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2015 Fall Congressional Interns

On August 22nd, CHCI welcomed its 2015 Fall Congressional Interns to Washington, D.C. The class is composed of 22 diverse individuals, from 13 states. They come from 20 different academic institutions, are pursuing 17 different majors, and 77% are the first generation to attend college.

Detailed Demographics: 2015 Fall Congressional Interns

Each intern followed a unique path that led them to CHCI's internship program. Learn more about these impressive individuals below.

Applications for CHCI's Fall, Spring and Summer
Congressional Internship Programs are Now Open!

Deadline: November 6, 2015



2015 CHCI Fall Congressional Interns:

Berto Aguayo

Rocxana Estrada

Melfry Lopez

Alex Sanchez

Ricardo Alcaraz

Yanil Ferreira

Alyssa Mayleen Mermea

Osmara Santana Alanis

Jesse Aman

Erika Flores

Karla Ochoa

Elizabeth Torres

Alfredo Jesus Barcenas

Jessica Hernandez

Patricia Ordaz

Ulises Vargas

Henry Barrera

Ramon Hernandez

Darryl Perez

Ashley Bustamante

Jorge Jaramillo

Ilse Perez-Herrera

 

Berto Aguayo
CHCI-Walmart Intern
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
School: Dominican University
Major: Political Science and Economics
Placement: The Office of Sen. Dick Durbin

Berto Aguayo grew up in the South Side of Chicago. His parents emigrated from Mexico and his mother worked long hours as a single parent to provide for her children. Like many others in his shoes, Berto found himself involved with his neighborhood gang at the age of 13.

With the help of his high school director, Berto became involved with the Mikva Challenge, an organization that allows teenagers to get involved in politics. The program placed Berto in a North Side Alderman’s office, which sparked his interest in public service and inspired him to get off the streets.

Berto is a top student at Dominican University, majoring in political science and economics while serving two years as student body president. He served three years in Mayor Rahm Emanuel's Youth Commission as a Chicago Youth Commissioner and as a staff intern for State Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch. Berto has been featured on the cover of HOY newspaper, WGN's Chicago's Very Own, Streetwise magazine among other news outlets. He is also involved in coordinating the annual Hoops in the Hood program in his neighborhood and just finished an internship at the Illinois Coalition for Immigration and Refugee Rights.

As a CHCI Intern, Berto hopes to solidify and strengthen his leadership skills in order to bring positive change to his community in the South Side of Chicago. In the future, he hopes to attend law school.

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Ricardo Alcaraz
CHCI-Walmart Intern
Hometown: San Jose, California
School: University of California- Los Angeles
Major: Anthropology and Chicano/a Studies
Placement: The Office of Rep. Alan Lowenthal

At the age of seven, Ricardo Alcaraz and his mom emigrated from Mexico City, Mexico to the United States. Throughout his childhood, Ricardo’s parents advised him not to share his immigration status with anyone for protection against possible deportation. As a result, Ricardo grew up feeling ashamed of being “illegal”. This feeling intensified when he graduated from high school in 2011 and his undocumented status did not allow him to attend a 4-year institution. Ricardo’s life and identity as an undocumented student changed after President Barack Obama announced Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the state of California introduced the California DREAM Act.

Ricardo is a “DACAmented” student at the University of California- Los Angeles (UCLA) pursuing a degree in anthropology and Chicana/o studies. His experience at UCLA has been transformative and reflective. He has learned to love his undocumented identity and advocate for marginalized and underserved communities. Upon graduating, Ricardo hopes to become an educator with Teach for America and achieve his goal of working with the U.S. Department of Education to help create change in the education system and serve underrepresented students.

As a CHCI Intern, Ricardo looks forward to expanding his knowledge on the legislative process and politics. He hopes to guide and inform his community about political issues and encourage the Latino community to become civically engaged.

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Jesse Aman
CHCI-UPS Intern
Hometown: New York, New York
School: Baruch College
Major: Public Affairs
Placement: The Office of Rep. Charles B. Rangel

Jesse Aman was born and raised in Manhattan, New York. Her parents emigrated from Ecuador and faced the challenge of adapting to the new culture. At a young age, Jesse witnessed her mother’s battle with Lupus and her father’s struggle to financially and emotionally support the family. She believes these experiences have made her the passionate, hardworking, and benevolent person she is today and inspired her to broaden her education and take advantage of the resources this country has to offer.

Jesse is a junior at Baruch College majoring in public affairs and minoring in economics, with a concentration in public finance and urban policy. She is an active participant of the Harlem Children’s Zone College Success Office and the Women in Business club at Baruch College, both of which have provided her with invaluable experiences and opportunities. Her passion for local and international politics has led her to internships at the Office of NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and Ecuador’s Vice President Lenin Moreno’s office in Quito, Ecuador. Additionally, her interest in socio-economic issues has created a desire to help the Latino community understand how to be fiscally responsible.

As a CHCI Intern, Jesse looks forward to strengthening her communication skills and gaining knowledge on the legislative process in order to empower and educate the Latino community. Upon graduating, she plans on pursuing a master’s degree in public policy or international affairs at Georgetown University.

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Alfredo Jesus Barcenas
CHCI-Time Warner Cable Intern
Hometown: Barstow, California
School: California State University- San Bernardino
Major: Political Science
Placement: U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

Alfredo Barcenas is a first-generation college student born in Barstow, California. A senior at California State University- San Bernardino (CSUSB), Alfredo is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in political science. As the first in his family to achieve such a milestone, Alfredo is determined and passionate in his pursuit of a higher education.

Growing up in a single-parent household, Alfredo witnessed the sacrifices his mother had to make in order to provide for her four children. The ultimate challenge his family faced presented itself in the struggle of living far from their family in Mexico. These hardships have played a significant role in the success and motivation of Alfredo’s academic achievement.

As part of his collegiate career, Alfredo focuses on higher education policy and serves as an advocate for the students of the California State University system. He has served as student body president and vice-president at CSUSB and currently serves as the vice-president of University Affairs for the California State Student Association, representing over 460,000 students.

As a CHCI Intern, Alfredo hopes to gain insight into the legislative system while enhancing his professional skills to better serve the Hispanic community. In the future, Alfredo plans to attend law school and practice constitutional and immigration law.

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Henry Barrera
CHCI-Shell Intern
Hometown: Yonkers, New York
School: Binghamton University
Major: Environmental Public Policy and Law
Placement: The Office of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

Henry Barrera was born and raised in Yonkers, New York. He is a rising senior at Binghamton University, majoring in environmental public policy and law. Growing up in a rough and impoverished neighborhood, his parents always stressed the importance of altruism and education. After realizing that one person can be the galvanizing factor for change, Henry decided to pursue a major that would allow him to create a profound impact in his community.

Henry wouldn’t be where he is today without the help of his parents and siblings. Their everyday support has influenced him to be the catalyst for change in today’s society. He has interned with New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection and volunteers with numerous organizations in his university community.

As a CHCI Intern, Henry hopes to gain a deeper understanding of how he can help alleviate the problems everyday people face through governmental action, as well as gain knowledge on the legislative process.

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Ashley Bustamante
CHCI-Chevron Intern
Hometown: Socorro, New Mexico
School: New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology
Major: Technical Communication
Placement: The Office Sen. Martin Heinrich

Ashley Bustamante is a first generation Mexican-American student, born in San Diego and raised in Tucson, Arizona. While living in Arizona, Ashley got developed an interest in human rights issues and an became an advocate for equality and justice. She has done volunteer and community work in both Arizona and New Mexico and is grateful for the incredible support and motivation her family always gives her. Through the encouragement from strong women in her family, Ashley is inspired and motivated to further her education and work in her community. She is a junior at New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology studying technical communication, with a focus in computer science.

As a CHCI Intern, Ashley hopes to strengthen her knowledge on the legislative process, law, and public policy, as well as broaden her professional network and gain leadership experience. She knows these skills will help her reach her goal of becoming a lawyer. After graduating, Ashley hopes to attend law school and practice civil rights law. She strives and hopes to inspire and motivate young students to follow their dreams and be advocates for themselves and their communities.

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Rocxana Estrada
CHCI-Prudential Intern
Hometown: Joelton, Tennessee
School: Trevecca Nazarene University
Major: Business Administration
Placement: The Office of Rep. Steve Cohen

Rocxana Estrada is a first-generation Guatemalan-American born in Los Angeles and raised in Joelton, Tennessee. Growing up in a rural town with a two percent Latino population, achieving a higher education was an ongoing challenge due to limited resources for minority students. As a result of these hardships, Rocxana developed a passion for public policy.

Rocxana is a rising junior at Trevecca Nazarene University majoring in business administration. Her parents always stressed the importance of a higher education and continued to work hard every day to provide for her and her sister’s education. Their determination and support continue to inspire her.

As a CHCI Intern, Rocxana hopes to gain knowledge on the legislative process, broaden her professional network, and develop her leadership and professional skills. Upon completing her bachelor’s degree, Rocxana aspires to pursue a career in law.

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Yanil Ferreira
CHCI-Walmart Intern
Hometown: North Bergen, New Jersey
School: Saint Peter’s University
Major: Political Science
Placement: The Office of Rep. Barbara Lee

Yanil Ferreira was born in Licey al Medio, Santiago, Dominican Republic. At the age of 16, Yanil and her family moved to North Bergen, New Jersey.

From a young age, Yanil learned the importance of having a close relationship with family. Her family always encouraged her to study and continue her education in order to make a better future for herself. Yanil successfully completed an Associate’s degree from Hudson County Community College and is now a junior at Saint Peter’s University pursuing a B.A. in political science.

As a CHCI Intern, Yanil hopes to strengthen her knowledge on the legislative process while learning about herself and possible career paths.

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Erika Flores
CHCI-Time Warner Cable Intern
Hometown: Moreno Valley, California
School: California State University - San Bernardino
Major: Communications
Placement: The Office of Rep. Pete Aguilar

Erika Flores is a senior at California State University- San Bernardino majoring in communications. Her mother encouraged her to dream big and taught her that education is the key to success. Seeing her single mother work hard to provide for her family motivated Erika to continue her education and achieve a promising career. Being a first-generation college student has allowed Erika to defy the stereotypes within her community as well as set an example to her younger family members by demonstrating that with hard work and dedication, nothing is unattainable.

Erika’s passion for helping underrepresented groups has made her an active volunteer in the Inland Empire section of California. She is determined to help increase student retention in college programs in order for them to achieve a better future.

As a CHCI Intern, Erika looks forward to understanding the legislative process and gaining new skills that will help her excel in her career. In the future, she hopes to pursue a career in higher education.

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Jessica Hernandez
CHCI-Chevron Intern
Hometown: Hart, Michigan
School: Michigan State University
Major: Social Sciences
Placement: The Office of Sen. Debbie Stabenow

Jessica is a first-generation student at Michigan State University (MSU) pursuing a B.A in interdisciplinary studies with a concentration in community governance and advocacy, as well as a geography cognate.

Coming from a farming background, Jessica arrived at MSU through the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP). Growing up, her parents worked in farms picking fruits and vegetables while continuing to be her source of support and encouragement as she pursued her higher education. She strives to be a role model to her younger siblings and relatives while proving to her parents that their hard work was worth it.

Jessica is involved at MSU as a Student Peer Assistant and previously interned at the Department of Defense, GE Oil & Gas, and the Department of State. Furthermore, she has served as an Intercultural Aide where she helped transition international students and freshmen onto campus while promoting inclusion and diversity.

As a CHCI Intern, Jessica hopes to gain hands on experience and knowledge on issues that are affecting the U.S., while broadening her professional network. In the future, Jessica would like to work for Teach For America or for a non-profit organization in San Francisco.

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Ramon Hernandez
CHCI-Walmart Intern
Hometown: Arlington, Texas
School: University of Texas at Arlington
Major: Political Science
Placement: The Office of Rep. Marc Veasey

Ramon Hernandez was born in Chihuahua, Mexico and immigrated to the United States with his family at the age of 15. After experiencing the struggles many immigrants face, he embarked on a mission to help others.

Ramon is a senior at the University of Texas at Arlington, where he studies political science, criminology and criminal justice. After seeing the many issues that cripple the efficiency of the legal system, he dedicated his studies to political science in hopes of having a platform to create change.

On campus, Ramon has served as president of the National Criminal Justice Honor Society, Alpha Phi Sigma and participated in legal competitions such as Mock Trial and Moot Court. Moreover, Ramon interned for criminal attorneys, immigration attorneys and family law attorneys, as well as received the Leadership Award from the Pre-Law Center at UTA for his participation and contributions to the pre-law community.

Ramon has demonstrated his dedication to public service through helping unaccompanied immigrant minors file for asylum and volunteered at the offices of Legal Aid of Northwest Texas, a pro-bono organization that provides free legal services to low-income individuals.

As a CHCI Intern, Ramon hopes to develop his leadership skills. Upon completion of the internship, Ramon looks forward to continuing CHCI’s mission through emphasizing the importance of Hispanic presence in the leadership of this nation. He plans to attend law school in the fall of 2016.

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Jorge Jaramillo
CHCI-United Health Foundation Intern
Hometown: Simpsonville, South Carolina
School: College of Charleston
Major: Biology
Placement: The Office of Sen. Tim Scott

A native of Colombia, Jorge Jaramillo is a senior at the College of Charleston. He works as a research assistant in the Department of Neurosciences at the Medical University of South Carolina.

Immigrating to this country greatly impacted Jorge’s perspective. Growing up, no one in his family spoke English, his parents worked minimum wage jobs and his family of four lived in one bedroom. After many years of hard work and sacrifice, his family is now fortunate to live comfortably in his home state of South Carolina. His experiences have caused him to develop an unconditional love for the United States of America, admiration for hard workers, and empathy for immigrants. He remains an active member in his community by volunteering with programs promoting health, and interpreting at a local health clinic.

As a CHCI Intern, Jorge hopes to learn how to protect opportunity through policy. In the future, he hopes to pursue a career in which he can contribute to job creation.

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Melfry Lopez
CHCI-Walmart Intern
Hometown: Morganton, North Carolina
School: University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Major: Criminal Justice
Placement: The Office of Rep. Alma Adams

Melfry Lopez was born in Aguacatan, Guatemala, and immigrated to the United States at a young age with his family in search of a better life. His farm working parents followed the agriculture harvest looking for more suitable and permanent employment opportunities; they eventually settled in Morganton, North Carolina. His father taught him the value of hard work and to not give up on his goals.  Having seen how hard his father worked to provide for his family, Melfry took every opportunity that came his way to try to achieve his goals and make his family proud.  

Melfry enlisted in the United States Marine Corps at the age of 20.  He served honorably in the infantry with 2nd Battalion 8th marines as an anti-armor missileman. During his four years in the Marine Corps, he served two tours of duty in Afghanistan. He kept his promise to his parents of attending college and was accepted to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte after his service. He is now a first-generation college junior, pursuing a major in criminal justice with a minor in history. Melfry has applied the same determination and drive that allowed him to serve so well in the armed services to his college career. He strives to be a role model to his younger siblings as well as have a positive impact on the Latino community by diminishing the negative influences that derail many young Latinos in this country.  

As a CHCI Intern, Melfry hopes to strengthen his leadership and professional skills.  He hopes to gain a better understanding of the legislative process and public policy. Upon graduating, Melfry plans on pursuing a career in federal law enforcement.

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Alyssa Mayleen Mermea
CHCI-Walmart Intern
Hometown: El Paso, Texas
School: The University of Texas at Austin
Major: Education and Psychology
Placement: The Office of Rep. Lloyd Doggett

Alyssa Mayleen Mermea is a fourth year undergraduate student at the University of Texas at Austin majoring in psychology and youth and community studies. As an active member in the Collegiate Longhorn LULAC council, Alyssa takes part in community service, volunteering, fundraising, outreach and advocacy activities/events. In her role as the Director of Education for Longhorn LULAC, Alyssa focuses on teaching peers and high school students about the importance of professional development. She believes the lack of business education is a serious issue and understands that resources and strategies must be sought to spread awareness.

Alyssa currently works as an after school counselor and mentor for students in a local housing community in Austin, Texas. Through this work, she is able to engage in the students' lives and learning environment. Alyssa grew up in a low-income, majority-minority area in El Paso, Texas. She is the first in her family to attend college and always witnessed her parents struggle to provide for the family. They made sure Alyssa understood that nothing comes easy and that her education, regardless of where it came from, is one of the most valuable treasures in life.

As a CHCI Intern, Alyssa hopes to strengthen knowledge on the legislative process while continuing to grow professionally. After receiving her bachelor's, Alyssa plans to earn a master's degree in educational/counseling psychology and hopes to work as a high school college and career counselor. She hopes to inspire others to step out of their comfort zones and make their dreams a reality.

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Karla Ochoa
CHCI-Walmart Intern
Hometown: Albuquerque, New Mexico
School: University of New Mexico
Major: Communications
Placement: The Office of Sen. Tom Udall

Karla Ibet Ochoa is a Mexican-American born in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Her mother’s example and ability to overcome hardships have made Karla the strong and independent woman she is today. Seeing her mother working a minimum wage job while providing for four children taught her that she can do anything she sets her mind to. Her mother has become her inspiration and drive to be successful.

Karla is involved with the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), where she has served in leadership roles on the Youth Council and the Young Adult Council. She was nominated to be a member of The National Society of Collegiate Scholars and was selected to be on the University of New Mexico’s Dean’s List.

As a CHCI Intern, Karla hopes to serve as an inspiration to many Latinos and demonstrate that anything is possible with hard work. In the future, she hopes to be a motivational speaker, accomplish her academic goals and be successful.

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Patricia Ordaz
CHCI-Walmart Intern
Hometown: Denver, Colorado
School: Metropolitan State University of Denver
Major: Political Science
Placement: The Office of Sen. Michael Bennet

Patricia Ordaz was born in Mexico City, Mexico and immigrated with her family to Denver at the age of six in search of a better future. Seeing her mother struggle as a single-parent and a survivor of domestic violence, Patricia became determined in pursuing her goals of attending college and having a successful career. Patricia strives to be a positive role model to her younger twin brothers and takes advantage of the opportunities her mother never had.  

Patricia is a first generation student at Metropolitan State University of Denver where she has served as Student Government Student Senator, Speaker of the Senate and most recently, as the Student Body President, where she advocated and represented over 22,000 students on campus and in the state-wide Colorado Student Government Coalition. She founded and was President of the Rotaract Club chapter at her university and also helped establish a student organization on campus dedicated to supporting and empowering DACA, ASSET, undocumented, and refugee students. In her community, she served on a non-profit advisory board and volunteers her time managing a community garden.  

As a CHCI Intern, Patricia hopes to build her leadership skills, strengthen her knowledge on the legislative process and broaden her professional network.

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Darryl Perez
CHCI-UPS Intern
Hometown: Hialeah, Florida
School: Florida International University
Major: Political Science
Placement: The Office of Sen. Marco Rubio

Darryl Perez was born and raised in Miami to a Cuban mother and Venezuelan father. As a first-generation college student, Darryl feels privileged and tries to live a life of passion, honesty, and determination. The sacrifices his parents made have allowed him to be where he is today. He is thankful for having a supportive family.

Darryl is a senior at Florida International University, majoring in political science and minoring in public administration. He is involved in various honor societies and remains active as a Peer Leadership Consultant and an Executive Board member for Alternative Breaks. His extracurricular activities reflect a passion for social justice, which developed during service-learning trips to the Dominican Republic over the past three years.

As a CHCI Intern, Darryl looks forward to developing professionally and strengthening his knowledge on the legislative process.  In the future, he hopes to serve his local community.

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Ilse Perez-Herrera
CHCI-Prudential Intern
Hometown: North Las Vegas, Nevada
School: University of Nevada- Reno
Major: Business Administration
Placement: The Office of Sen. Harry Reid

Ilse Perez-Herrera was born in Mexico City, Mexico and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada. She is a senior at the University of Nevada- Reno pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business administration. On campus, Ilse is a residential assistant, mentors first generation Latino students, and was involved in organizing the university’s first annual Latino Leadership Conference.

Ilse remains active in the Latino community through a nonprofit that works to develop small businesses. She initiates new jobs and helps Latinos achieve their dreams of owning their own business. Her passion for Latino issues has driven her to be an advocate for immigrant rights.

As a CHCI Intern, Ilse hopes to gain leadership skills, grow her love for education and become a resource to students. She believes that students can do anything they set their mind to and, in the future, Ilse plans on completing a master's degree in education and continuing to give back to the Latino community.

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Alex Sanchez
CHCI-Walmart Intern
Hometown
: Sacramento, California
School: California State University- Chico
Major: Political Science
Placement
: The Office of Sen. Barbara Boxer

Alex is a first-generation Latino and the first in his family to attend college. The opportunity to make his family proud motivates him to continue his education and work towards academic excellence.

Alex is a senior at California State University- Chico, pursuing a B.A in political science with a minor in public administration. On campus, Alex participated in the Model United Nations where he rose to the position of Chairman for the 64th Annual Conference of Model UN of the Far West. Alex is also a proud brother of Nu Alpha Kappa, a fraternity founded on the principles of academic excellence, culture and brotherhood.

As a CHCI Intern, Alex looks forward to broadening his social and professional networks, while gaining a deeper understanding of how public policy decisions are made. Alex aspires to obtain his master’s degree in public policy and pursue a career in local government while continuing to inspire young Latinos.

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Osmara Santana Alanis
CHCI-Walmart Intern
Hometown: Weslaco, Texas
School: University of Texas- Pan American
Major: Political Science
Placement: The Office of Rep. Rubén Hinojosa

Osmara Santana is a first-generation high school graduate and college student. She is a junior at the University of Texas- Pan American majoring in political science and double minoring in economics and history.

Coming from a family where a day is earned through hard work, education has always been a priority to Osmara. The sacrifices her parents have made motivated her to always strive to be the best and also developed her deep desire for success. Osmara strives to be a positive role model and mentor to her younger sister who follows in her footsteps.

As a CHCI Intern, Osmara hopes to strengthen her leadership skills, broaden her professional network, and learn from the cultural and social exposure of the D.C. community. After graduating, Osmara hopes to attend law school and study corporate law.

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Elizabeth Torres
CHCI-Walmart Intern
Hometown: Pharr, Texas
School: University of Texas- Pan American
Major: Psychology and Criminal Justice
Placement: The Office of Rep. Filemon Vela

Elizabeth Torres is a first-generation Mexican-American born in McAllen, Texas. Her family has been her inspiration to pursue a higher education and make a difference in her community. She is a senior at The University of Texas- Pan American pursuing a double major in psychology and criminal justice. She is active on campus in promoting academic excellence as a member of Kappa Delta Chi Sorority, Inc.

As a CHCI Intern, Elizabeth hopes to gain leadership skills while strengthening her knowledge and understanding of public policy. Elizabeth hopes to become a lawyer and give back to her family. She looks forward to sharing her knowledge and skills with her community to benefit the Latino population.

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Ulises Vargas
CHCI-Marathon Oil Intern
Hometown: Bakersfield, California
School: University of California- Merced
Major: Computer Science and Engineering
Placement: The Office of Rep. Jim Costa

Ulises Vargas is a Mexican-American, born in West Covina, California and raised in Bakersfield, California. He considers the lessons taught by his parents to be a determining factor in achieving a successful in life and attending college. Ulises is a junior at the University of California- Merced pursuing a major in computer science and engineering. He has served as the Community Director of the UC Merced Student Alumni Association, where he managed marketing and strategic partnerships.

As a CHCI Intern, Ulises hopes to gain valuable leadership skills as well as broaden his professional networks that will serve him on his future endeavors. He hopes to work in either the consumer electronics or automotive industry.

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