USF in D.C. is Unlike Anything Else!

 

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Gabbi McDaniel

I left Washington, D.C. more than four months ago. Whenever anybody asks me about my experience, my first response continues to be, “it was the best experience I’ve had at USF.” Then I gush for five more minutes about the opportunities I had, the individuals I met, and the impact this program had on my academic and professional career. Over these past four years, I’ve been able to join multiple organizations on campus, volunteer throughout the city at non-profits doing incredible work, and even spend a semester studying abroad in Quito, Ecuador. I’m beyond grateful for all of those experiences, but the USF in D.C. program is unlike anything else.

When I was accepted into the USF in D.C. program, I was ecstatic. I knew that I’d have the opportunity to live in D.C. during the first presidential election I could vote in, gain hands-on experience with a full-time internship, and synthesize my academic background with real-world applications. However, I never anticipated just how well USF in D.C. would prepare me for my future professional endeavors and instill in me a passion for the intersections between sexual and reproductive rights, policy advocacy, and international development.

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During the fall semester, I interned at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). UNFPA is the lead UN agency addressing sexual and reproductive health, maternal health, gender-based violence, and child marriage in the context of international development and humanitarian settings. As the sole intern in the office, I had direct access to UNFPA DC’s Director and our Advocacy & Communications Specialist on a daily basis. Together, our team of three, consistently worked to advance UNFPA’s mission within the context of the US government. I had the opportunity to advocate with my colleagues before the Department of State and Congressional members; attend countless conferences with other NGOs and government institutions focused on these issues; and represent UNFPA at advocacy and strategy meetings. Every single day I was exposed to the complexities of advocacy and the fight for improving access to sexual and reproductive health care around the world. Throughout the semester, I was awe-inspired by the intelligent and determined women I worked alongside who used their privilege to fight for social justice.

Now, I’m finishing up my final semester at USF and yearning to get back to Washington, D.C. to continue this vital work. I’ve been able to use the knowledge I gained in D.C. in my Human Rights Advocacy course and my Gender, Development, and Globalization class. Sexual and reproductive health and rights are inextricably linked with economic justice, racial justice, human rights, and national security. As graduation draws nearer, I’m seeking opportunities within human rights advocacy, communications, and policy analysis, with a particular focus on sexual and reproductive health. The USF in DC program provided me with a foundation to pursue these career opportunities and I cannot thank the McCarthy Center, Betty L. Blakley Scholarship, the Newmark Fellowship,  USF in D.C. professors, and my UNFPA colleagues enough for my experience.

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Contributing from D.C. and Common Sense Media

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Ayah Mouhktar (’18)
USF in D.C. Fellow

 

Ayah Mouhktar is one of our not-so-secret weapons in D.C.  As a Student Communications Assistant for the McCarthy Center, she took on the mission of serving the Winter semester as a participant in the USF in D.C. Fellows program. We are thrilled to report that she is applying her skills in an internship at the national office of San Francisco based, Common Sense Media, a non-profit education and advocacy  organization promoting safe technology and media for children.

Ayah has wasted no time in jumping back into her blogging. She shared her first blog post focusing  on a policy campaign called the FAMILY Act, 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave. Click here to read.

Ayah is a Newmark Scholar and recipient of the Betty L. Blakley Scholarship. Read her earlier blog post at http://bit.ly/2lktCut. Meet our other USF in D.C. Fellows at http://bit.ly/2l8Vxet

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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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 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.

 

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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.

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McCarthy Center Rockstars

The results are in! Several of our students were nominated for Student Leadership Awards celebrating students whose leadership has contributed to the growth, development, and vitality of USF and the broader community. Award recipients represent student role models who exhibit commitment, enthusiasm, and the pursuit of excellence through their endeavors. Join us in congratulating our students on their achievements! Continue reading

Beginning My USF in D.C. Experience

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Emily Adsit
USF in DC spring ’16 participant

USF in DC is 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 faculty. Emily is a performing arts and social justice major with a music concentration, double minoring in African American studies and legal studies and is pursuing a certificate in theatre tech and design. 

It was 34 degrees outside when I first landed at Dulles International Airport. Never having spent much time in cold weather, that was definitely a shock. The biggest shock, however, came when my Lyft driver pulled up in front of the University of California DC (UCDC) building and said, “Wow, you’re only six or seven blocks away from The White House, that’s cool!” Sure enough, I walked to the corner, looked down 16th St NW, and caught my first glimpse of The White House.

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That was one of the most surreal moments I have ever had in my life. The next was a couple hours later when my roommates walked with me to The White House and I got to stand in front of the building that great leaders and incredible people have worked in. The next would come the following morning when we walked to the Washington Monument and the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and when UCDC went on a tour of Capitol Hill. There was also a moment when I crossed the National Mall and picked out the exact spot where Mandy Hampton (played by Moira Kelly) was pulled over in the pilot episode of The West Wing, though that’s more nerdy than surreal!

It’s been a week since that first night, and I’m getting more acclimated to the District, though I still slip and call it “the city.” I’ve memorized the address to the building (and I understand the importance of including the quadrant in addresses), I’ve had Dunkin’ Donuts for the first (and second time, the very next day), and I’ve walked past The White House more than once. I’ve also become accustomed (as much as one can be) to saying sentences like “I walked to the Washington Monument this morning!” I am a card-carrying member of the Library of Congress, I have taken the Metro, I’ve officially visited Virginia and Maryland for the first time in my life, I’ve started my classes (which include taking a week-long intensive on political research with the Master of Public Affairs candidates).

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I have (as of today!) accepted an offer to intern at an organization I am excited about, the Center for Policy Analysis and Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, where I will be able to work on projects that promote and aim to effect positive social change. This city is unbelievable, the possibilities are endless, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the next three months.

Apply for the USF in DC program here, applications close March 8, 2016. 

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NOTE: A generous gift helps fund Leo T. McCarthy Center undergraduate students: $1,500 covers the cost of travel, books and materials for a student in our USF in DC program.

Applying ‘Change the World From Here to Washington, D.C.

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Katherine Pantangco
USF in DC Fall 2015 participant
As I walked into my supervisor’s office on my first day to partake in what would be one of many “huddles” (office lingo for team and one-on-one check-ins), I glanced across her desk to see a sticky note posted on her computer screen which read, “Every day counts!” My supervisor, and every orientation I participated in as I began my internship, emphasized how precious a commodity time is in the White House. Knowing this, I approached my time in our nation’s Capitol with a framework of intentionality that I have come to appreciate as a University of San Francisco student.
 
During the fall 2015 semester, I had the privilege to participate in the Leo T. McCarthy Center’s USF in DC program. I take USF’s motto, “Change the World From Here” to heart and decided to carry it across the country, in my pursuit for tangible work experience in our nation’s Capitol.
 
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I was one of over 150 interns selected throughout the country to work at the White House, where it was a distinct honor to serve at the pleasure of the President of the United States. I was delighted to hear that I would be interning in my first choice office, the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, which Senior Advisor to the President, Valerie Jarrett oversees. I particularly wanted to work with the Office of Public Engagement because of their commitment to serving, as what I like to call the “advocacy arm” or the bridge between our nation’s advocacy organizations and the White House.

I approached this internship with the experience I have gained because of the amazing opportunities that USF and the city of San Francisco have afforded me, such as previously interning at USF’s Cultural Centers, volunteering with the San Francisco Organizing Project, and working at the American Civil Liberties Union. The on-the-ground outreach and organizing skills I had developed while immersed here at USF and the local community better prepared me for working in public engagement on a national level, where I worked on the Latino and Immigration Outreach portfolio.
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A few events I provided administrative support to included the White House immigration team’s Citizenship Public Awareness campaign launch, Hispanic Heritage Month programs, staffing the first ever White House celebration of Filipino American History Month, and the Holy See Arrival of his Holiness Pope Francis. The exposure that this internship offered me was not  what I expected. The level of respect and teamwork I witnessed evoked a mission-driven office environment that made me feel very much at home. Never did I imagine that I would consider the White House a place I’d like to come home to, nor did I imagine that I would develop lifelong relationships with my colleagues at the White House or my USF in DC cohort.
 
As I continue to pursue a career in public service and advocacy, whether it be through government or non-profit work, I will take the lessons from my work experiences and my USF in DC politics courses with me. The classes I took, including Research Methods, Professional Development and Policy Advocacy, and American Political Journalism (which was taught at the Washington Post) were relevant and practical to interning in a Washington D.C. office. Moreover, through my experience interning at the White House, I will take away this important lesson: the potential for change relies on being able to build bridges between different communities, whether that means on an interpersonal level, organizational level, and across political ideology and party lines.
 
Nearing the end of my internship, President Obama met with all the interns and provided some lasting advice:
“Worry less about what you want to be. Worry more about what you want to do.” 
 
The President approached sharing this advice as a community organizer whose commitment to social justice relies on applying knowledge and passion to action. His words reminded me of a quote by Leonardo da Vinci that I opened my personal statement with in my application to USF as a high school senior: 
“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.”
 
I want to express my deepest gratitude to the Leo T. McCarthy Center and USF in DC faculty for facilitating one of the most life-changing experiences one could ask for. I will always look back on my semester in DC as a cornerstone moment of my personal and professional development, one that could have not have happened if it were not for your commitment to your students in changing the world from here.
Apply for the USF in DC program starting in January by clicking here. Applications close March 6, 2016.