OUT ON THE HILL is the official blog of the Victory Congressional Interns. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of LGBTQ+ Victory Institute. Learn more about the internship at victoryinstitute.org/vci.
“Your mother did not scream you into this world so you could silence yourself” – Salma El-Wardany
I thought about this quote a lot this summer in DC. There is immense pressure on first-generation college students and children of immigrants to reach a level of success that their parents or generations before them were unable to achieve with the means they had. My mother is the biggest inspiration of my life, and I can’t imagine looking up to anyone else when I think about the courage and fight she instilled in me growing up. I am a product of many influential and empowering women who seek to make their voices heard and challenge generational norms and expectations.
One woman, specifically my grandmother, was the biggest symbol of resilience during challenging times. She passed away in December of last year, but I am blessed to have had the chance to tell her how much she means to me and how influential she was in my life. Another woman, my mother’s best friend, and practically my second mom, gifted me a book before I left for Washington DC titled For Brown Girls with Sharp Edges and Tender Hearts: A Love Letter to Women of Color by Prisca Dorcas Mojica Rodriguez. She left a note on the first page that reaffirmed my placement in Victory, stating that I earned this and belong here, something I often struggle to believe in myself. This book followed me all over the city—it was a stark reminder that my Latinidad, femininity, and sexuality all come forth when I enter a new space that is not used to individuals like myself.
The many complexities of imposter syndrome and survivor’s guilt in academic settings would eat me alive if it weren’t for community support. Growing up and getting to the position I have right now with an internship on The Hill is not just a reflection of hard work but rather the community of mentors and people who have uplifted me to persevere. It is a constant reminder that representation of various identities is vital for future generations of leaders to feel empowered to follow the tracks of those that came before them.
Despite the struggle and stress of submitting 50+ summer internship applications to various companies and organizations, I am so grateful I happened to scroll along Handshake one random day in January. I remember sitting in the airport in London en route to Dublin while creating my 2023 vision board, which featured a photo of the Capitol Building and Washington Monument. I had no idea what I would do that summer, but I just had a feeling it would be in DC. I am such a huge advocate for applying to everything, every internship, every scholarship, and every fellowship you are passionate about. When you don’t apply, the answer is always no, and you are much more capable than you think. If you can visualize yourself somewhere doing something you are passionate about, you can absolutely make it happen. You could be the reason that someone applies for the same job or award in the future because they couldn’t imagine themselves in the position you hold.
As I leave Washington DC and return home to Illinois, I come back as a much different person with a better understanding of myself and the work I accomplished. I cannot imagine my life without the Victory Congressional Institute or placement in Congressman Robert Garcia’s office, a role model I will cherish forever. I am unbelievably grateful that Victory extended this opportunity, and I seriously encourage anyone who is interested to apply; your diverse perspectives, experiences, and talents will carry you forward. On a final thought, remember your potential knows no bounds, never let self-doubt hold you back, and you have what it takes to excel and thrive.