Our CAPAL Intern Spotlight is Jasmine Pineda, a fourth year at the University of Virginia, and currently interning at the U.S. Department of Agriculture –  Forest Service (USDA-FS).

What are your main responsibilities at your position? What are some of your big projects?

I‘m an Research and Development (R&D) intern in Sustainable Forest Management. One of the big products that comes from our department are national assessments on certain topics, such as climate change and soil that serve to be used by a wide audience including legislators, environmentalists, etc. The process of writing this assessment typically begins at national workshops attended by 30-40 scientists that last 2-3 days. This fall, our staff is planning for one of these workshops, focusing on non-native invasive species, and this is my main project. I’m working closely with one of our researchers in the office and facilitating the collaboration of our spread out planning committee in order to execute the workshop.

How does this internship/scholarship fit with your professional and career goals?

My internship at the USDA Forest Service has offered me irreplaceable professional development. Understanding office dynamics and etiquette is really something you have to pick up by experience. Furthermore, I’m very much interested in doing work with the Department of State or the US Agency of International Development, so I think working for a government agency, no matter what type of work I may be doing, provides me with meaningful insight to the internal operations of a government agency as well as the interconnectedness among different agencies.

What do you hope to achieve this summer through your scholarship/internship experience?

Primarily, I hope that my main project is successful, but I won’t see the results from that for a while. Otherwise, I want to be a sponge, soaking up all the information that I can, inside and outside the office. I’ve learned a lot about different opportunities from sitting in on different seminars or even asking people around the office what they do. As a 4th year undergraduate student, I’m approaching a point in my life where I need to start figuring out what I want to do, and I’m taking this summer as a time to reflect on where I see myself going.

What does public service mean to you?

You know those cute “Pass it on” videos where people pay for the order of the person behind them at a fast food restaurant? Public service to me is that idea of passing it on. I wouldn’t have had many of the opportunities that I did without the work of public servants before me, so the idea of perpetuating this process really inspires me. I know that the US government is far from perfect, and I would like to be proactive in working to improve it. So basically, because someone else paid for my burger, I would like to pay for your burger and upgrade you to a combo, metaphorically.

11805861 10153533859237292 1761730584 n e1438013624514 292x300 CAPAL Intern Spotlight Jasmine Pineda 15What do you consider to be the most interesting thing about you?

I think my love for Spain is the most interesting thing about me. Others might consider it the most annoying thing about me, because once you start me on the topic, there’s no stopping. I study Spanish at UVA, and the department highly recommends that you study abroad, so I chose to do my fall semester of 3rd year in Valencia, Spain. I loved it so much that, to my mother’s reluctance, I rescheduled my flight to May and stayed through the spring semester. I lived with the same incredible host mother for a year, spent Christmas with her family, and went to a New Year’s Eve party in another country where I only knew one person going into it. It was a year full of new, interesting experiences in which I met some of the most admirable people, and it really opened me up to new ways of thinking.

What are you most excited to do in Washington D.C. this summer?

Tour the library of Congress, check out the Smithsonian museums, and check out all the food spots all my friends have always raved about. I grew up in the VA Beach area and attend UVA, but surprisingly enough, I had only been in DC twice before this summer, so I guess I finally get to explore the area.

Jasmine Pineda is a 4th year undergraduate student at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia. Born in New Jersey to Filipino immigrants, she later moved with her family to Virginia, a state that has been both her playground and classroom for the majority of her life. Throughout her childhood and young adulthood, she was involved in a wide variety of activities. However, it wasn’t until she began her undergraduate studies that she began to take on a more active role in the AAPI community. Apart from her studies in Spanish, Jasmine spent much of her free time during her first two years at UVA participating in activities with the Organization of Young Filipino Americans(OYFA), serving her second year as a liaison between OYFA and District VII of the Filipino Intercollegiate Networking Dialogue, Inc. (FIND, Inc.). She also served as a National Director Proxy for FIND, Inc. and assisted with the planning of the 2014 Spring Conference Bukas Ngayon: Tomorrow Starts Now which was hosted at UVA. Jasmine spent her third year abroad in Valencia, Spain through the UVA Hispanic Studies Program. Shortly upon returning to the U.S., she has now begun her internship through CAPAL at the Forest Service of the USDA at the Washington DC office, where she is interning in Research & Development of Sustainable Forests.

Meet all of our 2015 CAPAL Scholars & Interns here.

IMG 7976 108x150 CAPAL Intern Spotlight Jasmine Pineda 15Posted by Taylor Huang-Boutelle

Taylor is an incoming Senior at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is double majoring in World Literature and Feminist Studies, with a concentration in Law, Politics, and Social Change. Taylor is in the D.C. cohort for the Center for Asian Americans United for Self Empowerment ( and is currently a summer interns at the Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership, where she is focusing on development and fundraising, and will be developing the blog content for this summer. Taylor is passionate about issues of representation, coalition between underserved communities, and creating spaces for strength and solidarity around injustices through community activism and public policy. taylor.boutelle [at] capal [dot] org