CAPAL Intern Spotlight Sally Pak ’18

Sally is a rising Junior studying Criminal Justice at the George Washington University. Outside of my schoolwork, she dedicates most of her time to cultural student organizations on my campus to increase cultural awareness and appreciation. This summer Sally is interning at the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS).

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

I am excited to learn more about the AANHPI community and the issues it faces during this summer. As a Korean American, I want to become more knowledgeable about my community and what I can do to help other members who are facing obstacles because of their ethnic or racial identity. Growing up, I was not exposed to much information about the Asian American narrative. My parents never discussed these issues with me and they weren’t taught in school, so the only knowledge that I had about AANHPI issues came from my personal experiences. However, coming from an East Asian background, there are other struggles that members of other communities under the AANHPI umbrella face that I do not. I want to become more educated about my community and learn how to navigate the workplace and the world as an Asian American. I hope to take what I learn during this summer and use it to educate and help others

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

Coming into this internship, I did not expect there to be such a strong sense of community, not just within my cohort, but with the board members and CAPAL alumni as well. Since we are split up into different departments and agencies for our internships, I didn’t expect to interact with everyone else in my cohort too much. For a group as large as our cohort, I thought it would take us a while to get to know each other. That was not the case at all. We all became really comfortable with each other within the first week. We see each other several times a week thanks to CAPAL events, so we were able to become close really quickly. We even make plans outside of mandatory internship requirements, which is really nice because we get to hang out with each other outside of a business setting.

The CAPAL board members and alumni are also really down to earth and not as intimidating as I thought they would be. I didn’t expect to interact with them as often as I do. They come to WLP sessions, happy hours, and other events which helps us get to know them and become more comfortable around them.

Why did you decide to spend your summer with CAPAL? 

I chose to spend my summer with CAPAL because of all the great opportunities it provides. Not only do I get working experience through my actual internship, I get to practice networking and professional development through CAPAL’s program. I am introduced to so many AANHPI professionals through weekly WLP sessions and other events that CAPAL encourages us to attend, who offer great advice whether it is about future careers or AANHPI issues and potential professional connections. We are also given the chance to network with other interns from different programs as well. As someone who isn’t completely certain about what they want to do in the future, CAPAL is helping me figuring out a potential career path through these sessions.

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

I really hate sloths. I don’t understand how people think they’re cute because to me they are really disgusting for some reason. They creep me out so much that I can barely look at them in pictures or videos.

What do you do in your free time?

In my free time, I’m usually watching Netflix or Hulu. When I actually decide to leave my house, I go to Virginia a lot for good food and shopping malls.


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.