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Major: Political Science
Hometown: Glenwood Springs, CO

Year: Senior

I have always liked having a plan and setting goals, so when I started my junior year as a Political Science major at Fort Lewis, finding an internship was part of my plan and my number one goal. I spent some time researching big internship opportunities that would put me front and center of the political world in Washington D.C. and eventually found one that fit my standards. I spent days preparing all of my application materials and writing and editing the essay questions. Finally in January I submitted my application to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Internship Program and the waiting game began.

During finals week in April, I finally received the email I had been waiting for and unfortunately received the response I had been dreading: I was not selected to be an intern for the summer of 2013. As I had every other summer since being at Fort Lewis, I headed home for the summer prepared to work and spend time with my family. One summer day, I received an email from one of my close friends on campus encouraging me to apply to the Hope Institute, a professional development conference through the Democratic National Committee. I looked at the link and paid little attention to it, still feeling discouraged from the results of the internship application.

A few weeks later I received an email from my FLC faculty advisor, reminding me to keep an open mind and seek new opportunities. At that moment I went back and opened the link my friend had sent me. The application for the Hope Institute was due that night and I was ready to apply and take the risk. A week after completing my application, I received a call from the DNC Finance Director offering me a position in the Summer 2013 Hope Institute in Washington D.C. I was ecstatic at the news. I immediately picked up my phone to let my friend Tina know that thanks to her I would be on a plane to D.C. in July! 

Marissa with Vice President Joe Biden

The Hope Institute took place over the course of 3 days and I had the opportunity to meet some inspiring and influential people in politics. Despite the impressive nature of the speakers I got to meet, getting to know the other Hope fellows was perhaps the best part of the program. I had the opportunity to sit among students from Harvard, Stanford, and Columbia who had started their own nonprofits, were activists in their communities, and had spent time as congressional interns. It was an intimidating setting to say the least; my initial thought was that as a student from a small college from southwest Colorado, I was not prepared to compete with these students. But the more I worked and discussed ideas with the other fellows, I realized that not only was I ready to be part of a professional conference but my education and experiences at Fort Lewis College had set me on the right path towards a career.

Becoming involved on campus has really transformed my educational experience. I have worked in many aspects of the college as a student senator, by serving on various campus committees, and as an active member of our multicultural center.  The opportunities I have had as a student of Fort Lewis have been enriching and helped me stand out among such a distinguished group of students. By the end of my three days at the Hope Institute, I was able to recognize that my education and background as a student at Fort Lewis College helped me bring a unique perspective to Washington DC. I came to realize the meaningful role my experience within the Fort Lewis campus and Durango community have been in helping me develop as person. I left DC proud to have had the opportunity represent Colorado, but most importantly, Fort Lewis College. 

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Got something to say? Join the discussion »
    Posted @ Thursday, October 24, 2013 by Taylor
    Taylor's avatar

    What an exciting experience! It's so neat to hear how this opportunity came about this summer for you. I would definetly agree that being involved on campus adds enormously to the college experience. I have also become very involved in a club at Fort Lewis and it has helped me to grow in many areas. I think that finding the community that I found in this club has made all the difference in my college career.

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