Melody Fan is currently studying Economic and Environmental Policy at the College of William and Mary. This summer, she 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?
I’m currently on the planning team for a Soils Assessment Workshop in Portland, Oregon which is a national, collaborative effort among scientists to publish a General Technical Report (GTR). My responsibilities include participating in meetings and communicating with the planning contractor. I’ll be taking notes during presentations as a resource for collaborating writers. I’m so thankful to be a part of this effort and to experience early stages of the report.
Soon, I’ll begin creating and designing an inventory of climate tools. The U.S. is divided into seven research regions; many of which have developed their own tools for forest managers. By organizing a comprehensive, accessible, and navigable resource, research stations will broaden their pool of knowledge. This will assist forest managers in making solid and informed decisions which is crucial to U.S. Forests. I’m excited to release a reference to be used by the Forest Service and enhance collaboration among research stations.
Ultimately, I’m most delighted to serve my team at the USDA Forest Service (Research and Development: Sustainable Forest Management Research). Many from my team are bravely taking on responsibilities to compensate for under-staffing. My top and favorite responsibility is to serve them.
When did you realize you wanted to explore public service?
Public service became important to me when I realized the world was bigger than just me. Growing up, I received pressure to go into the medical field but I wanted to do more. I thought, “There has to be more.” There are so many opportunities to do good and love others in the world that anything but public service seemed constraining. Environmental injustice and ignorance was frustrating to me – I just couldn’t understand why the world has to be the way it is today. I wanted to know people personally, serve them with integrity, and contribute to restoring justice. As a Christian, I recognize my calling is to love God and others unconditionally – and to enjoy every moment of it. It’s a gift and honor to be involved in public service.
What are your plans/ goals after this internship? Are there any goals you want to accomplish this summer?
My goal for the summer is to experience the heart of public service by immersing myself into the work environment. It is interesting to observe and question what is good and what could be better. I hope to practice the art of staying calm under immense pressure and remaining true to myself. I would also like to master the skill to write and present briefings. Ultimately, there is much to learn from everyone here but I am building my unique, personal style of service as I go.
After this internship, I will return to school for my senior year at the College of William and Mary.
What are you looking forward to in DC / where your internship is located?
I am at the USDA Forest Service, specifically in Research and Development: Sustainable Forest Management Research. It’s located in a quaint, red-brick building with a wonderful view of the Washington Monument. I am looking forward to spreading joy to the people in my office.
What do you do for fun?
What do I enjoy doing for fun? Being outside. I love finding benches or grass to lie down on and nap. When I’m outside, I like to take deep breaths, close my eyes, and listen to movement around me. This reminds me that the world is alive and bigger than myself. I also enjoy having one-on-one conversations with people and hanging out with those that I care about.
Any advice to those who want to apply to the CAPAL program/ go into public service?
Don’t forget your original love for public service. It seems like the further you go down this path the more temptation there will be to serve yourself. There is more to life than that! One time at a Congressional Reception, a student introduced himself to me, bombarded me with what seemed to be his go-to list of questions and immediately asked to friend me on Facebook. To me, it seemed like he was just locking down another connection to serve himself without genuinely wanting to know me – and it hurt. We may be working hard to reach an outlet where we can love many but it would be tragic if we didn’t love those around us along the way.
Meet all of our CAPAL Scholars & Interns here.
Posted by Nattacha Munakata
Nattacha 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.