CAPAL Intern Spotlight Rachel Oda ’19



Rachel Oda is a rising senior at Pomona College in Claremont, CA. She is a Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) major on the pre-law track. Rachel is the Captain of the Pomona College Mock Trial team and competes for both the plaintiff/prosecution and the defense as an attorney. She has won 1st place ranks for both the plaintiff/prosecution and the defense. Rachel has previously interned at the American Civil Liberties Union in Los Angeles and worked with their 1st Amendment rights legal team. This summer, she is interning at the United States Department of Agriculture- Agricultural Research Service. She is placed in the Office of Scientific Quality Review.

What are the projects that you’re working on this summer?

My Public Service Internship with CAPAL has three components: an internship with the United States Department of Agriculture, a service project with the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (National CAPACD), and the Washington Leadership Program. At the USDA, I worked for Dr. Marquea King in the Office of Scientific Quality Review in the Agricultural Research Service which manages and implements the peer review system for all research projects with the USDA. With National CAPACD, I am conducting research, leading focus groups, and interview AANHPI community leaders to gather data to inform my final proposal to National CAPACD regarding what resources are lacking in AANHPI nonprofits across the country, how national leadership development programs should develop, and how National CAPACD can better support these groups. Finally, through the Washington Leadership Program, I am learning about the different communities who are categorized under the umbrella term of AANHPI and the distinct experiences and needs of those groups. I am also connecting with AANHPI professionals at the top of their fields and developing close mentor relationships.

Why is public service important to you?

Public service has always been an integral part of my life. My family raised me with a spirit for serving others and because of this I have made a lifelong commitment to always use my strengths and abilities to help others in need. I feel very blessed to be able to attend a top college and have the learning opportunities I have through classes, internships, and mentor relationships. I believe it is my duty to use this knowledge that I have gained to speak up for those who may not typically have a voice and help them secure the resources they need to thrive. I know that public service will always be a critical part of what I do and how I will impact the world for the better.

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

Most people do not expect that I trained to be a professional ballerina for the first 16 years of my life. I trained with Joffrey Ballet, American Ballet Theater, and Alonzo King LINES Ballet in San Francisco.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

The best advice I have received was to always try my best and never take anything for granted.

What are you most excited to do in Washington DC this summer?

I am excited to explore DC since this is my first time here and develop close friendships with my CAPAL cohort!


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.