Our CAPAL Intern Spotlight is Kenneth Chen, a recent graduate from University of California, Davis, who interned at the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) this summer.
What are your main responsibilities at your position? What are some of your big projects?
As a intern in US Department of Agriculture (USDA)- Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), one my main responsibilities is to help create the database to track and prevent illegal wood products coming into our country. Our team, Lacey Act Program (LAP), is established to combats unlawful wood products entering into US. Wood product importers are required to file a Lacey Act Declaration before entry. While most importers file the declaration in paper form in the past, APHIS is encouraging them to file the declaration electrically in order to fulfill one of our mission statements —Save Trees. As a result, I am working with my supervisor, who is an Information Management specialist, to manage to the transition.
How does this internship/scholarship fit with your professional and career goals?
I was majoring in Political Science at UC Davis, therefore, working for the federal government has always been one of my career goals. The internship provides the opportunity for me to understand the daily operation of a federal agency and how public policies impact our lives. Furthermore, the internship also gives the insights on the connections between different agencies, congress and other stakeholders.
What do you hope to achieve this summer through your scholarship/internship experience?
In this summer, I have a few goals I hope to achieve. I want to expand my career network and knowledge in federal government. I hope to pursue my career in DC because I like the vibes of the city. Furthermore, I also hope to meet with other AAPI youths and adults who are also dedicated in public service.
What does public service mean to you?
For me, public service means serving the public, not servicing your own interests. People who chose this path have to have a greater vision than the general public. Public servants are the servants of the society, their main goals are to create and then maintain the greatness of the society.
What do you consider to be the most interesting thing about you?
My passion for politics is what I consider the most interesting thing about myself. I have a passion for politics since I was little. When I was in elementary school, many of the adults were surprised to know my knowledge and passion in politics. One of the favorite TV programs was “6pm news report” when I was a kid. I have always enjoyed to discuss current events with my parents during dinner time. When I was a kid, It was not easy to find other people who share the same passion in politics. However, It is my honor to be selected by CAPAL as one of the interns in the summer, so I am able meet with other amazing individuals who share the same passion as I am in politics.
What are you most excited to do in Washington D.C. this summer?
This is my second summer in DC, but I still have a lot of exciting events I’ve planned to attend. I have planned to visit all the Smithsonian’s museums and other historical locations. Furthermore, attending different receptions, celebrations, social events are also on my to-do list in this summer. In addition, I am also excited to meet with all the amazing AAPI leaders and young adults in DC.
Kenneth Chen recently graduated from University of California, Davis with a B.A. in Political Science. He emigrated from Hong Kong to the United States on 2005 when he was 13 year old. After moving, he learned more about democracy from school and became fascinated by the system here and how it helps people in need. Therefore, he decided to major in Political Science. Kenneth was an intern at San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors Malia Cohen’s office for 2 years. Since he is the only staff member in the office who knows how to read and write in Chinese, he has become the “bridge” to connect Supervisor Cohen’s office to her district’s Chinese community. Besides Interning at Supervisor Cohen’s office, he was also an Economics tutor at Skyline College. Through tutoring, he has realized the hardships that many community college students face. Their struggle to balance family, full-time work, and school is alleviated by policies that create academic and financial support crucial to students’ success which motivated him to advocate for lowering the cost of public higher education. In 2013, Kenneth applied for OCA Advocate summer internship program in Washington D.C. Through this experience, he had the opportunity to meet many passionate young advocates who share the same values and ambitions he has regarding politics. He was placed in Asian And Pacific Islanders Affairs at the D.C. Mayor’s Office, where he had the opportunity to learn about structures of the Executive Branch and the relationship between different government agencies. At UC Davis, Kenneth is an active member of Davis College Democrat (DCD) and one of the founding members of Hong Kong and Macau Student Association (HKMSA). By forming a new club at UC Davis, he hopes to promote cultural understanding and to provide a platform for students to discuss current events in Hong Kong and Macau.
Meet all of our 2015 CAPAL Scholars & Interns here.
Posted 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 (www.causeusa.org) 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