Meet our 2019 Class of Victory Congressional Interns
Twelve outstanding LGBTQ undergraduates have been selected nationwide for this summer’s Victory Congressional Internship.
The Victory Congressional Internship (VCI) is developing the next generation of out public leaders. This summer’s eight-week program includes: a full-time Capitol Hill internship, a rigorous weekly leadership development series, a community service project and a mentorship program. Victory Institute is proud of our continued and growing partnership with the LGBT Equality Caucus and other LGBTQ-friendly members of Congress. This year the Victory Congressional Interns will be hosted in the offices of: Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Tammy Baldwin, Rep. Mark Takano, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, Rep. Sharice Davids, Rep. Chris Pappas, Rep. Angie Craig, Sen. Doug Jones, Rep. Barbara Lee, Sen. Diane Feinstein, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and the House Sub-Committee on Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies.
Hometown: Los Angeles, California
School: Hampshire College
Placement: Rep. Sharice Davids
Elí M. Alejo is a rising junior at Hampshire College studying Latin American/Latinx Studies and Studio Art with a concentration in international relations between Latin America and the United States. On campus, Elí works as a public speaking peer mentor, leads workshops on community building/conflict resolution, and is a part time student instructor, teaching photography to young mothers in an alternative education program. In Elí’s hometown, Los Angeles, California, they are actively attending rallies, marches, and protests for Black Lives Matter, the funding of public education, LGBTQ+ rights, People Over Profits, immigration rights, and reproductive justice. Elí has interned at nonprofits in Los Angeles, such as 826LA, KLCS, and the Museum of Contemporary Art. At Hampshire, they are currently serving as delegate of the Student Advocacy Network as a representative for first generation college students in the student government. After finishing their undergraduate studies, Elí plans to attend graduate school and earn a MA in public policy and studio arts.
Hometown: Mount Vernon, Texas
School: Mills College
Placement: Rep. Angie Craig
Alicia Cantrell is a rising senior at Mills College in Oakland, California where she is a PEPL (Politics, Economics, Policy, and Law) major with concentrations in politics and public policy. She is a student leader, scholar, and servant. She recently served as her community college’s Phi Theta Kappa Chapter President and Presidential Honors Scholar President and was a 2019 Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship recipient. She also involved in a community lunch pal program to encourage at-risk students to continue their education. Alicia is very passionate about diminishing the injustices plaguing the U.S. Foster Care System, fighting and protecting the rights of the LQBTQIA+ community, immigrants’ rights, and women’s rights. Her passions and lived experiences have inspired her to pursue a law degree to focus on civil rights and family law. She hopes to one day run for elected office and be a catalyst for change.
Hometown: Greenville, North Carolina
School: East Carolina University
Placement: Rep. Chris Pappas
Jahad Chris Carter is a rising senior at East Carolina University, where he is double majoring in Political Science and Communications. At East Carolina University, Jahad has participated in numerous organizations that have expanded his knowledge, determination and creativity. In the spring of 2018, Jahad studied abroad for three months in Italy. While abroad he gained a greater understanding of the world and learned how to connect with people from various cultures and backgrounds. Upon his return to East Carolina University, he assumed the role of editor-in-chief for Expressions Magazine, a minority-centered publication that accepts submissions from students across the university. He led a team of students who worked tirelessly to shed light on struggles from women, people of color, and the LGBTQ community. Recently, Jahad was elected as a representative at-large for his university’s Student Government Association. In this role, he hopes to bring more greater awareness to campus sexual assault and to advocate for victims across ECU’s campus. After undergrad, Jahad plans to attend law school, where he will pursue a degree with a specialized focus on civil rights law. Jahad is very passionate about changing the social norms that hinder progress in the diverse world we live in.
Hometown: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
School: Howard University
Pronouns: They/Them/Theirs or She/Her/Hers
Placement: Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Alexis Grady is a rising senior at the Howard University pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a double minor in Economics and Philosophy. As an HBCU student, Alexis has demonstrated an awareness of how marginalized communities are impacted by policy decisions and has taken steps to engage the campus community around issues such as: voter suppression, immigration, racial equity, and the unique challenges that LGBTQ people of color go through. As a student leader, Alexis has served on the Howard University Senate and the Executive Board of C.A.S.C.A.D.E. – Howard University’s premier LGBTQ advocacy organization. Their work during the 2018 – 2019 term resulted in the first legislation in University history that recognizes LGBTQ students and creates a consistent source of funding for these students’ inclusion efforts and well-being. This work also helped to produce the first Queer Studies course which will be offered in the fall 2019 semester. Upon graduating from Howard University in May 2020, Alexis plans to pursue a law degree with a focus in public policy in order to continue to advocate for marginalized communities across the nation.
Hometown: Orange, California
School: The University of Oklahoma
Placement: Sen. Diane Feinstein
Leanne Ho is a second-generation Vietnamese American studying at The University of Oklahoma, majoring in English Literature with a minor in Social Justice. As an intern at the OU Gender + Equality Center, Leanne developed a series of community-driven workshops that promoted intersectional approaches to ending gender-based violence. They are a Point Foundation Scholar and for their community service project, Leanne compiled a guide to navigating OU for transgender and gender non-conforming students. In addition, Leanne advocates for Oklahoma youth on the Oklahoma Prevention Leadership Committee, promotes campus inclusivity through the LGBTQ Program Advisory Board, and facilitates research on LGBTQ discrimination in the OU Psychology Department. Ultimately, Leanne hopes to earn an MD/MPH and work as a clinical researcher and educator, advocating for LGBTQ-inclusive healthcare policy. Although their primary focus is transgender and gender non-conforming health, Leanne plans to maintain an intersectional focus that dismantles the race, class, and gender disparities in healthcare.
Hometown: Newport, Kentucky
School: Northern Kentucky University
Placement: Transportation, HUD and Related Agencies subcommittee of the House Committee on Appropriations
Janiah Miller is a rising senior at Northern Kentucky University, majoring in Integrative Studies with minors in Political Science, Social Justice, University Honors and two focuses in Sociology and Women & Gender Studies. She has been in the Student Government Association since her freshmen year. She has chaired the Academic Affairs Committee and the Students Rights Committee, authored four resolutions, served on numerous standing committees, and planned semi-annual book drives and numerous townhalls. She has also been a LGBTQ+ Ambassador for the Office of LGBTQ Programs and Services, a R.O.C.K.S mentor (a freshmen transition program for African-American students), and the Black Student Union Leadership Director and President. Off campus, Janiah has served on campaign teams, Voter Empowerment Organizer for Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, an intern for Cornerstone Renter Equity, and Renaissance Covington. She is passionate about fighting the good fight for a society that not only talks about equality, but pushes for equity and restorative justice, particularly on issues of housing, education and criminal justice reform. Janiah plans to pursue a law degree, with specializations in critical race theory and public interest law.
Hometown: Palos Verdes Estates, California
School: University of California at Berkeley
Placement: Rep. Barbara Lee
Kylie Murdock is a rising senior at the University of California- Berkeley pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and a minor in Environmental Economics and Policy. She is the Chief of Staff to the ASUC External Affairs Vice President, an executive officer in UC Berkeley’s student association, where she oversees the association’s organizing and lobbying efforts on the local, state, and national levels. She’s also Elections Chair for CalSERVE (a campus political party), a sexual violence peer educator, and a student worker. Last year, Kylie was a member of UC Berkeley’s student association’s state lobby team, which successfully lobbied the California state government for a $300 million increase in UC funding. After graduation, Kylie hopes to move to Washington D.C. and work on Capitol Hill on environmental and education policy.
Hometown: Watertown, South Dakota
School: University of South Dakota
Placement: Sen. Tammy Baldwin
Brett Ries is a rising senior at the University of South Dakota double majoring in Criminal Justice and Political Science with a Theatre minor. He has served as the President of USD College Democrats, connecting active Democrats on campus with Democratic leaders in South Dakota. In 2018, at the age of 21, Brett was the youngest candidate running for South Dakota State Legislature, with a platform that included criminal justice reform, educational reform, and government transparency. Although he did not win in 2018, his campaign efforts earned him a national feature on CNN, showcasing that youth deserve a voice at the table, too. Brett has received an award for his research on the nutritional quality of prison food; his other research has included the 2018 “Rainbow Wave.” Outside of the classroom and political arena, you can find Brett performing on the USD stage, where he has starred in shows such as Jesus Christ Superstar, Cabaret, and Spring Awakening. Upon graduation, Brett hopes to attend law school with a focus on criminal law.
Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio
School: University of Michigan
Placement: Sen. Doug Jones
Benjamin Schuster is a rising junior at the University of Michigan pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration in Business Economics and Strategy as well as a minor in Public Policy. At Michigan, Benjamin is highly involved as President of Out For Business, the University of Michigan’s LGBTQ+ business organization, and as Peer Advisor and advisory board member to the Michigan Community Scholars Program. In addition, he serves as an advisory board member to the Stephen M. Ross School of Business, Big Ten Voting Challenge, and Edward Ginsberg Center for Community Service and Learning. Benjamin is also involved in his professional business fraternity, Delta Sigma Pi, and has work experience in government relations and economic policy within Federal Reserve System. He is passionate about the many intersections between business and government and public policy surrounding LGBTQ+ and voter rights. Following his graduation from Michigan, Benjamin hopes to pursue a career in consulting and a dual MBA/MPP.
Hometown: New Braunfels, Texas
School: Brown University
Placement: Speaker Nancy Pelosi
Gus Stephens is a rising senior at Brown University pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Social Analysis and Research. In his role as President of Brown’s Latinx House, Gus has expanded the house’s reach in the broader Providence community by partnering with AIDS Project Rhode Island (APRI) and Rhode Island Latino Arts. As a result of his work with Providence’s Latino and LGBTQ+ communities, he joined APRI as its Youth Outreach Liaison. Gus has also worked as a writing tutor on campus and a research assistant at the Rhode Island Innovative Policy Lab, where he surveyed grocery stores in Rhode Island to create a SNAP Nutritional Index. Upon graduating from Brown, Gus hopes to join the Foreign Service as a diplomat and apply his social science research skills to producing actionable policy recommendations.
Hometown: San Diego, California
School: University of California at Berkeley
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers or They/Them/Theirs
Placement: Rep. Mark Takano
Marissa Wu is a rising junior at the University of California, Berkeley, studying Sociology and Cognitive Science, with a minor in LGBT Studies. Raised by immigrant parents, she learned early on about the challenges immigrants face in the U.S., sparking her dedication to immigration work. In the past, she has organized educational Know-Your-Rights immigration workshops for local Berkeley and Oakland communities in her role as Director of Education at the Cal ACLU. Now, she continues working to improve the lives of immigrants at the Student Immigration Relief Clinic at Berkeley, where she assists people seeking citizenship with their legal paperwork. In addition, Marissa is interested in the intersection of science and technology with society and politics. She currently works as a neuroscience research assistant and teaches an undergrad course on the ethics and sociopolitical impacts of technology. In the future, Marissa plans to continue working to help marginalized communities through public service, approaching challenges with an intersectional and technological lens.