Leadership Academy Intern Profiles
2012 CAUSE Leadership Academy Intern Profiles:
University of California, Los Angeles
Wajenda Chambeshi was born in Lusaka, Zambia, and attended St. Edmund’s High School where he graduated with Honors. He was accepted at both the University of Zambia and Copperbelt University and ultimately chose the latter where he pursued an Accounting degree. In 2003, in search of a new environment, he moved to a rural area and began working for the international non-governmental organization (NGO), Right to Play. During his tenure at Right to Play, Wajenda coordinated various sport, training and child development programs for the benefit of local Zambians and Congolese refugees at Kala Refugee Camp. He also oversaw administrative functions and liaised with other NGOs and the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR). Recognized for his leadership capabilities, Wajenda was selected to serve on the Child Labor Protection Task Force led by the International Labor Organization under the Zambian Ministry of Youth, Sport and Child Development. In 2008, Wajenda returned to Lusaka where he served in the Accounting Department of World Vision and earned his National Accounting Technician Certification from the Zambia Institute of Chartered Accountants.
In 2009, he moved to Los Angeles, CA, and married Ivory Rose Parnell, whom he met in Zambia as a co-NGO worker. Since moving to the United States, Wajenda has continued to serve in leadership roles and pursue his education. As an intern for Kito International, he helped design a training curriculum to facilitate economic opportunity programs for Kenyan street youth. He currently serves as Vice President for the immigrant support group, Zambians in California Association, and as a Board Member for non-profit, Youth Environmental Network. Continuing his educational pursuits, he recently earned his Associate Degree in Economics from West Los Angeles College where he earned the Cum Laude distinction and was a multiple Dean’s List Award recipient. In the fall, he will attend UCLA to obtain a BA in Political Science. He is a recipient of the UCLA Scholarship Recognition Award.
Wajenda is committed to serving the community and addressing the needs and concerns of the underserved. To this end, his long-term goals include being a public servant to stimulate economic development and empowerment in Zambia. In his spare time, Wajenda enjoys cheering on the Arsenal Gunners, dancing to the latest Rhumba hit and staying updated on current events on Al Jazeera.
University of California, San Diego
Grace, a true Southern California girl, was born in Fountain Valley, CA., and grew up in the city of Diamond Bar. Grace graduated from Diamond Bar High school as the Senior Class President in 2007. Grace continued to remain active in the community during her attendance at the University of California, San Diego. It was here that she took on various leadership positions within the Christian Fellowships on the San Diego Campus. Grace was also a member of the Golden Key Honor Society, and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. During her last year in college, Grace landed an internship at the Republican Party of San Diego and stayed as an intern up until she graduated on June 2011 from UCSD with Latin Honors.
During her time in college, Grace had the opportunity to study abroad at Cambridge University under Kings College during the summer of 2010. While in Europe, Grace had the incredible opportunity to travel to Spain, Scotland, Holland, France, and Italy. This experience helped open her eyes to see a world that was bigger than what she had previously known. During her time in Cambridge, Grace had the chance to work with Cambridge professors who had come from different parts of Europe. With this experience Grace gained different insights and perspectives in the areas of history, journalism, and sociology from a European point of view.
Grace also spent a summer in China, as a volunteer teaching English to Junior High School students in a rural part of the Guangzhou province in China. She taught two classes in basic and intermediate English to the children in the village. Grace found this to be one of the most humbling, yet rewarding experiences of her life. She saw the importance of education and the desire the students had to learn in order to have chance at a better life. During this experience she gained a greater appreciation for the education and support her family had provided for her at home. After this experience, Grace started volunteering at a charter school in San Diego, which was established by UCSD, as an 11th grade English tutor. She helped students prepare for the Advance Placement exams, and in other areas of need. Grace wanted to help students succeed in anyway possible by being open and available with the knowledge that she been provided during her own educational career.
Grace has been recently selected to be an intern at CAUSE for the summer of 2012. Through her internship, she hopes to gain insight into the interworking of the local government. Grace is planning on pursuing a degree in law, and hopes that this internship experience will help her to see how she can best use her degree in law to create effective change in the community. Grace enjoys traveling, searching for unique places to eat, photography, writing, and volunteering with children at her local church.
Kaitlyn was born in Pasadena, California and moved to Arcadia, California when she was five years old. She attended Arcadia High School, and recently graduated in June 2012.
At Arcadia High School, Kaitlyn pursued her interests in writing, journalism, government, and history, by taking Advanced Placement classes in English and history, serving as Editor-in-Chief of the school newspaper, The Apache Pow Wow, and serving as a member of both the Mock Trial and Speech and Debate teams. She also was heavily involved in student government at the high school, serving as Sophomore and Junior Class Vice President, as well as Senior Class President of the graduating class of 2012 this year. Her passion for advocacy was sparked by her younger brother Dylan, whose need for special education services inspired her to seek opportunities to provide special needs students with a voice in the surrounding community. Through her volunteer work as webmaster of Cornerstone Education Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing special needs students with services, and her time as an intern with the League of Women Voters of Los Angeles, Kaitlyn continued to develop her interests in public service.
Outside of school, Kaitlyn volunteers with the American Red Cross; as the now out-going Executive Board President of the Red Cross Youth Corps, Kaitlyn was able to raise funds for disaster-stricken areas as well as raise awareness for disaster safety in the local community. She also honed her love of music by playing piano and singing with the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus.
This fall, Kaitlyn plans on studying Government at Harvard University, where she hopes to further her interests and develop her skills so that she can explore a career in public service.
Kris is a rising sophomore at Brown University, where he is studying International Relations and East Asian Studies.
Kris was born in Southern California. Having grown up in Calabasas, born of a non-practicing Hindu father who immigrated to America as a teenager and a self-learned Buddhist, Caucasian mother who was raised Protestant, and being baptized Catholic, he considers himself to be a product of the wonderful melting pot of Los Angeles. Due to his LA and, more specifically, Calabasas pride, he has been volunteering for the city since he was allowed. Having been a bookworm of a child, his affinity for the library led him to volunteer the past 7 summers with the Calabasas Library.
As for the school term, Krishnanand went to Notre Dame High School and graduated in 2011. During his time at Notre Dame, he took Japanese and fell in love with the language and culture. His passion led him to focus the majority of his extra curricular time on spreading his knowledge of a culture unknown to him through quiz bowls, regional and national Japanese speech competitions, and culture exchanges with local, Los Angeles Japanese heritage groups. At Notre Dame, as president of the Japanese club, he raised over $1,500 dollars for relief after the earthquake, organized Japanese craft workshops and Japanese culture shows, and hosted Japanese exchange students. His participation in Guy Healy Japan’s USA summer camp brought him to Japan for 2 months to teach Japanese children English. Another passion of Kris’ in high school was theater production as he was the stage manager for the Fall production for three years.
At Brown, Krishnanand branched out into the more broad school of international relations. Instead of committing to Japan specifically, and having been accepted in Brown’s UCAAP advising program for social justice through the Swearer Center for Public Service, he spent the most of his time working for social change. He designs a curriculum and tutors children at local low-performing elementary schools in Literature and Social Studies. Also, due to his passion for conflict resolution, he started practicing as a mediator in small claims courts. He is an executive board member of a recently revived South Asian student group. Further, he works for the University’s diversity center as the coordinator for the multi-racial identity focused events. Keeping in mind his Asian American identity has caused his socially conscious passion to manifest itself in past work with Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA) and his excitement to work with CAUSE and Senator Carol Liu.
But he has fun too! He is on the University’s chorus, which traveled to Costa Rica this past spring. He also enjoys photography, philosophy, and linguistics. His favorite, though, is just having a great discussion with one or some of his amazingly interesting peers on the main green of his college campus.
Gloria was born in Garden Grove, California. She was raised mainly in the suburbs of Cypress, where she graduated from Oxford Academy in 2011.
Gloria is currently enrolled at University of Southern California, where she majors in Business Administration with a Pre-Law emphasis. She has just completed her first year, in which she became involved in many campus activities: Pardee Building Government, Business Leaders’ Association, National Organization of Business and Engineering, Marshall Outreach and Volunteer Entrepreneurs, and Asian Pacific American Student Assembly. During her freshman year, she gained a deeper interest in APA issues and culture, particularly because of her involvement with Asian Pacific American Student Assembly (APASA). This passion and interest in learning subsequently led her to apply to CAUSE Leadership Academy, where she hopes to learn more about being an APA leader.
Gloria also has an interest in non-profit work and social entrepreneurship. In high school, she played a key leadership role in various extracurricular activities, including Youth Philanthropy Worldwide, a non-profit club that promotes awareness through powerful visual mediums and fundraises through annual benefit concerts. Due to her work with YPW, in which advocacy was a key component, Gloria became aware of the importance of political involvement and knowledge of the political process. In addition, she was exposed to the idea of social entrepreneurship, a budding career field that encourages socially responsible businesses. As a result, she is currently part of Marshall Outreach and Volunteer Entrepreneurs, a social entrepreneurship-focused club at USC.
Aside from being interested in social entrepreneurship, Gloria also has varying pastimes. In her free time, Gloria enjoys venturing to new, interesting places, and chronicles her daily adventures through updates on Instagram. She is also experienced with graphic design, an interest that stems from her extensive commitment to yearbook during high school. This summer, along with devoting herself to the CAUSE internship, she plans to further develop and practice her skills in graphic design and marketing.
Lisa Lei is a second generation Chinese American, born and raised in San Diego, California. As a child she made many trips to Taishan, China with her father, eventually she decided to stay in America for better opportunities. Lisa grew up in a modest neighborhood with few Chinese families and a diverse pool of immigrant households. Growing up in a cross-cultural environment gave Lisa the opportunities to understand many different viewpoints about the world. In 2009, she graduated from Helix Charter High School with Honors, served as the Secretary of Interact Club, became a RYLA recipient, volunteered as a Hospital Candy-Striper and won awards on the Swim JV team and Tennis Varsity Team.
Lisa Lei started to get involved in political activities at a very early age. She used to like to open her grandparents voting ballots and researched the issues to help them translate the material. One of her most memorable moments was the 2008 election, where she participated in numerous Proposition 8 rallies and served as a poll worker. This marked the start of her activism. Lisa knew that once she got accepted into University of California, Irvine (UCI) as a Political Science major, she had to be part of the movement that helped better the University of California, Irvine and its institution.
Upon arrival at UCI, Lisa joined Rotaract to continue her passion for the Community. She served as the Secretary, Professional Development and International Director, experiences that helped to strengthen her skills as a positive thinker and leader. After the 2nd year, Lisa saw her direction pulling towards Associated Student of University of California, Irvine (ASUCI). Later she was elected as the Social Science Representative. During that time she opened up critical discussion about budget cuts, student activism, protection of students for peaceful protest, campus climate and the survival of Ethnic Studies. During her 3rd year, Lisa decided to pick up Sociology as a second major and joined the Executive Vice President’s (EVP) office where she became the Legislative Director. In addition to that, she was also a Cast member of the Vagina Monologues.
Recently, Lisa was awarded the 2011-2012 Commissioner of the Year for managing and training 20 interns, preserving good relationships from Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff to Speaker John A. Perez and creating a space to foster positive leadership. Lisa also serves as the Vice Legislative Chair for the University of California Student Association, advocates for Higher education and helped UCI gain the Campus of the Year award. Lisa has been a huge part of activism in higher education and doesn’t hesitate when her campus needs her help too.
Next year, she plans to finish her degree strong while serving as the APSA Advocacy Chair and ASUCI EVP Statewide Affairs. But, her real goal in life is to make a strong impact in the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, where she can fully organize and represent AAPI community. Lisa has grown to understand that serving for her community, speaking up for civil rights, educating the youth and elders, representing the people and strengthening our voice is the most fulfilling work she can offer to her community. Nothing seems to hold Lisa back, she is always on the go and looking for new and exciting activities.
Traveling has always been a constant in Mary Zhou’s life. Born in China, Mary moved to Canada at the age of six and America at the age of twelve; and this summer, she will travel San Francisco, Paris, and Madrid. Exposure to all the diversity and richness the world has to offer has inspired Mary to major in International Relations, alongside a major in English at UC Berkeley.
Being in so many different places has been a catalyst for Mary’s growth, especially in terms of public speaking. Mary’s passion for expression has manifested mostly in her involvement in theatre and speech and debate. During high school, she participated in both activities for three years, each year with increasing zeal. On top of being stage manager, stage crew, and a choreographer for theatre, Mary was historian of both speech and debate. She traveled locally and regionally to compete, with her proudest accomplishment as a championship at Pepperdine, and a finalist spot at the National Stanford Tournament. In addition to these extracurriculars, Mary loved being part of One Voice, a club in which she helped elementary students develop public speaking skills, and being Vice President of her Chinese Youth Council. Through being in many leadership positions that required effective public speaking, Mary has gained crucial self-confidence in her high school career, for which she is forever grateful. She has also learned to use her communication skills to serve her community, an experience that has motivated Mary to join politics.
Now, she looks forward to continuing her theatre career in college, as well as expanding her debating horizons with Model UN. Someday, she hopes to part of UNICEF, or Amnesty International, or any other global service organization. Immersing herself in the myriad cultures of the world and learning about these cultures is paramount to Mary. She also wishes to expose her community to global issues such as sustainable development and poverty through writing about her experiences, thus incorporating her love for English and International Relations. Finally, she is ecstatic about CAUSE, about diving further in the field of public policy and communications, and learning how to become the public service worker she aspires to be.