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2011 CHCI Summer Interns

CHCI welcomed its 2011 summer interns on June 6.  The class is composed of 32 diverse individuals, from 20 different states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.  They come from 30 different academic institutions, are pursuing 19 different majors, and 50% are the first generation to attend college. 

Detailed Demographics:  Download file CHCI 2011 Summer Congressional Interns

Each intern followed a unique path that led them to CHCI's internship program.  Learn more these impressive individuals. 

Jorge Ambriz

Ismael Armendariz Jr.   
Dan Armenta

Edgar Avalos

Eric Bejarano

Daniel Beneventano

Marisela Castaneda

Javier Chavez

María R. Franco                

Pablo Galindo-Payan

Angelica Garcia

Anthony Gonzalez

Emily Gonzalez

Rebecca Jimenez

Leonardo Lopez

Stephanie Montoya
Amaury Munoz                 

Lissa Palacios

Martha Palomino

Maria Penaloza

Alexis Rivera

Eric Rodriguez

Jean Romero

Alexandria Salazar
Sebastian Sanchez            

Shantel Suarez

Narda Terrones

Jorge MarioTobón Ruiz

Juany Torres

Claudia Velasco

Ana Wolken 


Jorge Ambriz, GE Hispanic Forum Intern
Hometown: Phoenix, Arizona
School: Arizona State University
Major: Secondary Education – Mathematics
Placement: The Office of Rep. Ed Pastor

Jorge Ambriz is a first generation Mexican American born and raised in Phoenix. He is an upcoming junior at Arizona State University (ASU) pursuing a degree in secondary education with an emphasis in mathematics and a minor in Spanish. He is a member of two honor societies, Golden Key International Honor Society and Kappa Delta Pi. Ambriz also volunteers as a mentor who assists incoming freshmen within the Barack Obama Scholars program.

In 2009, Ambriz graduated magna cum laude from Trevor G. Browne High School, the first in his family continue onto college. In 2013, Ambriz plans to graduate from ASU. Upon graduation, Ambriz plans to supplement his education and enroll in graduate school to obtain a master's degree in either mathematics or counseling. Ultimately, he would like to teach and hopes to work with a diverse group of students to help them succeed in life-both academically and personally.

As a CHCI Intern, Ambriz aspires to take advantage of the opportunity to enhance his knowledge, attain leadership skills, and learn more about our nation's government. In particular, he would like to learn more about what the government is doing to address issues within the Latino community.

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Ismael Armendariz Jr., Hyundai Intern
Hometown: Downey, California
School: University of California-Berkeley
Major: History
Placement: The Office of Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard

Ismael Frank Armendariz Jr. was raised in Downey, California, by his mother Cynthia Magaña and his grandparents Frank and Margie Magaña. Armendariz is currently pursuing a history degree at the University of California, Berkeley. Prior to transferring to U.C. Berkeley, Armendariz attended East Los Angeles College where he competed on the wrestling team, where he was honored as both the 2005-06 ELAC Scholar Athlete of the Year and Athletic and Academic All-American.

Armendariz's passion for his community and his interest in social justice led him to intern at the Raza Recruitment and Retention Center, a student-initiated outreach and retention resource for U.C. Berkeley students. He was honored as the Academic Retention Intern of the Year and selected as the educational awareness coordinator. Along with eight other coordinators, Armendariz was given the task of managing a nonprofit organization, responsible for advocating on behalf of the Hispanic community at U.C. Berkeley. With the aid of his colleagues, Armendariz raised more than $7,000 towards eight scholarships for undocumented students. Armendariz also collaborated with different campus organizations and community centers to host a health and legal rights fair, a multicultural custodial appreciation dinner, and various workshops to assist the Hispanic community. He also organized two "brown bag" events in which the Latino community at U.C. Berkeley prepared lunches for day laborers and distributed essential information regarding worker and immigration rights.

Armendariz was recently elected to serve as the Bridges multicultural resource center director of organizing and community development for the 2011-12 academic year.

As a CHCI Intern, Armendariz aspires to broaden his skills as an advocate and help him create change within the Hispanic community.

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Dan Armenta, Time Warner Cable Intern
Hometown: Lawrence, Kansas
School: Columbia University
Major: Computer Engineering
Placement: The Office of Rep. Albio Sires

Born in Kansas City, Kansas, and raised in Lawrence, Daniel Armenta is a first-generation college student. Armenta is of Mexican descent and is pursuing a degree in computer engineering as a sophomore at Columbia University. As Valedictorian of his high school class, Armenta earned a full academic scholarship to attend Columbia University.

At Columbia, Armenta is a member of the Society of Hispanic Engineers, a volunteer for the office of student affairs, as well as a proud member of Phi Iota Alpha fraternity, the oldest existing Latino fraternity. Through his extra-curricular activities, he has come to recognize the importance of diversity in leadership positions.

He has also been awarded the titles of Questbridge Scholar and Kansas Scholar.

As a CHCI Intern, Armenta hopes to gain valuable work experience and become acquainted with some remarkable individuals. He also hopes to make steps towards the integration of the Hispanic representation in Congress.

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Edgar Avalos
, Bohnett Foundation Intern
Hometown: Ceres, California

School: University of California-Davis
Major: International Relations
Placement: US Department of Labor, The Office of the Secretary

Edgar Avalos is a senior at the University of California-Davis pursuing a degree in international relations and English. He was born in Oakland, California, but was raised in Ceres. He is a first-generation Mexican American and the first person in his family to pursue higher education at a four-year university.

Avalos current internship is at the U.C. Davis School of Law Family Protection and Legal Assistance Clinic where he represents self-help litigants who have low-income and are victims of domestic violence. Avalos prepares self-help litigants with the law process and provides services in family law, guardianship, domestic violence support, and trial preparation under the supervision of the head attorney. He was given this opportunity through the AmeriCorps, and the inaugural Capitol region JusticeCorps Student Internship Program.

Last summer Avalos worked as a counselor and teacher on an American Air Force Base in Ramstein, Germany, for three months. For the fall, Avalos has secured a job as a field manager with Grassroots Campaigns, an independent organization that does strategic consulting, fundraising, and field organizing for social and political organizations. 

As a CHCI Intern, Avalos hopes to gain insight into the world of politics and public interest. Avalos hopes this experience will be a stepping stone to pursue a career in law or social welfare where he can positively affect the lives of minorities who face discrimination.

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Eric A. Bejarano, AstraZeneca Intern

Hometown: Los Angeles, California
School: The University of Chicago
Major: Economics
Placement: The Office of Rep. Xavier Becerra

Eric A. Bejarano is a first generation Mexican American, born and raised in Los Angeles. He is the proud son of two hard working Mexican immigrants who migrated to the United States in search of a better life. Bejarano is a sophomore pursuing a degree in economics at the University of Chicago.

Bejarano has been involved in several organizations on campus. He is a member of Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (M.E.Ch.A) de University of Chicago, and was recently re-elected treasurer. As treasurer, he helps organize weekly fundraisers that support the numerous events M.E.Ch.A hosts throughout the year.

Bejarano is also an active board member of the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs Allocation Board. The board is designed to offer support and funding to events by student organizations that directly impact the academic success of students of color at the University of Chicago.

Growing up, Bejarano was exposed to a variety of cultures which has ignited his passion to communicate with the different nationalities in his community. He is currently studying Korean and plans to take intermediate classes of Korean in the upcoming year.

As a CHCI Intern, Bejarano hopes to learn the skills and knowledge necessary to become prominent leader in order to better help his community.

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Daniel Beneventano
Hometown: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
School: Ursinus College
Major: Politics, History
Placement: The Office of Rep. Martin Heinrich

Daniel Beneventano was born in Comayagua, Honduras. His parents adopted him when he was 14 months old. Beneventano has a mild case of cerebral palsy and Asperger's syndrome. Despite his disability, Beneventano is pursuing a bachelor's degree in history and politics at Ursinus College. He hopes to become a college professor teaching history or politics.

As a senior, Beneventano has been interested in politics ever since he was little-watching C-SPAN with his dad. In high school, he joined a program called Youth and Government (YAG), a program organized by the YMCA, that allowed students to take on the role of legislators, judges, or members of the press. As a senior, Beneventano was selected to participate in CONA, the national conference for outstanding YAG students from across the country, to debate national issues and propose legislation that should be adopted to address these issues. His proposal for the conference was one of only two proposals to make it through all rounds of debate and be "adopted" into law.

In college, Beneventano participated in Model United Nations his sophomore year. Additionally during spring break, Beneventano traveled with students to Mississippi to learn about the civil rights movement from black political activists in the area.

As a CHCI Intern, Beneventano hopes he can learn more about how congressional members interact with interest groups and their constituents to enact legislation.

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Marisela Castañeda, General Motors Intern

Hometown: Detroit, Michigan
School: University of San Francisco
Major: Architecture
Placement: The Office of Rep. Hansen Clarke

Marisela Castañeda was born and raised in Detroit as the youngest of eight children and is of Mexican ancestry. Growing up in a large family, she learned valuable skills and challenged herself to reach her goals. Castañeda values education and believes that everyone is socially responsible to share their knowledge.

As a first generation college student, Castañeda is pursuing a degree in architecture and community design at the University of San Francisco (USF). At USF, Castañeda served as president of the Ballet Folklorico de San Pancho dance group and as director of community affairs in the Latin American Student Organization. Her involvement also extends to volunteer work with the homeless and immigrant populations in San Francisco.

Upon graduating from college, Castañeda plans on attending graduate school to obtain a master's degree in architecture and business. Castañeda's future plans include working for the Federation International Fútbol Association (FIFA) in its Football for Hope Program, which addresses social issues and uses soccer as a tool for social development. Her goal is to design FIFA soccer facilities in conjunction with education buildings and/or hospitals, thus combining her love for soccer, architecture, and social justice.

As a CHCI Intern, Castañeda looks forward to expanding her leadership skills and meeting new people from across the country.

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Javier Chavez, Comcast Intern

Hometown: West Jordan, Utah
School: Weber State University
Major: Political Science
Placement: The Office of Rep. Linda Sanchez

Javier Chavez is a senior at Weber State University, pursuing a Bachelor of Integrated Studies degree in the areas of political science, economics, and legal studies. As the youngest of four, Chavez has always been guided and supported by his older siblings, who have demonstrated to him the need for positive role models. He now uses this experience to serve as a mentor and friend to students with similar upbringings.

After beginning his studies, Chavez volunteered extensively in the Ogden (Utah) community, serving with organizations such as the Community Involvement Center, Arts in the Parks, Your Community Connection, and the local YMCA. These experiences assisting minority and underprivileged groups have had a lasting impact on Chavez, as he now understands the importance of being both civically engaged and active in the community.

Upon finishing his undergraduate studies, Chavez plans on pursuing degrees in law and public policy, where he hopes to further his knowledge of the political, economic, and legal obstacles faced by immigrant and Hispanic communities. He hopes to use his academic training to better the lives of his peers and the scores of children who grow up with very few opportunities.

As a CHCI Intern, Chavez is intent on learning all he can and will make every effort to demonstrate professionalism, leadership, and a commitment to public service.

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María Regina Franco, AARP Intern
Hometown: Savannah, Georgia
School: Georgia State University
Major: Psychology
Placement: Democratic Caucus Leadership Office – Rep. Xavier Becerra

María Regina Franco is a native of Guatemala City, Guatemala. At the age of 11, she moved to the United States. At the end of her freshman year at Armstrong Atlantic State University, Franco became involved in the Hispanic Initiative sector of Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia, which provided her the opportunity to serve as troop leader to 25 girls. As troop leader, Franco ensured that the scouts had a support system and met successful Hispanic women from the community. She encouraged them to do well academically, aspire for higher education, and participate in civic engagement.

After her sophomore year, Franco transferred to Georgia State University (GSU) in Atlanta, where she is currently a senior pursuing a bachelor's degree in psychology with a minor in Spanish. At GSU, Franco was a youth group facilitator for Caminar Latino, Inc., a community-based initiative for Latino families affected by domestic violence. She also worked as a research assistant who acted as a bilingual interpreter and administered bilingual surveys that assessed the psychological health of Latino agricultural workers as part of the Farm Worker Family Health Program. As a result of the successful venture, Franco presented information at the Georgia Psychological Association 2011 Student Poster Session.

As a CHCI Intern, Franco hopes to gain insight about the legislative process and further develop her professional aspirations.

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Pablo Galindo-Payan
Hometown: El Paso, Texas
School: Brown Univeristy
Major: Economics
Placement: The Office of Rep. Silvestre Reyes

Pablo Galindo-Payan is a rising junior at Brown University pursing a degree in economics. He has lived in Ciudad Juarez and El Paso, Texas. Galindo-Payan's upbringing in these two cities has instilled in him a strong interest in the socioeconomic interactions between the United States and Mexico and the dynamic economy of border cities. During the past three summers, Galindo-Payan has conducted public policy research, both as an intern and as supervisor, for a nonprofit organization in El Paso called Community Scholars. He collaborated on three reports that were published on various topics ranging from international trade to municipal broadband networks. The findings of these reports were presented to the people of the Greater El Paso Region to raise awareness about public policy issues.

Galindo-Payan is the editor-in-chief of SOMOS, Brown University's Latino Literary magazine. SOMOS provides students the opportunity to share their culture and experiences through prose, poetry, and visual art. Galindo-Payan is proud to be part of an organization that acts as a medium for the Latino voice on campus. He is also an ESOL instructor, providing English language and literacy classes to adult immigrants in the Providence community.

As a CHCI Intern, Galindo-Payan is looking forward to working with his hometown representative to gain a greater understanding of the public policy process.

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Angelica Garcia, AstraZeneca Intern

Hometown: San Antonio, Texas
School: Arizona State University
Major: Political Science
Placement: The Office of Rep. Charles Gonzalez

Angelica Garcia is from San Antonio. Garcia now attends Arizona State University (ASU) where she is a senior working towards a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and a double minor in criminal justice and public policy and public administration. Inspiration to pursue such endeavors came from her previous internship experience at Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund and her former law and research magnet teacher.

This past semester, Garcia worked as an intern at the Arizona State House of Representatives. She worked closely with the Democratic state representatives, briefing them on new measures and conducting research that the members would then use to support or oppose each bill.

While in school, Garcia has been able to maintain an outstanding grade point average while working full-time, taking a full course load every semester, participating as a member in the ASU Sun Devil Marching Band, and devoting much of her time to her community. She is a “big sister” for Big Brothers Big Sisters and is an active volunteer with the Human Rights Campaign. Garcia is also a member of Pi Sigma Alpha, a political science honors society.

As a CHCI Intern, Garcia hopes to gain insight into the legislative process at the federal level. This internship will support her aspirations to become an attorney and, one day, influence public policy in the United States.
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Anthony Gonzalez, Bohnett Foundation Intern

Hometown: Tulsa, Oklahoma
School: Oklahoma State University
Major: Journalism
Placement: The Office of Rep. Judy Chu

Anthony Gonzalez was born in Panama City, Panama, and moved with his family to Tulsa, Oklahoma, when he was six years old. He is currently a junior at Oklahoma State University (OSU) double majoring in journalism and political science. As part of the student government multicultural affairs committee, Gonzalez has been responsible for promoting diversity and the arts on campus and has helped disperse funds to a number of cultural groups. He is also involved in Amnesty International and helped OSU host the Amnesty Oklahoma Conference in spring 2011. The urge to help his community has led him to major in journalism. Gonzalez recently received the Sam Love Memorial Scholarship, awarded to the most promising junior and senior in the journalism program.

Gonzalez has also been involved in his community as a teaching assistant, mentor, and ELL tutor at Stillwater Public Schools. His job has involved teaching English to Spanish-speaking children in addition to translating between teachers and Spanish-speaking parents.

As a CHCI Intern, Gonzalez hopes to gain leadership skills that will allow him to further help his community as well as learning more about the legislative process, which will help his journalism career. Upon graduating, Gonzalez hopes to join the Peace Corps and then obtain a master's degree in journalism before becoming a news reporter.

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Emily Gonzalez, Prudential Intern

Hometown: Bronx, New York
School: Brown University
Major: Education
Placement: The Office of Rep. Nydia Velazquez

Emily Gonzalez was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. Currently a rising junior at Brown University where she is majoring in education studies in the human development track. Gonzalez became interested in education after taking a first year seminar on urban adolescents that had her work in a local ESL elementary school and create a research proposal on a topic based on her experiences. Upon graduation, Gonzalez plans to earn a master's degree in teaching.

This past year, Emily was involved in Brown’s Minority Peer Counselor Program, a residential counseling program for all incoming first-years with a special focus on creating discussion workshops, and resources regarding issues of identity. A first generation college student, Emily hopes to conduct a comparative study on the experience of first generation Latino students, and hopes to study abroad next spring.

Gonzalez is the chair of Brown's Federacion de Estudiantes Puertorriqueños and has served as the Publicity Chair for El Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán. She works for Brown's Writing Center, and tutors middle school mathematics for BearPaw Tutors. Additionally, Gonzalez has spent her past two winter breaks with members of the Brown Catholic Community in New Orleans to help to rebuild the city. Apart from college work, Gonzalez strives to increase awareness for Multiple Sclerosis, an illness affecting her mother.

As a CHCI Intern, Gonzalez hopes to build confidence in her leadership skills and to immerse herself more fully in politics and policy-making to gain a stronger understanding of its impact within our vast Latino community.

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Rebecca Jimenez, Time Warner Cable Intern

Hometown: Carrollton, Texas
School: Brookhaven Community College
Major: Neuroscience
Placement: The Office of Rep. Al Green

Rebecca Jimenez was born in Laredo, Texas, but was raised in Dallas. She is currently a scholar at Brookhaven Community College and will soon transfer to the University of Texas, Dallas. Jimenez plans to major in neuroscience and pursue a doctorate in audiology and a double minor in speech pathology and chemistry. In college, Jimenez has been given the opportunity to speak at numerous community events about how essential education is.

Jimenez has been a part of multiple clubs such as, Phi Theta Kappa, where she is encouraged to maintain academic excellence and was nominated as most distinguished chapter member for her volunteer work. She is also involved with Pathways, an organization which gives disabled students a voice for a more accessible college campus. Jimenez serves as a campus ambassador, where she is given the opportunity to meet community leaders to better serve her campus. She also volunteers her time to mentor young ladies in middle school. This past semester, Jimenez was given an opportunity to intern with NASA as an aerospace scholar, enhancing her science, technology, engineering, and mathematic skills.

As a CHCI Intern, Jimenez hopes to become a role model for her younger siblings. She wants to show them that it doesn't matter where you come from, all that matters is how you get to where you want to be.

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Leonardo Lopez

Hometown: Milford, Ohio
School: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Major: Political Science
Placement: US Department of Treasury

Leonardo Lopez is from Cincinnati and is a rising senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC). An undergraduate in the honors program, he is a political science and philosophy double major and Italian minor, with a special interest in political philosophy. Last summer, Lopez was lucky enough to study abroad in Italy.

At UNC, Lopez has achieved the dean's list every semester and has a considerable amount of campus involvement. This past spring, Lopez participated in the UNC Leadership Institute, and he will participate in Carolina United, a diversity and leadership program near the end of summer.

While at UNC, Lopez has been elected president pro-tempore of the Dialectic & Philanthropic Societies, co-president of the Sailing Club, co-president of the Italian Cultural Association, and is a member of Delta Sigma Phi fraternity. Lopez also volunteers by teaching swim lessons to children. In his free time, he enjoys sailing, exercising, running, swimming, racquetball, and traveling.

As a CHCI Intern, Lopez looks forward to learning about the legislative process and contributing to his congressional office. He wants to take advantage of this amazing opportunity to give back to the Hispanic community.

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Stephanie J. Montoya
Hometown: Rio Rancho, New Mexico
School: New Mexico State University
Major: Government
Placement: The Office of Rep. Ben Ray Lujan

Stephanie Montoya is a native New Mexican, currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in government with a minor in journalism at New Mexico State University (NMSU). She has maintained a 4.0 grade point average for four consecutive semesters.

Montoya was selected to be an NMSU George Ladd Scholar in 2008 and maintains status as an NMSU Crimson Scholar as of 2009. She is currently serving as treasurer of the government honors society, Pi Sigma Alpha, Eta Eta chapter. Montoya is also a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Sigma Alpha Lambda Honors Association, Gamma Beta Phi Honors Society, and Phi Eta Sigma Honors Society. She has also engaged in several community service projects throughout high school and college, including Habitat for Humanity and volunteering at a local domestic violence shelter.

Montoya gained experience working as part of the New Mexico Court of Appeals judicial campaign of Dennis W. Montoya from 2009 to 2010, where she helped collect petition signatures to qualify the candidate for the ballot, attended political conventions, and worked to qualify the candidate for public campaign financing.

As a CHCI Intern, Montoya wishes to learn leadership skills, work as a member of a team, and gain exposure to the professional political world, so she can one day work in Washington, D.C. for the federal government.

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Amaury Munoz, GE Hispanic Forum Intern

Hometown: Brentwood, New York
School: State University of New York at Albany
Major: Public Policy
Placement: The Office of Senator Robert Menendez

Amaury Munoz is a junior at the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy, where he pursues a dual degree in public policy and political science. Born in Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic, Munoz moved with his family to Long Island, New York, at age 15. Regardless of the great challenge of going to school in a different country while learning the language, Munoz was able to graduate high school with honors and be accepted into a nationally ranked public affairs school where he remains an honor student.

Munoz's love for politics and public affairs developed during his junior year in high school when he first learned about the struggles of the Latino community in America and the importance of the Latino youth involvement in the political system. His studies opened his eyes to an ever-growing need and a career opportunity in the public sector.

Munoz is the founder and president of Albany's first and only student organization dedicated to fighting human trafficking, Heart of Justice. With his leadership, Heart of Justice raised over $4,000 in its first event to further the fight against human trafficking.

Munoz has also been recently elected as senator at-large where he plans to represent the university's undergraduate population with the same passion and dedication that he lives his life.

As a CHCI Intern, Munoz hopes to gain invaluable and transformative experiences that can only enhance his competence and skill as a public servant.

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Lissa Palacios, Hyundai Intern

Hometown: Los Angeles, California
School: Cerritos College
Major: Education
Placement: The Office of Rep. Grace Napolitano

Lissa Palacios was born and raised in East Los Angeles. She is currently attending Cerritos Community College and majoring in liberal studies with a focus in education. Palacios has a passion for education and a strong interest in politics. She hopes to be able to learn from her Capitol Hill experience and return to East L.A. to contribute in her community.

Palacios has demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to the Hispanic community as a youth leader in local community activities, specifically with Eastmont Community Center located in East Los Angeles. She has supported voter registration activities, helped distribute food to low-income families, and organized local youth in community volunteer projects.

Since 2006, Palacios has volunteered her time with the East Los Angeles Cityhood effort. Palacios understands the need for a city council in her community, as well as the potential her community holds to become a productive and inspiring city. She is very involved in efforts to incorporate East L.A. Palacios has assisted with planning meetings and fundraising events, canvassed the neighborhood and engaged in discussions with fellow residents about the pros and cons of the incorporation effort. She has also participated in media events to demonstrate her support.

As a CHCI Intern, Palacios hopes to grow as an individual and mature as a leader. Her goal is to return to East Los Angeles and implement all she has learned in her community.

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Martha Palomino, Comcast Intern

Hometown: Issaquah, Washington
School: Seattle University
Major: Finance
Placement: The Office of Senator Patty Murray

Martha Palomino was born and raised in Monterrey, Mexico, but has been living in the United States since she was nine years old. She is currently a sophomore majoring in finance at Seattle University.

During her freshman year at Seattle University, she volunteered at Lifelong AIDS Alliance, an organization that helps low-income individuals who suffer from AIDS and other chronic illnesses in the Seattle community. Her sophomore year, Palomino obtained a position as a resident assistant in Xavier Global House where she was in charge of the Spanish learning community. As the resident assistant, Palomino started a program called the "Spanish Circle." Every week, she invites residents to attend the program, which helps students learn or practice Spanish and share information about the different Hispanic cultures. Palomino also serves as the community outreach coordinator at Seattle University's Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan.

Palomino also participates in different fundraising events at her school. She was part of Dance Marathon, an event hosted by Seattle University to raise money for Seattle Children's Hospital. She also participated in the Make-A-Wish Foundation Students against Faculty basketball game to raise money for children with chronic illnesses.

As a CHCI Intern, Palomino is looking forward to all of the opportunities that are going to be offered to her.

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Maria Penaloza, AstraZeneca Intern

Hometown: San Bernardino, California
School: University of California, Los Angeles
Major: Political Science
Placement: The Office of Rep. Joe Baca

Maria Penaloza was raised in San Bernardino, California. She is a junior at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) studying political science with a concentration in American Government and a double minor in Chicano/a Studies and labor and workplace studies. Penaloza learned from her family to be independent and hard working, committing herself to everything she wants to achieve. Her family has been her greatest motivation in pursuing higher education, and her goal is to become an immigration attorney. She plans to obtain her master's in public policy and later pursue a law degree.

Penaloza interned at the Office of Mayor Patrick J. Morris for the City of San Bernardino. She also participated in the 2011 Sacramento Student Lobby Conference representing the UCLA student body in advocating for the passage of the California DREAM Act.

Penaloza was recently elected president of the UCLA chapter for Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority, Inc. which was the first Latina sorority to cater to the needs and empowerment of women in pursuit of higher education. In this leadership position, Penaloza seeks to pursue unity and strengthen the advancement of her community. She is also involved in the Latino/a pre-law society at UCLA.

As a CHCI Intern, Penaloza hopes to take the skills acquired in this program and apply them to her educational career and her community.

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Alexis Rivera

Hometown: Yauco, Puerto Rico
School: Inter American University of Puerto Rico-San Germán Campus
Major: Sociology, Criminal Justice
Placement: US Office of Personnel Management

Alexis Rivera was born in the town of Yauco, Puerto Rico. In 2001, Rivera received the service and leadership award given by Rotary International for his work in the town of Yauco. In 2007, Rivera began studies at The Inter American University of Puerto Rico-San Germán Campus where he has majored in sociology with a minor in criminal justice.

Rivera is a part of the Community Alliance of the Mountain where he was trained in small business development. In May 2011, he was elected student council president 2011-12.

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Eric Rodriguez, AstraZeneca Intern

Hometown: Milford, Massachusetts
School: University of Massachusetts: Boston
Major: Philosophy and Law
Placement: The Office of Rep. Richard Neal

Eric Rodriguez is a second generation Puerto Rican who was born in Milford, Massachusetts. He is currently a junior at University of Massachusetts, Boston, majoring in philosophy and law. He is an award-winning essayist and speech writer, largely focusing on pressing current issues. Rodriguez is an advocate for the rights of the disabled and works closely with local programs geared towards filling the needs of the disabled population. He has also worked towards helping to fight poverty by serving in his local food pantries. Having had someone close in his life with disabilities and a witness to poverty in his own community, Rodriguez has a passion he carries with him into the political realm to act as an advocate for those who otherwise would not be fairly represented.

As a first-generation college student, Rodriguez volunteers in order to use his education and passion for the people and give back to the community. After graduating, Rodriguez plans to attend law school to study law with a civil rights focus.

Having interned in the Office of Senator John F. Kerry in the summer of 2010, Rodriguez gained critical knowledge and a better understanding of the legislative process.

As a CHCI Intern, Rodriguez hopes to share his experiences in advocacy and political action with other politically active Latinos, and learn ways to better serve the Latino community.

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Jean Romero, Comcast Intern

Hometown: Miami, Florida
School: Florida International University
Major: International Relations
Placement: The Office of Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

Jean Romero was born in Nicaragua and was raised Miami. He is the product of a single family home, raised by his father and older brother, and the first to graduate from high school and go to college.

Romero attended Miami Dade College where he received an Associate in Arts degree in English Literature. Romero transferred to Florida International University, where he is currently seeking a dual degree in history and international relations with a minor in English Literature. He is a member of Amnesty Organization and Phi Alpha Delta, a pre-law fraternity. He has been philanthropically engaged with the Nicaraguan Student Association, Relay for Life, AIDS Walk Miami, and AIDS Walk San Francisco.

In 2005, Romero won the Administrative Office of the Courts Volunteer of the Year Award by providing excellent administrative assistance to the executive staff of the 11th Judicial Circuit of Florida's Administrative Office of the Courts.

He was recently employed as a judicial support specialist at Miami's Family Court Self-Help Program, providing procedural advice to pro se litigants. He also interned with the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, San Francisco Passport Agency. Today, Romero is a Detention Officer under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

As a CHCI Intern, Romero hopes to gain stronger leadership skills for his community and become role model to all youth.

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Alexandria Salazar, Shell Intern

Hometown: Denver, Colorado
School: Colorado School of Mines
Major: Chemical and Biochemical Engineering
Placement: The Office of Senator Mark Udall

Alexandria Salazar is a junior at the Colorado School of Mines pursuing a degree in chemical and biochemical engineering with a minor in public affairs. She was born and raised in Denver where she attended George Washington High School. In high school, Salazar founded a club for "no-kill" animal shelters. As president and founder of the club, Salazar encouraged others to join and volunteer weekly at a local "no-kill" shelter. During the summer of 2008, Salazar volunteered at an orphanage for mentally disabled children.

Salazar was accepted into the McBride Honors Program, the only undergraduate honors program at the Colorado School of Mines. She joined the Society of Women Engineers and in 2011 was awarded the Stilettos to Steel Toes scholarship. Recently, Salazar was initiated into Alpha Phi Omega, a co-ed, Greek service organization. Alpha Phi Omega provides its members the opportunity to develop leadership skills as they provide service to their campus, youth in the community, and the nation. Salazar volunteers on the service committee and has participated in several events.

As a CHCI Intern, Salazar is excited to continue her public policy education. She is passionate about both leadership and service and knows CHCI will help her achieve her dreams.

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Sebastian Sanchez, Prudential Intern

Hometown: Lake Mary, Florida
School: Seminole State College of Florida
Major: International Relations
Placement: The Office of Senator Kristen Gillibrand

Sebastian Sanchez was born and raised in Cali, Colombia. His family moved to the United States when he was eight years old, and he is the first in his family to attend college. As the only son, Sanchez has had to work full time to help his family financially, while attending college. He finished his two years of college at Seminole State College, where he has been actively involved in campus clubs such as the Hispanic Student Association, the Environmental Club where he served as vice president, an honors ambassador, and a member of the Art & Phyllis Grindle Honors Institute. Sanchez will be attending Rollins College in the fall where he will double major in international affairs and organizational communication.

Last summer, Sanchez got actively engaged with both a local mayor race and then moved on to a congressional campaign for District Seven of Florida. On the mayor's campaign, Sanchez was able to learn firsthand how the voting process works. Sanchez was later asked to transfer to a congressional campaign where he was able to apply his leadership skills under his appointed title of Seminole County Coordinator. In this role, Sanchez organized meet and greets, fundraisers, and grass-roots canvassing.

As a CHCI Intern, Sanchez is eager to learn firsthand of how the government functions in the United States Capitol.

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Shantel Suárez, Comcast Intern

Hometown: Cicero, Illinois
School: De Paul University
Major: Public Policy and Urban Studies
Placement: The Office of Rep. Luis Gutierrez

Shantel Suárez is a first generation Mexican American raised in Cicero, Illinois. She is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in public policy and urban studies with a double minor in Spanish and economics at De Paul University. Suárez's interest in public policy and social issues has led her involvement in several groups and organizations that work with underrepresented communities in Chicago.

During her sophomore year, Suárez joined Achieving Immigrant Rights and Equality and worked with Chicago's immigrant population by tutoring English as a second language. She later joined the Instituto del Progreso Latino and worked as a tutor to help prepare permanent residents in Chicago in ESL and civic courses, ultimately helping residents acquire citizenship. Suárez slowly transitioned from volunteering in community organizations to helping conduct research that involved Hispanic communities. She worked as a research assistant for Project Uno at De Paul University and GALA at Northwestern University's Medical School.

Suárez has also interned for De Paul's Immigration and Asylum Law Clinic as a legal assistant. She was responsible for assisting with U visa applicant interviews, developing evidence, drafting affidavits, indices of supporting documents and memoranda, and completing submission of the U visa application.

As a CHCI Intern, Suárez hopes to grow as a leader and further her understanding of the legislative process. Upon graduating, she plans to attend law school and obtain a Juris Doctor in public service.

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Narda Terrones, Time Warner Cable Intern

Hometown: Mission, Texas
School: Cornell University
Major: Animal Science
Placement: The Office of Rep. Henry Cuellar

Narda Terrones was born in McAllen, Texas, but raised in Mexico until the age of 12. After making the difficult decision to leave her parents and live in the United States, she graduated from Veterans Memorial High School in the top two percent of her class. She now attends Cornell University and is a freshman pursuing a degree in animal science with a double minor in Latino Studies and dance.

Terrones' strong interest in diversity and culture has guided her to become an active member of the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan Cornell group and the Central Americans United Student Association. She also holds a position as publicity chair for the first Cornell Women of Color Conference. As an animal lover, she is part of the Pre-Vet Society and volunteers weekly at the SPCA of Tompkins County.

In addition to her academic activities, Terrones works as a teaching assistant for the Latin Dance and the Salsa Partner Work P.E. courses. She is also part of two Latin dance groups and serves as president for the Pa'lante Salsa en Rueda Dance Troupe.

As a CHCI Intern, Terrones is ecstatic to witness and fully understand the process of public policy. With the idea of returning to Mexico one day, she hopes that this experience will help her become a stronger leader for the Hispanic community.

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Jorge Mario Tobón Ruiz

Hometown: Pawtucket, Rhode Island
School: Occidental College
Major: Diplomacy & World Affairs
Placement: The Office of Senator Harry Reid

Jorge Mario Tobón Ruiz currently attends Occidental College in Los Angeles where he is a diplomacy and world affairs major and French Culture minor. He was born and raised in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, the youngest of four brothers and the first to pursue a higher education.

Tobón has cultivated his versatility from a young age. In 1995, he joined the Cub Scouts, where his passion for leadership, civic engagement, and community involvement germinated. He achieved the rank of Eagle Scout in 2008, as Troop Nine Providence's first recipient.

At 16, he spent a year in France. Thereafter, he spent extensive time overseas conducting independent research in southern Spain, studying at the Université de Nantes and tracing his forefathers' footsteps in Colombia with his brothers. Starting in September, Tobón will also intern at the United Nations in New York City.

In addition to his academic and civic achievements, Tobón is a talented and devoted artist. At Occidental College, he has sung with the Glee Club and Cadence, the collegiate men's a cappella group. Tobón's musical endeavors have propelled him from Rhode Island to Los Angeles, New York City, Spain, Ireland and France.

Tobón's love for public service led him to Washington, D.C. He hopes this experience will arm him with the tools necessary to further the Latino community's stake in winning America's future.

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Juany Torres, Time Warner Cable Intern
Hometown: San Antonio, Texas
School: Stanford University
Major: Political Science
Placement: The Office of Rep. Ruben Hinojosa

Juany Torres is a first-generation American and college student. Originally from San Antonio, she is the daughter of immigrant parents and the oldest of three children.

Torres began working in the world of politics at a very young age, volunteering with political campaigns and interning at the Office of Congressman Ciro D. Rodriguez during high school. She was actively involved in Obama's 2008 presidential campaign and worked for Organizing for America as a spring intern. Last summer, Torres interned with Mayor Julian Castro of San Antonio. In addition to her duties, she was an integral part of the city-building, future-planning initiative SA2020.

With a replenished love for her hometown, Torres plans to return with the goal of reforming the education system, particularly in low-income, minority-majority schools. She hopes her success story will motivate other low-income students.

She was the valedictorian of her class, a Bill and Melinda Gates Scholar, and the only student in school history to attend Stanford University. At Stanford, Torres is heavily involved in student government in a variety of roles, including Senator. She is also on the executive board of Derechos, Stanford's Latino Pre-Law Society, and wants to attend law school after graduation.

Torres is passionate about public service and believes that her internship through CHCI is an amazing opportunity for her to further her understanding of the federal government to enact social change.

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Claudia Velasco

Hometown: Johnson City, Tennessee
School: Union University
Major: Economics
Placement: The Office of Rep. Loretta Sanchez

Claudia Velasco was born and raised in Shell, Ecuador. Her family moved to the United States when she was nine years old. She is currently a junior double majoring in economics and philosophy at Union University. Velasco plans to pursue a law degree after college.

Velasco attended Vanderbilt University her freshman year. She was a leader in activities that helped her dormitory, Gillette House, win the Commons Cup. She was also recognized for her superior writing skills by winning the Morgan Award for First-year Writing. As a sophomore, Velasco transferred to Union University, where she founded an organization for Latino students, Latin American Student Opportunities (LASO). Its goal is to promote Latin American culture on campus and provide service to the Hispanic community in Jackson, Tennessee. Currently, the students of LASO tutor ESL students at Andrew Jackson Elementary. This fall, LASO will team up with Regional Economic Development Initiative to mentor Hispanic high school students in rural areas of West Tennessee. As a member of Zeta Tau Alpha sorority, Velasco organized the second annual Pink Links golf tournament, which raised more than $3,000 for breast cancer awareness and education.

As a CHCI Intern, Velasco hopes the experience will help her understand more about public policy and the legislative process. She plans to use this knowledge to fight for the rights of Hispanics in this country.

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Ana Wolken, General Motors Intern

Hometown: East Lansing, Michigan
School: Michigan State University
Major: Social Relations & Policy
Placement: The Office of Rep. Raul Grijalva

Ana Wolken was born in San Antonio and raised in St. Louis. After moving back to Texas for several years, she left for East Lansing, Michigan, to attend Michigan State University. She is currently majoring in social relations and policy with a specialization in political economy at the James Madison residential college.

Aside from her studies, Wolken is active in the community. She has served as an intern in the office of United States Senator Debbie Stabenow in addition to interning for the gubernatorial campaign of Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero. Wolken has also given her time as a crisis counselor at The Listening Ear crisis center, served meals to homeless and veterans at Volunteers of America, and worked as a farmhand at Sasha Farm Animal Sanctuary. Wolken is a regular blood donor to the American Red Cross and has participated in numerous five-mile races to benefit nonprofit groups.

As a CHCI Intern, Wolken hopes to influence a variety of progressive initiatives she believes are vital to the future of our nation. She also hopes to gain firsthand experience working on the issues in Washington, D.C. and learn as much as possible.

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