2010 CHCI Fall Interns

CHCI welcomes its first class of Fall Congressional Interns.  This class is composed of 16 diverse individuals, each with a unique background. Below are some highlights of this year's class:

  • Total of 16 interns - 8 females, 8 males
  • They come from 10 states and Puerto Rico
  • 76% of the interns come from families whose household income is below $30,000
  • 44% of the interns are the first generation to go to college
  • They come from 15 different academic institutions (one attends community college)
  • They are pursuing 10 different academic majors, ranging from Broadcast Journalism to Mathematics to Human Development

Download file Profile of Fall 2010 Interns

Xavier Alarcon

Hometown: Coral Gables, Florida
School: University of Miami
Major: Political Science
Placement: The Office of Rep. Solomon Ortiz

Xavier Alarcón is a rising senior at the University of Miami, double-majoring in Latin American Studies and economics, while also working as a fellow in the Latin American Studies honors program. Born and raised in Guayaquil, Ecuador, Alarcón moved with his family at age 15 to Falls Church, VA, where he later graduated from high school with the globally-recognized bilingual International Baccalaureate Diploma. His dual Ecuadorian-American identity continues to inform his studies, professional aspirations and passions. He embraces the challenges of the Hispanic community in the U.S. as his own.

Harboring a passion for public service from early on, Alarcón helped start a micro-financing firm in a small village in rural Ecuador, aiming to engage some of the most isolated and disadvantaged members of society into the country's emerging market system. As a result of his work, he has been a recurring guest on local Ecuadorian television and radio talk shows.

While in Miami, Alarcón secured an internship with Merrill-Lynch and more recently, worked as a summer analyst with the Investment Strategies Group at HSBC. During the school year, he is a student research assistant at the Center for Hemispheric Policy, a think-tank focused in U.S. and Latin American relations.

After completing his undergraduate studies, Alarcón hopes to attend graduate school to pursue a degree in public policy, economics or international relations.    


Luis Beltran

Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada
School: The University of Nevada-Las Vegas
Major: Political Science
Placement: The Office of Senator Harry Reid

Luis Beltran is a junior at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas majoring in political science, with a minor in criminal justice. As a first-generation American, Beltran has worked extensively to alter the vast stereotypes that continually held inner city youth from achieving their potential. Beltran has utilizes education to create an avenue to foster educational success within his community.

While in college, Beltran was appointed to the State of Nevada Juvenile Justice Commission, and also serves on the National Coalition for Juvenile Justice Youth Committee. As a strong advocate for youth, Beltran has worked with the Children's Defense Fund, and Foster Club. Beltran founded the Treasure Chest for Success Program, which seeks to motive and inspire underprivileged youth to pursue and attain their educational goals despite their upbringings. He has also had the opportunity to intern with Rep. Dina Titus, and is a member of the Pi Sigma Alpha National Political Science Honor Society.

As a CHCI intern, Beltran is eager to work with individuals who have such a profound sense of passion for public service and hopes to gain the experience necessary to create vital contacts that will aid him in ensuring that no child or individual is ever deterred from achieving their goals, simply because of their race, ethnicity, or economic status. After finishing his undergraduate degree, Luis plans to earn a Juris Doctorate degree and begin working on equaling the playing field for all children.


Luis Buentello

Hometown: Brownsville, Texas
School: University of Texas at Brownsville
Major: Government
Placement: The Office of  Rep.  Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

Luis Buentello was born and raised in Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas, Mexico. He lives in Brownsville, TX where he attends the University of Texas at Brownsville. Buentello is currently working on a double major in government and communications. At school, he has been involved in student government, first as a senator for the College of Liberal Arts, and then as vice president for accounting and finance.

Buentello is also a member of Alpha Chi and Phi Theta Kappa honor societies as well as part of the Scorpion Ambassadors, an organization which bestows one of the highest honors available to current students of the university. The Scorpion Ambassadors represent their alma mater at various university functions for local dignitaries, state officials, and prominent community leaders. Upon completion of his undergraduate degree, Buentello will pursue a master's degree in global security.

Buentello interests are in politics and national security, and his future career plans involve working for the Intelligence Community. Buentello is a devoted Christian and has held different leadership positions in his church and has participated in several community projects. On his leisure time, Buentello enjoys reading memoirs or biographies of people that changed the world. He likes exercising and he loves playing golf.


Andres Cano
Hometown: Tuscon, Arizona
School: Arizona State University
Major: Broadcast Journalism
Placement: The Office of Senator Mark Udall

Andres Cano is a sophomore attending the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University. He is passionate about public service and has shined a light on some of the most pressing issues facing our younger population, including substance abuse prevention and providing resources for youth experiencing homelessness. As a special staff assistant to Pima County Supervisor Richard Elias, Cano researched juvenile justice reform on the local and national level. In that role, he was able to establish partnerships with local interest groups to address the disproportionate numbers of youth of color in the juvenile system. Additionally, Cano has interned with the District Office of Rep. Ed Pastor, where he created a comprehensive database of free or reduced medical services for Phoenix-area seniors.

Cano is the College Caucus Chair for the Young Democrats of Arizona, a role that requires him to work diligently to strengthen and establish statewide chapters. He also proudly serves on the board of directors for SharMoore Children's Productions and Every Voice in Action Foundation in his hometown of Tucson, Arizona.

Cano is a Gates Millennium Scholar, Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Scholar, and the recipient of the 2009 Matthew Shepard Memorial Scholarship from the AT&T LEAGUE Foundation.

During his free time, Cano enjoys watching independent films, going to the gym, and eating outdoors.


Alexander Gabriel

Hometown: Troy, Michigan
School: University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
Major: Political Science
Placement: The Office of Rep. John T. Salazar

Alexander Gabriel was born in Troy, MI, but attended high school in Detroit at University of Detroit Jesuit. Upon graduation in 2007, Gabriel matriculated to the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor where he is currently concentrating in political science. Throughout his high school and college career, Gabriel served as a volunteer tutor for Latino children who do not speak English fluently.

Gabriel became interested in politics in 2006 when he was appointed to the Troy Youth City Council. In 2008, Gabriel was selected to travel to New Orleans to attend the Clinton Global Initiative's first University Forum at Tulane University, hosted by former President Bill Clinton.

He later joined a community-service/social-justice community at the University of Michigan, and travelled to Arizona to work on immigration issues and learn about different policies that can be implemented and leveraged to better and more humanely serve the Mexican populations in Mexico and America.

In the winter of 2010, Gabriel interned at the Washtenaw County Public Defender's Office where he saw first-hand the need to remedy social and racial inequalities in the legal system. This experience led Gabriel to travel to Mexico City, Oaxaca, and Puebla to study the political landscape of the country and learn how best to improve it in the U.S. Upon returning from Mexico, Gabriel was selected for a summer internship at the public and government affairs firm The Glover Park Group in Washington, D.C.

As a CHCI Intern, Gabriel would like to continue his commitment to the Latino population and address the issues that keep them from realizing their full potential in the U.S. Additionally, Gabriel would like to leverage this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn more about the legislative process.

Ashley Garcia

Hometown: Ridgewood, New York
School: Cornell University
Major: Mathematics
Placement: The Office of Rep. Ciro D. Rodriguez

Ashley Garcia is a first generation Dominican-American born and raised in Queens, NY. She is currently a junior enrolled in the college of arts and sciences at Cornell University, pursuing a dual degree in mathematics and history with double concentrations in operations research engineering and law and society. Garcia has always had a passion for law and community activism. In high school, Garcia actively participated in the relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina by travelling to New Orleans and volunteering with the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (A.C.O.R.N), to help rebuild homes in some of the most devastated areas in New Orleans. Additionally, she was involved in an anti-gentrification activist group known as, El Movimiento por Justicia del Barrio. Her work with A.C.O.R.N and El Movimiento por Justicia del Barrio reinforced her desires to become a lawyer and politician in order to eradicate grave injustices.

At Cornell University, Garcia is the current president of the Minority Undergraduate Law Society and holds executive board positions in Quisqueya: the Dominican Students Association and the African, Latino, Asian, and Native American Programming Board. Through her membership and dedication to these organizations, Garcia strives to address the issues that minority students face at Cornell University as well as attempt to provide them with the resources needed to achieve optimal success in the future. Garcia is currently participating in Legal Outreach's LSAT program and will be dedicating her summer to prepare for the October LSAT exam.

As a CHCI Intern, Garcia hopes to gain a wealth of knowledge and experience of the inner workings of the U.S. political system and build a network that will guide her to her ultimate goal of being the voice of disenfranchised individuals throughout the nation.

Elena Gomez

Hometown: Kennesaw, Georgia
School: The University of Georgia
Major: International Affairs
Placement: The Office of  Rep. Jared Polis

Elena Aurora Gomez is a junior at The University of Georgia pursuing a double major in international affairs and Spanish. She was raised in Kennesaw, GA, and she is a first-generation American born to Mexican and Panamanian immigrants. She is the oldest of six children in her family where she has learned responsibility at an early age. Gomez strives to always be a positive role model for her siblings and show them that dreams can become a reality with the right attitude and perseverance in education.

Gomez shows a strong passion for community service. While she attended Kennesaw Mountain High School, she joined the R.I.S.E. program where she volunteered two hundred hours to tutor elementary school children with math and reading skills. At The University of Georgia, she is a mentor to a nine year old girl through the Athens- Clarke County Mentor program and volunteers her time at Sparrow's Nest Shelter where she manages a nursery. She is also fundraising $600 to support the battle against HIV/AIDS among children in the Atlanta area through a campus organization.

Gomez is a proud recipient of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund. During her free time, Gomez enjoys traveling, photography, kayaking, swimming, and spending time with her friends and family. Upon completion of her undergraduate career, Gomez plans to further her education and attend law school so that one day she will be able to give back to her community on a larger scale.

As a CHCI Intern, Gomez is enthusiastic about spending a semester in Washington D.C.; she intends to gain knowledge about the policy-making process and utilize her leadership, bilingual skills, and apply her passion of community service to a real political environment.

Ronald Gomez

: Hawthorne, California
School: University of California-Los Angeles
Major: Political Science
Placement: The Office of Speaker Nancy Pelosi

Ronald Gomez was born and raised in the city of Inglewood, CA. He is a senior at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and is pursuing a degree in Political Science. He is a member of Gamma Zeta Alpha Fraternity, Inc., one of the most influential Greek organizations in California.

Because of his desire to serve his community, he has decided to pursue a career as a public interest attorney. Last year, he interned at the Inglewood Self-Help Center through an AmeriCorps program, which allowed him to get an early start on his career and it also allowed him to serve his community by providing them with free legal aid services in the areas of housing and family law.

In the past, Gomez was a mentor for a program called MOSAIC, which allowed him to give back to the troubled youth in the San Fernando Valley. He was able to serve as a role model to young Latino males who struggle against gang and family violence, drug and alcohol abuse, educational failure, and emotional trauma.

Gomez considers himself a public servant and hopes to use the CHCI Congressional Internship Program as a tool that will allow him to better serve his Latino community by helping him attain the skills necessary to one day serving as a voice for the people of Inglewood, and the surrounding L.A. communities in the U.S. Legislative branch.

Ronnie Gonzalez

Hometown: Colton, California
School: Azusa Pacific University
Major: Education
Placement: The Office of Rep. Joe Baca

Ronnie Gonzalez was born in Los Angeles, CA. He was the youngest of three boys. At the age of five, his family moved to the Inland Empire, and settled in the city of Rialto. He spent his childhood and adolescence in impoverished and gang-infested neighborhoods. Nevertheless, Gonzalez was the first in his family to graduate from high school. He also became the first to enroll into college. Currently, he is a human development major at Azusa Pacific University.

Gonzalez is also a member of the Exchange Club of Rialto, which is an organization that stands for the betterment of the community. The club's mission is to fight child abuse; however, its members also raise funds to donate scholarships to deserving high school students and provide support for various high school athletic and performing art programs. Additionally, Gonzalez is a coach for the Eisenhower High School (Rialto, CA) girls basketball program. He stresses the importance of fundamentals in both basketball and life to the young ladies on the team.

Furthermore, Gonzalez is working diligently to do his part to improve the same school district he received his education. As a career center technician at Eisenhower High School, he provides students with information about colleges, universities, scholarships, financial aid, and many other topics relating to an education beyond that of high school. He works hard at being a positive male role model in his community and place of work. Gonzalez sees the internship in a Congressional office, at the nation's capitol, as a huge honor and responsibility that he must attend to in order to keep from disappointing those counting on him.


Josefina Ibarra

Hometown: San Marcos, Texas
School: Texas State University-San Marcos
Major: Political Science
Placement: The Office of Rep.  Henry Cuellar

Josefina Ibarra is a senior at Texas State University in San Marcos, TX. She is currently working on a bachelor of arts in political science with a minor in business administration. Ibarra has worked closely with the Texas Department of Transportation, Guadalupe County Commissioners, various media outlets, Texas State and Texas Lutheran Universities in a campaign she lead aimed at safety improvements to a Texas state highway. During this process, she worked with various organizations on campus and now holds the position of vice president of the Latino Student Association at Texas State University. She was also a participant of the Institute for Leadership Education and Development 2010 conference at Northern Kentucky University and is a 2010 HSC Scholar.

Ibarra plans to pursue a dual degree with a master's in public affairs and law. With this degree, she would like to work in the education sector at the state or federal level.

As a CHCI Intern, Ibarra hopes to gain knowledge at all levels. In addition, she hopes to develop a firsthand understanding of the legislative works to confidently better serve society.

Karina Jimenez

Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
School: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Major: Fine Arts
Placement: The Office of Rep. Luis Gutierrez

Karina Jimenez is a Mexican-American born and raised in the heart of Chicago, IL. Living in a predominantly low-income Mexican-American neighborhood, Jimenez has always recognized the importance of serving ones community. She spent her high-school years fully committed in helping the Latino community by engaging in various community service projects such as teaching catechism for four years, volunteering at the local low-income head start program, and assisting in citizenship workshops for immigrants.

Jimenez is currently a senior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign majoring in Urban and Regional Planning and obtaining a minor in Latina/o Studies. She has found a family on campus through La Casa Cultural Latina and Gamma Phi Omega International Sorority, Inc. where both have stressed the importance of Latino empowerment and academic excellence. Her sorority has allowed her to coordinate a scholarship fundraiser that allows two promising Latinas to continue their studies through higher education.

Her drive for empowering the Latino community has allowed her to engage in many different ways in doing so. She was an intern at the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute (USHLI) where her focus was registering Latinos to vote. Single handedly registering over 750 voters in a 10 week period, Jimenez could not have found a more rewarding experience. She also served as an Aldermanic Intern in the 35th Ward of Chicago where she actively engaged with the Latino community and was able to get insight on City Governmental practices. She often claims that her passion lies within the Latino community and helping in alleviating the everyday problems we face.

On her spare time, Jimenez enjoys traveling, learning about different cultures, and being in company of her family and friends.

Evani Molina

Hometown: Santa Ana, California
School: University of California, Irvine
Major: Chicano/a Studies
Placement: The Office of  Rep.  Loretta Sanchez

Evani Molina was born and raised in Santa Ana, CA. She is a product of public schools, graduating from Saddleback High School in 2007. It was in high school, where she began to realize the social issues unique to her community and schools. At the age of 17, she began her service on a city commission in hopes of making change. Molina served on the Santa Ana Youth Commission for four years as an active spokesman for youth.

Currently, she is a senior student at the University of California, Irvine. Molina is double majoring in Chicano/Latino Studies and sociology. While in college, Molina has worked with various educational outreach programs for minority students. Her own participation in an outreach program in high school made her see firsthand the power of outreach programs. Since then, she has been dedicated in helping minority students get into higher education. She has individually worked with over 150 students each year providing them with academic counseling and mentoring. Molina has been able to help over 50 students get into college. She sees her own academic path as an avenue for her to return back into those schools she grew up in and make a difference.

Molina plans to graduate in the spring of 2011 and pursue her master's degree in Education policy. She plans to continue her involvement with the City of Santa Ana by eventually working with the schools and students and intertwine both her passions for education and public policy. Her work with students and her participation in city government has shown her the needs and brokenness in schools and neighborhoods. Molina believes it is her obligation to remain committed to the issues found in Latino communities like hers. She is serious and passionate about the problems that face the people, the families, and the children in her community and hopes that her experience with CHCI will enable her to grow, learn, and shadow to further the progress for underserved populations.

Adriana Pineda

Hometown: Caguas, Puerto Rico
School: University of Sacred Heart
Major: Advertising
Placement: The Office of Res. Comm. Pedro Pierluisi

Born and raised in San Juan, PR, Adriana Piñeda is a senior majoring in advertising at the University of the Sacred Heart. Since her early teenage years, Piñeda found an interest in communications through magazines, commercials and photography which lead her to pursue a career in advertising. When she graduated from high school in 2007, Piñeda started working in an advertising agency in San Juan, where she was introduced to the basic functions of the industry and reinforced her passion for communications. During her two years there, she was able to gain the full experience of an account executive and take on projects by herself.

Being a dedicated and responsible person, Piñeda tutored high school students and participated in various community service projects as a part of her high school's honor society. She volunteered to spend time with orphan and abused children, read to elderly people, and helped paint and prepare Christmas activities for a public school. Piñeda has continued being active in her community by engaging in several projects. Last March, she contributed to the fight against cancer by organizing a team to participate in Relay for Life and raised $3,500 to donate to the American Cancer Society.

Piñeda has been an honor student in her university since freshmen year and plans to graduate summa cum laude in her class. After completing her undergraduate studies, she plans to go to law school and apply all knowledge gained during her CHCI Internship. As a CHCI Intern, Piñeda is honored and excited to be able to learn about the legislative process and become a better leader after this amazing experience.

Josephine Pineda

Hometown: Los Angeles, California
School: University of California-Los Angeles
Major: Political Science
Placement: The Office of Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard

Josephine Pineda was born in a Nicaraguan and Salvadorian household in South Central Los Angeles. Growing up in a primarily African-American and Latino low income neighborhood, she faced many obstacles in regards to education and crime. Despite, all the barriers she remained true to her goals of attending a four year university. She attended Gertz-Ressler High School, a charter school in her neighborhood that provided college counseling and college preparatory courses. There she was a founding member of the national winning cheerleading squad. She grew a passion for social justice and a drive to better the community in which she resided. She began to work close alongside the non-profit World Impact, which works with inner city youth in efforts to reduce gang activity and foster positive alternatives. She continues to serve as a youth leader youth and aims at creating new leaders within the neighborhood.

In 2008, she graduated from Gertz-Ressler High School and that fall she attended University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA.) Prior to UCLA, she engaged in college counseling at her former high school and created a new library system for the new school. At UCLA, she became further involved with the next generation of students. She became a mentor and a tutor for Project BRITE, a program that takes college students to juvenile probation camps to do one-on-one tutoring and mentoring. She also volunteers for UCLA Scholar´s Day, a day dedicated to promoting a stronger presence of usually underrepresented ethnic and socioeconomic groups on the UCLA campus. In addition, volunteering in the "I´m Going to College" program that promotes higher education by taking high school and middle school students to the UCLA campus and showing them what college is all about.

Pineda is currently a political science major with a double minor in public policy and Education. She hopes to someday combine her passion for education and policy into a career. She strives to attend law school and through law have the tools to assist people in her community. She enjoys traveling to Nicaragua every year to examine not only the beauty of the country, but the state of the government and the social phenomenon's occurring under the now Socialist country. She plans to place her interest into a research project on the "Sandinista Revolution" and its long economic and social effects in Nicaragua.

She is enthusiastic to begin her Fall internship with CHCI. She feels that it will allow her to grow as a leader and provide her with experience at the heart of the government.


Jessica Reyes

Hometown: Union City, New Jersey
School: Hudson County Community College
Major: Social Sciences
Placement: The Office of Rep.  Albio Sires

Jessica Reyes is sophomore at Hudson County Community College, in Jersey City, NJ. She will graduate with an associates in liberal arts, and continue her education with a major in political science. Reyes is the first generation Mexican- American, to be born and raised in the U.S. She is also the first in her family to pursue a higher education than that of high school.

Reyes has been part of many organizations that have given her the opportunity to learn as well as to give back to the community. Three years ago, she was part of the Chemical Society and participated in Project Seed, where she received first hand research experience. She was awarded first prize in her Lead Contamination research project, consisted in determining the amount of lead in local children's parks. This experience awakened an interest towards helping her community. Two years ago, Reyes was accepted in a prestigious leadership group called Peer Group Connection where a group of 20 individuals worked together to make the transition from middle school to high school easier for the under classmen. Jessica can also be found at the local theater assisting the teachers with children's art and dance classes.

Now that she has the privilege in becoming part of the CHCI family, she understands that the knowledge and experiences gained from this organization will help in her pursue of an education in political science.


Leonel Ruiz

Hometown: El Paso, Texas
School: University of Texas at El Paso
Major: Political Science
Placement: The Office of Rep. Silvestre Reyes

Leonel Ruiz was born in El Paso, TX, but lived in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez for 17 years. At the age of 12, he began to commute between the two cities on a daily basis. He is currently a senior at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), triple majoring in political science, psychology, and creative writing. Ruiz is involved with the honors program at his institution, and will graduate with an honors degree in May 2011. He is also involved with the Law School Preparation Institute at UTEP, which has helped him develop his academic and personal skills.

Ruiz is currently involved with the scouting movement in Mexico, being part of it since he was ten years old. He is passionate about camping and helping his community, both of which he still does with his Scout group. Ruiz is currently a writing tutor at his University; he has been an intern for the County Criminal Court number two in El Paso and a community service coordinator in his university. He is also currently involved with the Hispanic Youth Symposium, organized by the Hispanic College Fund; he was a resident advisor at the New Mexico 2010 Symposium and is working to start a chapter in the city of El Paso.

Ruiz is very passionate about foreign cultures and languages. He currently speaks three languages: English, Spanish, and Bulgarian. He learned this latter language during a study abroad he did to Bulgaria the spring semester of 2009. His dream is to become part of the Foreign Service and learn at least five languages while he helps to improve the conditions of poor countries around the globe.