Today’s spotlight is on FIU student intern Celine Cruz, Programs Intern at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI). Celine helps all of the organization’s high school and higher education projects run as smoothly as possible. The mission of CHCI is to place Latino youth on a pathway for success by “inspiring high school and college completion, and then providing programs to explore public policy and leadership in our nation’s capital.”
We had the chance to tour CHCI and sit down with Celine for a brief Q&A to ask her a little bit more about her internship and experience in the capital. A beautiful office with a basement-level lounge for interns and employees to have lunch and take coffee breaks together sets the scene.
*This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
What kind of work do you do day-to-day?
CHCI works with high schools, R2L, and R2L NextGen programs. “R2L” stands for “ready to lead.” In support of these programs, the organization sets up forums and discussions across the country in locations like Miami, California and New York.
During my time as the leadership and programs development intern here at CHCI, I’ve been focused on the Next Generation program, through which CHCI brings students to Washington, D.C. This summer, we had 60 Hispanic, low-income students come from all over the country and spend a week here. They were featured on Telemundo, and so was the CHCI Vice President of Programs & Administration William R. Gil and the California Representative Tony Cardenas. Another cool trip that is organized during spring semester is a student conference trip to Japan.
What kinds of programs does CHCI offer?
For summer, we only have the high school and college undergraduate programs. I helped with a lot of the logistics for those. For example, I booked the shuttles to and from the airport for students and helped them to get set up in their dorms. We also organize “highlight” events so that the students have a platform to show the sponsors donating to their program what they’ve learned during the program.
The high school program is a week long and the students attend a variety of events. On the other hand, the college program lasts eight weeks and is much more focused on what the student’s major is. We have all sorts of students from different majors—we even have a petroleum engineering major from New Mexico!
CHCI offers a nine-month fellowship for graduate students as well, that is split in the same way a school year is: into a fall and spring term. The students work in a congressional office in the fall and, after winter break, work for a federal agency or advocacy group.
What skills are most relevant to your job?
The skill that I use the most interning here is: multitasking. I’m always multitasking! I do all sorts of things like collect time sheets and community service hours. They’ll pour in through my email and I have to sort through them all as I receive them the best as I can.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
I really have enjoyed working for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute. One day in the future, once I have my degree in international relations, I can really see myself working for a non-profit in D.C. It’s so great to be able to make impacts in people’s lives.