Meet the 2018 Victory Congressional Interns

Twelve outstanding LGBTQ undergraduates nationwide have been selected for this summer’s Victory Congressional Internship.

The Victory Congressional Internship program is developing the next generation of out public leaders. This summer’s programming includes a full-time Capitol Hill internship, a rigorous weekly leadership development series and a mentorship program. Our partnership with the LGBT Equality Caucus allows us to secure incredible placements for all our interns. This year the Victory Congressional Interns will be hosted in the offices of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, Representative Mark Takano, Representative Linda Sánchez, Representative Gwen Moore, Representative Joseph Crowley, Representative Jimmy Gomez, Representative Hakeem Jeffries, Senator Tammy Baldwin, Senator Robert Menendez, Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, and Senator Doug Jones.

Meet our 2018 Class of Victory Congressional Interns

Vanessa Alva

Hometown: Atlanta, GA

School: Mercer University

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Placement: Congressman Jimmy Gomez


Vanessa Alva is a rising senior at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia where she is double majoring in journalism and political science. She is a storyteller at Mercer and in the community. She has worked as a staff writer at Mercer’s school newspaper (the Cluster) covering various topics like the Student Government Association’s diversity initiateves and the impact of DACA on the student body. She has also worked with news organizations such as CNN en Español, Georgia Public Broadcasting and Cape Community Newspapers in South Africa. Recently, Vanessa was elected to be one of Mercer’s SGA Senior Class Senators; a role she hopes to use to make Mercer more inclusive for all students. She is very passionate about immigrant rights, the LGBTQIA+ community, racial equity and criminal justice which has led her to pursue law school after graduation to specialize in civil rights law.

Lena Dreves

Hometown: Ann Arbor, MI

School: University of Michigan

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Placement: Congressman Joe Crowley


Lena is a junior at the University of Michigan majoring in civil rights policy and criminal procedures with a minor in moral political philosophy. She is interested in the intersection of education and criminalization, and is passionate about advocating for the LGBT community, impoverished communities and for learning disabled people.

Last year, Lena founded an annual event on campus: the LGBTQ monologues; to bring awareness to the difficulties LGBTQ identifying students face. Currently, she works as a research assistant at the University of Michigan Law School, is an active member of the pre-law fraternity Phi Alpha Delta and serves as the undergraduate student liaison for an LGBTQ policy based student group, Out in Public. Recently, Lena has begun developing a mentorship program, aimed at connecting underrepresented high school students with undergraduate and graduate. In the future, Lena plans to attend law school and focus on civil rights and criminal law.


Donna Gary

Hometown: Chicago, IL

School: New York University

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Placement: Congressman Hakeem Jeffries


Donna Gary is rising senior at New York University. She’s on course to graduate with an individualized Bachelors of Arts in Poetics of Embodiment: The Ways Marginalized Folks (Re)Imagine Their Value, with a minor in Disability Studies. During her time at NYU Florence, she co-organized the Black Femininity Panel Series featuring black women speakers from all over world. The following year she interned at the community-based Brooklyn Children’s Museum and New Women Space in Brooklyn, NY. During her time at NYU, she’s held positions with: NYU Residential Life, the Slam! Poetry Team and the Disability Student Union. After graduation, she plans to obtain fellowships to continue her research and attend graduate school. She hopes to use her leadership skills to amplify the narratives of individuals with disabilities, on the LGBTQ spectrum and from inner-city neighborhoods. She was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois.

Elias Hakim

Hometown: Vienna, VA

School: Virginia Commonwealth University

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Placement: Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney


Elias Hakim is a rising senior at Virginia Commonwealth University, pursuing a degree in Political Science and Sociology. He is active on his campus community as President of Virginia21, an organization that works to empower young people interested in politics. He also serves as the Treasurer of the Young Democrats at VCU. As the Chair of Virginia Young Democrats LGBTQA Caucus, Elias is working to make the Party more accessible and accountable to marginalized queer communities. He has also previously interned in the Virginia General Assembly, a role that he plans to return to for the 2019 legislative session. Elias hopes to pursue a law degree a few years after finishing undergrad. He wants to establish a career in law and politics to provide solutions to issues that he cares about, including but not limited to; social justice, protecting our environment, and increasing access to quality education both domestically and abroad.


Jack Hoda

Hometown: Petal, MS

School: University of Southern Mississippi

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Placement: Congressman Mark Takano


Jack Hoda is a rising senior at The University of Southern Mississippi where he is majoring in English Education with a minor in Black Studies. He is a Luckday Citizenship Scholar and an active member of the Honors College. Growing up in a small conservative Mississippi town challenged him to be constantly aware of the divisions within his community, along with the inequities these divisions create. Jack has pursued anti-racism and pro-LGBTQ advocacy in his home and university communities through the founding and programming of several activist organizations, performing community service in local public schools and participating in progressive political campaigns. Through his experiences as a Rosedale Freedom Project Teacher Advisor and Harvard Public Policy and Leadership participant, Jack sees opportunities for reconciliation and development in our education system through intentional reform efforts. With training in culturally responsive and relevant pedagogy and curricula planning, he plans to teach English Language Arts in Mississippi public schools before pursuing a master’s degree in Public Policy. After his summer in Washington, D.C., he plans to develop and complete an honors thesis on teacher attrition and retention in the state of Mississippi.


Juan Martinez Guevara

Hometown: Dallas, TX

School: Georgetown University

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Placement: Senator Tammy Baldwin


Juan Martinez Guevara is a rising junior at Georgetown University pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service and a minor in Arabic. As a student leader at Georgetown, Juan has been involved in the student association as a: Senator, a retreat leader for Campus Ministry and the LGBTQ Center and a Georgetown PRIDE board member. He has also worked as a legislative aide for United We Dream and as a research intern at the Bridge Initiative under the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding. After his undergraduate studies, Juan hopes to transition to law school and focus on civil rights law.

Sydney Mudd

Hometown: Gurnee, IL

College/University: College of Lake County

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Placement: Congresswoman Linda Sánchez


Sydney is currently a sophomore at the College of Lake County – a community college located in the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. He is currently studying Philosophy. During his time at the College of Lake County, Sydney has acquired various leadership positions on campus including President of Philosophy Club and President of Pride Alliance, the LGBTQ+ student-run organization on campus. In addition to being active with extracurricular activities, Sydney has maintained a job as a student-worker at the LGBTQ+ Resource Center on campus where he works to promote freedom of knowledge and expression. Once he transfers to a four-year university in the fall of 2018, he plans to pursue a double major in Philosophy and Political Science.


Genevieve Onyiuke-Kennedy

Hometown: Buford, GA

School: Georgia Institute of Technology

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Placement: Congresswoman Gwen Moore


Genevieve is a rising junior at Georgia Institute of Technology, where she is studying International Affairs. She is the president of Georgia Tech’s Pride Alliance, where she coordinates social and educational events with the LGBTQIA+ community on campus. Her passion for social justice has led her to other leadership positions that center diversity and inclusion as their imperative, such as her position as a Diversity Ambassador with the Institute of Student Diversity and a Team Leader for the diversity section of a freshman course at Georgia Tech. Genevieve is also an avid lover of language and culture, which inspired her to pursue a career in international relations.


John Priddy

Hometown: Lone Tree, CO

School: Emory University

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Placement: Senator Doug Jones


John is a rising senior at Emory University studying Political Science and History. His main areas of interest include American politics and history, social justice and the criminal justice reform system. John has been extremely active during his time at Emory and is heavily involved on campus. He serves as a Resident Advisor, the Diversity Initiative Fellow in the Office of Admission and both the Director of Programming and a Team Captain for the Emory Mock Trial Team. Recently, he was elected as the Executive Vice President of the Student Government Association. In his senior year, John plans to complete an honors thesis on solitary confinement and graduate in 2019. He hopes to pursue a law degree after graduation. John is originally from Lone Tree, Colorado, and is excited to spend a summer interning in Washington D.C.


Michaé De La Cuadra

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

School: California State University, Northridge

Pronouns: They/She

Placement: Senator Catherine Cortez Masto


Michaé is a rising senior at California State University, Northridge (CSUN) majoring in Communication Studies and minoring in Queer Studies. They have dedicated much of their time at CSUN to ensuring that queer and trans students have spaces and programs that serve them, hoping to do the same on a national level. During the Spring they served remotely as the Co-President of The Queer Collective (CSUN’s LGBTQ+ Club), while working as an undergraduate intern at the National Center for Transgender Equality in Washington D.C. They’re a Cali girl who has passion for: fashion, music, art, social justice and human rights. Michaé seeks creative ways to amplify the stories of queer and trans people of color (QTPOC) and uses the history of those that came before her to fuel her advocacy work.


José Turrubiartez

Hometown: Chicago, IL

School: University of San Diego

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Placement: Senator Bob Menendez


José “Che-Che” Turrubiartez is a rising senior at the University of San Diego where he majors in Political Science. Born and raised in Chicago, he advocates for human rights, emphasizing public health and the betterment of all people, regardless of identity. For years, he worked as a health educator and connected underserved communities to healthcare throughout the Chicagoland area. Recently, the CDC recognized Che-Che for his work by asking him to be a spokesperson for its Spanish-speaking “Haciendolo” campaign, which aims to raise awareness for HIV testing across the nation. His passion for politics stemmed from this advocacy and community engagement and has led him to fiercely campaign on behalf of local and national political candidates.


Kevin Wei

Hometown: Plano, TX

School: Columbia University  

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Placement: Leader Nancy Pelosi


Kevin is a rising senior studying Mathematics-Statistics and Economics at Columbia University. He is on the board of the Columbia Organization of Rising Entrepreneurs and the Co-Editor-in-Chief of its Impulse publication, where he writes about social entrepreneurship and government technology. He is also involved in campus activism as a member of the Columbia University Dems and the LION Credit Union. Outside of school, Kevin has volunteered for numerous political campaigns.

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