Hometown: San Jose, CA
Concentration: Public Policy and Ethnic Studies
Where did you intern while in Washington, D.C. with the Brown in Washington program last Fall?
Last semester, I interned at Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC) and took classes with the program on Wednesdays and Thursdays. I worked in my internship for about thirty hours a week and handled different tasks on a daily basis. AAJC is a legal advocacy organization that works on ensuring the civil and human rights of Asian Americans and other marginalized communities, and I had the opportunity to work under many of their amazing lawyers. I assisted various staffers with anything they needed, ranging from immigration to the census.
How did your experience in DC build off of your studies and previous experiences?
Throughout my time at Brown, both on campus and through the internships I’ve done previously, I was really interested in learning about the ways that I can make a difference in the Asian American communities around me. During my junior year, I worked on campus with the Brown Center for Students of Color. Away from campus, my internships focused on Asian Americans in community and policy spaces. The opportunity to go to DC with the Brown in Washington Program was amazing because I was able to witness what people are doing for Asian Americans at the federal level. There are so many massive, hurtful changes being made in the current political climate and so it was empowering to see so many individuals working to make a difference in these communities.
What aspects of the Brown in Washington Program did you find the most rewarding?
On Mondays during the semester, we took day-trips around DC. Throughout these outings, we got to explore the city, so we had an understanding of both D.C. through the local dynamics and Washington at the federal level. I also really loved the opportunity to bond with the Brown in Washington cohort and professors. On the last day of class, we went to the home of one of our professors, John Tambornino. He gave a final lecture and hosted a lovely gathering for all of us — that is a really special memory.
Throughout the semester, we were introduced to so many inspiring people and heard from so many amazing speakers. For example, on the third day of my internship, my supervisor reached out to me and offered me tickets to see Ruth Bader Ginsburg speak. It was so incredible to see her in-person. Interacting with all of the speakers and individuals I met through the program and my internship helped me get out of the Brown bubble, allowing me to realize how big the world really is, and what I am capable of.
The program, in general, is really unbelievable. The coordinator, Jen Romano, is very supportive, so even though I was away from campus, I felt extremely supported and guided.
What are you planning to do after graduation?
After graduation, I’m hoping to go back to DC or do local-level advocacy work. Going to DC helped me realize my love for non-profit advocacy work and working in Asian American organizations. It’s not just important, but really impactful in the current day. Being in DC helped me discover what my passions are and what I want to do beyond college, which is to continue being in these incredible spaces.
--Elise Ryan '21