This Intern Spotlight features Juhi Patel, a rising senior at the University of Michigan. Originally from Chicago, Illinois, she is in Washington DC this summer working at the USDA Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights.
What are your main responsibilities at your position? What are you looking forward to the most in your position?
This summer, I am interning at the USDA Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights (OASCR). My responsibilities cover a wide range of tasks, depending on what my department or supervisors are working on that day. One of the biggest things I have been working on is a presentation for an upcoming Special Emphasis Project Management (SEPM) training. I was asked to use my background in Biopsychology, Cognition, Neuroscience (one of my majors) to present a Game Changer on Diversity and Inclusiveness within the USDA. On top of researching the topic, making a presentation, and outlining the talking points, I will also be presenting part of the Prezi with one of my co-workers. On top of that, I edit memos, draft memos, look over cases, attend conferences/trainings and assist my supervisors with anything else they are working on. I am looking forward to learning more about the civil rights programs that OASCR initiates and the issues that the organization confronts on a daily basis. Also, I can’t wait to learn more about the way the government deals with such issues. My supervisors love making sure my internship is meaningful by incorporating my majors/background and treating me as if I am just as valuable as any other employee. I’m very excited about this and look forward to seeing what else they trust me to be a part of!
How does this internship help you with your professional goals?What do you want to get out of it?
OASCR and CAPAL have been providing me with amazing resources and connections during these past few weeks. I am able to talk many different individuals within a variety of career fields. Being able to gain such unique perspectives on education, careers, and life in general has given me so much to learn from. Learning about these experiences and hearing any advice from these individuals allows me to open my eyes to the many different possibilities I have in front of me. It’s amazing that the OASCR allows me to see what kind of work is done and what the processes behind this work are in a specific type of setting. However, there are different positions throughout the organization, which allows me to interact with different levels of employment. At the same time, CAPAL exposes me to AAPI community members who are interested in many of the same issues as me. This provides me with the resources to learn about what I am most passionate about and the necessary guidance towards pursuing a career revolved around those topics. I hope to make connections that help me grow both personally and professionally. However, one of the biggest things I want to do is be able to benefit others. I want to be able to step out of my comfort zone, apply my skills, and help others with what I have learned!
What motivates you?
People in general motivate me! I have an unusually high sensitivity towards others–meaning I care a lot about people and ensuring that they are happy. That can be a good or bad thing, depending on the situation. In this case, however, I believe that it’s one of my strongest qualities. Seeing third world countries, homeless people having to spend cold winter nights outside, discrimination against different communities, hate crimes, people not being able to access the healthcare they need, stigmas against mental health, and so much more have collectively led to my biggest goal: to simply help others. Seeing a smile on someone’s face, brightening someone’s day, or just making a small difference in someone’s life all give me a sense of accomplishment. I find my biggest happiness in the joy and gratitude of others. Whenever I see someone who is hurt or unhappy, I am motivated to turn that sadness into happiness. Whenever I see people in need of something, I am motivated to help them out. Whenever I see anything that seems wrong for our world, I am motivated to make things right. I was always so grateful for the life I live, but seeing what happens around me in the world has changed that feeling. I shouldn’t be grateful for living a normal life–that should already be a universal experience. My biggest goal, therefore, involves improving the quality of life for myself and for others. Since I personally feel the healthiest and happiest when there’s a loving environment where people are safe and happy, I am continuously motivated to take steps that will positively impact others’ lives!
When you get off work, what do you do? What are your weekend activities?
As soon as I get off of work, I think about how more hours in the day would be fantastic! Usually, I’m just way too exhausted to do anything besides go home and sleep! If there’s nothing major planned for the day, I usually go back to my apartment, make dinner, do homework/study (for my two online classes), talk to my roommates, pack food for the next day and then get ready for bed. Whenever I get time (usually on the Metro), I love to read as much as I can–which doesn’t end up being as much as I’d like. I also try to attend a variety of events around DC–whether it be educational, political, cultural, or social. Over the weekend, I love to hang out with my roommates or other interns. This involves anything from exploring the city/visiting monuments, attending festivals, going to cute little book stores, eating A LOT of food, trying out new places around DC, or just spending a night in together!
Juhi Patel is an incoming CAPAL intern at the USDA, Office of Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights. In the fall, she will continue to pursue her B.S in Political Science and BCN (Biospsychology, Cognition, Neuroscience) as a senior at The University of Michigan. On campus, Juhi has danced on The Michigan Raas Team, volunteered at different hospitals/communities, and served on the executive board for various organizations since her freshman year. She is currently the President of The Indian American Student Association, which serves to promote various aspects of Indian culture and heritage through an assortment of events that raise political, social, and cultural awareness, as well as fulfill goals aimed at community building, service, and professional development. Additionally, she is the Hospitality Chair for Michigan Mazaa, which serves to spread awareness about the issue of human trafficking and to celebrate South Asian culture. In her free time, Juhi enjoys dancing, reading, writing, traveling, and just trying new adventures with her family and friends. Juhi is originally from Chicago, is currently in Ann Arbor for school, and cannot wait to come to Washington D.C. to pursue her passions of human rights and public service.
Meet all of our CAPAL Scholars & Interns here.
Posted by Felicia Wong
Felicia Wong is currently a senior at the College of William and Mary, double majoring in Neuroscience and Asian American Studies, and minoring in Biochemistry. She is president of the Filipino American Student Association, and current non-academic projects include creating films calling for diversity curriculums/requirements and establishing an official APIA Studies program. Felicia was also elected president of Global Medical Brigades to lead a sustainable healthcare program in rural communities in Nicaragua. She hopes to connect her interests in healthcare with the community she has found in her cultural background. Having lived in Germany for most of her childhood, Felicia makes yearly trips back to visit her family, providing opportunities for her to indulge in her greatest joys: touring castles, eating at cafés, taking fashion cues from strangers, cooking with her family. Non-country specific pleasures include: biking, watching live music performances, screaming because Game of Thrones.