Student reflects on internship with congresswoman

DOWNEY - Ever since I was a junior at Warren High School in Downey and took a fascinating American History class, I've been interested in politics. I'm now a 23-year-old senior at California State University, Long Beach majoring in Political Science and I finally got the firsthand view into the day-to-day operations of an elected official's office that I had been wondering about for some time.I had the privilege of working as a summer intern in Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard's Downtown Los Angeles district office. It truly was an eye-opening experience. I pursued an internship in her office because of her dedicated representation of Downey, my hometown. From the outset, I was eager to learn as much as I could about her staff and how they work together on behalf of Downey residents and all of her constituents. From the start, under the direction of Diana Porras, the congresswoman's Project Manager and Internship Coordinator, I received a full overview of Congresswoman Roybal-Allard's office. I answered telephone calls - lots of calls - from constituents throughout the congressional district, including Downey. I listened to them explain their opinion about an issue being debated before Congress and directed them to the congresswoman's casework unit if they needed help with an issue involving a federal agency. I also conducted research to help find answers to their questions and solutions to their problems. I really enjoyed the work, whether it involved writing down their comments to share with the congresswoman, providing a helpful phone number, or researching scholarship opportunities for college-bound students. I particularly looked forward to accompanying the congresswoman's staff members out "in the field" at local meetings and district events where we represented the congresswoman's office. One of the most memorable experiences of my internship took place on May 24th - the very first day of my internship - when I attended a Partnership for Los Angeles Schools meeting in Los Angeles. Diana Porras and I joined the program's representatives who explained their goals for helping even more promising students attend college. A couple weeks later, I was back in my hometown to attend the June 7th GOOD (Gangs Out of Downey) agenda meeting at Downey City Hall with the congresswoman's Senior Advisor Kim Tachiki-Chin. I found the experience both interesting and uplifting. Sitting in the council chambers and learning about the many things Downey is doing to keep gangs out of the community, I really felt proud of my community and the amazing residents who give of their time to make the city better for everyone. While I learned a lot every day during my internship, I especially appreciated meeting Congresswoman Roybal-Allard. It was such an honor and a privilege to finally meet and speak with her. She sat down with three other interns and me and wanted to learn about us, our interests and our hopes and dreams for the future. It was truly a special and humbling experience and I will always remember her graciousness that day with great fondness and admiration. My internship ended August 16. Based on the experience, I now realize that I am very interested in becoming a public servant. I dream of being a Member of Congress so that I too may serve families in my community. Just like the congresswoman and her dedicated staff, I realize now more than ever that I find great satisfaction in helping people in need. My internship in Congresswoman Roybal-Allard's office was a hands-on and rewarding experience that I could never have received in the classroom, and I am really grateful for the opportunity. Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard provides parents and students with useful information about federal loans, internships, fellowships, private scholarships and work-study opportunities. Workshops are also coordinated by her staff to help parents and students fill out college financial aid forms. For students interested in attending our nation's U.S. service academies, the congresswoman hosts an annual academy workshop. The academies provide a free college education in return for five years of military service following graduation. To learn more about these opportunities, visit and click Resources for Students or call Diana Porras at (213) 628-9230.

********** Published: August 18, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 18