By Alexia Del Valle
Honors College student Desiree Gonzalez is spending the Fall semester getting real-world experience in policymaking on Capitol Hill.
Currently a junior majoring in political science and international relations at FIU, Gonzalez is a participant in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute fall internship program, which gives her the opportunity to intern with Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, U.S. Representative for Florida’s 26th congressional district.
This semester, 28 students or recent graduates are interning in Washington, D.C., a record for the university. Six, like Gonzalez, are working for members of Congress.
The Talent Lab at FIU in Washington, D.C., collaborates with academic units like the Honors College to provide learning experiences and support the placement of students and alumni in internships and permanent employment in the nation’s capital.
Gonzalez describes the internship as a dream, allowing her to be a voice for those in her community.
“I know that anything the office may ask me to do, no matter how small the task may seem... is going to help my community,” Gonzalez says.
Desiree Gonzalez in Debbie Mucarsel-Powell's office
Daily tasks for Gonzalez consist of organizing and responding to constituent emails, as well as coordinating tours whenever the office receives requests. In addition, she has had the opportunity to stay informed of bills and policies the congresswoman is working on, such as a bill to protect patients from surprise medical bills. Gonzalez got to attend a briefing on the bill and wrote a memo for a legislative assistant, which she describes as a great learning experience.
When asked about a future in Congress, Gonzalez says she doesn't see herself running for office but can definitely see herself working on Capitol Hill. She wants the opportunity to help those in her community.
“I genuinely want to help the people in my community. I [am] lucky to work with the congresswoman [who] represents my home district. I know the people she's representing. They're my family, my community members,” she says.
She adds that being able to serve her community is what motivates her every day. She knows what hard work looks like, after coming from a low-income family and two incredibly hardworking parents.
“I am the daughter of a pool cleaner and ... a waitress and [I] used to box DVDs at Blockbuster. No type of work is meaningless,” Gonzalez says.
Gonzalez also encourages constituents to speak to their members of Congress. “People don't understand how important constituent calls are to the congress member. Believe it or not, congress members listen to their constituents.”
For more information on obtaining an internship in a congressional office, contact Eric Feldman, associate director of Student Success and Academic Programs, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-558-3481.
FIU in Washington, D.C., is an integrated advocacy approach aimed at increasing FIU’s national reputation and federal support for FIU’s preeminent and emerging preeminent programs, faculty and students. The FIU in DC