Maricopa County internship program invests in ASU students

September 4, 2014

In a conference room in a non-descript downtown Maricopa County office building, Arizona State University senior Jared McDaniel listens intently as Maricopa County manager Tom Manos talks about his career in public service. McDaniel, a criminal justice major, is one of several ASU students to have an exclusive audience with Manos. They are part of a new internship program called Maricopa County Leadership and Education Advancing Public Service. It’s more commonly referred to by its acronym: MC LEAPS. The internship, run by the College of Public Programs, connects ASU students with county agencies and community support projects for a semester.

“I was interested in the MC LEAPS program for the knowledge base,” says McDaniel. “I want to learn more about the public service side, as far as what Maricopa County does within each department, as well as working with other departments.” Tom Manos with ASU students Robert Celeya and Jared McDaniel  Download Full Image

McDaniel is one of two criminology and criminal justice students who is working in Maricopa County’s Justice System Planning and Information unit. The office focuses on effective crime prevention by utilizing crime research and data analysis. McDaniel will be putting together reports on juveniles and female offenders.

“I think this is a huge opportunity for me, mainly because of the knowledge we’re going to learn from this, the hands-on experience that each of us are going to be able to get,” McDaniel says.

In addition to the daily hands-on experience, MC LEAPS interns are able to expand their skill set and develop mentoring relationships. They will also attend professional training sessions throughout the semester. Students receive a tuition and fee waiver for the semester and earn a stipend of $4,700.

The internship is open to any ASU undergraduate or graduate student with a minimum 3.0 grade point average. Students submit an application, including a resume, unofficial transcript and a personal statement of interest, which explains how the internship fits with the student’s academic and career goals. Students also select the county agency and project where they would like to intern. The fall 2014 pilot program offered work-learning opportunities with: Air Quality – management and small business; Education Service Agency – communication systems and fiscal policy; Facilities Management; Human Resources; Justice System Planning and Information; Office of Budget and Management; Public Fiduciary or Treasurer's Office – research and IT systems. A dedicated ASU website contains general information about the program.

“MC LEAPS creates the opportunity for the future leaders of Maricopa County to begin their professional journey now through exposure to the work, challenges and people who serve in their local government,” says MaryEllen Sheppard, an assistant county manager who oversees the internship program. “The county benefits from their creativity, enthusiasm and questioning of what is done, and most importantly, why and how. The present and the future are connected through this program.”

ASU students can receive up to 12 academic hours for the internship, which requires students to work 40 hours a week. At the end of the internship, each student will make a presentation to county administrative staff and ASU personnel about their MC LEAPS experience and contribution to the projects they worked on.

“This gives them an opportunity to learn more about the work they want to do in the future and make the connection between their academic studies and career goals,” says Maryjo Douglas Zunk, manager of career development for the School of Public Affairs, who is coordinating the program for ASU. “And the win for the students? Developing real-world knowledge, transferable skills and leadership experience that is highly sought and rewarded in today’s changing communities!”

Paul Atkinson

assistant director, College of Public Service and Community Solutions


ASU alumni, staff win silver in international outrigger competition

September 4, 2014

Two Arizona State University alumni and a staff member, part of a seven-member Arizona team, brought home a silver medal in the International Va'a Federation Outrigger World Sprint Championships in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in August.

The Arizona racers are members of Na Leo O Ke Kai (Voices of the Sea), the largest competitive outrigger canoe club in the state. The first team ever to represent Arizona in the worldwide competition two years ago in Calgary, Canada, this year in Brazil, they also became the first Arizona team to win a medal. Na Leo O Ke Kai outrigger elite crew Download Full Image

Team members are Margaret (Peggy) Coulombe, director of executive communications in the provost’s office; Anne Cook, who received her bachelor's and master’s degrees in social work from ASU; Marisalyn Singpradith, a graduate of the W. P. Carey School of Business; Alicia Lin-Kee; Teresa Mautino; and Andrea and Rich Gorrill.

Representing the U.S. in Brazil, the Arizona crew joined with paddlers from Northern and Southern California and the Pacific Northwest to compete collectively and individually in several classes of outrigger sprints. The V-12 sprint, where 12 paddlers propel two outrigger hulls lashed together, resulted in the silver medal.

Coulombe, who is the head coach of roughly 200 Arizona members, selected the elite team for international competition. Members of this elite group have trained together for about four years, participating in a race circuit hosted by the Southern California Outrigger Racing Association. The race season goes from March to September. Practice for the 2014 Brazil competition was intense over the course of eight months, with a minimum of four days a week paddling on Tempe Town Lake, often in triple-digit temperatures.

“It was a thrill representing Arizona and the team in a world sprint,” says Singpradith, who joined Na Leo O Ke Kai outrigger canoe four years ago after dragon boat racing at Tempe Town Lake. “We showed that despite having a desert landscape, we paddle as well as other teams that have the ocean for practice. I loved putting all my heart into it and working together with six people as one.”

“Our team connection is really amazing,” Cook says. “Peggy Coulombe always believed in us. She told us two years ago that we would race in the world championships in Brazil. We didn’t believe it could happen, but she made it happen.”

The va’a, or outrigger canoe, originated in Hawaii nearly 4,000 years ago, and a sailing version of the canoe was used to populate island chains throughout Polynesia. The modern sport has spread from Tahiti and Hawaii across the United States, Canada, South America, Europe and Asia. Nearly 2,000 athletes from around the world competed in Brazil this year, in Lagoa Rodrigo de Frietas, where Olympic rowing will be held in 2016.

Traditional canoes in Hawaii were made of the native tropical hardwood, koa. Modern racing canoes seat six, are roughly 40 feet in length and typically made of fiberglass, carbon fiber or other lightweight, man-made materials.

“Our club is very diverse, with members mostly of Asian Pacific Islander heritage,” Coulombe says. “Our club, more than any other in the state, offers more than elite competition and training, it provides a connection to Hawaiian culture, community and a sense of home.”

Two words in Hawaiian emphasize the traditional bonds that help unite the members. "Ohana" affirms the close ties and cooperation of family, including extended family. "Aloha" has multiple meanings in the Hawaiian language, including affection, peace, compassion and love.

“Weather conditions in Hawaii and Tahiti are ideal for paddling. Canoeing is basically a national sport there,” Coulombe says. “Here in Arizona, we are a small club with no facilities and little support, working out in conditions that most would find exceptionally difficult.” Yet the grueling training in the Arizona heat combined with positive Hawaiian values created a unique and winning team, she believes. “What our team has the most of is dedication and a lot of heart.”

Editor Associate, University Provost