Levin Center summer law clerks assist Senate investigation into organ transplant problems

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An investigation by the Senate Committee on Finance into problems with the U.S. organ transplant network held a hearing Thursday after benefiting from the work of two Wayne Law School students, Yesenia Jimenez and Thea Barrak, who interned with the committee under a summer program administered by the Levin Center for Oversight and Democracy at Wayne State University Law School. 

“The Levin Center has been sending summer law interns to Capitol Hill for seven years now to work for committees conducting bipartisan investigations,” said Jim Townsend, director of the Levin Center. “It’s been a delight to see Wayne law students not only gain investigative legal experience, but also earn praise from committee staff for their high-quality work. Yesenia and Thea have made Wayne Law proud while raising the law school’s visibility in Washington.” 

Jimenez interned with the Finance Committee this summer and helped with the final stages of the investigation and hearing preparation. Barrak, who interned with the committee last summer, helped advance the early stages of the investigation. 

According to the Finance Committee’s chief investigative counsel, Daniel Goshorn, who oversaw staff work on the organ transplant investigation, the committee “quite literally could not have done it without Yesenia” this summer and “Thea was also a great help” last summer.

When asked about her summer internship, Jimenez said, “I am honored to have worked with the Senate Finance Committee on the critical issue of our organ transplantation system. This investigation exposed me to oversight’s vital role in safeguarding access to life-saving organs, particularly for communities of color and rural populations. My time with the committee fueled my desire to pursue a career in public service.” 

Barrak stated, “Working on the Senate Finance Committee last year was an honor and a privilege. It opened my eyes to many different issues, most notably the organ transplant problems that our country is facing today. I thank the Levin Center for providing me with an unforgettable experience and for giving me a cause that I will continue to care about for a very long time.” 

Two other Wayne law students, Bahar Haste and Kay El-Moussaoui, also interned on Capitol Hill this summer working on investigations. In addition, law student Yara Gayar spent an entire semester performing investigative work for the House Committee on Financial Services under a new externship program, “Lawyering in the Nation’s Capital,” initiated by the Levin Center in partnership with the Law School’s Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights and the school’s the Externship Program. 

The Levin Center works to strengthen oversight efforts by Congress and the 50 state legislatures, building on the oversight legacy of its founder, Michigan Sen. Carl Levin. The Center helps Wayne Law students find unpaid summer internships on congressional committees doing oversight work and provides stipends to offset the cost. Since 2016, it has sent 27 Wayne law students to Capitol Hill. A 2019 summer intern and law school graduate, Daina Robinson, now works as an investigative lawyer for the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. 

The Levin Center is part of Wayne State University Law School in Detroit but does not necessarily present the views of either the university or law school.


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