Name: Jennifer Mauskapf
Hometown: Lancaster, PA
CHCI Program(s)/Year: Summer Internship Program, 1999
CHCI Program Placement(s): Office of Congressman Bob Menendez
Current Position/Organization: Partner, Brustein & Manasevit PLLC, Washington, DC
1. Many CHCI alumni and current program participants have battled and continue to battle common challenges as they strive to become Latino leaders in their communities: living and working in low-income communities, some in single-parent households, as recent immigrants, DREAMers, or first-generation American citizens. What challenges did you have to face to get to where you are today?
I am blessed to have grown up with parents and an extended family who placed a high value on education. My parents supported me and my brother in our educational endeavors and encouraged us to strive for more. While I was the first one in my family to go to law school, I knew I had the support of my family even if they didn’t have the knowledge or experience to aid me more directly through that process.
2. What motivated you to apply to the CHCI program(s), and why do you think they are important for Latino youth?
Ana Polanco, a Sorority Sister of mine, first introduced me to the CHCI internship program and encouraged me to apply. At the time, she was participating in the CHCI Fellowship program. The information Ana shared about her experience in the program made it sound like a wonderful opportunity to learn firsthand about our political system and what it’s like to work in a congressional office. My experience in the program exceeded my expectations. In addition to learning about the political system and Capitol Hill, the experience of living and working alongside 29 fellow high caliber, hardworking, and community-minded diverse Latino college students from across the country was invaluable. We learned from one another and grew together. I am so incredibly grateful for my CHCI experience—it broadened my horizons and opened my eyes to opportunities previously unknown to me. I gained more from my CHCI internship than I could have imagined. If I had to sum up my CHCI internship experience in one word, it would be empowering.
3. What have you been doing since you finished the CHCI program(s)?
After completing the CHCI summer internship program, I returned to complete my undergraduate education (B.A. Economics) and M.S. in Education at the University of Rochester. I then moved back to Washington, D.C. to attend Georgetown University Law Center. Following law school, I served as a law clerk to the Honorable Jerry L. Buchmeyer, United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas in Dallas. After my clerkship, I joined the law firm of Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC, a firm nationally recognized for its federal education law and grants management practice. In 2010, I became a Partner at the Firm. On the personal side, my husband and I are parents to a beautiful four-month old daughter.
4. What impact did your CHCI experience have on your career and development as a leader?
Again, if I had to sum up my CHCI internship experience in one word, it would be empowering. Living and working alongside my fellow interns and sharing the unique opportunities presented to us by the CHCI internship experience was truly empowering. I concluded the program feeling incredibly energized and ready to take on new challenges. My CHCI experience allowed me to dream bigger and plan more effectively to bring those dreams to fruition.
5. How do you continue to give back to the community?
I proudly serve on the Board of Directors for the Latin American Youth Center (www.layc-dc.org). The mission of the Latin American Youth Center (LAYC) is to empower a diverse population of youth to achieve a successful transition to adulthood through multi-cultural, comprehensive, and innovative programs that address youths’ social, academic, and career needs. I first came to know LAYC in 1999 during my CHCI internship—our class worked with LAYC as a part of our community service project. LAYC provides multi-lingual programming in a variety of areas including educational enhancement, social services, workforce investment, and community wellness. LAYC and its mission are near and dear to my heart, and I am honored to give back to the community through my service with LAYC.
Additionally, I am also committed to giving back to the community through my service with CHCI and my Sorority. I serve on the CHCI Alumni Task Force and am a proud lifetime member and former national board member of my Sorority, Latinas Promoviendo Comunidad/Lambda Pi Chi Sorority, Inc.
6. Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years, and what do you still want to achieve?
I look forward to continuing to have a successful law practice—that my firm continues to grow and be a leader in our field. I look forward to continuing to find ways to give back to my community that are both meaningful and fulfilling. And, I look forward to maintaining a happy and healthy balance with my professional and personal life. As a new parent, imagining our lives 5-10 years from now is almost overwhelming—for now, I am focused on being present and savoring every moment as much as I can.
7. What advice would you give current and future CHCI participants?
Being a CHCI participant is an honor and a privilege. Take advantage of, and be open to, every opportunity you can during your CHCI experience. Work hard, actively listen, ask questions, seek mentors…and when your program ends, do not let your relationship with CHCI and those you met through your experience end. Stay in touch, remain engaged. Respect the privilege and opportunities you received through your CHCI experience and remember to give back to CHCI and help ensure others after you may have the same opportunity.