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.”

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!

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.

Alumni feature- Colin McCann

Colin McCann_photoColin McCann came to UW Tacoma in the fall of 2011 as a transfer student from TCC. After taking advantage of the Running Start program in his high school, he was only 19 when he first arrived on campus. A self-professed “political junkie,” McCann chose to major in PPE (Law & Policy track), with a Human Rights minor. He was also a member of the Global Honors Program.

McCann attributes a great deal of his intellectual, personal, and academic growth to his experiences at UWT,  noting that nearly everyone he encountered—from professors to fellow students—challenged him “intellectually, and encouraged me to broaden my perspectives.” He claims that he can’t speak highly enough of UWT’s culture of learning and encouragement of academic discourse. “It helped me develop into the person I am today.” Continue reading

Exciting opportunities in the PPPA internship program

internships-300x206The PPPA internship program provides wide ranging opportunities for majors to get hands on experience in a setting outside the classroom.  PPPA interns work in settings that are related to government, political campaigns, and public policy.  This quarter interns are working on congressional campaigns and in law firms.  Taylor Rome is working on congressman Denny Heck’s reelection campaign, Alina Gnatyuk is working on Congressman Derek Kilmer’s reelection campaign, and Sandra Kruh is working at the Barokas Martin and Tomlinson law firm. Another exciting internship opportunity is the Washington State Legislative Internship program, which is open to all UW Tacoma students.  We currently have intern hopefuls interviewing for the legislative internship program, and the successful candidates will intern full time in Olympia during Winter quarter.  There will be more internship opportunities for PPPA students during Winter and Spring quarters.  PPPA interns get practical experience, an extension of their academic studies, and complete their Capstone requirement with the internship.  All PPPA students interested in doing an internship during Winter or Spring quarters should contact Professor Ann Frost at acfrost@u.washington.edu.

PPPA intern Taylor Rome – Front and center during election season

UW Tacoma Junior and PPE major Taylor Rome is spending  Fall quarter completing an internship in the PPPA internship program.  Rome is an intern for Denny Heck, congressman for the 10th congressional district.  Initially elected in 2012, Heck mounted his first re-election campaign this fall.  During this fall’s election season, Rome’s work as an intern has put her at the center of the action.

Each day of Rome’s internship sees her actively involved in the re-election effort.  In its effort to “Get out the Vote,” the team gathered data on people they called and on whose doors they knocked.  After entering the information they assessed who they still had to remind to send in their ballots.  Rome was then part of determining which voters they would target for contact, including people with a good voting record, those who have been identified as supporters, and likely supporters of the candidate.  Rome then hit the streets or the phones to put the plan into action.  “Canvassing, or door-belling as we call it in Washington, is one of the more exciting and important things on a campaign because it is face-to-face voter contact,” says Rome.

According to Rome, one of the best parts of this internship has been contact with various people, including her co-workers and voters.  The internship has provided Rome with an opportunity for learning that is unparalleled.  Says Rome, “Every day I learn something new about how the average voter thinks and what shapes their opinions.  I have had eye-opening conversations with people at the door, and ones that have left me shaking my head.  When you work on a campaign you adopt all of the staff as your family.  You are with them all day every day for months and create a bond that you can’t compare to anything else.”

This internship has rounded out Rome’s education at UW Tacoma, giving her hands on experience that has enhanced her classroom learning.  The internship has been particularly helpful in opening doors for Rome and creating career opportunities.  Although she doesn’t know precisely what career path she will choose, Rome has learned that she belongs in this field.  She recommends this type of work to others, saying that the contacts she has made and the experience she has gained will be of great use to her in the future.

Brittany Hale wins annual PPPA paper prize

Brittany Hale is the 2014 PPPA Paper Prize winner, an award won for her PP&E capstone paper on medical marijuana. Brittany wrote this paper while interning during the winter quartehale presentationr for the Washington State Legislature.  The annual award, given to the student with the best capstone paper for the year, was announced April 30th at the PPPA Internship/Paper Prize Event in William Philip Hall, and Brittany presented her paper during a lunchtime seminar May 15th in the Tacoma Room. Hale states, “My time in Olympia as a legislative intern piqued my interested in public policy.  All of the proposed legislation around medical marijuana in this last session provided an important focus for my research paper. I am honored and excited to receive recognition from UWT, and I’d like to thank Professor Baird for helping me focus my research and perfect my paper.”

Lester Burkes’ paper, “Venice Submerged,” on the topic of nuclear power, was named runner up for the prize.  Lester also wrote his paper while interning for the Washington State Legislature.  Congratulations to both!  You can read Brittany’s paper–and those of past PPPA prize winners–in UW Tacoma’s Digital Commons.

2014 graduate Chelsea Hagar

2014 PP&E graduate Chelsea Hager recently landed a full time job working for Congressman Derek Kilmer in his Tacoma office.  Hager welcomes the opportunity to expand her professional development, enhance her interpersonal skills, and have some fun before pursuing her post-graduate education.

Chelsea tChelsea Hagerransferred to UWT from the University of Hawaii, Manoa. With her family and friends in Washington state—she is one of six daughters—she missed the Pacific Northwest, and was happy to come back home. Upon arriving she quickly choose to major in Politics, Philosophy & Economics as the major “encompasses all of my academic interests.”

In her senior year, Chelsea began to work in Rep. Kilmer’s Tacoma office as a way to gain experience and meet her capstone requirement.  In March 2014, Hager was hired as the Staff Assistant and has taken on the coordination for the Tacoma District Office internship program. While the position is very challenging, it aligns with her interests in public service and her passion for politics.  Earlier this year, Chelsea gained admission to seven law schools. However, but she has since decided to delay law school for one year. She will reapply next fall, and plans to practice public service law one day. For now, she enjoys running and has recently completed a 15k, with her sights set on finishing a half-marathon. Perhaps–someday–she’ll even run for office!

From Tacoma to Bishkek: PPPA students experience internships


Lester Burkes, intern for Sen. Sheldon

This winter was a busy time for student internships.  Eleven of our students won spots in the prestigious Washington State Legislative Internship program in Olympia – which meant once again UW Tacoma sent more students to participate in this program than did any other school in the state. Students interned with senators and representatives during the past legislative session. In addition to their office work, interns participated in weekly academic seminars and workshops, met with state officials, took part in a budget exercises, and participated in mock hearings and mock floor debates. Many also had opportunities to shadow an elected official or administrator of a state agency, and take a trip to Victoria, B.C. to compare law making in Canada with law making in the US. Seven other PPPA students interned for members of the US Congress here in Tacoma (Rep. Derek Kilmer) and Seattle (Sen. Patty Murray), while three went to Washington, DC  to work for Rep. Kilmer, Rep. Adam Smith, and Sen. Maria Cantwell.  One other intern worked at Joint Base Ft. Lewis-McChord, and a final was the ASUWT representative in Olympia.

Brandon Bannister-150x150

Brandon Bannister debating on the Senate fl


Michael in Bishkek





Kristie Weisert
Global Studies major Kristie Weisert interned for Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles. While sitting at the Senator’s desk, she remarked that “my Senator makes me feel like I could actually be a Senator one day!”
My-Le Tang

My-Le Tang with Gov. Inslee






This quar­ter also saw one of our stu­dents, Michael Wother­spoon (a senior, major­ing in Law and Pol­icy)  intern in Bishkek, Kyr­gyzs­tan.  He is still there study­ing Russ­ian and writ­ing for Spek­ta­tor Mag­a­zine, a pub­li­ca­tion that reports on Cen­tral Asian affairs.  Our man in Bishkek is writ­ing arti­cles about demo­c­ra­tic reform and free­dom of reli­gion in the Kyr­gyz Repub­lic  — a topic he’ll share with us during a May 29th seminar.



Annual internship and PPPA paper prize event

Arianna-Shorey1-150x150Scheduled for April 30 during the lunch hour, our annual internship event offers a chance for faculty and students to hear about our students’ internship experiences over the year. This event is also coupled with the announcement of our annual paper prize competition winner.  This award goes to the student chosen by faculty for having written the best capstone paper. Last year, the award went to Arianna Shorey (right) who last month presented her paper to faculty and students during a lunch hour seminar.  Previous winners and their papers can be found in UW Tacoma’s Digital Commons collection.