Spring interns served the legal profession

Bethany Johnson

This spring, four Law and Policy students interned with different parts of our criminal justice system. Each provided valuable services while also gaining first-hand experience.  Both Bethany Johnson and Margarita Varaksa interned with the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office; Margarita worked in Pierce County’s Juvenile Court while Bethany was in its Property Crimes division.  Amy Magnuson worked down south with the Thurston County Prosecutor’s Office.  Among other things, Amy filed petitions and notices of hearings, prepared Orders of Non Compliance and Bench Warrants, handled discovery, and logged trial exhibits.  Kanani Palafox worked for Pierce County’s Department of Assigned Council.  Kanani found her internship to be provocative. Reflectin

Margarita Varaksa (right)

g on her experiences, she commented: “I often sit with alleged criminals, and find myself wondering about their lives. How did they get here? What circumstances in their lives led them to being incarcerated? How are their families affected by their choices?  And some moments at work strike a chord with me, and I realize it is what I want to do as a career. Being an advocate and a voice for justice is something I continue to be passion about.”

Kanani Palafox

All four students met their major’s capstone requirement by writing a substantial policy paper corresponding with their weekly internship obligations. Their supervisors were all thrilled with the extra support the four provided to each of their offices.  “She’s a keeper!” said Amy’s supervisor Wendy Ireland.  “As good as any of our paralegals.”

Teaching in China: Spotlight on Ian Clogston

After graduating from UWT in 2016 with a major in Politics, Philosophy and Economics and another in History, Ian Clogston wondered what was next. Graduate school? But in what?  Work?  He wound up applying to a job in China teaching English to college students.  Now at Wuyi University in Jiangmen, Guangdong Provence, Ian talks about his experiences below:

It is one thing to know about language barriers, it’s another thing to actually experience it yourself. It is a lot more difficult to communicate with people in another language than you would think. It is also more difficult to communicate with people who already speak some English, which I found to be surprising. It turns out we use a lot more cultural references and idioms in our language everyday than we realize. 

Teachers are highly respected here. I feel like they almost respect me too much as I often feel I am treated equally, if not better than some of the other better-educated professors here. The school provides me an apartment on campus to stay in, and it sometimes throws little parties for us, like on certain Chinese holidays or the Mid-Autumn Festival. The city government even held a Christmas party for all the foreigners in the city; at it they served us McDonald’s. Overall, it is relatively easy to maintain a comfortable lifestyle here.

The students are very hard working.  They spend much of their time in high school preparing for the College Entrance Examinations which, for all intents and purposes, determines their entire future. They are under immense pressure to succeed in school. Children as old as 5 and 6 years old are sent to extra tutoring after school and on the weekends. There is little time for play.  Once
they get to college, their test scores determine their major. They don’t get to choose their major like we do in the states. 

Students spend a lot of time on their phones using “Wechat” which is an incredibly versatile messaging app used by almost everyone here. It is also essential to working in China, as Wechat is used much more often than email for work related communications. 

China’s infrastructure is a mix of first and third world. Eastern China has a very extensive network of high speed railway systems. People use Wechat to pay for their store purchases. China even has its own version of Cyber Monday, called “Single Dog Day”, which is on November 11th. From my understanding, Single Dog Day is a day for all the single people to “treat themselves”. 

However, you cannot use the tap water in China as it is not treated. The air and rivers in my city are fairly polluted. Many older buildings are in disrepair as well, and some of the roads do not have proper drainage systems. In fact, the students here call the school “Wuyi Venice” when it rains because the roads flood.

What really surprised me here is how people view their government. Most are actually content with it. Occasionally you’ll find a student who wants more political freedom but it is not very common. A good way to think about this is to imagine an iron box. Within the iron box are all the things the Chinese government deems to be acceptable, and most people in China fall within that iron box. The internet is still heavily censored in China, which can be troublesome unless you use a paid VPN service. 

I also managed to experience a little bit of China’s health care system and I must say I was fairly impressed — although surprised to learn that they do not have universal health care coverage. I injured my foot badly enough to require x-rays. I worried about the cost of these x-rays. Much to my delight, they only cost me $22. In fact, the cost of living here in China, at least overall, is fairly low. A basic McDonald’s meal (Coke, Fries, and Burger) costs about $4.50. 

 Overall, my time in China has been a very enlightening and rewarding experience, and I encourage those interested in a career in teaching to give teaching English in China a try. 

Fellowship For Women and Public Policy

The Congressional Fellowships on Women and Public Policy are extended each year to a select number of students pursuing a graduate degree or those who have recently completed a master’s, doctorate, or professional degree with a proven commitment to equity for women. Fellows gain practical policymaking experience and graduate credit as they work from January through July in congressional offices. Fellows receive stipends toward living expenses and meet weekly for issue seminars directed by the Women’s Congressional Policy Institute staff. The Fellowships are designed to train potential leaders in public policy formation to examine issues from the perspective, experiences, and needs of women.

Eligibilitity  U.S. citizens.  Currently enrolled in a graduate program or completed a graduate program within the past 18 months.  Serious interest in research and policy making relevant to women’s issues.

Deadline  The application deadline is June 1, 2017.

Additional Information.  Visit the program website, and/or email Cindy Schaarschmidt, Director, Student Fellowships & Study Abroad at UW Tacoma.

Intern for the State Legislature: Info Session May 3rd

Each winter, the Washington State Legislature provides terrific internship opportunities for students across the state.  If selected, you’ll earn 15 credits in this paid, professional internship program while working full time in the Capitol interning for State Representatives and Senators.  Each year UWT sends about a dozen students to this Olympia-based internships. All upperclass UWT students may apply, and no background experience is necessary.

Attend an information session to get your questions answered and hear from former UWT interns about their experiences:

WhLester-Burkesat:  Information Session about Washington State’s Legislative Internship Program

Where:  CP 206C

When:  12:30-1:30 Wednesday May 3rd


For more information, visit the State Legislative Internship Website.

internships-300x206Watch a 4 minute video on the program that features former UWT interns (go to link and scroll down).

Application instructions are here.

Bowling and McMinimee To Discuss Constitutional Rights in Criminal System

Nate Bowling

This Tuesday evening, Prof. Shannon McMinimee and Lincoln High School’s Nate Bowling (Washington State Teacher of the Year, and National Teacher of the Year finalist) will lead the discussion “Beyond Law and Order: Understanding Your Rights in the Criminal Justice System.”  Designed for both high school and UWT students, the conversation will focus on individuals’ constitutional rights from initial interactions with police through a trial.

Date and Time:  April 25th 6:30 p.m.

Location:  UWT’s Science 309

Shannon McMinime

Mr. Bowling teaches AP Government and Politics and AP Human Geography at Tacoma’s Lincoln High School.  He is a 2016 National Teacher of the Year Finalist, as well as a 2016 Washington State Teacher of the Year.  In 2014 he won the Milken National Teaching Award; he is also the Co-Founder of Teachers United.  Prof. McMinimee is an attorney specializing in school and employment law, providing her clients with guidance on their Constitutional rights and liberties.  She represented the Seattle School District before the United States Supreme Court.  She teaches Constitutional Law at UWT this quarter.

Governor Inslee and Mayor Strickland Visit UWT


Gov. Inslee and Prof. Will McGuire

PPPA students and Prof. Katie Baird with Gov. Inslee


On March 9th, UWT’s Division of Politics Philosophy and Public Affairs teamed up with World Affairs Council Tacoma to bring Gov. Jay Inslee and Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland to UWT.  The two came to campus to discuss Tacoma and Washington State’s role in global affairs.

Gov. Inslee and Mayor Strickland. began the event with opening remarks. Moderator Will McGuire, UWT professor of economics, asked follow-up questions.  He inquired with both officials about the controversial call by the Tacoma City Council to not declare the city a “sanctuary city”, and also about recent racially and religiously motivated violent acts in Washington 

The final 45 minutes were devoted to questions from the audience of more than 300 attendees. These questions ranged from the local — development on Tacoma’s tideflats — to the global — how national politics might affect Washington’s trade-based economy.

Prior to the event, Gov. Inslee met with numerous PPPA students to hear of their concerns.  He also met with some UWT students who are also immigrants.

More pictures of the event can be found here.


Students Intern Around Our Community This Winter Quarter

Four PPPA students undertook internship this winter to fulfill their major’s capstone requirement. Stepan Abramov, a senior Law and Policy student, interned with the Tacoma Housing Authority.  “As a intern with THA, I learned first hand how dependent many residents are on government funding. The smallest change in policy can create serious consequences in the lives of thousands.”  Stepan wrote a paper examining inclusionary zoning policies. Maria Reyes is about to graduate with a degree in Law and Policy.  She interned with the Thurston County Prosecutor’s Office, one she called “the best experience. It made me figure out what type of law I want to practice”.  Maria’s paper examined the legal history of indigents’ right to counsel.  Anna Nepomuceno is majoring in Politics, Philosophy and Economics, and spent the winter quarter working in Olympia with the Washington Student Association, 

Maria Reyes

a lobbying organization for institutions of higher education.  Her paper examined the shortcomings in higher ed policy for the growing population of non-traditional students.   Ruddy Salas is also in his senior year, majoring in Ethnic, Gender and Labor Studies.  He spent his winter quarter with the Pierce County Department of Assigned Counsel.  His paper investigated the history of mass incarceration in the U.S., and the effect policy reform in Washington has had on incarceration rates. Congratulations to all!

UW Law School Hosts Open House for Students

UW’s Law School is hosting two upcoming events. The first is an Admissions Information Session on April 12 from 5:45-7PM.  Come hear information about the application process. Students may RSVP here: https://www.law.washington.edu/admissions/events/.

The second event is an Annual Open House on April 29 where students are invited to participate in a mock class, speak with students, and learn about the student organizations.

Questions?  Contact Mathiew Le, Asst. Dean of Admissions & Financial Aid, UW School of Law (mathiewl@uw.edu).

UWT Students Spend Winter Quarter Working for State Legislature

Seven UWT students are spending this winter quarter interning with the State Legislature. These UWT students were among 70 selected for this annual internship opportunity for students attending Washington colleges. Those selected are paid and earn credit while gaining a first-hand up-close look at the legislative process.  All interns work full time alongside legislators and their staff to learn about public policy.  The internship also builds students’ professional skills as they serve the citizens of Washington State.

DeAnn Dillon, a senior majoring in Ethnic Gender and Labor studies, interns with Senator John McCoy.
Madison Edmiston, a senior Arts Media and Communication major, works for the Senate Democratic Caucus. Zach Fish (senior, Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE)), is a Session Aid for Senator Doug Erickson.  Amy Welch, another PPE senior, interns for Sen.Joe Fain. Malisa Wei splits her time between Sen. Reuven Carlyle and Sen. Steve Conway, and is graduating this winter in PPE. Chris Johnson studies Law and Policy, and is interning with Rep. Sherry Appleton and Rep. John Lovick. Finally, Jessi Williams (senior in  Law and Policy) works in the offices of Rep. David Sawyer and Rep. Eileen Cody.  Amy Welch sums up her own experience this way: “This internship has brought both challenges and rewards. I’ve learned how laws are made, what influences the process, and how hard our elected officials work. It’s inspired me to do work that matters and to think of others before myself.

Applications for next year’s Legislative Internship Program are due in October 2017.

Professor Sarah Hampson Publishes New Book “The Balance Gap”

Assistant Professor of Public Law Sarah Hampson’s new book is fresh off the press. Published by Stanford Press, The Balance Gap contrasts the way that “family friendly” policies and laws play out in the university versus the military. Prof. Hampson does this by tracing the paths of individual women to examine how they understand and make use of work/life balance laws and policies.

Prof. Hampson research leads her to some surprising conclusions. She argues that the growing trend toward family-friendly policies are “only a Band-Aid for what really afflicts American women in the workplace—a culture that expects them to be both ideal caregivers and ideal workers. Not only do work/life balance policies such as paid family leave not address this expectation head-on, they can actually serve to reinforce these cultural expectations.”

Sarah’s book is now available online or in bookstores like the UWT Bookstore.  You can also read her recent opinion piece on paid family leave.  Keep an eye out for an upcoming event to celebrate Sarah’s milestone.