As a political science major, one of the most common pieces of advice that’s been given to me has been to “get real-world experience” in my specific field of study, but it was extremely hard to find those opportunities without a set network of people to contact nor the access and resources many have — especially considering that I didn’t (and still don’t) really know where or how I want to use my degree after college.
I know that many people simply just lack access to resources to attain certain career or internship opportunities and in light of that, here’s what helped me get into UWiL! These are a just few excerpts from my application and I hope that it helps or piques your interest in participating, especially if you are wanting to explore political careers :)
My world has always been political, and my identity politicized. Coming into college, I realized that knowledge in regards to financial literacy, academics, and understandings of how to enter and succeed within pre-professional and professional spaces was a form of generational wealth that I was simply not afforded — I was not taught how to prepare for an interview or write a formatted resume. As a first-generation student, I understand that I will be the one who needs to actively network and make connections for career opportunities and specifically chose to attend UMass because of tailored programs like UWiL, a specialized program for students like me who do not have as much access to political spaces. This program challenges me to facilitate conversations about my own career path and gives me the space to learn and grow knowing that there are people around me who will support me in my decisions. Additionally, I have taken on the challenge of graduating in three years and this program is increasingly necessary for me to accomplish the goals I have set for myself. I want to utilize the UMass alumni network within the SBS college to leverage opportunities related to law, advocacy, and policy that I wouldn’t be able to do otherwise. It has only been with the help of many professors, mentors, and academic advisors that I have been able to succeed at UMass and I am learning that to succeed within the professional world, I need a similar set of mentors to guide me through an extremely complicated and complex space. UWiL walks me through a personalized process that centers on teaching women how to be leaders in public sector careers and I see incredible value in working alongside and collaborating with my peers to accomplish our goals within a political sphere.
My mother always told me that our freedom, especially as immigrants, comes from action — it’s a practice, it’s making decisions, debating, and deliberating over policies that oftentimes have its most direct impact on us.
I was nine when I understood the power of the legal system. It was the act of going through pages of court documents during my parent’s divorce that I promised myself that one day I would be able to use legal language to change and affect the laws so that ideals of freedom, justice, and accountability would be for people who looked like me.
It wasn’t until I was 17 that I was given the vocabulary to vocalize my own frustration with gender. Binary understandings of gender are a colonial construct, used in large part to facilitate colonization and imperialism. I remember stories of pre-colonial India. My mother spoke of a land that had a much more fluid understanding of gender, with the representation of trans identities within deities. I constantly grapple with the fluid concept of gender that my Keralite culture and the more binary understanding of the concept that dictates my movements around the world I live in currently. It is my ability to take and understand from two very contrasting structures that sparked my interest in LGBTQ+ law.
I was 19 when I started to pose the question, “Am I a woman?” to myself. As a woman of color, my femininity is not a given. My understanding of racialized gender dynamics has influenced me to apply an intersectional lens to all my work. Being a woman of color interning within this program is increasingly important for me to challenge these oppressive systems because my existence as a woman of color ultimately radically challenges the larger power structures of white supremacy and patriarchal ideas in America.
So far, finding and participating within UWiL has been an experience that has helped me to grow into myself, explore issues that are important to me, and gain a network of women and mentors in a multitude of fields related to public policy and advocacy in order for me to feel more supported in my career journey!