Jun Zhong is a rising junior at the University of California, Berkeley, studying Statistics and Economics.This summer he is interning at the US Forest Service.

What major projects are you working on in your internship? What responsibilities are you most excited about and why?

My three major projects are:

  1. Ensure compliance of the Job Corps center’s operating procedures with Department of Labor policies.
  2. Conduct ethnographic research on key staff members and students; analyze collected data to design policies that can help center increase retention and GED achievement rates.
  3. Compose an accessible staff handbook that summarizes the operating procedures (thousands of pages long), with addenda for specific department policies.

I’m stoked by all three because they all allow me to view policy at a different angle. I am most fascinated by the policy composition project, since I get to be involve in the full design process: from problem recognition to research to brainstorming to user-testing, and more.

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When did you realize you wanted to explore public service? 

When I realized how lucky I was to both grow up in a marginalized community and enjoy the privileges of being a college student in 2017. So many things had to occur for an immigrant from a below-the-poverty-line family to become a college student: a stable family, an excellent English-learning experience, enrollment in top-notch schools that were rare in the neighborhood, and participation in numerous non-profit guidance programs that were rarer. Moreover, the vast opportunities available to minority graduates today, thanks to local pioneers and national trailblazers like CAPAL, were unfathomable a decade or two ago.

I believe that vast opportunities shouldn’t only be available in aspiring yet marginalized communities (to either the youth or the adults) once in a blue moon.

Thus, as someone who owes his growth and potential to the community that gave every cent that it had, it would be gravely  immoral if I don’t explore ways to serve and empower them toward even vaster opportunities–opportunities unfathomable to us today.


What are your plans/ goals after this internship? Are there any goals you want to accomplish this summer? 

I aim to empower the marginalized, particularly through uniting people of differing privileges and of differing identities toward their mutual interests. The marginalized, which includes many of my dear family, friends, and neighbors who supported and nurtured me, can become influential when the privileged realized that the vast amount of common interests between the two.

During this summer, I seek to immerse myself in the sectors where I can empower the marginalized, such as the advocacy sector through CAPAL and the government sector through the Job Corps. Such immersion will allow me to evaluate my fit and build a network in the sectors. Additionally, having come from Rep. Pelosi’s district all the way to Rep. Meadow’s district, I will take advantage of the opportunity to enhance my cultural awareness of the Franklin locals as well as evaluate their receptiveness to propositions that meet common interests across the spectrum.

After the internship, I will continue to immerse myself in sectors where I can empower the marginalized, either through further exploration in advocacy and government or through another sector like business or academia.


What are you looking forward to in Franklin, NC? 

As mentioned above, I seek to enhance my cultural awareness of the locals. In fact, I have already visited the local librarian twice and eaten countless lunches with Job Corps students and staff to learn about each’s hometown’s ideologies and perspectives.

But I’m just as stoked by the 3 National Parks and Forests within an hour away from Franklin. I look forward to feeling the mist of 200 foot waterfalls, whitewater rafting for several hours straight, meditating to the singing birds and the quiet creeks, or running through the woods with my landlord’s dog.

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What do you do for fun? 

I really enjoy doing those things listed above, although a slimmed down version when I head back to California. I also enjoy reading reading hours straight on the sofa (particularly reading news from differing ideologies, such as CSNNews and HuffPost), meditating to the refrigerator, or trash talking my friends’ sports-team allegiances. (However, when we take the trash talk to the field or the court, I often lose.) I also fascinate myself with sporadic Frank Underwood, John Oliver, CSPAN, Alex Jones, and non-action-genre movies.


What is something that most people would not know about you? 

I’m a productivity and health nerd. My breakfast consisted of raw old-fashioned oatmeal with skim milk and fruits for six days a week in the past 9 months. I designate a certain chair (and sometimes room) for homework, another for reading, another for misc. work. I have f.lux go Candle at night.

I tell myself that I will sleep 9 hours a night, but I end up reading Wikipedia and long magazine articles, including fact-checking them. I should plan for 10 or 11 hours.

Although I’m unathletic and inconsistent (my polite friends probably think I’m unaware of that) at abasketball, I end up playing basketball often to practice mindfulness, optimism, and emotional stabilization, particularly amidst a streak of bad plays. (happens more than often)

Meet all of our CAPAL Scholars & Interns here.

Posted by Nattacha Munakata

Snapchat 8629752769901833151 181x300 CAPAL Intern Spotlight Jun Zhong  17Nattacha Munakata is currently a rising sophomore at George Mason University, studying Community Health with a concentration in Clinical Science (Pre-med). On campus, she is Peer Health Advisor, working to raise awareness and educate students on health issues. She is also involved in TEDxGMU and Thai Student Association. Outside, she likes to volunteer for local organizations and events, such as the DC Sakura matsuri and her local FIRST robotics team. During her free time, she likes to watch Netflix dramas and explore new music.