Meet our interns: FFRF’s summer interns help fight for the cause

Here are the profiles of FFRF’s 2018 summer interns.


Name: Luke Changet

Where and when I was born: Lancaster, Ohio, in 1991.

Family: Parents Brad and Helen, brother Jake, sister Grace and dog Ender.

Education: Ohio State University for undergrad, Case Western Reserve University for law school.

My religious upbringing was: Catholic.

How I heard about and/or chose to become an FFRF intern: I was looking for nonprofit jobs in November 2016 in the wake of the election, and FFRF had a posting for an attorney near me. That sparked my interest, which led me to law school. So, naturally, when I was looking for summer jobs, I checked if FFRF had anything, and this internship exists, so here I am.

What I do here: Legal research and letter writing. My favorite so far has been helping draft a letter to Ted Cruz and Rand Paul denouncing their anti-science views.

My professional interests are: To do good. Whether that is for a nonprofit like FFRF or ACLU, or working as a public defender, or anything else, I want to use my law degree to help change the world for the better.

These three words sum me up: Nerdy, accepting, maker-of-bad-jokes.

Things I like: Video games, working out, tabletop games, my dog, other people’s dogs, pictures of dogs, thinking about dogs. 

Things I smite: Patriarchy, capitalism, fascism, nerds (in-game only). 

My loftiest goal: Abolish capitalism.

This is a fun fact about myself: I am a competitive quidditch player. No, it’s not live-action role-playing. Yes, I’ve broken bones.


Name: Paul Epland.

Where and when I was born: Plymouth, Minn., in 1997.

Family: Parents Kris and Mark Epland, brother Ethan (18).

Education: Sarah Lawrence College.

Religious upbringing: Methodist.

How I heard about and/or chose to become an FFRF intern: I heard about FFRF through the Paul Redleaf internship program at my college.

What I do here: Editorial intern, write “Freethoughts of the Day” and other things.

My professional interests are: Teaching, writing.

These three words sum me up: No outstanding warrants.

Things I like: Cycling, reading, films, spending time with friends/family and my dogs.

Things I smite: Flying.

My loftiest goal: Publishing a book.

This is a fun fact about myself: I run a radio show with my friends at school!


Name: Mario Fregoso

Where and when I was born: Milwaukee in 1997.

Family: I was raised with my Mom Ally, my sister Olivia, who we call Lulu, and my Dad, who is also named Mario. (It gets confusing.)

Education: Heading into my junior year at UW-Madison.

My religious upbringing was: I was raised more or less atheist by my father, since he was raised extremely Christian and broke away.

How I heard about and/or chose to become an FFRF intern: I heard about FFRF through my friend who did the same internship the year before.

What I do here: I do a lot of research. This summer, I have been focusing on school assemblies and churches promoting political figures.

My professional interests are: I hope one day to go to law school and become an attorney. Not quite sure what kind of law I am most interested in yet, but I know I want to represent real people and not huge businesses.

These three words sum me up: Chill, creative, daring.

Things I like: Murals, hip hop music, Chinese food, debates, Milwaukee, Mario Kart.

Things I smite: Dry markers/unsharpened pencils, early mornings, sore throats, mosquitoes, coffee.

My loftiest goal: First man on Mars!

This is a fun fact about myself: I paint murals and do art in my free time and was recently featured at Summerfest for a live painting of a tiny home.


Name: Jackson Marchant.

Where and when I was born: I was born in Moscow, Idaho, but raised in Spokane, Wash. I’m 25.

Family: Parents Kim and Jack, and a 3-year-old Chesapeake Bay retriever named Fernie.

Education: International relations magna cum laude from Eastern Washington University. Rising 2L at the University of Washington School of Law for my J.D.

My religious upbringing was: None. My parents raised me with a secular and freethinking mindset. Thanks, Dad. I’ve always loved learning about human culture, so when I was a kid and teenager I learned a lot about different myths and religions out of curiosity. However, as a student of history, it’s impossible to overstate the horrific influence religion has had over almost every war and genocide since homo sapiens migrated out of Africa some 200,000 years ago.

How I heard about and/or chose to become an FFRF intern: I’ve known about FFRF for a long time and have admired its fight to protect the Constitution from those who would tear down the wall separating state and church. I learned of the internship through my law school, and it was too good an opportunity to pass up.

What I do here: I work with staff attorneys to write complaint letters for Establishment Clause violations regarding government-sponsored religion. I also track down proof of violations on social media and from journalistic sources.

My professional interests are: Politics and law.

These three words sum me up: Pretension isn’t cool.

Things I like: Travel, cooking, and learning about history. Rewatching “The West Wing.”

Things I smite: Fanatics in any form.

My loftiest goal: To run for and win elected office.

This is a fun fact about myself: While vacationing in Banff, Alberta, some years ago, I met the guy who plays Jesus at the Holy Land Experience; he’s the same guy Bill Maher interviewed in the movie “Religulous.”


Name: Bryant Plank.

Where and when I was born: Eau Claire, Wis., in 1991.

Family: I have five sisters and one brother who range in age from 18 to 35.

Education: B.S. in political science. Rising 2L at Marquette Law School.

My religious upbringing was: Pretty nonexistent.

How I heard about and/or chose to become an FFRF intern: Followed FFRF on Facebook and later interviewed through law school. I’m studying constitutional law so this was the perfect internship opportunity.

What I do here: Legal research and writing.

My professional interests are: Constitutional law and politics.

These three words sum me up: Ambitious, diplomatic, efficient.

Things I like: Traveling, cats, activism, good people, football, basketball, family, friends.

Things I smite: People who suck, religion, winter, traffic.

My loftiest goal: Become a U.S. senator.

This is a fun fact about myself: I traveled alone to Uganda in 2014.

 


Name: Corinne Elayne Staten.

Where and when I was born: Wyandotte, Mich., in October 1994.

Family: Parents Jennifer and Scott, and brother Vince. My dog’s name is Odin and we have a koi pond.

Education: I have a bachelor’s degree in business administrations with a minor in human resource management and philosophy, as well as an associate’s in legal studies. Currently about to start my third year of law school at Valparaiso.

My religious upbringing was: I was sort of brought up Baptist in southern Kentucky, but my parents let me research and test different religions once I was old enough. After some trial and error, I realized that I didn’t believe in a god and that I was an atheist.

How I heard about and/or chose to become an FFRF intern: I heard about FFRF when I was an undergrad freshman and it was a dream to be a legal intern while in law school. I have always been passionate about secular rights and the separation of church and state, so this was the perfect internship for me. I met Dan Barker my sophomore year when I was vice president of my school’s Secular Student Alliance.

What I do here: I draft letters for staff attorneys and try not to drink too much coffee.

My professional interests are: Being in-house counsel for a corporation. I want to work somewhere where I am passionate about what the company’s mission is. I clerked for a judge last fall and it opened my eyes to possibly being a judge one day. I like doing things that challenge me to think outside the box.

These three words sum me up: Sociable, honest and driven.

Things I like: Reading, cooking, exploring new places, learning new areas of law, losing track of time, and getting to know new people.

Things I smite: The haters.

My loftiest goal: In-house counsel for GM or Ford (being from the Detroit area that is lofty) but really just passing the bar.

This is a fun fact about myself: I grew up in McCreary County, Ky., during the McCreary v. ACLU case, so it was interesting watching the county go crazy over their “religious rights being taken away.”


Name: Joe Steigmeyer.

Corinne Staten
Bryant Plank
Paul Epland
Mario Fregoso
Luke Changet
Joseph Steigmeyer
Jackson Marchant

Where and when I was born: Fort Wayne, Ind., in 1991.

Family: One older brother, one younger sister.

Education: University of Iowa College of Law ’19 (J.D.), Carleton College ’14 (B.A.).

My religious upbringing was: Catholic.

How I heard about and/or chose to become an FFRF intern: Hein v. FFRF.

What I do here: Help write briefs and letters.

My professional interests are: Varied and inconclusive, but my legal interests include constitutional law, criminal law, and copyrights/trademarks.

These three words sum me up: I’d need four.

Things I like: Soccer, golf, Faulkner, jazz, MST3K, Wes Anderson movies.

Things I smite: Hypocrisy; I’m also sad that “The Simpsons” jumped the shark 15 years ago.

My loftiest goal: To one day pay off my law school debt.

This is a fun fact about myself: I was a competitive gymnast for 12 years.