CAPAL Intern Spotlight Tingyao Li ’18

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. As an intern with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, he hopes to gain more experience with public service and public policy.

What are you excited to learn about during your internship this summer? 

As an intern with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, I am extremely excited to learn about how the Office itself serves Native Hawaiians back home. Through these first couple of days, my supervisors have already taught me the history of the Kingdom of Hawaii, the state’s relationship with the United States, and unique water rights issues that Hawaii faces currently. During my time as an intern with OHA, I hope to become very familiar with the legislation process of the federal government, as well as becoming skilled in analyzing proposed legislation and even learning to give written reasons why a certain bill should or shouldn’t be supported.

In addition, taking part in the CAPAL Washington Leadership Program, Roundtable Series, networking events, and cohort sessions will allow me to gain more insight into different subject fields (education, environment, healthcare), develop grassroots advocacy skills, and reach out to future mentors or colleagues!

What are some things that you did not expect coming into the internship?

I honestly didn’t expect to see so many other AANHPI organizations and interns during this summer in DC. With that being said, it has definitely been heartening and inspiring to see the number of other individuals like me who are interested in learning more about what they can do to become even more involved in the political process or just develop skills to become future leaders. However, these programs would not have been possible without the joint coordination of all the various AANHPI groups, whose strength, resiliency, and overall missions are equally as inspiring.

What are the projects that you’re working on this summer and how are they connected to your interests in public service?

During my time with OHA, I will be tracking legislation being proposed in Congress that impacts Native Hawaiian communities, noting the status of the bill and well as its cosponsors. The main project that I will be working on is called the Millenium Demonstration Project. I’ll analyze and even make recommendations in regards to a recently proposed bill that would provide federal assistance toward Native communities in the United States in order to promote self-sufficient economic growth and reduce poverty. These projects tie in to public service by providing me opportunities to assist the economic standings of Native Hawaiians and also gain experience in social policy!

What is something that people usually don’t expect or know about you?

Something that people usually don’t expect from me is that I consider myself pretty introverted and it takes me a while to open up to others but I guess some people perceive me as being extroverted cause I tend to smile a lot when I’m talking or just around others 🙂

What do you do in your free time?

I LOVE to listen to music (Lauv, Post Malone, Logic, Blackbear are some of my favs), take fat naps, watch cartoons (We Bare Bear, Bob’s Burgers, South Park), and play/watch basketball!


Meet all of our CAPAL Scholars & Interns here.

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@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.