Game-Changer – JJ Briscoe

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

This experience on the Hill paired with the programming and support of the Victory Congressional Internship has been a game-changer. 

My admiration and appreciation for the work that is done here every day in the Capitol has grown beyond what I could imagine. Before coming to the Hill, I believed that it was my dream to work here for decades to come. After this experience, I have realized that it is not.

What first began to spark this realization was the many calls from misinformed constituents exclaiming their distress during one of the weeks that the Build Back Better Act was in the headlines. I found myself wanting to engage in conversation and explain to these constituents what is in the bill, as many of them simply wanted something very complicated explained to them. The problem was that this was not congruent to the functions of an intern in the congressional office’s official capacities, which left me feeling frustrated and admittedly incompetent in the job.

Then one Friday during our Victory programming, we had the chance to converse with Renee Parker from Organize Tennessee. One of the phrases that she mentioned during the conversation that has stuck with me ever since was, “Don’t fold.” 

I already knew that I wanted to do work like Renee, as she is committing to the arduous job that we Victory interns called being “the Stacy Abrams of Tennessee.” She is influencing historically unheard and unrepresented communities by trying to get them to believe in their voices and their votes. And in this sort of work, she mentioned the long conversations she has had from door knocking, including an hour-long conversation when she did not fold and was finally able to switch a vote. 

Perhaps to some, this work may seem minuscule or laborious, but that is how I know that it must be my passion because I find myself having a strong urge to commit to the work of changing voters’ minds and building coalitions. Renee mentioned that she knows it is a supersized task, but she is in it for the long run. I find this to be my sentiment exactly.

From talking with Representative Mark Pocan to founder and CEO Catherine Pino to the immigration lawyer Paulina Vera, each conversation we interns have had in the weekly Victory training has created moments like this. Moments where I saw a shift in what I wanted for my career path, making my future feel more true and more tangible each time. That is perhaps my favorite aspect of the programming provided by Victory. They do not tell us or try to guide us towards one path. Instead, they expose us to, if not all, as many paths as possible in leadership and government.

I cannot say it enough: I have learned so much during my semester on the Hill and, thanks to Victory Institute, it has truly become a game-changer.