CAPAL Intern Spotlight Sora Heo ’21


Sora Heo is a rising junior at the University of California, San Diego studying International Studies-Political Science and Arabic. 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.

What are your main responsibilities at your position? What are some of your big projects? 

This summer, I am interning in the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)’s Middle East Bureau, and I am currently working on the Religious & Ethnic Minorities (REM) initiative. I am primarily responsible for researching and analyzing foreign aid policies, funding, and crisis assistance programs administered by USAID in the Middle East region. In addition, I write up policy and program memorandums and blog posts highlighting USAID success stories, scribe for critical discussions within the Agency/State Department/Capitol Hill, and help draft a global barometer from the research that we collect. 

I am also working on a community action project with other CAPAL fellows this summer. We are partnering with Papa Ola Lokahi, Native Hawaiian Health Board, to develop engagement initiatives focused on encouraging young Native Hawaiians to pursue health careers given Hawaii’s significant healthcare workforce shortage. Throughout the summer, my community action project team is primarily working on using social media and other digital tools to gauge and foster interest in health careers among Native Hawaiian students and to boost Papa Ola Lokahi’s Native Hawaiian Health Scholarship Program.

How does this internship/scholarship fit with your professional and career goals?

One of my greatest career aspirations is to work on influencing foreign policy and international development. At USAID, I am learning about the implementation of foreign aid policy and playing a part, albeit small, in national projects and initiatives vital to the success of U.S. international development objectives. Thus, I could think of no better place to work at to catch a glimpse of my future career! 


What do you hope to achieve this summer as a part of CAPAL’s 2020 cohort?

I hope to establish a good rapport with my fellow CAPAL scholars and interns and CAPAL mentors. More importantly, I hope to gain a deeper understanding of how to be an effective public servant and serve the AANHPI community. 

What does public service mean to you?

To me, public service is a collective, ongoing endeavor — it’s an endeavor to create the institutions and systems that all people can claim their allegiance to and partake in. So, along the way, we must uplift those who cannot lift themselves, fight for those who cannot fight, and amplify voices that have long gone silenced.

Did you pick up any new hobbies during quarantine, and if so, what are they?

Like many others, I picked up baking during quarantine. I am proud to say that I have improved my baking repertoire, graduating from easy cookies to more complicated pastries. 

What’s your favorite book? 

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid 

What is one country/place you hope to travel to one day? 

South Korea – the homeland! It’s almost embarrassing to tell people I have never gone to Korea as a Korean myself.


Meet all of our 2021 CAPAL Scholars & Interns here.