In 2020, Victory Institute expanded the Victory Congressional Internship from a Summer-only internship program to a year-round program that now offers Spring, Summer, and Fall cohort opportunities. Twenty outstanding LGBTQ undergraduates were selected nationwide for this Summer and Fall’s Victory Congressional Internship cohorts.
The Victory Congressional Internship (VCI) is developing the next generation of out public leaders. This Summer’s eight-week program and Fall’s ten-week program included a rigorous virtual weekly leadership development series and mentorship component. Victory Institute is proud of our continued and growing partnership with the LGBT Equality Caucus and other LGBTQ-friendly members of Congress; in-person placements will occur in Summer 2021 due to COVID-19.
Meet the Summer 2020 Interns
Hometown: Alexandria, Virginia
School: University of California at Berkeley
Aaron Aranza is a fourth-year undergraduate studying political science and human rights at UC Berkeley. Though he originally hails from Northern Virginia, Aaron embraces the San Francisco Bay Area as the current center of his universe. Aaron identifies as gay and Filipino-American, and he looks forward to using these identities as a foundation for his future practice as a civil rights lawyer. Outside of school and work, Aaron enjoys hiking new trails, writing short stories, and diving into obscure policy memos.
Oseremhen (Ose) Arheghan
Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio
School: The Ohio State University
Ose (they/them) is studying Chinese and Political Science with an International Relations specialization at The Ohio State University. On-campus Ose is active in student government. Currently, Ose is serving as the inaugural Chair and co-Founder of Ohio State’s first Undergraduate Black Caucus and they’ve been working since their first year to emphasize the need for inclusive practices for minority students on campus. For their work, the Student Life Multicultural Center awarded them the university’s Buckeye Pride award. Prior to attending Ohio State, Ose served as the National Student Advocate of the Year for LGBTQ+ nonprofit, GLSEN and advocated for youth voice and inclusive practices in K-12 schools. They plan to combine their passion for human rights advocacy and interest in foreign affairs in a career with the US Department of State, first as a Foreign Service Officer, then eventually, a US Ambassador.
Hometown: San Antonio, Texas
School: Trinity University
Emily Bourgeois is a rising senior at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas where she is a double major in Political Science and English Literature. Her academic focus is on Jewish studies and intergenerational Holocaust memory and she has conducted research on post-millennial voting behavior in the 2018 US midterm elections. She is a member of the Gates Millennium Scholars Program Cohort ‘16. Additionally, Emily has been active on campus in myriad leadership positions and until recently, held a position as a student assistant in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. In her Student Assistant role, Emily helped create a social justice peer-to-peer mentorship program that trains students to lead workshops on social justice issues and allyship. Above all, she is passionate about making space for marginalized communities where their voices can be heard. In the future, she hopes to either attend law school or obtain a graduate degree in public policy with an emphasis on healthcare and education.
Hometown: New Orleans, Louisiana
School: Tulane University
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers or They/Them/Theirs
Alicia Buenaventura is a rising senior at Tulane University studying political science and international development with a minor in social innovation and social entrepreneurship. In her role as a Diversity Fellow with the Tulane Admissions Office, she works alongside university leaders to make the admissions process more accessible and guides hundreds of prospective students from diverse, underrepresented, and intersecting identities through the college process each year. She has also served as a mentor for first-year students from diverse backgrounds and as a student worker responsible for creating programming to foster the LGBTQIA+ community on campus. Alicia champions public service and has worked with several non-profits in New Orleans on pressing issues including homelessness, human rights, and youth empowerment. As a Chair on the Public Service Advisory board and an assistant for several service learning classes, she has also taken an active role in shaping how Tulane University gives back to the city of New Orleans, going as far as being named a Fran & Mark Berg Public Service Scholar for her commitment to community engagement. After graduation, Alicia plans to pursue a law degree with a focus in public policy.
Hometown: New York, New York
School: Wake Forest University
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers or They/Them/Theirs
Leilani Fletcher is a rising junior who attends Wake Forest University and is pursuing a double major in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Religious Studies, with a concentration in Religion and Public Engagement. Her passions are social justice and advocating for marginalized communities. On campus, Leilani holds leadership roles that uplift and support the LGBTQ+ community through their work as a student assistant at the LGBTQ+ Center and as a Center Change Agent. She also helps improve the wellbeing of queer students on campus through a space she helped establish and now facilitates; it fosters an environment for queer women to connect and be in community with each other. Leilani also promotes racial equity at Wake Forest through their involvement in the Anti-Racism Coalition, from engaging in dialogue with administrators to discuss institutional changes that support students of color to organizing large scale political demonstrations. In the future, she strives to be an ambitious, influential leader within and outside of their community who works to dismantle all forms of institutional oppression through an intersectional framework.
Hometown: Waterbury, Connecticut
School: Williams College
Born in the Dominican Republic and raised in Connecticut, Argenis Herrera has always been fascinated by how people come together. A rising junior at Williams College studying Political Economy, he hopes to apply his education towards generating greater understanding among differing communities and uniting them around shared causes. Through his lived experience, Argenis has cultivated a strong sense of justice that he hopes to use to identify and promote lasting solutions to the many issues that affect the communities he belongs to — whether immigrant, first-generation, low income, or LGBT+. On campus, Argenis serves as a class representative for the Student Union, the Communications Director for the Minority Coalition, the President of College Democrats, and a sustainability consultant for the environmental center. Outside of social advocacy, he enjoys reading novels, curating Spotify playlists, hiking, and watching endless hours of TikTok content. Upon graduation, Argenis hopes to attend law school with a focus on either labor or environmental law.
Hometown: Arlington, Texas
School: University of Texas at Austin
Isaac James is a rising junior at the University of Texas at Austin majoring in Government and Plan II Honors with a minor in LGBTQ Studies. He is active on campus, serving as Vice President of the UT Senate of College Councils, Director of the Queer and Trans Student Alliance, a Justice on the Student Government Supreme Court, and a Research Assistant in the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Lab. A passionate advocate for LGBTQ-affirming education policy, Isaac frequently lobbies university administrators on issues impacting the LGBTQ+ community and has passed resolutions in the student senate to increase the online accessibility of gender inclusive restrooms and normalize the use of pronouns on class syllabi and online learning systems. In the community, he led youth engagement efforts for the 2019 Austin AIDS Walk and is highly involved with GLSEN, the nation’s largest inclusive education-focused nonprofit, as a member of both the GLSEN Austin Board of Directors and the organization’s National Policy Committee. After college, Isaac plans to pursue a joint JD/MPP to become a more effective advocate for LGBTQ-affirming education policies at the local, state, and federal levels of government.
Joel (Joey) Medina
Hometown: Hacienda, California
School: University of California at Santa Barbara
Joel ‘Joey’ Medina is a current third year at the University of California, Santa Barbara studying Sociology with a minor in Applied Psychology. Since beginning college, he has dedicated himself to helping minority students at his school and beyond, first through his advocacy in student cultural organizations and now through his position at the school’s Queer Resource Center. He serves as the Outreach Coordinator, a professional position that allows him to unite and advocate for the queer students on campus and hone his communication and publicity skills. He will use these skills and to ultimately achieve his goal of working in the Social Justice field, in a position which has him performing advocacy at an institutional level through the promotion of minority resources. Outside of his professional and educational life, Joey loves watching cheesy movies with his friends, playing Dungeons and Dragons, and exploring the outdoors.
Logan Henrique de Melo
Hometown: Pernambuco, Brazil
School: University of New Haven
Logan Henrique de Melo is a rising senior at the University of New Haven pursuing a degree in Global Studies. Logan got involved right away during his first year on campus and established his presence as a student leader. He has been an active participant in student government, multiple recognized student organizations, Greek life, and a variety of offices on campus. He has held titles such as President of PRIDE, Senior Diversity Peer Educator, Student Success Assistant, Orientation Leader, Senator, Chair of the Inclusions Committee, and more. Throughout his involvement, his goal has remained the same: to make his campus an inclusive environment for everyone, and to create the change he desires to see. In the future, Logan hopes to have a career in higher education and continue his mission to make college campuses inclusive for all.
Andrea Miranda Duarte
Hometown: Cranston, Rhode Island
School: University of Rhode Island
Andrea Miranda Duarte is a first year at the University of Rhode Island majoring in Biological Sciences. She has a passion for human wellbeing, as well as the environment. She has volunteered at the Rhode Island Hospital and has done research on the dwindling populations of the bioluminescent plankton of Puerto Rico’s lagoons. She was a participant at the Women in Technology internship, where the interns made a machine that would recycle 3D printing plastic. She also worked with the Pre-med department at the University of Maine at Farmington to create guides for people who want to go into the medical fields. In 2019, She was named one of “Cranston’s Best and Brightest” by the city of Cranston, Rhode Island. She wants to pursue a career in the medical field and later join Doctors Without Borders and become a social health activist.
Hometown: Clifton, New Jersey
School: Columbia University
Yesenia Ruano is a first-generation Latinx student at Columbia University studying Political Science with a concentration in the Evolutionary Biology of the Human Species. Yesenia has explored their various policy interests by interning at non-profit organizations such as the National Institute for Reproductive Health, DayOneNY, and the LGBT Community Center in New York City. Aside from their interests in Politics, Yesenia has explored their interests in the law of human remains. On campus, Yesenia works as a tutor for several Harlem public schools, a resident adviser, and a wellness ambassador. After finishing their undergraduate studies, Yesenia plans to attend law school to focus on civil or immigration law.
Hometown: Radnor, Pennsylvania
School: University of Pennsylvania
Zoe Walker is a rising senior at the University of Pennsylvania where she is double majoring in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, and Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies. At school, she chairs the West Philadelphia Tutoring Project, which connects Penn and West Philadelphia students for academic enrichment opportunities. Educational equity has long been a passion of Zoe’s, who strives to see a world in which all students have the resources they need in order to realize their full potential. When she’s not tutoring, she can probably be found rehearsing with her a cappella group, the Quaker Notes. She is also a PennQuest pre-orientation leader, in which she and her fellow leaders guide 150 incoming first years on a four-day hiking trip along the Appalachian trail. Because Zoe has been lucky enough to find multiple inspiring mentors in her life, she values any opportunity to offer mentorship or friendship to others. After college, she plans to continue working for educational justice in disadvantaged communities, and one day aspires to law school.
Meet the Fall 2020 Interns
Hometown: Lawrence, Kansas
School: Stanford University
Natalie Adams-Menendez is a rising senior at Stanford University who is majoring in International Relations with Honors and minoring in French and Human Rights. She is interested in the intersection of human rights and security, particularly in combatting war, genocide, and terrorism and in ensuring the rights, opportunities, and protections of racial and ethnic minorities, women, and LGBTQ+ folks. Natalie has been recognized by Stanford University for her academics and her engagement with the campus community. In 2019, she was published by the university, awarded the Boothe Prize Honorable Mention for her writing, and recognized by Stanford’s El Centro Chicano y Latino for her leadership. On campus, she has been the president of student organizations such as Ritmo, Stanford’s bachata dance team, and Habla, a volunteer student group that provides free ESL lessons to Stanford workers. Natalie is also a part of the Stanford Class of 2021 Cabinet, Hermanas de Stanford, and La Familia de Stanford. As a proud Latina and member of the LGBTQ+ community, she loves to engage in conversations about intersectionality and works to increase intersectional representation in spaces such as the dance community, academia, and government. After graduation, she hopes to attend graduate school or law school and to pursue her goal of working in government or with the United Nations on conflict resolution and human rights issues. Natalie is excited to be a part of the Victory Congressional Internship program and to have the opportunity to apply her passions to policy and public service!
Hometown: Lillington, North Carolina
School: Georgetown University
Katerina Marroquin is a first-generation Latina student at Georgetown University studying Anthropology with a double minor in Public Health and Education, Inquiry, and Justice. Throughout her life, Katerina has dedicated herself to activism and empowerment, primarily to promote immigrant rights, LGBTQ+ rights, educational equity, and health equity. On campus, Katerina has held titles such as Director of Communications for Hoyas for Immigrant Rights, Kalmanovitz Initiative for the Labor and Working Poor Fellow, Georgetown Scholars Program Mentor, and an immigrant advocacy caseworker for the Center of Social Justice. Currently, Katerina is a Stapleton Fellow for the Georgetown Anthropology Department, which gives her the opportunity to study the health autonomy and resilience of Latinx LGBTQ+ youth in DC. After graduation, she hopes to work with activist movements in her home state of North Carolina or in DC to fight for equitable health and education policies for immigrant communities from a federal level or through non-profit.
Hometown: Morehead, Kentucky
School: Western Kentucky University
Calling the small Eastern Kentucky town of Morehead, Kentucky home, Nathan now finds himself located in Bowling Green, Kentucky as a junior at Western Kentucky University, where he is a member of the Pete and Dixie Mahurin Honors College. He hopes to use his studies in Political Science and Economics to become a strong advocate for the generational issues that rural communities face. Through experiences and stories from his hometown, Nathan has developed a deep passion for helping and supporting diverse leadership in rural communities. He hopes to use his talents in the future to become a strong advocate for rural leadership development. At school, he serves as the Speaker of the Senate for the Student Government Association where he has gotten the chance to serve on university committees and is a student admissions and alumni ambassador. He also was selected for the US-UK Fulbright Summer Institute where he studied marketing and branding at the University of Westminster and completed the ‘Future Leaders in a Global Age’ workshop. With each leadership experience, he hopes to bring back knowledge to his hometown community and Eastern Kentucky. In his spare time, you can find him cooking and taking long runs. After graduation, Nathan hopes to attend law school.
Hometown: Sacramento, California
School: Stanford University
Matthew Haide Zheng (they/them & he/him pronouns) is a rising third-year undergraduate at Stanford University, double majoring in Anthropology and Political Science with a minor in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Matthew’s academic interests include geopolitics, critical theory, political anthropology, critique of authoritarianism, and the political economy of neoliberalism. These interests led him to conduct research at Stanford’s Center for the Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, the Post-Conflict Research Centre in Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and to study around the world, including at United World College of the Atlantic in southern Wales. His leadership and community service includes serving as a Steering Committee member of the Cardinal Free Clinics, the Undergraduate Assistant at The PRIDE Study, creator and lead of a queer multi-faith community initiative at Stanford Queer Student Resources, and as a member of Stanford’s steelpan band Cardinal Calypso. Matthew also cultivates an art practice as a drag performer. In the future, they will pursue an MD/MPP in the hopes of forging a career in global governance.