CAPAL Intern Spotlight Elizabeth Sweet ’22

What are your main responsibilities at your position? What are some of your big projects? (this can include projects at your internship, your specific CAP project, etc) 

My position with the National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association (NAAPIMHA) involves mental health policy research and compiling and organizing resources and action items for the organization’s website. My big projects for this summer are my CAP group project in partnership with The Climate Initiative looking into AAPI youth perceptions around climate change and helping further develop a youth-centric project called Friends DO Make a Difference with NAAPIMHA, hopefully contributing a meaningful adoptee perspective.

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

My internship fits with my professional goals in that it is providing valuable experience with a nonprofit that centers mental health in the AANHPI community. It centers an issue at the intersection of science and policy and allows me to have contact with a depth of advocacy, outreach, and research areas. As I hope to go into public policy, this internship allows me to engage with policy at the state and federal level, tracking it and drawing out its implications for the AANHPI community and mental health.

What do you hope to achieve this summer as a part of CAPAL’s 2022 cohort?

I hope to build community and solidarity with my cohort peers to promote Asian American joy and excellence! I hope to gain insight and experience into the challenges and rewards of public service and apply my academic commitment to racial justice, climate justice, and AANHPI activism into tangible work.

What does public service mean to you? What sparked your interest or desire to get involved with public service? 

Public service means increasing descriptive and substantive representation. It means empowering communities and addressing our most pressing problems by having driven changemakers in the system but with lived experience outside of it. It means decolonizing and reclaiming spaces of historical exclusion into places of inclusion and diversity. It means thoughtful work that is based in humility, service, and constantly learning and re-learning. 

My desire to get involved with public service comes from living in a predominantly White, rural area where I felt unheard, unseen, and unaddressed. It comes from experience in a public school system with a lack of diverse curricula, lobbying dismissive White male legislators and representatives, and having my protests for things as simple as Black Lives Matters or Stop Asian Hate met by vitriol and outrage. It also emerges from positive experiences in racial coalition building, college campus activism, and interdisciplinary classes focused on converging public policy with political science, law, and social justice.

Meet all of our 2022 CAPAL Scholars & Interns here

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