2012 Summer Fellows
These badasses come from across the globe to spend their summer in Oregon, rocking for democracy and learning how to be the next super-organizers and uber-leaders.
Avery Fürst grew up in Europe and currently is a rising senior studying History, German and Civic Engagement at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. At UMass, she has been working at the Center for Policy Education Advocacy (CEPA) and the Student Labor Action Project (SLAP) running campaigns advocating for student voice, student government tickets, and campaigns advocating for labor issues. Alongside her organizing work, Avery is an RA, volunteers and and is active in social justice communities on campus. She spends her free time traveling, running, swimming, doing martial arts and longboarding. Avery hopes to be a full time organizer after college and maybe work as a social worker in the future.
Brian McGough is a rising senior at the University of Maryland, where he studies Government and Politics, and lives in a Spanish language emersion program. He is the president and founder of UMD’s Mixed Martial Arts Club, and has practiced MMA for the past three years. He’s also a state champion lacrosse player, but mostly plays soccer these days. He has worked many jobs throughout his life, from a pool manager to a legal intern, and currently works part time as an intern for Luntz Global during the school year.
Cass Cole, a Washington native, recently graduated from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA with a degree in Government. She spent her time writing for a campus paper, working on queer issues, and pondering questions of social justice while living in a family fun park dedicated to glorifying colonialism. Last summer, Cass interned with Lambda Legal’s Youth in Out-of-Home Care Project and is currently interning with the American Values Network, which works to politically engage progressive people of faith. Cass also spent one long summer as a freelance Craigslist maid. She would much rather work as an organizer.
Gina Knyazev has an M.S. in Criminal Justice and has worked for government policing organizations with various acronym names. She was a leader of CUAllies, an LGBT-and-allies organization at her undergraduate institution, founded to help LGBT students feel more welcome and affirmed at the Catholic University of America. She has also been a suicide-prevention researcher and is the co-author of two book chapters on conflict-resolution interventions in the Middle-East and Russia. Gina also loves documentary film-work, and is originally from Russia (with love).
Gus Wendel hails from Bend, Oregon and currently lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he is wrapping up a year of Spanish immersion and volunteer work at a cultural center. Having graduated in International Relations and Italian Studies from Brown University just a year ago, Gus hopes to return to his home state and join the political fore with a greater understanding of social issues at an international level. On the left side of his brain, Gus expresses his passion for music by playing the cello, and hopes that no matter where he ends up in life, his faithful instrument can accompany him. Gus is the 2012 Deschutes Award recipient.
Gustav Cappaert was born and raised in Ann Arbor, MI and earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from American University. He brings a range of experience to PolitiCorps, having been a Congressional intern, personal assistant, City Council campaign manager, volunteer at a Ghanaian non-profit, and bookstore clerk. He has too many interests to count, but recently he’s been involved with a writing non-profit, a nascent farm project, and an Irish pub. Gustav hopes to follow up his summer with PolitiCorps with another progressive social justice cause that doesn’t take itself too darn seriously.
Heather Siddiqui is a born and raised Seattleite, and has just graduated Western Washington University with a B.A. in Political Science of International Relations, and a minor in International Studies. Siddiqui served as a board member for the Political Science Association, and also worked as the Assistant Coordinator for WWU’s Associated Students Social Issues Resource Center. At WWU, she conducted an ethnographic study of volunteer mentalities, and participated in a field work study on the political and social development in South Africa. While conducting her research, she had the unforgettable opportunity to live in a village within The Crags of South Africa. She also loves to explore the great outdoors (part of the reason that she’s addicted to the PNW), and finding artistic forms of expression (i.e. singing, dancing, painting).
Jack MacNichol is a graduating senior at Whitman College studying Theatre and Politics. At Whitman, Jack has been involved been in student government, admissions, research on queer nuns, and the design side of a whole lot of theatrical productions. He is currently writing his senior thesis about the political and cultural implications of the It Gets Better Project for the queer rights movement. Before college Jack, a native Portlander, worked extensively with various local governments representing youth as a member and Co-Chair of the Multnomah Youth Commission and Commissioner on the Multnomah County Commission on Children, Families & Community. If Jack had spare time he would enjoy sewing, bicycling, cooking, eating, making plays, and singing robustly in the shower.
Janet Soto Rodriguez is a graduate from The Ohio State University with a degree in Political Science. Originally from Mexico, she grew up as part of a seasonal migrant working family traveling to and from Ohio and Mexico. For the last two years, Janet has lived in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas where she formed part of Teach For America. As a teacher she learned a great deal about social inequity, community outreach initiatives and failed policies. She hopes PolitCorps will provide her with the experience and training necessary to move from making individual impacts to broader social impact. In her spare time, Janet enjoys painting, hiking and dancing to every type of music.
John McGovern is a graduate from the College of Wooster with a degree in Political Theory, with his Independent Study Thesis entitled, “Dimensions of Liberation: Transcending Advanced Industrial Society.” After interning in Washington, D.C. for Americans United for Separation of Church and State last year, John came back to Wooster as the editor for the opinion section of the newspaper and found a home in the Wooster Progressive Students Association. In addition to discussing journalism and politics, he enjoys black coffee, ultimate frisbee, R.E.M., and gambling on awards shows.
Jorge Ortiz was born and raised in the Bronx, NY, and is finishing up the school year at Erie Community College in Buffalo. While attending the University of Buffalo, he managed two campaigns for university president. In the fall of 2010, Jorge worked as an organizer for a local union, working 12-14 hour days to register voters and educate people about the election. While he’s already got some campaign experience under his belt, he’s excited for the chance to move to a new state, learn more about how campaigns are run, and hopefully manage campaigns in the future.
Kerry Snodgrass is a rising senior at the University of Oregon Robert D. Clark Honors College, where she passionately studies Political Geography and Public Policy. At UO, Kerry served as a student senator and then as the Chief of Staff of the Associated Students of the University of Oregon. She has advocated for student’s rights, shared governance, and fee autonomy on campus, and statewide for equal rights and education affordability. Kerry is always up for a spontaneous adventure, a spirit which has taken her to live alongside gigantic spiders in a Thai village, wait tables in a small cafe near Glacier National Park, and backpack across the Chilean Patagonia wilderness. In her free time, she enjoys practicing yoga, reading, and learning to cook.
Kim Sogge, a Washington native, recently graduated from Willamette University in Salem, OR with a degree in Rhetoric & Media Studies and American Ethnic Studies. Her most recent accomplishments include planning a canvass for Willamette’s MLK Celebration, directing the school’s Alternative Spring Break program and presenting her paper on the intersections of racism and sexism in film at the Northwest Communication Association Conference. She spent her past summers interning at a local Oregon non-profit, and wrangling high schoolers at a national leadership conference. Kim doesn’t take herself too seriously, and can often be found with a cup of coffee browsing youtube videos of the cutest puppies and kittens — Boo & Maru are two favorites.
Leanna Pohevitz graduates in mid-May from Hampshire College studying International Relations, Middle Eastern Studies, and Philosophy. Her senior undertaking was the creation of a 500 page English/Arabic textbook for beginners based on her research into the pedagogy of teaching Arabic. She is a three time recipient of the Critical Language Scholarship from the Department of State to study Arabic, sending her to Egypt once and Tunisia twice, and has done scholarship research in many other countries including Lebanon, Turkey, and Guatemala. Her passions include language study, scuba-diving, and pleasure reading. Though she is currently unsure of her country of assignment, she’s off next year to start her Peace Corps appointment! Her ultimate goal is to become a United States Ambassador to a country with a national language in which she is fluent.
Miguel Lopez is a native of California’s Bay Area and dues-avoiding alumnus of the University of Oregon, where he earned his BA in Cultural Anthropology. He worked as an intern in US Senator Jeff Merkley’s (D-OR) Eugene field office during his last year at the U of O, and credits that experience as the catalyst for his interest in politics. That being said, he’s never done anything quite like this before, but plans to jump in feet-first. He hopes one day to change the world for the better, but will content himself in the meantime with exploring how, exactly, he could go about doing so. When he’s got some spare time, he likes to waste it by daydreaming.
Nick Rosoff is a life-long Portland resident and recently has discovered a passion for civic engagement. Having been to 7 different college campuses since graduating high school in 2007 he is only now finishing his 3rd year of college, but is accelerating toward a BS in Political Science with recognitions for academic excellence. At Oregon State University this year, Nick has formed a Women’s Coalition Ally group, and aspires to form a National People Of Color Coalition Ally group as well as an LGBTQI Coalition Ally group next year to fight various forms of inequality and oppression as well as build powerful allies within the community and on campus.
Omar Carrillo is a Los Angeles native and recent graduate from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. He served as the associate editor for news for The Daily Princetonian and was one of the founding members of the DREAM Team, which seeks to raise awareness about the aspirations of undocumented students. He also coordinated an English as a Second Language program, led a mentoring program for incoming freshmen, and served as a Residential College Advisor. He has interned at the University of California-Los Angeles Center for Labor Research and Education, the Pace Center for Civic Engagement, and the Urban Land Institute. He likes pineapples, mumblecore, bridges, newspapers, postcards, rocks, Goya, spoken word, adventures on golf courses, and sweaters.
Rachel Gowland came into what she would refer to as her “political own” in 2008, when Barack Obama was the first African American elected as president. In 2010, she worked as the Field Director for the Lynn Howe Campaign in Oregon’s House District 6. This past school year, she was the Programs Administrator for the Associated Students of the University of Oregon and dedicated herself to student issues on her campus and across the state. Though she is often involved in campaigns and other various political activities, Rachel takes time off to watch West Wing marathons and to eat chocolate fro-yo with gummy bears.
Rebecca Naga was born and bred in the big state of Texas! While she doesn’t wear cowboy boots or own a horse, she has been known to throw a “y’all” in conversation. Graduating with her M.A. in Political Science this May after many fast-track programs, she’s excited for a change of pace. As a congressional intern for the past semester, her love of politics has only intensified and she’s excited to learn and do more this summer. She hopes to pursue a career that blends politics, international relations, helping eliminate inequality, and some fun. She loves hot vanilla coffee, the xx, and dancing more than anyone you know.
Shuyang Yu is a Chinese student currently studying at DePauw University and majoring in political science and economics. She has very much enjoyed her first two years in the U.S. and loves people’s friendliness and generosity here. By volunteering in a homeless shelter in Louisville, KY and interning for Teach for America, she better understands the different classes of U.S. society. Shuyang is looking forward to more experiences fighting for social justice and to one day bring back what she learns to China to benefit her home country.
Vania Loredo graduated from the University of Oregon with a BA in Political Science, History, Spanish and Latin American Studies. She currently has been accepted to the Latin American Studies Master Program at New York University. She has worked with unrepresented communities in Eugene through many agencies such as WomenSpace. In her college career, Vania has been a student senator. In her spare time, Vania loves to run half marathons and go on hikes.
Victor Mondragon is an Oregon native and rising senior at Oregon State University, where he studies Political Science with a double minor in Spanish and Philosophy. Last summer, he worked as an intern with Causa Oregon, an immigrant rights non-profit organization. Victor has also served as a tutor for 1st year college migrant students through the College Assistance Migrant Program and as co-chair for MECHA, a Latino/a student led organization designed to create political awareness at OSU. Aside from creating social change, Victor also enjoys a mean glass of Mexican Horchata on any given day, while playing basketball and spending time with the family.