Nine South Asian-Americans will spend their summer in the nation's capital, learning the workings and politics of the South Asian-American diaspora. The students, who have been named to the 2017 class of the Washington Leadership Program, will be placed in congressional offices for an eight-week summer internship which features a structured leadership curriculum. The WLP is a non-profit that seeks to develop the next generation of American leadership from the South Asian community.
The WLP is a nonprofit organization dedicated to building the next generation of leadership from within the South Asian-American community through innovative programs. The organization was founded in August 2008 in memory of India Abroad publisher and philanthropist Gopal Raju, who sponsored a program that placed more than 170 students in congressional internships over 15 years.
The organization was founded by alumni of Raju's program who seek to continue his legacy and continue this vital program for the community. The program takes promising college students and places them in a congressional office for an eight-week summer internship accompanied by a structured leadership curriculum. Students then complete a leadership project applying their learning from the summer and are inducted into a leadership community currently made up of nearly 200 alumni from the 18 years of the program.
This year's WLP interns — active leaders in a diverse fields including law, medicine, business, academia, government, the nonprofit sector and entertainment include — Riya Patel, Jesal Pothi, Namrata Verghese, Sharmeen Khan, Vishal Makhijani, Priya Elangovan, Miriam George, Nicholos (Nicky) Joseph and Akshar Patel.
Patel, who is majoring in International Relations and Russian at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, hopes to gain a better understanding of the role of South Asian-Americans in shaping national security policy. She hopes to apply her academic experiences to a career in the U.S. Navy as an intelligence officer, WLP says.
Pothi is a senior at Pomona College, in Claremont, California, is studying philosophy, politics, and economics while pursuing a minor in Asian-American Studies. She has interned in former Arkansas Senator Mark Pryor's office and the Arkansas attorney general's office, her LinkedIn profile says. She hopes for a political or legal career assisting communities of color, a WLP press release said.
Verghese is an intern in the offices of Rep. Pramila Jaypal (D-Wash.), where she conducts legislative research and assists with constituent correspondence and administration tasks. She is a junior and a Robert W. Woodruff Scholar at Emory University, where she is pursuing a double major in English/creative writing and psychology/linguistics. Born in India, raised in England, she is passionate about cultures, societies, and governments across the globe.
Khan, a Pakistani-American, recently graduated from New York University. Last fall, she resumed her internship with the Research Department of Hillary for America. Khan was previously an intern in the offices of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) At NYU, Khan majored in politics with a minor in history. She is interested in foreign policy, immigrant issues, and international development.
Makhijani, a fourth-year student at Northeastern University in Boston, is studying politics, philosophy, and economics with a concentration in law and justice and a minor in international affairs. Makhijani is interested in law and public policy and issues of racial and social inequity.
Elangovan, a senior at Emory University is majoring in political science and computer science. She is interested in focusing on policy affecting criminal justice, education, and technology and she hopes to further explore the ways in which technology intersects with policy and political engagement, according to the WLP.
George, a senior at Boston College, is studying political science and Hispanic studies. George is focused on the protection of the civil rights and liberties of minority and immigrant groups, particularly in the realm of employment and hopes to work as a civil rights attorney. Joseph, a senior Trustee Distinguished Scholar at Rice
University in Houston, Texas, is majoring in chemistry. His policy interests primarily lie in children's health and disparity in access to quality care. He wants to practice medicine while staying involved in public service.
Patel is a third-year 1915 Scholar at Emory University, where he is double majoring in biology and religion. He is currently involved in research that aims to bridge gaps in cancer treatment rates among different underserved populations in urban Atlanta.
Since 1995, the WLP has given nearly 200 South Asian American students the opportunity to intern in Washington, DC. In addition to the internship, participants attend special meetings and events to fully expose them to the politics of the South AsianAmerican diaspora. Past programs and events have included meetings with South Asian American elected officials, ambassadors and South Asians who are working in Congress, the federal government and local and state agencies.