Equipped to Lead and Succeed

Meet Solinna Ven ’23

The politics and urban studies double major tells how a USF internship affirmed her passion for equity

What drew you to USF?

I originally was sold on the 4+3 law program here. I really wanted to go to law school, and I ended up loving it here, but I decided not to do the 4+3. I’m a double major in politics and in urban studies.
Why did you choose these majors?

I did debate in high school so I wanted to learn more about the government. I was really interested in that, and I think since I started at USF, I realized my love for housing policy and urban planning policy.
How did you learn about the McCarthy Center and the McCarthy Fellows program?

Ever since I was a freshman, Angie Vuong always came to our classes and told us about the McCarthy Center at USF. But I didn't realize the value of the McCarthy Fellows program until last year. I heard that this student named Ethan [Tan] did the McCarthy [USF in DC] program and then got a job at the Pentagon. So I was like, maybe I should consider doing something good for my career, and this sounds like an awesome program through the school, so I applied.
What did your everyday look like at your internship with the City of San Francisco?

I was placed with the city administrator’s office specifically focusing on the city’s racial equity action plan. I’m in human resources in the city office, and my day-to-day was basically a lot of reviewing the plan. My supervisor did a really good job of asking me what specific goals or tasks or skills I wanted to develop. Some of those things were program management and data analysis. She assigned me tasks that would help to embed those skills within the things that I'm doing. For example, I helped with facilitating this mentorship meeting by creating the agenda and also materials to be sent out to various departments. Every day was different. I loved what I did because it was focused on the skills that I wanted to develop and to work on things that are impactful towards that racial equity plan.
Were you nervous going into your internship?

I definitely had impostor syndrome before going in. I feel like everyone does and I was kind of doubting myself and my ability and my skills because I haven't had those high-level internships before. But through this program, it really taught me that as long as you believe in what you do and you're a good communicator, you can literally do any project that you're set up for as long as you have a mentor.

Did the McCarthy Center or any particular class prepare you for this internship?

Having the knowledge of past historical policies that have impacted inequality in San Francisco definitely helped me because my project was specifically focused on racial equity. So, it was nice to use what I learned through my urban studies major, because a lot of it has to do with how policies impact the community.

Do you feel like through this internship you have an idea of what kind of impact you'd like to make in the future?

Yes. I feel like it clarified a lot of what I wanted to do. There's so many things that I want to fix in the world, and I think that racial equity is a great start for me. This internship just emphasized my passion for equity, and it definitely makes me want to continue my work in the public sector and also to improve city policies so that they’re more equitable for everyone.
Has there been anything else that racial equity touches on that you've wanted to dive into?

Yes, health care is one of them, actually. I never really considered myself wanting to work within the health care sector, but after learning how inequalities affect the health care system, it made me want to explore that option.
How has what you’ve learned through this internship enhanced what you've learned in the classroom, or even in your life?

I feel like it makes what I learned in the classroom stick more, if that makes sense. The things that I learned in the classroom about eminent domain or historical policies that have been used to create inequity or create inequality definitely feel closer to me.
Do you have any advice for students who want to get involved in the community or in internships?

Don’t be afraid to be yourself and don’t question your ability to do something just because you haven’t done it before. I think everyone experiences imposter syndrome when it comes to doing anything outside of school, and I think believing in yourself is really important to ensure that you are doing things that you are really passionate about.
Anything else that you’d like to say about the McCarthy Center or your internship experience?

As you can tell, I love the McCarthy program. I feel like it really impacted my life in the direction that I want to take it in. So I hope that students are willing to learn from the McCarthy program and what they hand you, because I think that Angie [Vuong] does a great job with placing people into departments and agencies that will benefit and enrich their experience.