My Newcomb-Tulane College grant allowed me to cover my living and travel expenses during my congressional internship in Washington, D.C. this summer. I worked in the office of Congresswoman Jackie Speier, who represents the northern California district that I grew up in. I have followed the congresswoman’s work since I was in high school and had long admired her unceasing advocacy for women’s rights, but I actually almost didn’t apply for her internship. I was sure that congressional internships were far too competitive for me to ever obtain, and I could not afford to do an unpaid internship anyways. When I applied and was accepted, my excitement was quickly followed by anxiety over whether I could afford to take on the financial burden that would come with this opportunity.
The internship ended up being a better experience than I had ever imagined it could be. Hill internships are notoriously stressful and intense, but I was lucky to end up in an office with an incredible staff. My supervisor was supportive and approachable, and my fellow interns were fantastic. Most of Congresswoman Speier’s staffers are women and being able to observe and work with remarkable women who are helping to shape national policies was truly inspirational. Our staff often sent interns to meetings and briefings to write memos and this quickly became one of our favorite activities, because we were able to learn about so many fascinating topics and events that are impacting the United States and its allies.
I feel that this internship experience has impacted my goals, my career opportunities and my confidence enormously. Gaining a better understanding of the inner working of the federal government and legislative processes has solidified my desire to pursue a law degree and a career in policy-making, and working in a high-intensity environment has given me the confidence to do so. I could not have taken this internship without my NTC grant, and I will forever be grateful for the opportunities that this grant has provided for me.
Written by Hannah Lyons-Cavazos, recipient of a Dean’s Grant sponsored by CELT, 2018