Alumni Spotlight: Christopher Martinez, ’15

Christopher Martinez, ’15

Christopher Martinez can confidently say that UW Tacoma was the right choice for him. “I made some lifelong friendships and met mentors that I still keep in touch with today,” he says. “My time at UW Tacoma had a huge impact on my career and education.” And his career and education are going far — currently, Christopher is in his third year at the University of Washington School of Law, and works in California with the Department of Justice’s Civil Division doing employment and labor litigation.

As a Politics, Philosophy, and Economics major with a minor in Human Rights, Christopher secured an internship through the Washington State Legislative Internship program at UW Tacoma, and he credits that experience with his subsequent job at the Attorney General’s Office. Continue reading

Class of 2018 Heads to Law School!

Now that the dust has settled from commencement, grad parties, and those first gorgeous days of summer… isn’t it time to think about going back to school??
Meet three of PPPA’s Class of 2018 who are heading to law school this fall.

Gabi Gutierrez, ’18

Gabi Gutierrez, a Law & Policy major with a minor in Human Rights, will be attending the University of Washington Law School, with a major focus in Public Service Law. “Although I am extremely grateful for the time I had at the University of Washington Tacoma, I feel like I have even more vigor to practice law. If you are interested in following a career in the legal field, I would highly recommend taking the time to explore the law through internships or volunteering. I’m extremely grateful to have interned for the Department of Assigned Counsel and to have developed supportive relationships with faculty members, because without my experience I would have never discover my true desire to practice criminal law.” Continue reading

Fasting Through Finals: Students Observe Ramadan

Image result for iftar

Image courtesy

Ramadan is a month of fasting observed by Muslims in commemoration of the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad, practiced worldwide as one of the Five Pillars of Islam. During Ramadan, Muslims may eat before dawn and after sunset, but do not eat or drink during the day. This year, Ramadan begins on May 15, and many UW Tacoma students are therefore fasting during finals. We spoke to Rania Elbasiony, a junior in Law and Policy, about observing Ramadan while managing the stresses of the end of school year.

What is it like to fast during finals?

“Headaches every single day! The further you get into Ramadan, the easier it gets. Your appetite gets smaller, so you aren’t as hungry. You get used to it. But when it comes to studying or doing homework, using too much brain power really drains your energy. Continue reading

Intern Insights: Spring 2018

PPPA students have been hard at work in the community through their internship placements this quarter. Here are six interns to share their experiences in administrative law, criminal justice, and politics:


Phillip Ramirez (center).

Phillip Ramirez: “I’m interning with the Pierce County Prosecutors office and specifically assigned to the juvenile division at Remann Hall. This internship has been an amazing opportunity to see how juvenile court operates, opening my eyes to a system that is often overlooked when studying the law. Its been great to get hands on experience doing legal assistant work, witnessing court dockets, going out into Pierce County with probation officers, and discussing Washington State juvenile law with the prosecutors that work here.” Continue reading

Alumni Spotlight: Jackie Wheeler, ’13

Jackie Wheeler, ’13

Congratulations to UWT alum Jackie Wheeler on her acceptance to the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration at George Washington University! 

Since graduating from the Politics, Philosophy & Economics program in 2013, Jackie has worked as a Program Specialist with the Office of the Secretary of State, Elections Division, in Olympia, WA. She also interned for the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C. while still an undergraduate. Now returning to the D.C. for her Master’s, Jackie reflects on how UW Tacoma helped her along her path to a career she feels passionate about.

When she moved to Washington from North Carolina, Jackie originally intended to attend UW Seattle, but unexpectedly fell in love with UW Tacoma instead. “I love the small class sizes, the prestigious faculty, and the feeling of community that you get when being on campus,” she says. “I have many fond memories at UWT. I know that the friends I made while at UW Tacoma will be my friends for life.”  Continue reading

Alumni Spotlight: Catherine Tonsberg, ’16

Catherine Tonsberg, PPE ’16

Congratulations to Catherine Tonsberg on her recent acceptance to Brown University’s Master of Public Affairs program! Currently living and working in Rhode Island, Catherine answered a few questions for us about how her time at UW Tacoma prepared her for her career and, now, her graduate education.

Catherine majored in Politics, Philosophy, & Economics (PPE), with a Law and Policy minor. Describing her program, she says, “I was first drawn to UW Tacoma by the faculty who were active in their field and doing interesting and important work, but the PPE major is what cemented my decision to attend…. The PPE major provided me with analytical tools far beyond what any of these fields would have on their own, and has made me well prepared to think about the human and moral implications of political and economic issues.”  Continue reading

Seeking Instructors for 2018-2019 Public Law Courses

Interested in teaching for PPPA in 2018-19? We have four law-related courses that need to be covered for next year, and are seeking one or more qualified individuals (including graduate students) to teach them.

We are looking in particular for someone in Autumn 2018 to teach our Intro to American Legal System course, MWF 9:30am-10:50am. 

We also have three other public law courses on offer with more flexible times for Winter 2018 and Spring 2019 quarters.

We can offer $5,500 per course, though we are not able to offer a tuition waver for current graduate students.

Interested individuals should send a copy of their CV, as well as a brief cover letter indicating why they are qualified to teach a public law course and why they would like to teach at UWT, to Dr. Sarah Hampson at We will be begin reviewing candidates immediately, so please share this with anyone you think may be interested, and send in your materials as soon as possible.

Thank you!

Funding Public Defenders: An Unfunded Mandate? Event Recap

L to R: Senator Steve O’Ban, Kanani Palafox, Mary Kay High, Chancellor Mark Pagano, Dawn Farina, Councilman Derek Young, Judge Elizabeth Martin.

On Thursday, April 26, 2018, PPPA hosted a panel discussion to address the funding of public defense in Washington State.

How is public defense an unfunded mandate?
This year was the 55th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court case Gideon v. Wainwright, which extended the constitutional right of indigent defense (attorneys for criminal defendants unable to afford their own representation) to criminal trials at the state level. By extending this provision to state court trials, the decision required that states themselves fund public defenders. This is called an unfunded mandate, meaning the federal government has required state or local governments to provide a service, but has not also provided the money for them to do so.

In Washington State, the legislature funds just 4% of this mandatory public defense, leaving counties to incorporate the remaining 96% of the cost of public defense into their own budgets, regardless of their ability to do so. This puts public defense in jeopardy, and it also affects other vital county-level services, since there is less money left to go around. Continue reading

Professor Emeritus Rob Crawford Receives 2018 Distinguished Retiree Community Service Award

Dr. Robert Crawford

The UW Retirement Association is recognizing Professor Emeritus Rob Crawford with the 2018 UW-UWRA Distinguished Retiree Community Service Award. Below are some comments from the President’s Office and nominators.

“Rob Crawford founded the Washington State Religious Campaign against Torture and has been its leader for the last ten years. He is a Faculty Associate with the UW Center for Human Rights. Rob works tirelessly toward the goal of ensuring the United States’ compliance with the most basic obligations enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” – President’s Office statement Continue reading