By Emma York, LSJ Communications Student Assistant
Every student majoring in Law, Societies, and Justice is required to complete a 100-hour internship. Yet for those students who fall in love with the organization where they intern, the 100 hours are sometimes not quite enough.
In fact, LSJ had long hoped to find a way to help students stay on at their internship site. Now, a new endowment will achieve precisely that goal.
It will also help honor the memory of the ambitious Edward Garcia.
The goal of the Edward Sam Garcia Endowed Fund is to allow LSJ students who are enamored with their internship site to design and implement an independent project with compensation. Students will create and propose an idea, in collaboration with their supervisor, which will serve to enhance the institutional capacity of the organization.
This will require students to learn the organization, its impact and the impediments it faces, and to find creative solutions to better serve the target population.
The initiative and hard work these independent projects demand resonates with the spirit of the person the fund commemorates, Ed Garcia.
After his passing, his wife and UW employee, Calina Garcia, was searching for a way to honor him that fit his personality and she found LSJ.
“I liked that it was interdisciplinary so it was people from all walks of life, all interests, coming together and examining the role of law, society, and justice,” said Calina.
Ed grew up on the South Side of Chicago during the civil rights era and experienced poverty in his childhood. He knew hard work and education would be the key to improving his circumstances. He commuted an hour by public bus to attend a better high school, joined the Air Force, and walked on to the Arizona State football team. He ultimately attained a career in private equity real estate and was passionate about his family and spending time outdoors.
“Ed was very ambitious, a creative thinker, and he liked seeing that in other people,” Calina said. “He was a problem-solver and always asked himself how he could make a difference.”
This past summer, LSJ was able to fund a pilot for this program for two current LSJ majors. One of these students, Trystan Rodewald, interned with the Justice Involved Solutions Unit that operates out of South Seattle College and is a founder of King County Community Partnership for Transition Solutions, a group of over 40 partners that collaborate to provide necessary support for justice involved individuals. Justice Involved Solutions works with individuals released from prison and jail to facilitate critical transition processes by teaching practical work skills, facilitating family reintegration, finding re-employment, and engaging in education via South Seattle College.
Through the pilot, Trystan developed and implemented a tracking system of student progress and outcomes for transition navigators to refer to in order to maximize the provision of services tailored to individual needs.
“It helps improve the solutions we are providing and why what we are doing is effective and that has helped us leverage contract renewals and team meetings,” Trystan reflects. “It has increased collaboration within our organization. Having a document that records and keeps track of everyone helps streamline the process of the services that people are being offered.”
Her expanded involvement with this organization has led her to begin training to become a transition navigator herself, so that she can further serve this population of previously incarcerated individuals.
“I actually get to produce tangible outcomes that have my name on it,” said Trystan. “The support from LSJ allows me to work further in depth. It also helped me figure out that I want to continue working at this organization, and helped me build my resume.”
While LSJ has a long history of requiring field experience through the internship requirement, this extension will offer greater skill development and career opportunities. For similarly driven and passionate students, they will have the chance to participate in what may otherwise be an infeasible endeavor.
“For the students themselves, I hope that is eases their burden a little bit. In college, sometimes you have to choose between, ‘Do I want to do this extra thing?’ or ‘Do I need to work and make money?’” said Calina. “I hope they do identify some problem that they can solve in their internship that will be a benefit to society.”
For his part, LSJ Chair Steve Herbert is delighted that the Department will be able to allow students to do meaningful work that will help them prepare for their futures.
“Ed Garcia was clearly a dogged, creative person, one who sought to lift up those around him,” Herbert said. “We fully expect that the many LSJ students who will benefit from the Garcia Fund will exemplify his spirit, and will find various and innovative ways to make a difference.”
For those interested in contributing to this fund, you can do so here: : https://lsj.washington.edu/support-us