Political Science Major Changes Internship Focus to Census 2020
Allison Kustic ’21 was only a few weeks into her new internship last year, working in the office of Marin County Supervisor Katie Rice, when California’s shelter-in-place order was issued.
Instead of heading into the office, Allison headed to her computer to check in with Supervisor Rice’s internship coordinator to talk through plans for the day.
While Allison, who in the summer of 2019 interned in Sen. Kamala Harris’ Sacramento office, missed face-to-face meetings with community members, she notes that the work was still rewarding. One of Allison’s key projects was to work with her supervisor to head up a team of community partners on a social media campaign to promote participation in the 2020 Census.
“We worked closely with Canal Alliance to create and distribute social media messaging encouraging Marin residents to complete their Census forms,” says Allison, now Community Coordinator at SHE-CAN. “It was an amazing experience because I was able to do a lot of hands-on work with grassroots efforts. The latest social media campaign was a video message from Marin residents encouraging one another to fill out the Census.”
It was a strong desire to make a positive impact that led Allison to politics. Dominican was the ideal place for Allison to develop her focus. Before her senior year at St. Francis High School in Sacramento, where she participated in a “Youth and Government” program, Allison visited several colleges, yet Dominican grabbed her attention.
“I was walking around campus and I couldn’t stop smiling,” Allison recalls. “My dad tells me now that he knew as we were driving home that this was the place for me, but he didn’t want to tell me then. I came back in October and the professors I met in August remembered my name – even though I wasn’t even a student here. I thought `It’s small. It’s beautiful. It has internship and study abroad opportunities. Dominican was just right.' "
Allison proceeded to make her mark. As a freshman, she connected with Samantha Hunt ’18, also a Political Science major who became a mentor. Allison jumped at the chance to join the debate team and participate in a Campus Ministry immersion trip to El Salvador.
By the end of her first year, Allison became president of the Dominican Political Science Association (DPSA) and represented Dominican at a national conference. She was once interviewed by KTVU TV (see photo above) hosting a State of the Union Address Watch Party on campus. And, through her experiences with Dominican students Samantha Easley ’19, Gabriella Tassano ’19, and Hallie Balch ’18, who were Student Ambassadors, Allison became one herself. When she gives campus tours, she tries to tell prospective students of all the clubs and organizations she is involved with on campus. She often runs out of time.
“The list is long and a little embarrassing because I have little free time,” Allison smiles. “I am grateful for the many opportunities I’ve been able to take advantage of.”
One was the chance to coordinate a photo shoot on the Dominican campus to create a dog calendar.
That passion and persistence to succeed in any endeavor earned Allison a summer internship in Senator Harris’ office. Alison Howard, chair of Dominican’s Political Science department in the School of Liberal Arts and Education, encouraged Allison to pursue the internship. It allowed Allison to attend a regional meeting on the 2020 Census and connected her to thousands of constituents, as well as Dominican alumni Sydney Lewis ’13 and Samantha Maciel ’17, who both work out of Senator Harris’ Sacramento office.
In the fall of 2019, an opportunity to study abroad came through Dominican’s Global Education Office taking Allison to Regent’s University in London. While there, Allison, who has a concentration in American politics, took a Global Politics and Media class and a course entitled The International Politics of the United States.
“I hoped to have a broader perspective of the United States’ role in the world,” she says.
Before London, she was visiting exchange students she met in 2018 and 2019 at Dominican in Poland, Germany, and Austria. “I’ve made friends and connections here at Dominican. I’ve never stopped saying, `hi.’”