2016 Scholars and Interns
CAPAL Federal Interns
CAPAL Federal Interns are typically placed in internships within the federal government in Washington, DC. Interns may also be placed in regional offices throughout the country. These internship positions provide students with real-world federal government experience in a range of topics and areas. CAPAL has partnerships with Federal Agencies including Forest Service, Rural Housing Service, and the National Credit Union Administration.
CAPAL Public Service Scholars
CAPAL Public Service Scholars are undergraduate and graduate students who serve in unpaid public service internships (non-profit or government) in the Washington DC area for the summer. The scholarships are intended to enable outstanding Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) students with leadership potential to work full-time and learn about ways to influence public policy in their local communities.
CAPAL Federal Interns
Leangelo Acuna is a recent graduate from the University of Virginia majoring in Biology and Environmental Science. Although previously a member of his Filipino association in his hometown of Newport News, VA, he truly took an interest and an active role in the AANHPI community when arriving to college. In his time at UVA, he served as a Culture Chair, Membership Chair, and Corresponding Secretary for the Organization of Young Filipino Americans (OYFA), as well as a committee member for the Asian Student Union and the UVA Chapter of the NAACP. This summer, he will be interning for the U.S. Department of Agriculture at the Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center in Maryland.
Rachel Chiu is an intern at the USDA’s Office of the Assistant Secretary of Civil Rights. At the USDA, Rachel assists the Chief of the Employment Investigations Division with EEO complaints. Aside from this role, she also serves as a North American Executive Board Member for Students For Liberty, an international nonprofit organization that focuses on educational and leadership programs. This past year, she served as a Republican Presidential Debate Panelist for the Fox News Channel. Rachel appeared on “The Kelly File” on three occasions to present the millennial perspective on 2016 election issues. She is currently a student at Cornell University studying Industrial & Labor Relations.
Borahmie ‘Bo’ Chon
A recent graduate from UNC- Chapel Hill, Bo Chon is a double major in Economic and Global Studies with a minor in Geography. Before graduating, Bo was heavily involved in Immigrant and Refugee Community Partnership as a program coordinator for Bridge Builders where she matched volunteers to refugee families in the community. In addition to her work with refugees, she was the co-chair for Criminal Justice Action and Awareness where she volunteered at the local juvenile youth home and organized awareness events including the construction of a solitary confinement cell replica. As a Northern VA native, she is excited to return home in a gap year before returning to her pursuit of social justice either as a social worker or through law. She is determined to spark discussions concerning Asian-Americans through her documentary work in exploring the model minority myth. In her free time, Bo will often be caught running, making traveling plans, or going to concerts.
Bichnga ‘Nga’ Do
Bichnga or Nga is a recent graduate of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. She received a Bachelor of Arts in History with a minor in Law and Society. Nga is originally from Orange County, California and has lived in Southern California for a majority of her life. Prior to her internship with the National Credit Union Administration, she worked on California Attorney General Kamala Harris’s campaign for U.S. Senate, with Senator Barbara Boxer’s LA Office, and with the Los Angeles Superior Court. She is interested in judicial policymaking and administration, Asian American issues, and mental health law. In particular, she is interested in the intersection between race and mental health, and the mental health dimensions of discrimination and social violence. She is passionate about protecting and advancing the rights of people living with mental disabilities and illnesses, and hopes to work as an advocate for the mentally ill in the future. When Nga is not busy with school or work, she enjoys ballroom dancing, hiking, and creative writing.
Stephanie Dromerick is a rising junior at American University. She is pursuing a major in International Studies with a focus in the Global Economy and a minor in International Business. Stephanie has also served as the treasurer of the Asian American Student Union at American University which gives APIs a community where they can discuss issues important to them. After graduation she hopes to work towards a career that gives her the opportunity to help people whether it is through a non-profit or the government. In her free time she also enjoys drawing, hiking, and playing with her guinea pig Teddy. Stephanie looks forward to the experiences and memories she will gain this summer as part of the CAPAL program.
Olivia Flechsig is a rising senior at UC Berkeley majoring in Sociology and minoring in Education. Outside of school, she is a study group leader for her school’s Student Learning Center, offering free academic support for social science students. She also sits on the editorial board of UCB’s Undergraduate Journal of Sociology, and volunteers to advocate on behalf of students having academic problems with the university. This summer, she will be working for the USDA Forest Service, for whom she will be traveling around Northern California to research the contributions of Chinese Americans to the American West between 1850 and 1890. She hopes to go to law school after graduation to pursue a career as a civil rights attorney, promoting social justice for communities of color and women.
Sylvia Guan, hailing from Southern California, is a rising junior at the University of Pennsylvania. This summer, she is excited to be working with CAPAL and the USDA Forest Service in Mi-Wuk Village, California. At Penn, she co-founded the school’s chapter of Women SPEAK, which hosts discussions and dialogues around women’s rights and gender equity issues. Her most defining experience in college, thus far, has been the Asian Pacific American Leadership Initiative, in which she explored her identity as an Asian American and began to understand the issues prevalent in the APIA community. Sylvia is passionate about APIA and minority issues, gender equity, social justice, and helping others. Her interests include photography, writing, music/concerts, and food.
Hi there! My name is Rosa Keller and I study Nutrition Health Sciences and Biocultural Anthropology at Oregon State University. I am also a group fitness instructor at the campus gym where I teach Body Pump and cycling. I am passionate about food, and I enjoy nothing more than to cook with friends and family. I believe this ties closely with my Taiwanese background, where food is central to the home and holds a high degree of sentiment. This next year I plan to move to Taiwan and study Mandarin so that I may build a closer relationship and sense of understanding with my mother’s family through language. In my free time you can find me at a concert, near the ocean, or eating anything spicy.
Grace Kim is a second year at the University of Virginia majoring in History and Political Philosophy & Law. At UVA, she expresses her passion for public service through her involvement in different clubs and organizations. Grace volunteers in Live Love, an organization that serves the homeless of Charlottesville, and works as the secretary of the UNICEF club to advocate for global issues. Grace also has a passion for advancing minority rights, and she is excited for this opportunity to work with CAPAL. She will be interning this summer in the USDA’s Office of Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Data & Records Management Division. In her spare time, she can be found reading novels, singing in her a capella group, and meeting new people.
Originally from Springfield, MO, Peter Liu graduated from Vanderbilt University magna cum laude with a BA in Political Science and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa. On campus, Peter served as the Bank Co-Chair for Alternative Spring Break, the Vice President of Conferences for the Model UN team, and wrote for the Vanderbilt Political Review. Peter interned in the Asian Studies department at the American Enterprise Institute last summer and is excited to be back in DC. In the fall, Peter will be attending the University of Michigan Law School.
Allen Lo is currently an undergraduate student at New York University, where he is pursuing a BA in Economics with a minor in History. Allen’s background has primarily been in the intersection between the legal and financial sectors in New York City. He has spent time in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors in a variety of capacities, but Allen recalls his time with the NYC Bar Association, the NYS Supreme Court, and the Chinese-American Planning Council as the most rewarding. Whenever he finds free time, Allen loves to travel and enjoys good company. He avidly roots for the New York Mets, and loves to encourage others to do the same!
Nancy Luo is a community college student studying to transfer to a University of California as a molecular and cell biology major. She hopes to pursue a graduate degree in bioengineering in the future. Nancy is passionate about the life sciences, and currently works as a museum assistant in her college’s life sciences department. Women’s and minority rights highly interest Nancy in addition to other social issues. Previously, she’s volunteered at Pathways to Peace, a peacebuilding organization, Marin Aids Project, a local program dedicated to providing HIV/AIDs services, and is currently a volunteer at Ambassadors of Hope and Opportunity which provides assistance to local homeless and at-risk youth. In her spare time, Nancy enjoys baking sweets, drawing, learning to sing and dance, spending time with her 96 year old grandma and watching dramas.
Celine Nguyen is a rising second year at the University of Virginia, where she is working towards earning a degree in biology on a pre-medical track. At UVA, she is currently serving as Community Chair of the Organization of Young Filipino Americans. She is also involved in Madison House Medical Services and Peer Advising Family Network. This summer Celine will be interning in the Research & Development Deputy Area of the U.S. Forest Service located in the D.C. area.
Marisa Paipongna is a senior at the College of William & Mary majoring in Kinesiology with a concentration in Public Health (and intends to pick up a Sociology minor during her last year)! On campus she is actively involved in her school’s organization, Health Outreach Peer Educators (HOPE). As a member of HOPE’s Mental Health branch, she is involved in mental health advocacy and has helped create programs on topics such as de-stigmatizing the counseling center, body positivity, and a program centered on self-compassion called ‘Be Your Own Bae’. Although promoting wellness is one of her biggest passions, you can also find her playing music with friends, practicing hand lettering, and trying new foods. This summer Marisa is incredibly excited to intern with the USDA Rural Development office in Davis, CA!
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 passion of human rights and public service.
Philips Samuel is a student at the University of Virginia pursuing Computer Science and Statistics. An area of study he is interested in is data analysis with a focus on determining trends and applying them to a broader context. This summer he will be serving as an intern for the USDA APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service). He is born and raised in the bustling suburb of McLean, Virginia, but enjoys the change that he is experiencing in Charlottesville, Virginia, at the University of Virginia. Some interests he has are building computers and keeping up to date with mobile technology. In his downtime he enjoys playing improvisations on the piano as well as playing pickup basketball.
Victoria “Vic” Vong
A Seattle native, Victoria “Vic” Vong is a rising sophomore at Seattle University and Pre-Major student. She has mentored elementary schoolers in literacy since high school thru college through Seattle Public School’s Team Read Program and Seattle University’s Youth Initiative Program. An activist for educational equity, Vic has led walkouts and written articles about the racial profiling at her high school, the school-to-prison pipeline, inequitable funding for public schools, and support for college faculty unionization. Looking forward, she is interested in sociology, political science, Asian studies, and public affairs. She hopes to combine these disciplines to research educational policies and their impact, and teach interdisciplinary courses. This summer she will be interning with the Agricultural Research Service in the U.S. Department of Agriculture in D.C. Whenever possible, she likes to find and pet shiba inu dogs (with permission from their owners.)
Abigail ‘Abby’ Wang
Abigail Wang is a rising senior at the University of Pittsburgh studying Neuroscience, Creative Writing, and Global Studies. In Pittsburgh, she has helped to develop a career and college preparation mentoring program for local youth who come from refugee or asylum-seeking families. Recently, she studied the effects of guiding these students, primarily of Bhutanese heritage, through English creative writing workshops in order to strengthen student self-efficacy and their articulation of personal histories. A researcher studying the mechanisms of obsessive-compulsive disorder from a psychiatric neuroscience perspective, she is also interested in the cultural confounds of mental illness, thought, and emotion, especially as they apply to those who live across multiple cultures, such as Asian immigrants and refugees. She is therefore enthusiastic about critical and community-based service learning as an approach to parsing the challenges of sustainable development work. She enjoys writing poetry and creative nonfiction that explore questions of identity and culture, or alternatively, taking photos of food and people.
Tien is an Environmental Science major and minors in International Studies in Agricultural and Life Sciences at the University of Florida. She is interested in studying sustainable solutions to international agricultural issues. She studied food and crop production abroad at Purpan University in France and interned with a Professor of rural sociology. At her university, Tien is involved with the Asian American Student Union through her attendance at ECAASU, work as a committee director and member, and assistance as a mentor for international students. Tien also spent her time as a research assistant in seed germination, and will conduct research on local crops for her undergraduate thesis. She will intern with the USDA Forest Service in Vallejo, CA this summer and looks forward to the opportunities they have to offer.
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 greater diversity curriculums/requirements and establishing an official APIA Studies program on campus. Felicia was elected president of Global Medical Brigades her junior year to lead a sustainable healthcare program in rural communities in Nicaragua, having already done so in Honduras two consecutive years prior. She hopes to connect her interests in healthcare with the community she has found in her cultural background and teachings. 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 (free) live music performances, screaming because Game of Thrones.
Sooji Yang is a rising junior studying Society and Environment with a minor in Public Policy at UC Berkeley. She is interested in global environmental politics and how diplomacy is demonstrated through environmental stewardship. Apart from her studies, she strives to be active on campus through her participation in student organizations such as teaching social justice issues in a student-run class, planning philanthropy events for Delta Phi Epsilon (UC Berkeley’s premier co-ed foreign service professional fraternity), and performing traditional Korean music to celebrate her culture on campus. Beyond her local community, she has served as a U.S. youth delegate in a climate conference in Qatar, co-directed a charity concert in Chinese in Chengdu, and led discussions on youth empowerment and leadership development program for students in Japan. She hopes through her involvement in the local and global community she can serve AANHPI interests and expand the AANHPI role in international affairs, particularly environmental issues.
CAPAL Public Service Scholars
Janny Jang is a student at American University pursuing studies in International Relations and Anthropology. She will be interning at The White House Initiative on Asian American and Pacific Islanders this summer. She is the president of Asian American Student Union (AASU) at American University and envisions the organization to be a platform to voice diverse and vibrant API experiences. A major goal is to build solidarity and engagement among other multicultural groups on campus. As a Teach and Learn in Korea (TaLK) scholar, she taught English in elementary schools in Gumi, South Korea. She also began a photo campaign called You Are Not Alone to reach out to LGBTQ community in South Korea. With the passion for dialogue and unique experience with cross-cultural communication, Janny will be working as an Intergroup Facilitator at American University this fall. In her free time, she enjoys playing basketball, practicing taekwondo, or exploring the city.
Megan Matthew was born and bred in the Chicagoland area, but currently residing in St. Louis working on her Masters in Public Health and a Masters in Occupational Therapy at Washington University in St. Louis. Her areas of interest are access to health care, disability rights, and health care communications. Megan loves exploring new cities and trying new and delicious foods.