July 2022 Student Spotlight
This month’s student spotlight, Amiyah Young, is a highly accomplished individual who has been accepted for the nationally competitive Columbia Climate School Research for Undergraduates Program funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). We discuss her experience volunteering and assisting abroad, her time working at the New York State Senate, and more.
On LinkedIn you mention: “My skills in volunteering and assisting abroad have lent themselves to my ability to do extensive research, coordinate organizational lending programs, and creating multimedia educational tools.” Could you expand on that and tell us a bit more about your experience volunteering and assisting abroad?
Yeah. I took a gap year before coming to Baruch and during that time I was teacher’s assistant at Universidad del Valle in Cali, Colombia. It was a wonderful experience, but my interactions with students were relatively short lived as the 2018 student protests were taking place. During this time a national university strike took place in which students did not attend the university at all in protest of massive underfunding of public universities. Despite that, many students expressed wanting to be able to continue school as the strikes were putting them behind in their studies. To combat this, the professor I worked with and I developed digital learning tools that students could access through their university portal to help them supplement and keep up with parts of their education while the strike was underway. This included things like videos, recordings, readings, and case studies. In order to film the videos and recordings we had to coordinate a borrowing program between UniValle and another smaller private university to get access to two types of cameras that we needed. In exchange, we provided them with external access to the digital learning tools once we completed them and supervised use of our multimedia room and recording studios for a project that students in the university were looking to complete as well. It was a really transformative experience and a wonderful project to have been a part of.
Tell us about your internship with the New York State Senate. What was the most challenging aspect and what have your learned?
My internship with the NYS Senate was amazing. I came in with the expectation that I would be helping in a substantive but still more administrative way, and that was not the case at all. I was attending meetings, writing legislation, and coordinating with offices all while getting to interact with and learn from some very brilliant and accomplished people. Overall, I’m incredibly proud of my time there. I wrote and introduced Senate Bill S8431 which directs the Department of Environmental Conservation, Environmental Justice interagency Coordinating Council and working group to conduct a study on the impacts of Urban Heat Island effect in disadvantaged communities. This bill was extremely important to me as I have seen first-hand the adverse impacts of climate change on Black and Latino communities. The bill passed both bodies during session and will hopefully be signed into law by the end of the year. I also introduced a Senate bill S9109, which would require 100% of all general education courses and 25% of all major specific courses be zero textbook cost (ZTC) or low textbook cost (LTC) in SUNY schools. Additionally, I wrote and passed multiple resolutions including one on the 175th Anniversary of CUNY that recently passed and on the untimely death of one of my favorite actors, Michael K. Williams.
The most challenging thing I learned from my time with the Senate was that everything takes time, and you have to be willing to be patient to see the results of something if it’s important enough to you. The average time it takes for a bill to pass both bodies is about 3 years. At the time of me writing, introducing and doing all the work to strengthen my bill, including taking meetings and collecting memos of support, I was doing it all under the impression that my bill would pass in a session eventually, but not while I was there. I’m grateful to have been staffed in an office that really pushed it and catered to my passions in that regard.
Can you recall a memorable in-class or general Marxe experience that struck you as particularly meaningful? Any favorite SPA professors so far?
I’ve taken something away from all my BSPA classes and professors. Thus far my favorite classes have been: PAF 5452 the internship course with Professor Michael Feller, PAF 3102 Economic Analysis of Public Policy with Professor Anna D’Souza who really helped contextualize economics for me through the lens of policy and a lot clicked for me in that, and finally Cities and Sustainabilities with Professor Bryan Jones has been a huge driving force behind work I did during my time at the Senate and my current internship at the Columbia Climate School.
What’s your ideal career trajectory once you graduate? How have you leveraged those experiences from your internships and as a Marxe School student towards your career aspirations?
My goal is to be a foreign service officer, after attending grad school. I’ve been leveraging my experiences and skills that I’ve gained through my internship and PAF classes as a foundation to showcase how well suited I am towards a life as a foreign service officer.