Photo courtesy of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute
At only 19, Bronx resident Limer Batista has been granted the privilege of working with Congress up on Capitol Hill.
Along with seven other university students from all over the country, Batista, a Baruch College sophomore, is part of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute's (CHCI) first ever spring Congressional Internship Program.
Each intern is provided with housing, round-trip transportation and a stipend thanks to sponsors including Wal-Mart, Southwest Airlines, Comcast, PepsiCo and Toyota Motor North America, Inc.
Batista gained knowledge of the 12-week program at an informational session held by CHCI at her school. She interviewed with the office of Senator Debbie Stabenow from Michigan by phone and has been working with her office since arriving in Washington two months ago.
The interns attend weekly leadership and development sessions run by panels of Latino professionals and the heads of non-profit organizations. For their community service project, Batista and the other interns are working with the U.S. Census Bureau and are doing outreach work to the Latino communities in D.C. and Maryland through local churches and community-based programs.
"This has been an incredible opportunity and there is no better way to learn about the work of the legislative branch than to intern here," Batista said in an e-mail.
She's also been reviewing funding requests from the state of Michigan. "It has been very engaging and I have learned a lot about this process," she said.
While in Washington, Batista has met many congressional members but feels she was impacted most by Juan Sepulveda, director of the White House Initiative on Hispanic Excellence, because of his work in ensuring Latinos get a good education.
According to Batista, there is no typical day on Capitol Hill. "Even though you might be doing the same thing, there is always that extra something that sparks your day," she said. "It is a very competitive and fast-paced environment which requires your energy and input to stay ahead of the game."
Upon returning to the Bronx, Batista plans on attending summer school and to continue working with the Pan American International High School in Queens. There she will help students prepare for college through the Latino Youth for Higher Education Program, which she joined a year ago.
Batista, who came to the United States after graduating high school in the Dominican Republic and lives on 176th Street near Jerome Avenue with her parents and two siblings, is currently studying political science. When she completes her undergraduate degree she plans on attending law school with the hopes of one day practicing public interest law within the non-profit and advocacy sector.