Students Secure Legislative Internships

Three top York College students won spring 2012 Caucus CUNY Scholarships. The students - Shemeka Headen, Ashley Torres, and Davanie Adams - guided by Distinguished Lecturer Ron Daniels, are excited about their new ventures and have high expectations in rep- resenting both them- selves and York.”

The Caucus CUNY Scholars Program comes out of the State Legislature’s Black, Puerto Ri- can, Hispanic and Asian Caucus of State Legisla- tors. The Caucus CUNY Program was established for students who wish to study community service in New York State, but who are unable to relocate to Albany for a full spring semester. Under the program, selected students are assigned to the district offices of New York State legisla- tors comprising member- ship on the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus. The assignment of students to district offices is based on their residence, policy interests, skills sets and other considerations.

“Once assigned, students perform substantive tasks such as constituent case management, legislative research and assistance, and a host of other responsibilities,” Dr. Daniels explained.

Shemeka Headen, a lower senior, Ashley Torres, a junior and Davanie Adams, a senior will each take advantage of an internship opportunity in a state legisla- tor’s office to add practical meaning to their York education. Two of the students are Political Science majors but have different concentrations. Headen, for instance, is interested in law while Torres wants to pursue a career in international relations; Adams who is majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies plans to pursue a career in “climate and society.” She already has a spon- sor at the United Nations and her York mentor is none other than the Provost himself – Dr. Ivelaw L. Griffith, who is also a political scientist.

Torres has found an appropriate mentor in Dr. Michael Sharpe, a Political Science professor who also holds a Master’s degree in International Affairs from Columbia University and a graduate diploma in International Law and Organization from the Institute of Social Studies in the Netherlands. He also holds the Ph.D. in Political Science. Headen is being mentored by Dr. Robin Harper, the pre-law advisor at York.

“I hope [the intern- ship] will provide lots of networking experiences,” said Headen who will intern with State Senator Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans). “I look forward to seeing how Albany works and to see behind the scenes ... the inner-workings and how the deals are made.”

Torres, for her part, likes knowing how institutions impact community and wants to see how Albany works to implement policies. She will intern in the Office of Assemblyman Francisco Moya (D-Jackson Heights).

“I’m hoping to get a few things out of this experience and it not only involves network- ing and meeting influential people who work in public administration,” she says. “But I also want to get a deeper understanding of how public policy and public administration actually works. I want to have a hands-on experience in the field and be able to develop some type of idea of how

goods are distributed to those who need it, and sometimes how goods are not distributed correctly. I want to be able to assist in the correction of this distribution and be able to help those who actually need it. I’m also hoping that this internship broadens my understanding of politi- cal and economic development.”

Adams, who will intern with Senator Shirley Huntley (D- Jamaica), is interested in environmental issues.

“Networking is im- portant,” says Adams a graduating senior. “I want to learn about environmental policies. Senator Huntley serves on [Committee on] Agriculture I am looking for- ward to a phenomenal experience as a CUNY Scholar, exhausting all opportunities to have informa- tive interactions that will transpire during this internship. It will apply towards my future endeavors.”

In all, 25 CUNY scholars will be dis- patched for internships across the state legislature. The group will also attend the Black, Hispanic and Asian Caucus of State Legislators (weekend) in Albany as well. They will formally attend the CUNY luncheon there on February 18th.

I think a lot of people feel that their representatives are just “walking suits” who only pay attention to their constituents when election time roles around,” says Headen. “I do not believe this is true. As an intern, I hope to gain a better understanding of how the Senator serves his district on a daily basis. From resolving the problems of district members to pushing through bills that impact the entire state.”