Senior Spotlight 2019: Rania Elbasiony

Meet Rania Elbasiony, one of UW Tacoma’s seniors and legislative intern extraordinaire in the Washington State House of Representatives.  We caught up with her and asked us to answer some Internship program as a “really great hands-on approach to learning about our state’s legislative process”.  A professor’s recommendation brought her to the internship program which is fitting as the draw of “small class sizes…and greater access to…build closer relationships with both my professors and fellow students” was what brought her to UW Tacoma.  Rania describes loving the close-to-home downtown campus here as well as the quality education that with a much more affordable tuition.

A Law & Policy major with a minor in Business Administration, Rania has taken advantage of the urban-serving campus and its many opportunities.  “I think that being a law and policy major has really helped me gain a basic understanding of how our legal system works, which will benefit me when I look for jobs in the legal field as well as when I attend law school in the future.” In addition to the interning at the State Legislature, Rania has interned with the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office.  She has also worked directly with the City of Tacoma and the Tacoma Neighborhood Councils in the Fieldwork in Law and Policy class taught by her favorite professor, Lucas McMillan.  When asked how she picked her favorite, Rania said, “I’ve had several great professors during my time here, but he manages to be my favorite because no professor of mine has been able to match his level of optimism. He comes into the classroom with a positive attitude and knows how to get his students engaged. Additionally, you can tell that he truly cares about his students learning and always goes above and beyond for his students when they need his help. Not to mention, he is very knowledgeable in his field.”

When asked about what classes she drew most on for success in her internships she credits the Intro to American Legal System and Intro to American Politics for helping her come “to the job with that foundational knowledge of how state government works, which helped ease my transition into a new environment. My field work class and internship at the Pierce County Prosecutor’s office also helped me because it allowed me to strengthen my interpersonal and networking skills.”

On that note, Rania’s suggestion for others who might want to follow a path similar to hers is “volunteering and getting involved with different student groups and organizations. It’s a great way to start networking and meeting people who could potentially lead you to future employment. Additionally, volunteering is a great way to see if the career you are currently interested in is a good fit for you. Also, if you have room to do so, take classes you are interested in even if it doesn’t relate to your major. Last but not least, in the midst of the chaos that school can be, don’t forget to take care of yourself because your mental and physical well-being is important.”

Pre-Law Society & Criminal Justice League Present Kids or Criminals?

In the second installment of an academic year-long series entitled “Kids or Criminals?”, in February, the Pre-Law Society & the Criminal Justice League brought two district judges and two defense attorneys together to discuss the current state of youth incarceration in our nation.  What came out of the event were heart-felt and touching stories grounded with the realism that can only come from working within the problem for decades.  Students and community members listened as the participants spoke of tragedy and systemic failings that continue to disenfranchise struggling youth to this day.  One of the key points that was hit upon was how the term “juvenile” is only used when referring to animals or youth in the criminal justice system.  In an effort to take action and shift the narrative, all of the participants moved away from that language for the remainder of the event.  The decision had a noticeable effect on the audience; there was an element of power in seeing people in positions of community power like judges be willing to be an immediate part of the change.

As a final thought, here are some of the words of power captured by audience members:

“We don’t recognize the cry for help.” -Karl Williams, District Court Judge

“There is no ‘us’ and ‘them’. There is just ‘us’…” -Lizanne Padula, District Court Judge

“Internal healing and change, and systemic reform are not mutually exclusive. That’s where we can all come together.” -Christopher Poulos, Defense Attorney

“Everyone has something to offer” -James Curtis, Defense Attorney

Keep an eye out for the culminating “Kids or Criminals” event due to take this quarter. The final event seeks to draw together adults who were incarcerated as children and the lawmakers who continue to construct and continue the system.

Senior Spotlight 2019: Noah Ramirez

Noah is currently a senior Law & Policy major with a minor in Human Rights who is making the most of his UW Tacoma experience by finishing his degree in Washington D.C.  Although not one to stay in one place for too long, Noah came to our campus in winter quarter of 2018 from the University of San Francisco.  Aiming at first for the Seattle campus, a technicality in the admissions process brought Noah here where he fell in love with UWT.  The cross-country finish to his senior year arose from an internship with social media giant, Twitter.

When asked how working for Twitter works with his Law & Policy degree, Noah said, “Both my major and minor have been very relevant to my work because you have to have a very good understanding of how our government functions, specifically Congress in order to sufficiently perform the essential functions of my job. Also, to manage crisis response work there is a huge play on my human rights minor. I would say that my pathway aligns perfectly for my current role.”

So what does a Twitter intern—A twintern perhaps?—do in our nation’s capital? “To begin with, I do work with Congress such as attending hearings on behalf of Twitter, performing trainings for congressional offices, understanding policies or legislation related to Twitter, and advocating certain policies. On top of this I work on election security within the platform as well as crisis response by Twitter in emergency situations.”

Intensely fascinating and compelling work for those into law and policy!  How does one find and acquire an internship with such a large corporation and government? To start, he urges, you have to apply no matter how daunting.  “To give some context, a statistic reported by Twitter is that for approximately 200 intern positions per year, there are 70,000 applicants.  It is a very thorough and long application process but for good reason. Being confident, doing research, and using your communication skills are all important and helpful.”

When asked about how his education here at UWT prepared him for this opportunity, Noah said, “I believe that every course I took contributed equally well to my work but if I had to name a few they would be the Constitutional Law & American Government [series]. These gave me a concrete knowledge of how our government functions, why it functions that way, how it can be challenged, and how I can make a difference. The biggest part is how I can make a difference because that is exactly what I am trying to do every day in Washington.”

On that inspirational note, what advice would Noah give to future students? “One thing that I always tell people is to stay ambitious. Shoot for the stars and don’t settle for anything less. Even if you may believe that you do not fit the qualifications for something attempt it anyway because you can make yourself qualified with how you react, communicate, and by how determined you are. Also, get on Twitter! A bit of a shameful plug but I have to since I work for the company now! Follow me, ask me questions, and see what I am doing every day in Washington! @jnoahramirez.”



Students Spend Winter Interning In Olympia

This winter eight UWT students spent the winter quarter working for the State Legislature as members of the state’s Legislative Internship Program.  About 60 students statewide are selected each year, and this year UWT had more students participating than any other school.  Interns work directly for members of the Senate or House.  On the House side, Rania Elbasiony (senior, Law & Policy) interned for Reps. Chopp, Sullivan and Peterson; Alex Morrison (senior, Politics Philosophy & Economics) for Reps. Schmick, Tharinger and Dent; and Kegan Ross (senior, SIAS) for Reps. Leavitt and Fey.  Alex Seddon (senior, Politics, Philosophy & Economics) worked in Sen. Mark Mullet’s office, Alexandria Swanson (senior Law & Policy) for Sen. Ann Rivers, Maria Colocho (senior, Law & Policy) for Sen. Mona Das, Shelby Wiedmann (senior, Politics, Philosophy & Economics) for Sen. Patty Kuderer, and Andrew Volgelgesang (senior, Politics, Philosophy & Economics) for Sen. John Braun.  The internship requires a full time commitment for the winter term, although many of the interns have opted to remain for the rest of the session, which is scheduled to finish at the end of April.  All students earn 15 credits, and complete substantial academic work in addition to their work with the Legislature.

Three other PPPA students also interned in Olympia this winter.  Walter Smit worked full time for the Washington State Secretary of State’s Office, a position that had him testifying twice before Senate and House Committees. Theresa Leo interned with the Washington State Board of Education; and for the second year in a row, Adan Espino spent the quarter lobbying in Olympia on behalf of UWT students.