By Joe Dargan
Students and United States Representatives were honored last Tuesday by the East Los Angeles College Foundation for participating in the ELAC Foundation Marvin Martinez: Washington D.C. Gateway Internship program.
Held at the foundation’s corporate center headquarters, the event gave honorees a moment to express how critical this internship can be for the underprivileged.
The program gives ELAC students who are interested in government service the opportunity to participate in the legislative process, while working alongside seasoned Congress members.
ELAC’s president, Marvin Martinez, was the first to be introduced to the podium at the ELAC foundation headquarters.
During his speech, Martinez said he and, who he described as “the ELAC family,” created this program two years ago in hopes that no matter what kind of legal status a student has, they can apply and hopefully meet the standards for the internship.
He mentioned some of the fundamentals the internship provides for the students during his speech.
“This is an exclusive, all-expenses-paid program, which provides opportunities for students interested in pursuing a career in government service,” Martinez said.
He described how the foundation wanted to provide more programs like this for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival recipients and create additional Dream Resource Centers.
“[This] gives students a rare look inside the world of our legislative, political, and administrative systems, despite their label or economic status,” Martinez said, “These students are champions for change.”
Others who spoke at the event were Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, Judy Chu, Nanette Barragan, and a few interns who were a part of the internship program this past summer.
Congresswoman Roybal-Allard has helped give several students an opportunity to partake in the Washington D.C. program.
“What makes this internship most important is that you meet other young people. Other Latinos with different points of view. You get exposure to different ideas,” Roybal-Allard said.
Though her father was in the political system, Roybal-Allard said she knew what it felt like to have no alliances when she got her start in her career.
“It helps give you a better understanding of the wider world and it also helps to demystify Washington D.C. It shows these students the importance of advocacy,” Roybal -Allard said.
Alexis Catano, an alumna of the program, spoke about her experience in D.C. and how different it was for her.
From the living environment to working with other interns from Ivy League schools, Catano said she was exposed to a lot first time experiences.
Catano said she had the chance to work as an intern for Congressman Jimmy Gomez, who was unable to make it to the fundraiser that night.
Along with networking with staff members, interns were able to share their opinions with the Congress members they worked with.
According to Catano, throughout this internship, interns were exposed to what could happen by getting involved with the political system.
The interns were able to learn how bills run through congress and how law-making takes place.
By applying what they’ve learned, the interns could make an impact towards encouraging other students that may be interested in the political field.
With contributions from Steven Cardona-Arreola and Jorge Serrano Pacheco.