Michelle Teran-Woolfork, MSL ’17, took a different career path than the one she initially had planned. She always wanted to go to law school and become an attorney. From there she planned on advocating for domestic violence survivors. Her current path still allows her to make the difference she intended on making, however, in a much different way and on behalf of many more people than she ever thought.
While completing her undergraduate degree, Teran-Woolfork began interning full-time with United Farm Workers (UFW) during the California’s Legislature’s most hectic and busiest time of year. “We were working on a bill with Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg during the end of session, and during all of that I became enamored with the Sacramento political process,” she said.
She was inspired and after graduating she continued working in grassroots and political organizing. However, she wanted to do more!
“I had the opportunity to attend meetings with two veteran lobbyists we were working with who both had more than 30 years of experience. I wanted to be able to do what they could do and I saw the Master of Science in Law at McGeorge as a way to add to my toolbox and help me be better at my job.”
The MSL program wound up helping Michelle while she was still earning her degree. While she was still working at UFW, and one year into the program, she was able to work on a bill to make California the first state in the nation to give farmworkers overtime pay. Unfortunately, as the Legislature took its summer recess before the end of session, the bill did not have enough votes for the bill to pass.
“That summer, I was taking Persuasive Public Speaking,” said Teran-Woolfork, “In that class, I started working on reframing and honing my message for when I talked to legislators about the bill. Also, after having conversations with legislators, when the bill came up for a vote, it had more than enough votes to pass.”
After graduating from McGeorge with her Master of Science in Law, Michelle moved on from UFW and started a new role, where she worked for an Assemblymember in the California Legislature.
After that, she quickly moved up from a Legislative Aide position to working as a Legislative Director for Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Fullerton).
“As a Legislative Director, my job is to prepare the package of bills that my member will work on in any given year. One of the coolest parts of my job is that I get to vet bill ideas early on and seek out the relationships to get things done. I’ve worked on issues I never imagined I’d work on. But I think that the most fulfilling part of my career is knowing that Californians want to have a voice in their government, and working in the Legislature for an Assemblymember, I help give them that.”