University of Arizona South students Beatriz Greeno and Juan Andres Espinoza have been selected for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute's Congressional Internship Program.
A total of 28 students from higher education institutions across the nation were selected for the prestigious internship and will spend much of the fall semester working in congressional offices in Washington, D.C. As part of the program, the students will receive leadership training and must engage in community service work. The 12-week internship begins in late August and provides a stipend of $3,730.
"The students will get a rare opportunity to experience our government in action from the inside," said James W. Shockey, dean of UA South.
"That is invaluable, whatever the individual's chosen career path," Shockey said. "But knowing our students, I have little doubt that they will leave just as big an impression on those they work with in the Arizona delegation, and will represent well the University of Arizona South as well as the communities of Douglas and Nogales."
Another UA student, Karen Lara, a graduate student studying public administration, is currently serving as a summer intern in the office of U.S. Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva.
"It truly is a remarkable opportunity to work in the U.S. House of Representatives at Washington, D.C.," Lara said about her two-month placement this summer.
"I am exposed to the political system and the legislative process in the most valuable way possible," said Lara, who provides tours and interacts with members of Congress, their staff and constituents. She also had has the opportunity to network with legislators, ambassadors, lawyers, business executives, directors of organizations and others.
"This internship program has provided me with the necessary tools and skills to further my professional career in the government sector," she said. "I am thankful for the opportunity to work in such a prominent environment this summer, and I hope that my contributions to Grijalva's office are helpful to the constituents."
Several other UA students have served with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute as fellows and interns. Alyssa Padilla was placed with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, then Grijalva's office, in 2010; Tamara Castillon was placed in Grijalva's office in 2012; Jacquelyne Vega was placed in Grijalva's office in 2013.
Greeno aspires to work in law enforcement and would like to be involved in crafting immigration reform policies.
"I can be the person sitting across that desk making decisions. Like I told my husband, I could be the next one," said Greeno, a UA South psychology student in Douglas who transferred to the UA after receiving an associate's degree in criminal justice from Cochise College.
"I know that this program will prepare me for what it is like in the real world, and that will help me in any kind of situation, personal or professional," Greeno said.
Espinoza, a UA South Santa Cruz student, said his long-term plans are to remain in the U.S.-Mexico border region improving access to education, especially for English language learners, and helping those new to higher education.
In April, he attended the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities meeting held in Washington, D.C., where he met government officials and observed legislative sessions in action on Capitol Hill.
Through the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, Espinoza said he looks forward to learning more about community-based research and improving his communication skills, especially in public speaking. He also would like to better understand the inner workings of the U.S. government.
Espinoza – a Cochise College transfer student now studying applied sciences and human services – said he intends to use that knowledge to inform his studies and future career as a social worker.
"There are people who need a lot of help in my community, so I want to start with the community that helped me to grow and gave me support."