2015 Winter Intern Spotlight

It doesn’t feel like the winter at the AOC unless there are fresh new faces in office working as interns for various AOC offices.  From working with Governmental and Trial Court Liaison to  Research to Legal and the Georgia Commission on Family Violence, eager minds have been gaining professional experience and experiencing the judicial system first-hand and its many applications.

Legislative Interns

Dan Houlihan
 
altWhat university do you attend and what is your major/minor? 
I attended the University of Georgia and just graduated in December with degrees in political science and sociology.
 
What area are you interning with and what have you been working on?
I am working with the government and legislative staff in order to keep the office abreast of bills and changes that are going to affect the Judiciary.
 
How long will you be with the AOC?
Through the end of the legislative session.
 
What assignment/experience have you enjoyed most thus far?
I have enjoyed being able to sit inside the Capital building every day and witness how democracy is executed on a statewide level.
 
How do you spend your weekends when you are at school?
Going to concerts, hiking, and spending time with my friends and family.
  
What class/course has been most valuable in your internship?
Although I am no longer a student, the overall experience of this internship will be valuable in garnering a glimpse of what state wide politics consists of.
 


Ayesha Kirk
 
altWhat university do you attend and what is your major/minor? 
I attend Georgia State University. My major is Philosophy with a Pre-Law Concentration, and I have a double minor in Political Science and Ethics. I am also a proud member of the Georgia State University Honors College.
 
What area are you interning with and what have you been working on?
I am a Legislative Intern for the AOC, so I will primary work on following the daily activities of the House of Representatives in order to summarize the progress being made on the various House Bills that are of importance to the AOC.
 
How long will you be with the AOC?
Through the end of the session April 2015.
 
What assignment/experience have you enjoyed most thus far?
I truly enjoyed the very first day of the 2015 session, in particular the Governor’s Inauguration was very moving. Hearing the stories of Georgians whose lives have been positively impacted by the work of the Georgia Legislature was a wonderful moment.
 
How do you spend your weekends when you are at school?
As a member of the Georgia State University Honors College, my course load is very rigorous. I typically spend my weekends studying and completing assignments to keep my GPA as high as possible. I wish to attend law school after graduation, thus my primary focus outside of school centers around the commitment to excel in my classwork. I am also working on completing my Honors Thesis this semester, so my weekends are also spent consolidating my research into the final body of work I will present to the Honors College in May. I love reading journal articles on philosophy and political science, and keeping abreast of local and national politics during my free time as well.
 
What is a fun fact about you or something people wouldn’t know about you? 
Every school year, I compete as a part of the Georgia State University Ethics Bowl team in Clearwater, Florida. We attend the Southeastern Regional finals to compete for a spot at the National Ethics Bowl, and my greatest moment stemmed from the experience of arguing against the team from Dartmouth, and winning the round! I hope to compete in the Southeastern Regional Ethics Bowl for the last time before my graduation during the Fall of 2015.
 
What class/course has been most valuable in your internship?
My Honors Thesis preparation has been the most valuable class in terms of my ability to enhance the tools I bring to the AOC legislative internship. Spending an entire year researching family law and ethics has allowed me to understand how important research skills are to the composition of a compelling and factual body of work intended to both inform and persuade others. I know the skills I have fostered during the completion of my thesis and throughout my academic career as a philosopher will benefit me during my time working for the AOC.
 


Sebastian Parra
 
altWhat university do you attend and what is your major/minor? 
Georgia State University. Political Science Major with a Concentration in Pre-Law and a Public Policy Minor
 
What area are you interning with and what have you been working on?
I intern for the Government Affairs and Trial Liaison Staff. I’ve been assigned to the Senate and I’ve been summarizing bills that will affect the Judiciary and attending the committees where those bills will go through on the Senate side.
 
How long will you be with the AOC?
Until the end of the Legislative Session
 
What assignment/experience have you enjoyed most thus far?
Honestly, delivering packets to the Representatives and Senators. It provided me the opportunity to walk all over the Coverdell Legislative Office Building and the Capitol, meet staff, interns and some elected officials themselves. I’ve been very surprised by how kind and welcoming all of these people are, I did not expect them to be so nice.
 
How do you spend your weekends when you are at school?
I work for the Shirazi Law Group, Inc, an immigration law firm. As Community Relations Director, I spend my weekend hosting free workshops for the Hispanic community at the consulates of Salvador, Peru, Guatemala, and at community center and churches. I also keep track of Federal news regarding immigration and write articles for the website and update social media for the firm. (Check us out!)
 
What is something people wouldn’t know about you? 
I am a political asylee from Colombia. My parents were politicians in Colombia and I came to the USA when I was 14 because our lives were threatened and we had to flee the country. My dream is to go to Harvard Law School and work for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.
 
What class/course has been most valuable in your internship?
Last year I took a Judicial Process class where I was exposed to the court system at all levels and learned the basics of it. I was also exposed to the issues faced by the judicial system, especially regarding restorative justice, incarceration rates, and recidivism.
 
 


 

Georgia Commission on Family Violence

 
Alexandra Bellis
 
altWhat university do you attend and what is your major/minor? 
I am in the Community Psychology PhD program at Georgia State University.
 
What area are you interning with and what have you been working on?
Georgia Commission on Family Violence and the Fatality Review Project.
 
How long will you be with the AOC?
Through May.
  
How do you spend your weekends when you are at school?
Exploring Atlanta…even though I’ve lived here for almost three years, I love exploring the city and finding new areas and things to do.
 
What is a fun fact about you or something people wouldn’t know about you? 
I went to high school with Jake Lloyd, who played young Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. He was a year above me and we had macroeconomics together.
 


 

Legal

 
Jordan Kinser
 
altWhat university do you attend and what is your major/minor? 
 
East Carolina University (GO PIRATES!)
 
Major: Psychology
Minor: Child Development and Family Relations
 
What area are you interning with and what have you been working on?
Legal – I am working on contracts, researching and writing memos, and other things you hear about in law school but never actually get to do.
 
How long will you be with the AOC?
Through May 2015
 
What assignment/experience have you enjoyed most thus far?
Memo writing – we are constantly told in law school how important legal writing skills are, but never actually have the opportunity to practice.
 
How do you spend your weekends when you are at school?
I am a creature of habit! On Saturdays I workout, spend time outdoors (usually hiking – weather permitting), and cook a big meal with my boyfriend. Sundays are less active, and reserved for things to get me ready for the upcoming week; studying, prepping meals for the upcoming week, and usually trying out a new healthy dessert recipe! My favorite so far – brownies made from sweet potatoes!
 
What class/course has been most valuable in your internship?
I am currently taking Advanced Legal Research, and Georgia Legal Research. I can tell those two courses are going to be very insightful, and probably my most valuable not only here at the AOC but also when I begin practice!
 


 

Research

Valerie Ogonor
 
altWhat university do you attend and what is your major/minor?
Actually, I’ve already graduated.  I graduated in May 2013 with a Master of Public Policy from Georgia State University.  I also have a B.A. in Public Policy Studies from Duke University.
 
What area are you interning with and what have you been working on?
I am interning with the research department.  I have been working on creating visual representations of court procedures and of the terms of Judicial Council members.  I’ve also been providing general administrative assistance to the research staff.
 
How long will you be with the AOC?
I will be at the AOC through April.
 
What assignment/experience have you enjoyed most thus far?
 
I really enjoyed creating the visuals.  I like the process of taking in information and distilling it into a form that’s easy to understand.
 
How do you spend your weekends when you are at school?
I work for a test prep company, teaching the SAT to high school students.  On the weekends, I’m often proctoring a practice SAT or conducting a strategy session for prospective students.  When I’m not working or running errands, I like reading, playing trivia games on Sporcle.com, and watching movies at Cinefest, the student-run movie theater at Georgia State.
 
What is a fun fact about you or something people wouldn’t know about you? 
I love trivia.  I played on quiz bowl teams in high school and college.  I only recently discovered Sporcle.com, and when I found it, I couldn’t believe that such a site existed for so long without me knowing about it.  It’s the best trivia website I’ve ever come across.
 
What class/course has been most valuable in your internship?
The Urban Demography and Analysis course I took as part of my MPP program has been most valuable to me in this internship so far.  I got a lot of practice putting information into visual formats from that class.
 

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