This fall, my team and I are working with an incredible cohort of interns and fellows. Read on to learn more about the newest members of the Hampshire, Franklin, Worcester District team!
Name: Katie Adee
School: Suffolk University Law School
Major or study focus: Environmental Law
About Katie: Katie is local to the North Shore of Massachusetts and currently lives in Boston, MA. She is in her last year of law school at Suffolk University Law School, where she is a peer mentor, a Senior Note Editor on the Moot Court Honor Board Journal of Trial and Appellate Advocacy, and a student attorney for the Environmental Law and Policy Clinic. When not at school, Katie enjoys spending time with her friends, attending concerts, and trying new recipes with her partner.
One reason Katie wanted to work in a state legislature office: Katie wanted to work in a state legislature office because she believes it is one of the most effective ways to advocate for change, and the interests of citizens. Being able to work directly with legislation and see the real-world impacts on individual people’s lives is an incredibly valuable experience that Katie hopes to continue throughout her career.
Future aspirations: Katie hopes to, first and foremost, graduate from law school in May and then pass the bar exam in July. In the future, she hopes to focus her career on advocating for the interests of people and the health of both the environment and local communities.
Name: Cynthia Akanaga (she/her)
School: Mount Holyoke College
Major or study focus: Computer Science
About Cynthia: Cynthia is originally from Imo, Nigeria. Across her life, Cynthia has lived in a number of varied and interesting places, including New York, North Carolina, Texas, and her current home of Massachusetts. Cynthia is a Computer Science major with interests that lie in public policy and public health who is interested in figuring out how she can use her technical knowledge to support these causes. In her free time Cynthia is an outdoor enthusiast who says her favorite outdoors activities are running, hiking and skydiving.
One reason Cynthia wanted to work in a state legislature office: I believe that working in a state legislative office offers a unique opportunity to learn about the intricacies of government and the political system. It provides a front-row seat to the workings of democracy and allows me to gain valuable experience in areas such as policy analysis, constituent services, and legislative research.
Future aspirations: I am still working on figuring out exactly what this will look like, but I would like to work in tech for a government agency.
Name: Ella Kamm (she/her)
School: Tufts University
Major or study focus: Political Science
About Ella: Ella originally hails from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but she currently calls Somerville, Massachusetts her home. She’s a senior at Tufts University, and she also works at a bustling restaurant in Cambridge called Pammy’s! In her spare time, she can be found practicing the fine arts of dance and writing. She has written for The Tufts Daily since her first year of college, and she is part of a dance group on campus. She also loves cooking, traveling, arts and crafts, staying active, and enjoying life with her friends and family.
One reason Ella wanted to work in a state legislature office: I was drawn to work in a state legislature office by all of the opportunities there are to make real change in people’s lives. So much of my education has focused on the federal government, but state legislatures hold so much power and responsibility when it comes to policy making. I learned about Senator Comerford while reporting on her prison construction moratorium bill, which made me realize just how much potential there is to address problems like mass incarceration in Massachusetts, without having to wait on Congress to get its act together.
Future aspirations: While I’m considering a career in government, I’ve also been exploring what it would be like to go into policy/issue-based research – it seems like a great way to apply journalistic curiosity while also getting to advocate for the things that I care about. As I’ve already seen in this internship, the two fields overlap quite a bit, and I’m looking forward to getting a better idea of what’s out there.
Name: Justin Leis
School: Westfield State University
Major or study focus: Social Work
About Justin: Justin was born and raised in Western Massachusetts, but he also spent a great deal of time living in the seaside city of San Diego, California. He currently resides in Massachusetts, where he attends Westfield State University. Justin’s favorite hobbies include hiking and traveling. He makes a point of trying to visit a new city each year, and has traveled across both the United States and Europe multiple times.
One reason Justin wanted to work in a state legislature office: As a social work major, I am interested in seeing what macro level social work entailed. I wanted to experience what it takes to make changes on a statewide level, and the work required to make policy changes.
Future aspirations: For now my future aspirations include finishing my degree, followed up by pursuing a master’s degree in social work. Other than that, I wish to continue to travel and experience new cultures and places.
Name: Niki Nguyen (she/her/hers)
School: University of Massachusetts Boston
Major or study focus: International Relations and Biochemistry
About Niki: Niki Nguyen is a current University of Massachusetts Boston (UMASS Boston) student studying International Relations and Biochemistry. Before transferring to UMASS Boston, she graduated from Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC) and worked in the professional workforce in various roles, including the Massachusetts Division of Professional Licensure. Niki became more actively involved on the BHCC campus, joining multiple organizations and clubs. She attained the highest student leader position of BHCC Student Trustee on the BHCC Board of Trustees in 2019 and continued serving her community for two consecutive terms. This position blossomed her passion in not just understanding her struggles of pursuing higher education but her fellow peers as well. During her terms, she served in an extensive list of student positions that helped advance the MA Board of Higher Education’s Equity agenda, including Vice-Chairperson for the MA Student Advisory Council (SAC), and student member of the MA Open Education Resources Advisory Council.
One reason Niki wanted to work in a state legislature office: As she continues her first semester at UMASS Boston while already being actively involved on campus for the Undergraduate Student Government and her continued work on the MA Student Advisory Council to the MA Board of Higher Education, Niki wants to work in the state legislature office to understand the legislative system and how it pertains to her, “I didn’t realize I was homeless for 8 years throughout my adolescence until I took my first government class one summer when I began my work as Student Trustee. I was already aware of the challenges students all over the country face, but realizing my struggles gave me a further significant impact.”
Future aspirations: After the internship, Niki hopes to continue her endeavors and curiosity, learning about accountability and ethics.
Name: Ashley Picard (she/her/hers)
School: University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Major or study focus: Legal Studies and African American Studies
About Ashley: Ashley is originally from Sutton, Massachusetts but is currently living in Amherst. While living out here she has fallen in love with the Connecticut River Valley. Her favorite thing about it is the farms, specifically the farm stands, and the people. She spends many, many mornings on the Connecticut River as she is a member of the UMass Women’s Rowing team and feels privileged to be so immersed in the beautiful scenery. If she isn’t typing or rowing, she is hanging out with her family and friends or attempting to learn how to cook.
One reason Ashley wanted to work in a state legislature office: Ashley wanted to work in a state legislature office because state level politics are impactful and community-oriented. She believes it is true public service. Ashley is inspired by State Senator Comerford’s dedication to the communities of Western Mass and she feels honored to be able to help uplift their voices.
Future aspirations: In the future, no matter what career path she pursues, law or policy, she is determined to learn more about the communities around her to help advocate for their needs and amplify their voices.
Name: Ruth Poku (she/her)
School: Mount Holyoke College
Year: 3rd Year
Major or study focus: Politics major, Africana Studies minor, and certificate in Law, Public Policy, and Human Rights
About Ruth: Ruth is currently a hardworking third-year student at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts. She was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. She is a major in Politics with minors in the fields of Critical Race and Political Economy. Her political interests lie in the very important fields of educational equity in K-12 education, decarceration, and racial equity in maternal health. In addition to her work here at Senator Comerford’s office, she also keeps herself very busy working as a Belonging & Equity Liason at the Admissions Office of Mount Holyoke College, where she is also the current Student Government Representative at the Association of Pan-African Unity.
One reason Ruth wanted to work in a state legislature office: I wanted to work in a state legislature office to see the many ways an elected official can serve the needs of their constituents, from policy change to town halls.
Future aspirations: In the future, I plan on attending law school and studying civil rights litigation. I am honored to be a part of the office this semester and learn the inner-workings of a public office!
Name: Jack Schneeman (he/him)
School: University of Massachusetts Amherst
Major or study focus: Political Science and Linguistics
About Jack: Jack was born and raised in the bustling city of Austin, Texas. Currently, he resides in the lovely city of Amherst, Massachusetts where he attends the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He also counts himself quite lucky, as he had the privilege to be able to spend a year living in the picturesque city of Dublin, Ireland. Jack likes to spend his time hanging out with his friends, going on hikes, and being generally outdoorsy, especially in this lovely fall weather. Jack describes himself as a huge film buff, and he loves settling down to watch a movie in his spare time.
One reason Jack wanted to work in a state legislature office: I wanted to work in a state office because I think state politics are a great avenue for changing lives and helping people, and I wanted to see how that process works in an individual office.
Future aspirations: My long term goals after undergrad include going to law school and becoming a public interest attorney.