Cassie He is a rising sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania, where she plans to major in Finance and minor in International Relations. She is originally from College Station, Texas. On-campus, she is involved with a consulting club, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and research. She is very passionate about international development and sustainable development. This summer, she will be interning at the US Agency for International Development’s Africa Bureau: Office of Sustainable Development.
What are the projects that you’re working on this summer?
In an effort to expand the gender team in my division and showcase the importance of gender equality in international development, I am reviewing previous projects USAID implemented from a gender equality framework. Most programs with primary goals from anything ranging from climate change to good governance can not be achieved without also empowering women. My project is to figure out where those previous projects have benefited or could benefit from also addressing gender inequality. Hopefully this work will showcase how advancing gender equality is a crucial part of development.
My second project is to provide capacity support to the Economic Growth, Environment, and Agriculture Division. There is a conference happening that I have worked very closely on planning. This work includes making fact sheets, scheduling speakers, and reaching out to participants. I also have been working with the environmental compliance team to analyze compliance standards of current ongoing projects. Finally, I provide support to the intra-agency level planning of the Prosper Africa project which attempts to increase two way trade between the US and Africa.
How has your focus on AANHPI issues changed or developed through interning at CAPAL?
I have never talked deeply about AANHPI issues before interning at CAPAL so my focus on the issues has really expanded. I think that combined with being in a big, professional works place for the first time and being at the epicenter of a lot of cultural events here in DC has really pushed AANHPI issues to the forefront for me. Attending events and learning about the importance of data disaggregation, elderly caregiving, and workplace discrimination has opened my eyes to the urgency of the situation. A lot of things that have happened to me in the past are starting to make sense in the broader context of the AANHPI community and I’m starting to understand a lot of the issues on a more personal and fundamental level. Through cohort sessions, WLPs’, and sometimes just conversations with CAPAL friends, I feel like my understanding of AANHPI issues is growing and I think they are now more important than ever.
How does this internship fit with your professional and career goals?
I am really interested in working in the international development space in the future. I am interested in learning about how policy in DC can positively impact development abroad. One of the most surprising things about this internship is how integral the work of interns is and I think it provides an amazing opportunity to explore real processes of policy making and research. I also believe that I can learn so much from a community of likeminded collogues who are dedicated to public service. USAID is so amazing because it is mission driven. Everyone is so passionate about their work and having mentors and inspirations can sometimes be the most valuable tools in your professional growth.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
Be brave. I think the advice I’ve gotten the most often at DC is to be proactive and ask people for things. For me, that piece of advice gets at a deeper problem: fear. I hate asking people for things, fearing that I’ll bother them or it’ll come off as awkward or any number of terrible scenarios running through my head. But when it comes down to it you just have to be brave and do it. This applies for me on issues as small as speaking up in a meeting or as big a decision as moving to South Africa. I think the biggest regrets people have is not doing things because they were afraid. We all like stability and knowing what’s coming next. But sometimes you have to take risks and trust that everything will be okay.
What are you most excited to do in Washington DC this summer?
I am the most excited to visit the foods in Washington DC this summer. Washington draws in people from all different places and that is reflected so well in how much different food there is. I’ve got a running bucket list of foods ranging from Ethiopian to Mexican. So far I’ve already had some of the best ice cream in my life at Jeni’s (although I have yet to visit their rival institution, Jubilee, so that is subject to change). Every Friday outside of my work building dozens of international vendors come out and sell amazing food. I’ve also heard that the African American history museum and the Native American museum have amazing food. For me eating good food is about getting together with friends, learning about new cultures, and appreciating simple pleasures. I’m really excited to explore the food that DC has to offer.
Meet all of our CAPAL Scholars & Interns here.
Sukhanjot (Sukhi) Kaur is a rising senior at the University of Nevada, Reno majoring in Human Development and Family Studies with a minor in Accounting. She is currently deciding between a master’s in higher education and political science, but hopes to go on to work for a nonprofit focusing on women and education after graduation. Sukhi served as the Service Officer for Kappa Delta Chi Sorority, Inc. the past year. She was greatly exposed to Sikh American representation through her involvement in with the Sikh community in Nevada and having grown up in Punjab until early childhood. Sukhi hopes to promote Sikh American leadership with her commitments and organize more involvement in the Sikh American youth in her community.