Meet the Summer 2021 Victory Congressional Interns


We are proud to announce the congressional placements of sixteen interns for the Summer 2021 Victory Congressional Internship cohort! Due to the pandemic, interns from the preceding three semesters were invited to complete their internship placement this summer.

The Victory Congressional Internship (VCI) is developing the next generation of out public leaders. This summer’s eight-week program will include a rigorous virtual weekly leadership development series and mentorship component. The interns are completing virtual and hybrid placements in congressional offices as each office adjusts to re-opening rules and regulations. The program will culminate in an in-person four-day D.C. experience for the interns. Victory Institute is proud of our continued and growing partnership with the LGBT Equality Caucus and other LGBTQ-friendly members of Congress.

Aaron Aranza (He/Him)
Hometown: Alexandria, Virginia
School: University of California at Berkeley
Virtual Session: Summer ’20
Placement: Rep. Mondaire Jones

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.

Alicia Buenaventura (She/They)
Hometown: New Orleans, Louisiana
School: Tulane University
Virtual Session: Summer ’20
Placement: Rep. Gwen Moore

Alicia Buenaventura recently graduated from Tulane University where she studied 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 on public policy.

Devin Green (He/They)
Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina
School: The University of North Carolina at Pembroke
Virtual Session: Spring ’21
Placement: Rep. Angie Craig

Devin Green is a junior at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. He identifies as a transgender man. At UNC-Pembroke, Devin studies political science with a concentration in pre-law and is a member of the Esther G. Maynor Honors College. Devin plans to attend law school in the Fall of 2022 in order to pursue a career as a civil & human rights attorney, with an emphasis on protecting the rights of Black people and the LGBTQ community. He also wants to be a congressman, directly advocating for equity under the law. In his free time, Devin enjoys lobbying, playing instruments, and watching documentaries.

Han Le (They/Them)
Hometown: Abilene, Texas
School: Minerva Schools at KGI
Virtual Session: Spring ’21
Placement: Center for American Progress

A junior in Politics and Philosophy, Han is working to prepare for graduate schools for a joint J.D./Ph.D. in Political Philosophy. Her passion lies with human rights & activism, with a primary focus on feminism, LGBTQ+ rights, and climate crisis. She believes that we can achieve social change not just through institutionalized anti-discrimination but also through improvements in education, healthcare, and economic equality.

Isaac James (He/Him)
Hometown: Arlington, Texas
School: University of Texas at Austin
Virtual Session: Summer ’20
Placement: Rep. Sean Maloney

Isaac James is a rising senior 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.

Isabel ‘Izzie’ Karohl (She/Her)
Hometown: Houston, Texas
School: Rice University
Virtual Session: Spring ’21
Placement: Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Izzie Karohl is a junior at Rice University who is majoring in Social Policy Analysis with a Certificate in Civic Leadership. Izzie is passionate about violence prevention in communities and advocates for survivor-centered policies in her role as the Director of Interpersonal Violence Policy in the Student Association. She worked with the Rice administration to write the new Sexual Misconduct Policy (Title IX) and now leads undergraduate education efforts on interpersonal violence. Izzie serves as a peer health advisor, new student advisor, and leads a peer tutoring network. In each of her roles, she works to create a more equitable campus for marginalized communities. After taking courses in physiology and psychology, she has recently been fascinated with the neurobiology of stress and trauma. Transforming her knowledge into action, Izzie now works with local addiction treatment centers to improve integrative treatment for those who struggle with co-occurring substance use and mental disorders. Izzie hopes to one day become a psychiatrist or an obstetrician-gynecologist to help individuals regain bodily autonomy and stability after experiencing trauma. She strives to earn an additional degree to better address community violence prevention and survivor justice at a policy level from a physician’s perspective.

Janise Waites (She/Her)
Hometown: San Diego, California
School: Claremont McKenna College
Virtual Session: Spring ’21
Placement: Rep. Barbara Lee

Janise Waites is a junior at Claremont McKenna College seeking a bachelor’s degree in Government with a Sequence in Leadership. During the 2020 election year, she worked on Candace Valenzuela’s congressional campaign to flip the 24th district of Texas seat from red to blue. She led a team of fellows and hosted multiple phone banking events. During the internship, she made over 6,000 calls to constituents in the district and trained over 30 volunteers. She is passionate about basketball and Marvel movies. Janise is a well-rounded individual with an energetic personality who is committed to public service.

Joel (Joey) Medina (He/Him)
Hometown: Hacienda, California
School: University of California at Santa Barbara
Virtual Session: Summer ’20
Placement: Rep. Kathy Castor

Joel ‘Joey’ Medina is a recent graduate from the University of California, Santa Barbara who studied 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.

Katerina Marroquin (She/Her)
Hometown: Lillington, North Carolina
School: Georgetown University
Virtual Session: Fall ’20
Placement: Sen. Tammy Baldwin

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.

Leilani Fletcher (She/They)
Hometown: New York, New York
School: Wake Forest University
Virtual Session: Summer ’20
Placement: Rep. Ritchie Torres

Leilani Fletcher is a rising senior 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.

Logan Henrique de Melo (He/Him)
Hometown: Pernambuco, Brazil
School: University of New Haven
Virtual Session: Summer ’20
Placement: Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus

Logan Henrique de Melo is a graduate of the University of New Haven with 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.

Matthew Zheng (They/He)
Hometown: Sacramento, California
School: Stanford University
Virtual Session: Fall ’20
Placement: Rep. Adam Schiff

Matthew Haide Zheng (they/them & he/him pronouns) is a 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.

Natalie Adams-Menendez (She/Her)
Hometown: Lawrence, Kansas
School: Stanford University
Virtual Session: Fall ’20
Placement: House Democratic Caucus

Natalie Adams-Menendez is a graduating 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!

Nathan Terrell (He/Him)
Hometown: Morehead, Kentucky
School: Western Kentucky University
Virtual Session: Fall ’20
Placement: Sen. Cortez Masto

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.

Yesenia Ruano (They/Them)
Hometown: Clifton, New Jersey
School: Columbia University
Virtual Session: Summer ’20
Placement: Rep. Sharice Davids

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.

Zoe Walker (She/Her)
Hometown: Radnor, Pennsylvania
School: University of Pennsylvania
Virtual Session: Summer ’20
Placement: Rep. Chris Pappas

Zoe Walker is a recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania where she double majored 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.

Fellows & Interns