CAPAL Public Service Scholars & Interns
2021 Scholars and Interns
CAPAL Public Service Interns (2021 Virtual)
CAPAL Public Service Interns are placed in regional offices throughout the country. These internship positions provide students with public service experience in a range of topics and areas. CAPAL has partnerships with USDA APHIS, USDA NRCS, USDA ARS, USDA FAS, Peace Corps, Asian American LEAD, U.S. Office of Personnel Management, Act to Change & Hate is a Virus
CAPAL Public Service Scholars
CAPAL Public Service Scholars are undergraduate and graduate students who serve in unpaid public service internships (non-profit or government). For this summer in particular, scholars are not bound to only internships in Washington, DC. 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
Aashna Sawhney is a rising sophomore at Duke University pursuing a major in Environmental Science & Policy and a minor in Political Science. At Duke, she is a current senator in her student government, member of the Undergraduate Environmental Union, a member of Duke’s South Asian Student Association, and is a student researcher in an ecology lab. She is passionate about implementing equitable policies that support all students, sustainability, mental health services, and environmental justice. She also serves as a staff writer and President of the Student Advisory Council of an International NGO focused on human trafficking awareness where she has gotten the opportunity to help research and outline testimony presented in Congress. Aashna believes public policy gives people the ability to give back to their communities and is appreciative of CAPAL for its empowerment of AAPI voices. In her free time, Aashna enjoys reading, hiking, watching nature documentaries, and spending time with her friends and family.
Akansha Khurana is a rising senior in the Honors College at Rutgers University, double majoring in Economics and Psychology. As an aspiring international human rights lawyer, she is very passionate about international women’s’ rights and women’s health issues specifically in India and Middle Eastern countries. She is currently a very active member of GlobeMed at Rutgers, a student run nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness about global health issues and will be serving as the Co-President of the organization for the 2021-2022 academic year. On campus she is also a member of the Lloyd C. Gardner Fellowship Program in Leadership and Social Policy as well as a former volunteer of the Petey Greene program, a volunteer organization dedicated to reducing recidivism rates for incarcerated individuals. Outside of school, some of her hobbies include trying new food cuisines, painting, and visiting new places. She is incredibly excited to join the CAPAL team this summer!
Angie Zhang is a rising senior at the University of Michigan, studying public policy at the Ford School with a minor in moral and political philosophy. At Michigan, Angie is involved in Students for Reproductive Rights and Justice as the club’s Meetings and Content Planner, and has been a staff writer and assistant editor for The Michigan Daily, an independent student-run newspaper in Ann Arbor. Her passions include politics, history, and women’s rights advocacy. Angie has interned for the International Leadership Foundation and was also a finance intern for the Felicia Brabec for State Representative campaign. Currently, Angie is a research assistant in the political science department of the college of Literature, Sciences and Arts at UMich. In her free time, she loves listening to 60s-90s rock and watching John Oliver.
Binh Nam Nguyen
Binh Nam Nguyen is a rising junior at Oregon State University majoring in Ethnic Studies and Human Development and Family Sciences (HDFS) with a focus in human services. She hopes these two areas of study will prepare her for a career in working with children and families of marginalized communities. In 2018, she acted as a Youth Ambassador to Brazil where she engaged in workshops about social justice and volunteerism. On campus, she is involved with the International Peer Mentoring Program, serves as secretary for HDFS Club, and works at the Hattie Redmond Women and Gender Center as part of the AYA Women of Color Initiative. In her free time, she enjoys reading, taking nature walks, viewing the sunset, and rewatching nostalgic TV shows.
Dina Paul is a rising junior at the University of Notre Dame. She is majoring in Political Science and double minoring in Public Policy and Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE). Dina’s experience growing up in River Forest, a suburb of Chicago, taught her the importance of advocating for social justice, cultural representation, and diversity in various institutions. At Notre Dame, she has championed these causes by creating a study on racial threat and COVID-19, serving as a research assistant on education policy research, and getting involved in her Student Government’s Department of Diversity and Inclusion. She also has a strong background in the field of education, as she has led various tutoring programs and founded one of her own called SPARK. In Dina’s free time, she enjoys cooking, listening to music, traveling, and meeting new people, the latter of which she is excited to do as part of CAPAL’s 2021 internship program.
Grace Lim is a rising senior at Columbia University where she is studying Sociology and Ethnicity & Race Studies with a special concentration in Asian American Studies. She has been greatly involved on campus as a two-time executive board member of the Asian-interest and faith-based student organization, Soon Movement Global. Grace is also a Columbia University Laidlaw Fellow, and spent the summer after her freshman year conducting research on the history of Asian American student activism and the creation of Ethnic Studies on college campuses. She is passionate about immigration reform and Asian American civic engagement, and prior to joining CAPAL, Grace worked on these issues as an intern at the Minkwon Center for Community Action and the Los Angeles Department of Neighborhood Councils. As a California native, Grace enjoys spending time in the sun and trying out new foods with her friends and family. She is incredibly excited to spend this summer engaging with the issues she is most passionate about, while connecting with the other CAPAL scholars and interns.
Jason Wong received an Associate’s Degree from Bard High School Early College in Manhattan, NY and is currently a rising sophomore at Centre College in Danville, KY pursuing a double major in Economics & Finance and International Studies with a concentration in politics. He is currently a first year representative on Centre’s student government association. He’s excited to do whatever he can to make a positive impact wherever he lands. Jason is interested in American politics, Chinese-American international relations, and wants to learn more about how Eastern Asian cultures and economies influence the development of Western nations. He’s grateful for the opportunity CAPAL has given him, and he can’t wait to work with the team this summer.
John Hoang is a rising junior at Earlham College in Richmond, IN, pursuing his BA with a major in Political Science and minor in Creative Writing. As a Bonner scholar from Albuquerque, NM, he has worked in the non-profit & grassroots sector that focuses on community service and student growth. John has displayed a passion for service, dedication to working with underrepresented communities, understanding of issues affecting communities, focusing on identity, place, and policy. John is an intern at the New Mexico Immigrant Law Center, providing New Mexico’s immigrant residents with pro se services & legal assistance for remote pre-screenings, include prepping N-400s, I-90s, and DACA renewals. John is also the New Mexico Asian Family Center Designated Representative for the Albuquerque Justice for Youth Community Collaborative, partnering with 20+ community-based non-profit organizations, creating a collective archive to track our historical lack of progress and continued violence at the hands of the prison industrial complex in NM, as well as instances of resilience and community-based care. As part of his rejuvenation time, John invests time into his Art Mentorship with Loisse Ledres, an Experimental Designer at Momentum, in NYC, with his peer Isabel Figueroa refining his verbal expression of poetry and learning about the creative industry. In addition, John loves to watch K-dramas, anime and read Webtoons!
Jessica Lee Aquino
Jessica Aquino is a rising Junior at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and currently pursuing her B.S. in Environmental Science with an interest in Oceanographic research. Growing up on the Leeward side of Oʻahu has shaped her to be the person she is today. Her family and community have been a great influence on her path to conservation and research work. As Hawaiʻi has a high number of endemism, the variations of the native flora and fauna have always been one that fascinated her. The importance of community and sustainability resonates with her because these practices help bridge the connection between research work and public service. Last Fall, Jessica was involved with a nonprofit Kupu Hawaiʻi where she interned as a stewardship technician and received hands-on training in conservation such as watershed restoration, endemic plant propagation, and educational community outreach events. She is currently working on a project-based research work in Puʻuloa. Her work includes surveying the Pearl Harbor area by assessing the biodiversity and biological density of marine life in the Pearl Harbor watershed through plankton evaluations. These cumulative experiences had pushed her to pursue a career in conservation and research, she hopes that in the future she can do research work in Hawaiʻi to help better understand climate systems and how to potentially mitigate the harmful impacts of climate change affecting coastal communities such as in Hawaiʻi. Jessica gained an appreciation for advocacy as a result of her experiences, and she is eager to learn and connect with the CAPAL team this summer.
Manuel Divino III
Manuel Divino III is a rising senior at Sarah Lawrence College, where he is pursuing a Liberal Arts degree with a focus in Asian Studies. He is currently working on a multidisciplinary research project on adoption from South Korea, which stems from his own mother’s adoption story and has become the central focus of his studies. Manuel is a founder and co-chair of Sarah Lawrence’s Asian American Culture Club (AACC), as well as a member of the Filipinx/a/o Community Health Association, for which he also acts as a podcast host. He hopes to serve as a mentor for students of color in Sarah Lawrence’s THRIVE leadership program during his senior year. Outside the classroom, Manuel loves ultimate frisbee, cooking, and working as a music producer. He hopes to expand his network and gain valuable experience working with CAPAL this summer.
Niki Nguyen is the current Student Trustee at Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC) and Vice-Chairperson of the Massachusetts Student Advisory Council (SAC) to the Board of Higher Education as a History/Government and Biology Transfer major. Prior to being a student leader at BHCC, she worked for the Massachusetts Division of Professional Licensure and an adult foster care agency (AFC) at Well Given AFC, while being a part-time student. She saw an opportunity to step out of her comfort zone when she received an email to apply to be a Student Mentor and attended her first BHCC Leadership Retreat, where she met many like-minded student leaders with a similar story to hers. Niki became a part of an invaluable community, where she began to thoroughly involve herself on campus and take on more leadership roles. Some of the roles included becoming a remarkable athlete for the BHCC Women’s Soccer team, President of the Music Club, and more. She also filled the competitive roles in Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) becoming the Vice President for the Service of the Alpha Kappa Mu Chapter and Central Vice President of the New England Region. While serving her role as Student Trustee and SAC Vice-Chairperson, she serves as the OER Student Ambassador and student representative of the General Education Standards Committee at BHCC. She is currently a member of the Student Trustee Advisory Committee to the ACCT Board of Directors, Massachusetts OER Advisory Council, and the Basic Needs Security Advisory Committee. While balancing her duties, Niki is interning as an Asian American Women’s Political Initiative (AAWPI) fellow at the State House and as an Early Education and Care Policy and Advocacy Intern for Strategies for Children. Her future aspiration is to expand her passion for finding equitable advancements within the education realm. From her personal experiences of her education journey throughout her childhood, such as being displaced for eight years, Niki appeals to increase student access to resources and advocate for equitable policies. To Niki, serving her community does not simply mean representing just one voice, but standing for every voice from all levels.
Richelle Caday (she/hers) is a recent graduate of the University of Southern California. This Spring, she has finished her Bachelor of Arts degrees in Psychology as well as in Non Governmental Organizations and Social Change, with a minor in Organizational Leadership and Management. Richelle’s professional interests are in social justice, advocacy, education, community organizing. During her time at USC, Richelle has been actively involved in her Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) community in which she has served as the president of her Pilipinx student organization, the assistant director of the Asian Pacific American Student Assembly, the founder of the Southeast Asian Student Coalition for Ethnic Studies, the center coordinator for the Asian Pacific American Student Services, and the residential assistant for the APIDA Leaders Community. Her experiences interning at various APIDA nonprofits have sparked her interests in pursuing a career where she is able to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion for marginalized and underserved communities. This summer, she is thrilled to be a part of the CAPAL cohort while continuing to learn and gain experience within the public sector.
Born in Japan and raised in Hawaii, Rina Nagashima is a rising sophomore at Scripps College in Claremont, California. She is pursuing a double major in Public Policy and Mathematics. Leading up to this summer, Rina has been on a gap year from college to pursue various experiential learning opportunities such as interning for Hawaii’s second ever Native Hawaiian elected to the US Congress, the Pacific and Asian Affairs Council, which is an international relations education nonprofit, and the Hawaii Institute for Public Affairs, where she is on the planning team for a multi-year economic policy plan for Hawaii’s State Government. She has also started learning Spanish and brushing up on her French and Japanese skills. Rina is interested in exploring various aspects of public service, including policy research, as well as serving the various communities of Hawaii. During her free time, Rina likes to do various circus acrobatics and aerial arts, ride her bicycle, surf, and work on sudoku.
Roberta Maratita (she/her/hers) is a rising senior at Boise State University in Boise, Idaho, pursuing a major in Sociology. She is from an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean called Rota, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and the first person in her graduating class of 2018 to seek higher education in the Mainland. During her time at Boise State, she has been recognized for her academic performance by being on the Boise State College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s List with High Honors for 3 consecutive years. She is a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and the Boise State Psi Chi Chapter, The International Honor Society in Psychology, and one of the Founding members of the Boise State CNMI Million Dollar Scholars Cohort. As a First-Generation College student who is a part of one of the rarest ethnicities in the world, Chamorro, it is important for her to further her knowledge on the aspects of cultural preservation, diversity, and marginalized communities in order to gain the proper understanding and tools to further aid in approaching these delicate topics. Through her passions, she aspires to be a Cultural Sociologist who focuses her research on the effects that systems of inequalities have on Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Scholars (AANHPI).
Ryan Nguyen (he/his) is a rising senior at the University of California, Irvine pursuing a double major concentration in B.A. Political Science and B.A. Education Sciences. From Westminster, CA, he is passionate about AANHPI solidarity, intersectionality, FGLI (first-generation and low income) scholar empowerment, and dismantling mental health disability stigmas. He aligns with the belief of humbly eradicating hate and injustice through the powers of community, awareness, and educational resources. Ryan preaches that everyone – regardless of race, ethnicity, age, sexuality, gender, religion, and/or belief – deserves equitable opportunity and treatment to pursue their definition(s) of success. Despite an unprecedented transition in changing majors from B.S. Mechanical Engineering, he is ambitiously mobilizing these profound interests through ongoing commitments within the UCI Office of Inclusive Excellence, UCI Activate Communities Through Initiative, Vision, and Empowerment (A.C.T.I.V.E.) Peer Educator Program, UCI Student Success Initiatives TRIO Scholars Program, Volunteers of America Los Angeles (VOALA) Upward Bound Westminster Academic Tutoring Program, Leadershape’s Student Leadership Series, and Clinton Global Initiative University 2021. In Ryan’s free time, he loves to watch horror thrillers & stand up-comedy, go on spontaneous adventures, listen to all genres of EDM; and eat new diverse foods!
Vanessa Tufaga (she/her/hers) is a rising senior at the University of Alaska Anchorage, studying Political Science and International Studies. Her focus is in international relations, foreign and environmental policy. During her sophomore year, Vanessa went on a traditional and cultural trip with UAA’s Japanese Department to Kyoto, Tokyo and Hiroshima. She has participated in UAA’s Model United Nations as a delegate and a co-Director in the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (PFII). It was in this club that she found her passion for Indigenous solidarity, environmental justice and intersectionality. Additionally, she became a Community Engagement Student Assistant, whose responsibilities were to document and present the effects of COVID-19 on Model UN’s 2021 Conference. Outside of academia, Vanessa is active in her local community in addressing issues that impact AAPI peoples and ensuring that Alaskan youth stay active. Having grown up with a big Samoan family, Vanessa enjoys spending time with her family, playing rugby and reading. This summer, she will be interning with the Peace Corps as a Strategic Partnerships & Intergovernmental Affairs intern.
Vishni Samaraweera is a current second-year student at Brandeis University majoring in Health, Science, Society, Policy and minoring in Economics, Legal Studies and South Asian Studies on the pre-law track. Vishni’s family comes from Sri Lanka and she is deeply connected to her Sinhalese roots. Vishni is the co-founder of the Beautiful Brown Project (@beautifulbrownproject) which aims to start conversations and raise awareness on issues prevalent in the South Asian community. The hope of the project is to invoke change and bridge the intergenerational gap, teaching young South Asians across the globe to unapologetically love their brown skin and the culture that comes with it. Her Sri Lankan heritage mixed with her passions for social justice and healthcare have influenced her to pursue a career in global health/law with a focus on women’s health inequities in South Asia.
CAPAL Public Service Scholars
Baongan Chuor is a DC Fellow in the Master of Global Policy Studies (MGPS-DC) program at the LBJ School of Public Affairs. Raised in the largest Little Saigons in the United States, her policy interests are migration and education, particularly in the context of refugee resettlement. Before matriculating into her graduate studies, Baongan graduated summa cum laude from the University of Houston where she became a Certified Nonprofit Professional (CNP) and studied abroad as a Gilman Scholar in Andalusia, Spain. Her experience as a Fulbright Global Classrooms instructor in Madrid, Spain also drives her interest in cross-sector partnerships that fuel economic opportunity for immigrants in international cities. This summer, Baongan is working with Human Rights First as a Legislative Communications Intern.
Eileen Kim (she/her) is a rising sophomore at Pomona College studying Public Policy Analysis with a Politics concentration. From New Jersey, she is the head intern at Ridgewood JOLT, a non-profit grassroots organization dedicated to encouraging civic engagement to protect the democracy. In the past two years, she has helped organize and run educational events about important social and political issues surrounding the community. For the 2020 election through the 2021 Senate runoff in Georgia, she helped organize a 100,000 postcard initiative to get out the vote in swing districts across the United States. On campus, Eileen is a Tour Guide and a Staff Writer for the Claremont Journal of Law and Public Policy. She is also involved in the Pomona College Orchestra and the 5C Korean Students Association. In her free time, Eileen enjoys cooking, scrolling through TikTok, and video calling with her friends. This summer, she will be interning at Senator Menendez’s Newark, NJ office. She looks forward to engaging in AANHPI advocacy and making new connections through CAPAL.
Sora Heo is a rising junior at the University of California, San Diego studying International Studies-Political Science and Arabic. On campus, she serves as executive director of her college’s sole refugee outreach empowerment organization, No Lost Generation, and bystander intervention director of It’s On Us, a student initiative focused on combating sexual assault on campus. She has previously staffed four political campaigns: Katie Porter for Congress, Christina Hale for Congress, Tricia Shimamura for New York City Council, and Andrew Yang for Mayor, where she has worked on voter outreach, civic engagement, voter protection, and policy research. This summer, Sora is interning in the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Middle East Bureau and is excited to work on various projects affecting religious and ethnic minorities. Additionally, outside of her internship, Sora will be taking Arabic courses at the Arab American Language Institute in Morocco on a Department of State Critical Language Scholarship.
William Yuen Yee
William Yuen Yee is a rising senior at Columbia University studying Political Science and East Asian Languages and Cultures. He researches U.S.-China relations and international law for Professor Thomas Christensen and Professor Maria Adele Carrai at the Columbia-Harvard China and the World Program. William also leads Window to the World, an international educational organization that facilitates pen pal partnerships between elementary and middle schools across the U.S. and Chinese-speaking regions. Previously, he received the U.S. Department of State’s Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) and National Security Language Initiative for Youth Scholarship (NSLI-Y) to study Mandarin Chinese in Changchun and Taipei, respectively. He also formerly interned with U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, U.S. Congressman Adriano Espaillat, and the Freeman Chair in China Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. William leads the News Department for Columbia’s premier on-campus radio station, WKCR 89.9 FM NY. This summer, he will intern for the U.S. Department of State at the U.S. Consulate in Wuhan, China.
Yoo Ra Sung
Yoo Ra Sung is a rising junior, transferring from Brandeis University to Stanford University this fall. At Stanford, she will be pursuing a double major in History and International Relations. At Brandeis, she was a Jerome A. Schiff Undergraduate Research Fellow and Humanities Fellow studying the history of the Korean diaspora and transnational gender politics. She also worked as a Research Assistant for the Brandeis Women’s Studies Research Center, collecting and translating primary source Korean documents. In addition, she was an active member of the Brandeis Asian American Students Association, wrote for the Brandeis Journal of Politics, and created a literary and arts magazine focused on uplifting and highlighting Asian American and BIPOC voices, titled, Connections: Roots. Last summer, she worked as a Policy Intern for Americans for Democratic Action and published multiple articles on the gender wage gap and pink tax. This past semester, she worked in Massachusetts State House Representative Tackey Chan’s Office as a Legislative Intern focusing on policy research and consumer protections. At Stanford, she is looking forward to continuing her academic and professional pursuits as a transfer student. Beyond academic and professional pursuits, she enjoys reading, trying new food, and bowling. She also loves to travel and take advantage of the beaches and hikes, living in Hawaii.
CAPAL Office Interns
Saneha Borisuth is a recent graduate of the GPPA Medical Scholars Program at the University of Illinois at Chicago. It is her mission to work for organizations that build equity and empower individuals to take action in their communities. She has demonstrated this through her internships with the Obama Foundation and Brainstorm: The Stanford Lab for Mental Health Innovation. She is passionate about integrating community outreach and engagement in all of her work as she believes that long term change can only occur when everyone has a voice in their communities.
Joshua is a rising senior attending Santa Clara University (SCU) in Northern California, born and raised in Los Angeles. He’s a marketing major and political science minor, and most recently worked for the Silicon Valley Council of Nonprofits as the Marketing and Communications Intern. During his time in college, Joshua has been an advocate for racial equity and social justice issues. Over the past year, he served as a social justice intern at Holy Family Parish, located in Pasadena, CA, where he curated social-justice learning guides and hosted voter information events. He also served as a finance intern on President Biden’s campaign this past fall, where he helped register folks for fundraising events, called voters, and raised money. Currently, Joshua serves as a co-chair of Barkada, SCU’s Fil-Am/Filipinx student-led organization. For the past year, he has worked with outside Fil-Am organizations like Malaya South Bay, LEAD Filipino, and PAWIS to facilitate virtual meetings and events regarding a variety of Filipinx issues, including the PHRA and immigration. He has also volunteered on the boards of clubs that focus on migration justice and racial equity, and hopes to continue this work in the nonprofit sector after he graduates.
Tarleen Kaur Sodhi is a rising junior at Nova Southeastern University (NSU) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, majoring in Biology and minoring in Psychology in Health Sciences. She is also in the 4+4 BS/DO program at her university. During her academic career, Tarleen has worked with the American Lung Association Central Florida Chapter, where she had worked up to the role of Chief Event Coordinator, where her love for community outreach and involvement began. Additionally, Tarleen is the Vice President of the Interfaith and Spiritual Embassy at Nova Southeastern University (NSU), where she represents over 40 different culture/religious/spiritual background based students to strengthen campus pluralism by fostering meaningful relationships and boosting participants’ appreciation for global faiths, as well as to minimize prejudice. She is very excited to work with CAPAL this summer to understand the functions of a nonprofit function in the D.C. nonprofit sector and meeting new people!