Graduate School:University of Massachusetts - Boston, Boston College School of Social Work
Undergraduate School:Wells College
Areas of interest:Social Services Issues
Mentors:Vivien Li, Executive Director, The Boston Harbor Association and Elissa Flynn-Poppey, Mintz Levin
Placement: Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, Division of Animal Health
Supervisor:Michael Cahill, Director, Division of Animal Health
Project Description:Xavier Lazcano’s placement was at the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources in the Animal Health Division. His project focused on developing and writing the regulations for the operation of Animal Rescue Organizations. He compiled research on the policy initiatives of more than 20 states and reviewed their potential efficacy in addressing barriers faced here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In addition, he assisted the state’s Chief Veterinarian, other field staff, and officers of the MSPCA on investigations of suspected inhumane conditions at animal shelters. His research in conjunction with this exposure enabled Xavier to appreciate the magnitude of unsanitary practices impacting the vulnerable canine and feline shelter population. Xavier’s subsequent final draft of regulations, submitted for promulgation and approval by the Governor’s office, puts forth crucial recommendations to improve the health and quality of life for shelter animals while protecting the native population from out-of-state infectious agents.
My experience as a Rappaport Fellow was like no other because it gave me the opportunity to utilize what prominent educational theorist Paulo Freire called “praxis”-- the union of theory and practice. As a student, I have spent years developing the skill set and wherewithal to enter the world of public policy. My fellowship placement allowed me to actualize those aspirations and work collaboratively with senior officials on important issues. At least in part because of the Rappaport Institute’s prestigious reputation, my supervisors were quick to trust my abilities and include me as an equal member of the staff instead of simply as a summer intern. Furthermore, the weekly Wednesday seminars were varied but personally selected by fellows which enabled the fellows who had crafted the seminar to discuss the topic or organization more profoundly. These evening seminars were a highlight of the fellowship because it was an opportunity to venture outside of our specialties and learn something we would not have ordinarily been exposed to.