Surreal – Vanessa Alva

OUT ON THE HILL is the official blog of the Victory Congressional Interns. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of LGBTQ Victory Institute.

We’re wrapping up our third week interning with the Victory Institute program and it still feels surreal. The Victory Institute has allowed 12 queer and/or trans undergraduates to intern with different Congressional offices. Prior to this experience, I never would have imagined someone like me would have the ability to meet, network and work with the people that I have met this summer. Although it’s only been three weeks, the idea of running for office one day seems more plausible now.

I was placed in Congressman Jimmy Gomez’s office, who represents California’s 34th District. I was nervous about working in an office of a district, I have never visited. However, the demographics of this community resembled that of my hometown a lot. I’ve been able to use my journalism skills in a political office. I was not sure how I would be using my journalism background in a political office, but I have learned a lot by working on journalism from a different perspective. This experience has allowed me to grow as a journalist by recognizing which parts of an article are the most meaningful. I have also been reminded of the large role journalists play in our communities. My office has also allowed me to gain more experience in the political field by having me attend briefings and write memos on them. I have become interested in topics such as the impact of technology on domestic violence, the family separating policy and the opioid crisis.

The relationships I have formed with the other interns are the most meaningful part of this experience. At home, I do not have a group of queer and/or trans people that I can relate to and learn from so it is fulfilling to be surrounded by all these brilliant and passionate individuals. I was pleased to find that the other members of the cohort are an accurate representation of our community. Our cohort has a wide variety of people from different racial backgrounds, areas of study, states, experiences, etc.  Often times, queer and/or trans people of color are not represented in the LGBTQ+ community, however, the members of our cohort embody the true intersectionality of our community.  We have formed a beautiful bond within these last few weeks where I feel comfortable being who I am. After each day, we get together and recap our experience which is a nice reminder of why we are here. This kind of support system is necessary for us while working on the Hill.

Overall, these last few weeks have better equipped me to navigate the political world. We have attended several receptions where I met people that I hope I can learn a lot from. Everyone is so willing to help us throughout this process. It is reassuring to have people in our field be willing to mentor us and look out for us. It is especially reassuring to meet Victory’s alumni network who are constantly willing to tell us about their experience and see how the program has grown over the years.