throughout his two decades of public service, from financial deficits and budget cuts to California boasting the sixth largest economy in the world, and he now he is running for the state’s highest office, California Governor.

Chiang describes himself as the only candidate who understands how to finance the programs Californians want, which would lead to ideas becoming a reality rather than a talking point. Chiang’s priorities as governor would be creating more affordable housing, investing in the states K – 12 and University systems, and preventing sexual harassment and assault. John Chiang asserts that he is a fiscally responsible leader and as Governor, he promises to make California accessible and affordable for families who dream of a better future.

Questions To Ask:

  • Proposition 13 has limited a city’s ability to fund services. What are the biggest roadblocks to reforming Proposition 13, and how would you overcome those barriers?
  • Divisions exist between California’s inland and coastal communities. Politicians spar over taxes, environmental regulations, and poverty reforms. How would you bridge the existing divides in California as Governor?
  • You have two decades of experience managing the state’s finances. How would someone who has been all about the numbers in California, apply those skills to address the social issues throughout the state?
  • Many middle-class Californians are struggling to purchase homes, send their children to college, and maintain a quality standard of living. What is your agenda to help our struggling families?
  • The impacts of climate change will compound throughout the twenty-first century,  and California will experience harsher droughts as a result. What is your plan to address future water shortages?
  • Many seniors and retired adults live on fixed incomes; every year the cost of food, utilities, services, and housing increase, but their incomes stay flat. How will you address the needs of aging Californians?

This post was written by Justin Balenzuela, M.A. Urban Affairs ’18. Justin will be introducing Treasurer John Chiang on Thursday, March 22nd.

Justin Balenzuela 5

 

How Cobb Elementary Transformed Me

valeria-3.jpg

Valeria Imendia, International Studies’18

I still remember receiving an email about a literacy internship opportunity during the fall semester of my junior year and thinking it would be a great chance for me to expand my experiences in education. As a student in the Dual Degree Program for Teacher Preparation, I decided to apply to be a literacy intern through Engage San Francisco but little did I know I would be embarking on an experience of a lifetime. I am now a senior, about to graduate this coming May, and I continue to learn so much about myself and my passion for teaching with every chance I get to walk the halls of Dr. William L. Cobb Elementary School.

From my very first day of the internship, I was met with nothing but kindness and support. My first impression of the school was more than I could have hoped for, and it continues to be a place of unique learning experiences for me. For one, every day at Cobb is different—whether it is because I have to work with new students and create activities for them on my own or because unexpected situations arise where I have to provide care for students. I first went in thinking of myself as a tutor for my students, but it was not long after I started my work there that I realized this job required a lot more than just academics. Every single student I have had the privilege to work with at this school has sparked so much passion for teaching within me, and I continue to think about them in everything I do as I pursue my teaching credential.

Alongside my students, my mentor at the school and my internship supervisor always go above and beyond to ensure that as interns we are being supported and guided in the best way possible. It has been thanks to their warmth and guidance that I have been able to feel like I have agency in my position as an intern. From day one, I have felt like I am a part of the school community and that is because I have been given the tools and the trust to bring my perspective into the work I do with my students. Hence, this program has been crucial in my journey as a future educator because it has shown me first-hand that there is a lot of work to be done in the classroom. It has likewise shown me in practice what my responsibility as a woman of color going into this profession looks like in order to ensure I am doing my best to advocate for our youth. My students have therefore opened up new possibilities within me and they have taken me by the hand and walked me through their life experiences and their passions, which is something that will be forever engraved in my heart. I am honored and humbled to walk the halls of Cobb and get hugs from students I have not even worked with yet and to get high-fives from the older kids who normally like to tell me they are “too cool” for doing reading activities with Miss Valeria. My students give me so much joy with all their unique ways of showing me love and affection, and I have come to understand that with this care also comes responsibility. I strive to honor these demonstrations of trust by making sure to always keep my students and their rich knowledge and individuality at the forefront of my teaching practices.

Valeria-4

My time at Cobb has helped transform me in only the best way. I have been challenged by difficult situations; I have been put to the test as I have had to come up with solutions without much time to prepare, and I have most importantly been shown the most genuine and pure love from my students. Being at Cobb and experiencing the day-to-day routines and witnessing what my students go through both as students and as individuals with their own interests and stories has allowed me to step back and think about the privileges I hold in that space and also as I think about my own future classroom. My students have taught me to be humble and to understand that this work is in the service of every single person in my classroom, particularly of those whose voices have historically been left out. My students—all of whom are not older than eleven—have taught me far more than I could hope to learn from a textbook. I am grateful to have wonderful teachers who push my thinking and hold me to high standards, yet it is my students at Cobb who push me even further and keep me accountable in everything I do.

I continue to be grateful for every single day that I get to be a part of this literacy program because it means I am being challenged to question the ways I engage with this work in education. Regardless of the official expectations of my position or of any titles, this work goes beyond what can be seen as purely academic at a surface level. This opportunity has allowed me to immerse myself in hands-on experiences in teaching and given me a new sense of purpose. I have wanted to go into the teaching profession because I believe our youth has invaluable lessons to teach us and because they deserve to know that their voices matter. I know that this work is difficult, but we owe it to our students to show up for them and allow them to be visible in every way that makes them who they are in order to disrupt practices that have silenced much of our youth—particularly our youth of color— for far too long. This internship has therefore allowed me to work on the skills that make this ideal a reality and I am humbled to be able to experience this with the wonderful mentors I have gained and the students that make this journey worthwhile. This journey is a constant learning experience and I am grateful I got that email and decided to apply all those months ago because now I have a new community that has given me the best gifts: a renewed sense of purpose and a greater love for teaching.

 

Building Community Through Engage SF

For several years now, my Engage San Francisco colleagues and I have taken students, staff, faculty, supporters, and administrators on walks in the Western Addition. We intentionally don’t call them tours, as this is the neighborhood we work with, and community partners and community members join us on the walks. Most importantly, the word ‘tour’ rings of voyeurism and doesn’t challenge the ethical implications of looking at a community rather than working with a community.  We walk seeking connection and knowledge. Inevitably we see the things that we plan, and also inevitably something happens that is unplanned, which is part of the magic of being with community.

21263606852_d32386758c_o

We walk to learn about the history of the Western Addition, the Fillmore, Japantown, San Francisco, and the United States. We learn about and discuss how policies contribute to systematic injustices that impact residents in the Western Addition, particularly residents who struggle to make ends meet. We learn from and with community members and community partners and we discuss  connections between USF and the Western Addition. These walks are customized for the participants and they are intentional in their design. The community partners who join us before, during, or after the walks vary because we don’t want to take folks for granted or overburden our partners with the work of teaching USF-ers how to enter and exit community respectfully. A few of the partners who have joined us include: African American Art & Culture ComplexCommunity GrowsCollective ImpactAfrican American Shakespeare CompanyAfroSolo and the SuccessCenterSF.

30378593046_f45ef726d9_o (1)

The guidance I provide folks on the walk typically includes an overview of where we will go and who we will visit with along with some historical context about redevelopment and outmigration, but the most important instructions I give are: 1) Stay curious. 2) Pay Attention. 3) Examine your assumptions. This is because flexibility is required to work with community, and curiosity is needed to learn as opportunities emerge. Some examples of how the magic of community knowledge appears (because despite our best attempts, we are always obviously walking through community as a majority group of strangers) include:

The time we were walking down Fillmore with Professor Stephanie Sears, Ms. Altheda Carrie,  Ms. Lynette White and the Esther Madriz Diversity Scholars and a man stopped us and said,

“If you are here to learn, one thing you need to know is that we (African Americans) all came here during the war (WWII) to build ships and then they tore our homes down. We worked here for the war and then there was no where to live. If you learn anything today, that needs to be the one thing you understand.”

The time we ran into Bicycle Bob at every turn, totaling four unplanned meetings during the course of a 2-hour walk. He was flyer-ing for an upcoming Sunday Streets event and we continued to cross paths, making the neighborhood seem small and familiar.

The time that we visited the garden at Rosa Parks elementary and Melissa Tang of

IMG_20170906_143241107_HDR (1)Community Grows offered the opportunity to hold one of the chickens from their chicken coop.

The time we saw Rico Hamilton of Street Violence Intervention Project (SVIP) outside McDonalds and he knew numerous USF-ers on the walk and generously stopped to talk with all of us about the ways his work has intersected with USF.

The first walk I went on was led by Rachel Brahinsky, Assistant Professor and Director of our Masters in Urban and Public Affairs. We ran into Reverend Al Townsend, who has been a community leader and activist for decades. Rachel knew him from interviews she had conducted with him for research and writing. He shared with Rachel’s graduate students a bit about his experience with community organizing that dates back to his days as a student at SFSU, and he joked that if he had picked a different path, perhaps he would have become as famous as his classmate, Danny Glover.

Many, many years ago a friend taught me that stories from our lives are gifts we have to give. So we take the walks to learn about the community organizations that host and teach our students, we take these walks to make history real and see the ongoing impacts of redevelopment and reflect on what is no longer there. We take walks to see the outcomes of our partnerships with the Western Addition. We also take these walks to hear stories and receive the gifts that the community has to offer. For this we are grateful because without the trust and teachings of community members we would not be able to do this work.   — Karin Cotterman, Director of Engage San Francisco

12394374835_3048113657_o

Support ESF here. Visit the USF Western Addition resource page here.