Internship program forms political leaders

By Alondra Gallardo, Advocate Staff

The United Faculty is seeking students to fill paid internships and volunteers for a variety of different political activities and opportunities sponsored by the United Faculty.

Contra Costa Community College District Governing Board Trustee Gary Walker-Roberts has experienced the program firsthand. “I would not know how to do my job as a district trustee if I did not go through the internship,” Walker-Roberts said.

He began as a volunteer, then was hired as a paid intern and now is a district trustee. “I found out about the internship through the student government at Los Medanos College,” he said. “I then contacted (UF Intern Coordinator) Aminta Mickles and did a phone interview with her. She told me what the internship’s qualifications and responsibilities were.”

UF interns and volunteers engage with the student bodies at all three district colleges, Walker-Roberts said. They encourage (students) to register to vote, discuss the political landscape and to understand issues like bond measures to examine how legislation affects students and taxpayers.

“We discussed what ways the (political) playing field affected us and in what ways faculty and students could move
forward with a political agenda. We also find ways that we can help out the community,” he said.

Those interested in serving as an intern or volunteer in the UF program should email Mickles at [email protected].

Mickles, a member of the UF Executive Board and a Contra Costa College health and human services professor, said, “Our purpose is to fight for student rights as well as for faculty rights.” One example affecting both students and faculty is that there are more part-time professors than there are full-time professors.

She said this affects both the students and faculty because the professors do not have as many one-on-one office hours for the students. She also said some of them have to rush off to another job, located on another campus, in order to earn enough money to make a living.

Walker-Roberts said, “The professors, who are mentors, are great. They are really passionate about what they do. They spend their time off the clock with us. They love to teach and to watch us learn.”

“Because of the UF budget, we can only take two to three interns from each campus (of the three district colleges,” Mickles said. “We offer various activities and duties, from learning how to lobby and speak with legislators, to going to Governing Board meetings twice a year and dealing with anything that is related to a student’s education. You need to want to learn about politics and what is going on around you.”

Second semester intern Kristin Lobos said last semester the interns got to go to a conference in Sacramento for two days with student leaders and interns from all of the community colleges in California.

“We learned how to lobby and we had a meeting about what we wanted to talk about with the legislators,” Lobos said. “Then we met with four of them. We learned how to be advocates in the community, which is really amazing.”