WASHINGTON, D.C. - Enrique Ramirez, a 2005 graduate of Downey High School, is in the middle of a three-month stay in Washington, D.C. as a participant in the fall 2009 White House internship program.Ramirez was one of just 100 interns selected for the fall program. Interns work in one of several White House departments, including the Office of Cabinet Affairs, the Office of the Chief of Staff, the Office of the Vice President and the Office of Legislative Affairs, among others. Ramirez, who earned his bachelor's of arts degree in communication studies at Cal State Long Beach this past spring, has been assigned as the press intern in the Communications Department in the Office of the First Lady. "I have the pleasure of working alongside some of the best people and get to see and learn how the Communications Department operates here at the White House," Ramirez wrote in a recent e-mail interview. "As for my day to day duties, it can be described as a bit hectic and nonstop, and it really depends on what is going on that day or that week. When there are events going on, my day gets a little more interesting." Ramirez said his first big project as an intern came during his third day on the job. He got a chance to meet the First Lady, Michelle Obama, and watch her record a public service announcement, experiencing the process and seeing how the Communication Department staff facilitate it. Prior to his internship experience, Ramirez worked in the retail industry most of his life, but he wanted a change. That, in addition to this various campus activities to help others and the community, led him to apply for the White House internship program. "As graduation approached I realized I wanted to put myself out there and attempt to utilize my degree in something other than retail. I wanted to have an opportunity to use the skills and knowledge obtained in classes to better those around me. That's one factor of course," Ramirez explained. "The second factor was all the activities I became involved with during my senior year at CSULB. I became involved in a recycling project on campus to beautify the campus and city, worked on raising money and awareness for Nourish the Children, and got a rewarding feeling by having the privilege of volunteering my time to Long Beach BLAST (Better Learning After School Today). "Being able to assist the citizens of the community was a rewarding experience and gave me more motivation to apply somewhere where public service is the priority," he continued, "which leads me to my last reason for applying; I applied because I wanted to have an opportunity to work for the Obama Administration, an administration that dedicates itself for positive change. To have a chance to work with this historic administration is truly an honor." Being selected as an intern caught Ramirez off guard. He readily admits that he wasn't sure if he had the resume to be accepted into the program, and he wasn't sure if he was "White House material." In fact, when he first saw the acceptance letter, he honestly believed he had been rejected. With the initial words, "Thank you for applying to the White House…," he thought they were letting him down nicely and thanking him for applying. As he read the rest of the way, however, he found he had been selected for the program. More than a month into the internship, which ends Dec. 18, Ramirez is finding the experience to be both memorable and educational. "To me, there is no better place to work and learn from than the White House. The people you see and meet here are incredible," he said. "The people I work with have accomplished careers or have something incredible to offer. The people I get to see and meet have something great to offer, and the people I work with always have something to teach me. "I hope that by the end of this program I can go home and share this same knowledge with those around me," he added. "I hope to be a catalyst for change and continue to assist the citizens of Long Beach. I hope with this experience I will have a more profound appreciation for public service to motivate others to volunteer and help out, and I hope this experience will guide me in the right direction, both academically and in my career." After the internship, Ramirez said he intends to pursue a master's degree at Cal State Long Beach, either in communication studies or public policy administration. He is hoping to begin grad school in fall 2010.
********** Published: October 23, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 27