2018 Scholars and Interns

CAPAL Public Service Interns

CAPAL Public Service Interns are typically placed in internships within the organizations in Washington, DC. Interns may also be placed in regional offices throughout the country. These internship positions provide students with real-world public service 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 Public Service Interns

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Kelly Chang

Kelly Chang is in her third year as a student at the University of California, Berkeley, where she is majoring in Society & Environment and minoring in Sustainable Environmental Design. Outside of classes, she is involved in leadership development for orientation leaders at her school and spends her time working as a research assistant on the political ecology of honeybee decline  to understand the relationship between policy, beekeepers, and agricultural industries in California. Kelly also dedicates her time to organizing and creating community with her peers in the Students of Color Environmental Collective, where the group focuses on social and environmental justice issues on and off campus. In her spare time, she loves doing portrait photography and gardening.

This summer, Kelly will be interning in Washington, D.C. at the U.S. Forest Service in their Multimedia Division.

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Jung Jun (JJ) Cho

Jung Jun (JJ) Cho is a rising third year at the University of Virginia. He is pursuing a major in foreign affairs with a minor in entrepreneurship. At the University of Virginia, he devotes much of his efforts to the DREAMers on Grounds, an organization dedicated to creating a safe space for undocumented students. He also serves on the transfer advisory board for the community involvement committee and is also a member of the pre-law fraternity Phi Alpha Delta. Outside of school, JJ is a volunteer at NAKASEC which is an organization that serves to organize Korean and Asian Americans to achieve social, economic, and racial justice. This summer, he will be interning with the USDA Agricultural Research Service for the office of Technology Transfer in Washington D.C.

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Patricia Choi

Patricia Choi is a rising senior at the University of California, Berkeley as a Political Economy major with a minor in Global Poverty and Practice. She spent the last academic year in Senegal, studying international development, interning, and soaking in the country’s culture. She is looking to work in the international development sector with a focus on agriculture in rural settings. Patricia will be interning at the U.S. Forest Service at USDA this summer, working on the implementation and assessment of its new Emergency Medical Program. She is excited to meet other AAPIs who are interested in working in public service and with whom she can exchange ideas in her areas of interest and beyond.

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Michelle Chung

Michelle Chung is a recent graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a BS in Sustainable Community Development. She has studied abroad in France, Brazil and the Netherlands and is a Boren Scholar for Portuguese. She has interned previously at the NYC Department of Education’s Pre-K For All Initiative, the NYC Department of Sanitation and the NYC Parks Department building green roofs. She is delighted to be working at the USDA Forest Service this summer and to partake in CAPAL’s leadership development activities. She will be returning to Brazil in 2019 on a Fulbright Scholarship to teach English. She is passionate about urban climate change resilience and environmental justice. She is a proud UMass Women into Leadership Fellow and wants to empower more women and people of color to go into public service.

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Mark Dong

Mark Dong is a rising junior studying Politics, Philosophy, and Economics with a concentration in Government and Public Policy at the University of Pennsylvania. His interest in public policy arose from participating in the Boy Scouts of America program. As a current Eagle Scout, he continues to help his community through service projects and campus outreach. At Penn, he is actively lives out his Christian faith by being involved in Grace Covenant Church and Christian Union at Penn. Mark is also the president of his university’s only breakdance club and has been the financial chair of his hip-hop group, Strictly Funk, for two semesters. Mark will be an an intern at the USDA’s National Resources and Conservation Service.

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Xiong Her

Xiong Her is recent graduate of Marquette University with a double major in International Affairs and Political Science. He has studied abroad in China three times —Nanjing, Beijing, and Xi’an—through the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE), Loyola University of Chicago – The Beijing Center, and the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS). He loves traveling and adventuring across different cultures. Previously, he has interned at the Milwaukee Mayor’s Office, providing constituents with local resources, and at the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE) in D.C., advocating Congress to increase educational funding to serve first-generation and low-income students. In the fall of 2018, he will attend the University of Pennsylvania for his Master of Education in International Education Development Program. This summer he will be interning with the Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS).

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Sara Kang

An incoming first-year at Johns Hopkins SAIS, Sara is pursuing an MA in International Relations with a specialization in Korean Studies. After graduation, she is eager to begin her career in the field of diplomacy and foreign service. Sara recently finished her AmeriCorps VISTA year at the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty. Prior to her VISTA year, she interned at the Washington State Senate and was a Fellow at the Slade Gorton International Policy Center. Sara will be working at USDA Foreign Agricultural Services, and particularly looks forward to participating in the CAPAL Washington Leadership Program. Outside of work and academia, Sara is heavily involved at her church and enjoys jazz (ragtime), comedy, and traveling solo.

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Nghi (Sharon) Le

Sharon Le is a rising third-year student at the University of Virginia, double majoring in Psychology and Spanish, on the Pre-Law track. Sharon served as the External Vice President for the Vietnamese Student Association (VSA) for UVA the past year, and is also involved in Phi Alpha Delta – the International Pre-Law Fraternity, and the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Team at the University. She was greatly exposed to the Asian Pacific American representation not only through her involvement with the Vietnamese community in Northern Virginia with VSA but also through her background – having grown up in Vietnam and moving to America in high school. Sharon hopes to promote Asian Pacific American leadership with her commitments and to give the community a bigger voice in the country. Outside of school and work, Sharon likes to spend time trying out new food and working out.

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Jessica Lee

Jessica Lee is a rising senior at The Ohio State University pursuing a Bachelors of Science in Biomedical Engineering with hopes of attending law school. She is a proud sister of Kappa Phi Lambda Sorority Inc., serving on their executive board for the 2nd year in a row for this upcoming academic year. She was the Executive Director for the 2018 Midwest Asian American Students Union (MAASU) Spring Conference Planning Committee, and will be serving as the Chair (President) of the Executive Coordinating Committee of MAASU nationally for the 2018-2019 academic year. Jessica has worked previously in company compliance with federal regulations for FDA applications and patent certification case law. She is passionate about APIDA representation and coalition building, as well as addressing community apathy.

This summer, Jessica is excited to work with the USDA Forest Service, University of Hawaii at Hilo, University of Hawaii at Manoa, and the University of California – Los Angeles in Hawaii to re-census and monitor native forests dynamics. She is extremely excited to immerse herself in the local culture and hopes to gain cross-cultural leadership experience.


Angela Li

Angela Li is a rising second year at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), pursing a double major in Political Science and Asian American Studies. She was first introduced to social issues during her internship with OCA-NY’s Hate Crimes Prevention Art Project. There, she worked with several other student interns to develop and facilitate a citywide art competition/exhibit that encouraged students to use art to raise awareness of hate crimes. At UCLA, she works for the Student Retention Center (SRC) as a writing counselor for nontraditional students. She is also currently working on a proposal for an Asian American Diversity Conference to unify the Asian American cultural clubs on campus and engage students in discussions about Asian American issues. In the future, she hopes to explore the intersectionality of both her majors as a possible immigration lawyer. When she’s not writing papers or sleeping, she enjoys kayaking, shopping online, eating good food, and wishing that the public transportation in Los Angles was as good as the one in New York City.

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Tingyao Li

Tingyao Li is a rising sophomore studying Environmental Science at the University of California, Irvine. On campus, he is involved in many sustainability-related organizations as EarthReps where first-year students act as ambassadors of sustainability to teach student housing residents ways to save energy and adopt a zero waste lifestyle. He is also the Coalition Intern for CALPIRG, an student advocacy group on campus working on implementing renewable energy sources across the UC Campuses, along with pushing for college affordability, greater civic engagement among the student body, and saving the bees. Lastly, Tingyao will be a Public Relations Intern for his volunteering group Anteaters Tzu Ching, which focuses on charity work such as senior home visits and peer tutoring for low-income elementary school students. As an intern with the Office of the Administrator for the USDA Rural Housing Service, he hopes to gain more experience with public service and public policy. Overall, Tingyao is passionate about researching policies that can be implemented to promote sustainability, environmental justice, and advocating for APA communities. Besides academics, Tingyao loves to take naps and play basketball.

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Anita Mathias

Anita Mathias is an undergraduate and rising senior at Pomona College with a major in Public Policy Analysis (Psychology concentration). She is interested in public education policy, cultural and educational psychology, and womxn/adolescent health services. She loves to teach, sing (in her choir, at church, with friends, and in the shower), read, travel, try new foods, and listen to people’s stories. This summer, she will be supporting coordination and implementation of the US Forest Service’s Emergency Medical Training Program.

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Samantha Mori

Samantha Mori is a rising fourth year at the University of Virginia (UVA), studying Foreign Affairs and Chinese Language and Literature. She is also currently a graduate student in the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy pursuing a Masters in Public Policy and Leadership. She hopes to further pursue a career in policy or international relations with East Asia. At UVA, Samantha has served as on the officer board as Historian and advisor for the Chinese Student Association. Prior to her internship with the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, Samantha has interned for the Japanese American Citizens League and the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. She loves to travel, try new food, and hike!

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Sally Pak

I am a rising Junior studying Criminal Justice at the George Washington University.  Outside of my schoolwork, I dedicate most of my time to cultural student organizations on my campus to increase cultural awareness and appreciation.  This upcoming year, I will serve as the Vice President of Kappa Phi Lambda Sorority Inc., a national Asian-interest sorority dedicated to empowering women, providing community service, and promoting cultural diversity.  This past academic year, I worked at the National Museum of Natural History as a Visitor Experience Assistant.  The year before that, I was a Mentor in the High Achievement Program which aims to improve middle schoolers’ social skills, leadership abilities, and academic performance.  During my free time, I love to dance and watch movies.

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Juo-Hsi (Sylvia) Peng

Juo-Hsi (Sylvia) Peng ’20 is an International Studies Major with concentrations in Economics and Political Science at Vassar College, NY. She plans to declare a minor in Mathematics and Statistics.On campus, she served as one of the Teaching Assistant for the International Studies Department in Spring 2018. She is also one of the co-Presidents of Vassar Debate Society and a Rape Crisis Intern for the Vassar Sexual Assault and Violence Prevention Office. Since November 2018, Sylvia joined a group of Vassar students to start a movement that petitions for an Asian American Studies Program at Vassar. Her work in the AAPI community started as a volunteer intern for Garden of Hope. She was a translator and advocate for Chinese immigrants, who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking. When she is not in schools, Sylvia enjoys taking road trips and hiking with her friends.

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An Pham

An Pham is a recent graduate from University of California, Berkeley, attaining a Bachelors of Arts in Global Studies with a concentration in Peace and Conflict and Human Rights. This year, she was the lead human rights researcher at the Earth Island Institute where she led the development of new human rights indicators to track corporation’s environmental and social sustainable policies and commitments within their supply chains. Her consultancy work was incorporated into her client’s corporate accountability research methodology and she played an integral role in raising awareness about the impacts of agricultural commodities within supply chains through composing articles for her client’s news outlet. She was a lead researcher and policy advocate for the Refugee Work Rights Campaign at Asylum Access where she researched, composed, and published reports regarding state’s responses to the protection and promotion of refugee work rights. Her work is targeted for civil society, governments, and intergovernmental agencies and pushes for more sustainable refugee policies globally. Additionally, she was a policy and legal advocate for the San Francisco Human Rights Commission where she developed a policy project to address the economic, social, and health disparities of the Pacific Islander community in San Francisco. Her policy recommendations drove to mitigate inequities faced by the P.I. community through advocating to the local governmental agencies for more inclusive and sustainable policies. As a graduate, she desires to continue her passion and work in policy, advocacy, and justice across all sectors.

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Cassidy Pregil

Cassidy Pregil is a rising junior at Georgetown University and is pursuing a major in American Studies and a minor in Justice and Peace Studies. Her academic interests include a combination of social justice, environmentalism, and indigenous rights, which she’s worked to pursue this year as an intern at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. On campus, she serves as an Orientation Advisor and sits on the board for the Hawaii Club. She is also interested in community service and last year organized a partnership between Hawaii Club and her sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma, to raise money for the Hawaii-based nonprofit, Kahumana. In her free time, Cassidy enjoys rock climbing with the Georgetown Climbing Team, listening to music, traveling, and following her favorite surfers. This summer, she is excited to intern at the US Forest Service.


Charlotte Rhodes

Charlotte Rhodes is a rising junior at the University of Connecticut. She is pursing a major in Environmental Studies with a minor in Environmental Economics and Policy. At UConn, Charlotte is a Sustainability Intern with the Office of Environmental Policy, a sister of Alpha Epsilon Phi, and a member of EcoHusky. In her free time, Charlotte enjoys hiking, singing, and playing with her dog, Violet. This summer she will be interning with the U.S. Forest Service.

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Yvonne Shih

Yvonne is a recent graduate from the University of Florida, holding a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a minor in Sociology. As a first-generation college student who grew up in a predominantly white environment, she strives to build toward social justice and educating the community on the intersectionality of race, gender, and sexuality. At UF, she is heavily involved within the Asian American Student Association and has served on the executive board of Kappa Phi Lambda Sorority, Inc., an organization that empowers APIA women and the community on leadership and and social justice. Additionally, she was the programming director for the annual Become StrongHer Women’s Empowerment Summit, a conference aimed to empower the Florida college community on social justice issues and inclusivity. Outside of activist work, she also does research within the Florida Natural History Museum DNA sequencing and cateloging moths and butterflies. In her free time, she enjoys exploring new places, spending all day in museums, trying new food, and geeking out about Disney, This summer, Yvonne is excited to intern with the U.S. Forest Service.


Angela Tran

Angela Tran is a rising sophomore at Pomona College in Claremont, CA, studying economics and s statistical mathematics. She is the associate news editor of The Student Life, member of the Academic Committee of the Associated Students of Pomona College, an associate consultant at Pomona Consulting Group, the student ambassador of the career development office, a member of American Women in Mathematics, and a private writing and math tutor. Outsicapade of class, she is a competitive pianist and enjoys spending her time being a freelance graphic designer and dancing in ballet and lyrical contemporary styles. Born in America and raised in Los Angeles and Shanghai interchangeably, she became aware of the high stigmatization of mental health conversations in largely niched Asian communities, and she wishes to propose solutions to these issues as a mentor of the Asian American Mentorship Program at Pomona this coming fall. This summer, she will be interning with the Marketing Order and Agreement Division under the United States Department of Agriculture.

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Angela Zhao

Angela is a rising sophomore at Amherst College in Massachusetts. She plans to major in Economics, with a focus on public policy in the future. Growing up in New Jersey, Indiana, and California, she has seen the different levels of activism and diversity in AAPI communities. She became more interested in AAPI issues and history after taking two Asian American classes at Amherst on the varying experiences of Japanese Americans during World War Two and the question of race and nationalism in Chinese diasporic communities. On campus, she is a part of the Asian Students Association, which is currently working to bring Asian American studies to the school. She is originally from Oak Park, California and in her free time she enjoys drawing/sketching, drinking too much boba during finals week, and eating noodles. This summer, Angela will be interning at the USDA Forest Service in DC, working on research and development.

CAPAL Public Service Scholars

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Nishara Gunasekara

Nishara is a rising senior at Scripps College studying Economics and Feminist, Gender, Sexuality studies. On campus, she serves as the Staff Writer for the Claremont Journal of Law and Public Policy where she is a published author on the foster care to child trafficking pipeline in the United States. Previously a judicial extern for the Orange County Superior Court, Nishara hopes to continue her passion for law and social justice to tackle issues of sex trafficking and the online exploitation of children. During the summer of 2018, Nishara will be working at the Child’s Welfare League of America in its Practice Standards department. There, she will work alongside experts to develop evidence-based methodologies that aim to help public and private agencies obtain optimal outcomes for children and families on welfare. Aside from her professional commitments to serve at-risk populations, Nishara enjoys painting, re-watching Netflix series, and drinking her grandmother’s famous milk tea.

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Hannah Hsieh

Hannah Hsieh is a rising senior at the University of California, Los Angeles pursuing a major in Philosophy, with a minor in Public Affairs. While her majors reflect her interest in public policy, she is particularly interested in APIA leadership, APIA civic engagement, and law. On campus, she actively pursues social justice opportunities and has served on e-board for Asian Pacific Coalition. Through her role as a legislative advocate for the UCLA External Vice President’s Office, Hannah has also lobbied in Sacramento on behalf of thousands of UC students. In the past year, Hannah has become the youngest intern to work for the California Secretary of State’s Office and Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles. Apart from those activities, Hannah loves hiking, going on food adventures, and adding to her music playlists. This summer, Hannah is excited to be broadening her perspective in law and public policy by working with the Federal Judicial Center as an intern on the Judicial and Legal Education Team.

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Sai-Kit (Jeremy) Lee

Sai-kit Jeremy Lee identifies as a second-generation Hong Kong Thai Chinese American, born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah. As a junior at the George Washington University in DC, he is majoring in Asian Studies and Chinese, and minoring in Korean and Organizational Sciences. At GWU, Jeremy co-founded GW’s Asian American Student Association Spring 2017 and currently serves as its president. He hopes to use this student organization to bring light to issues surrounding the AAPI community while also creating community for the Asian American students on campus. He’s also a member of Circle K, an international service organization, and InterVarsity Christian Fellowship where he leads a small group that focuses on the intersection of the Asian American identity and faith. As a linguaphile, whenever Jeremy has free time, you’ll probably see him trying to study a new language or listening to music in a language he can’t fully understand yet. This summer he will be interning with the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders at the Department of Education.

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Télyse Masaoay

Télyse is a rising senior at Vanderbilt University studying Medicine, Health, & Society and Sociology on the pre-law track. Through previous work experiences as a policy intern for the Navajo Nation Washington Office and an MPact Medicine Fellow with the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Télyse has developed a passion for increasing access to reproductive healthcare for underserved, low-income women through legislation and community-based initiatives. She is an advocate for vulnerable groups on campus as the Cochair of the student government’s Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Committee and Vice President of Native Americans in Tennessee Interacting at Vanderbilt. Her other campus involvements include President of Vanderbilt Tour Guides, Head Resident for an upperclassmen dorm, member of the Programming Board’s Speakers Committee, and volunteer with Alzheimer’s Buddies. Télyse hopes to continue political advocacy work as she pursues a J.D./M.PH. degree after undergrad. This summer she is a Global Health Policy Center intern with the Center for Strategic International Studies. In her free time you can catch Télyse listening to NPR’s Codeswitch podcast, in a pigeon pose at a hot yoga studio, or seeking out her next favorite coffee/tea spot!

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Ashley Tjhung

Ashley is a rising senior at the University of Michigan studying Public Policy with a concentration in International Development and a minor in Intergroup Relations and Middle Eastern Studies. On campus, Ashley has been involved with a number of social justice organizations that seek to raise awareness and advocate of social justice issues. She was a member of the Advocacy Core for the United Asian American Organizations, and an editor for The Michigan Daily’s Michigan in Color section, which promotes voices of color in the University of Michigan community. She is excited to learn more about the international development sector through her internship with Vital Voices: Global Partnership. In her free time, she enjoys reading, hanging out with friends and family, and following Arsenal FC.