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University of Oregon

Rachael Bowen

Rachael Bowen

Intern for Senator Ron Wyden, & the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law (DC Office)

ES Profile: Major in Ethnic Studies, 2012

Like many recent graduates, I left college with a desire to transform my educational classroom experience into professional day-to-day experience. While choosing to move to Washington D.C was certainly motivated by my experiences organizing, learning, and researching as an Ethnic Studies major, it has been my experiences in D.C that have illuminated the true value and interdisciplinary nature of my ES Degree.

The Brennan Center is a singular institution–part think tank, part public interest law firm, and part advocacy group interested in improving our systems of democracy and justice. In the few short months I was Washington I was lucky enough to attend a number of incredibly powerful and historic events.

Perhaps most important to me was meeting long time civil rights champions John Lewis and Marian Wright Edelman and being able to witness the oral arguments for the Shelby County v. Holder Voting Rights case at the Supreme Court. I joined a line with many other people at 3 AM to hear what I believe to be one of the most important rights cases of my generation; protecting the right to vote.

I also had the pleasure of meeting John Lewis at a reception the night before the oral arguments and will never forget what he said, “the right to vote is the most powerful non violent tool we have in democracy. I risked my life defending that right. Some died in the struggle. If we are ever to actualize the true meaning of equality, effective measures such as the Voting Rights Act are still a necessary requirement of democracy.”