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As USAID interns, students provide humanitarian aid around the world

As USAID interns, students provide humanitarian aid around the world

July 21, 2022 at 11:05am

From the war in Ukraine to natural disasters, the United States provides humanitarian aid to people in countries all around the world. This summer, Honors College student Andres Velasco, who is a senior studying history, is one of three FIU students interning at the U.S. Agency for International Development, the federal agency leading such responses and other global aid projects. 

Specifically, Velasco supports the Civilian-Military Disaster Operations Division, which works with the U.S. military to ensure a coordinated and cooperative response among all government entities providing aid across 68 countries.  This includes working on reducing redundancy and improving communications. 

The work that is conducted directly leads to countless lives being saved,” Velasco said. There are not many internships where one can say their work directly contributed to saving numerous lives across the globe.” 

Velasco, along with fellow USAID interns Kyomi Cabral and Moon Medina, working in different divisions of the agency, secured their spots through the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities National Internship Program, also known as HNIP, which pairs students from Hispanic-Serving Institutions with federal government internships.   

In addition to learning more about how the government works, Velasco is able to put his skills and perspectives as a history major to work both in formal ways such as archiving and categorizing documents related to prior disaster responses, and in informal ways such as learning from his coworkers who were part of the team in earlier eras, allowing him to “see history through others.” 

Growing up with a deep passion for history, I was always told that I should instead pursue a career with more possibilities for monetary gain,” he said.  “I am overjoyed that I continued to pursue a career that involves history and makes a great impact on society.”  

By interning at USAID, Velasco is part of a long and increasingly strengthening partnership between the agency and FIU. In March, USAID Administrator Samantha Power visited campus to sign an agreement to work together with the university to develop FIU students for roles at the agency, and USAID has also funded much of FIU’s disaster resilience work, including the Wall of Wind. 

The current internship is part of Velasco’s pattern of public service.  He will intern again in D.C. this fall as a Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute (CHLI) Global Leader Fellow and has also worked for the Florida Senate and the Coral Gables Museum in Miami. Some of his major accomplishments include the development of social media campaigns as well as strategic communication plans that resulted in higher engagement. He will graduate in the spring of 2023 with a bachelor’s in history and a minor in economics and marketing. Subsequently, he plans to pursue a master’s and Ph.D. in history. 

FIU in Washington, D.C., which is opening a bold, new location this Fall, 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 team collaborates with academic units to provide learning experiences and support the placement of students and alumni in internships and permanent employment. For more information on becoming a Washington, D.C. intern, email Eric Feldman at