2013 CHCI Spring Congressional Interns

CHCI welcomed its 2013 Spring Congressional Interns on February 4. The class is composed of 12 diverse individuals, from 8 different states. They come from 11 different academic institutions, are pursuing 9 different majors, and 50% are the first generation to attend college. 

Detailed Demographics:Download file 2013 CHCI Spring Congressional Interns Demographic Profile

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

2013 CHCI Spring Congressional Interns:

Melissa Alfaro
                Michelle Malouf

                Jeannette Roman

Jose Andrade
Ashley Nunez

Tania Salazar

Ana Frias
Agustina Perez

Alec Wiener

Jacquelyn Gonzalez
Abel Ramos Taype

Luis Zarco


Melissa Alfaro
Hometown: San Antonio, Texas
School: American University
Major: International Affairs
Placement: The Office of Rep. Pete Gallego

Melissa Alfaro was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. She is the youngest of four children, born to Mexican-American parents. In high school, Melissa served as the president of the student council as well as the vice-president of the district student council. Melissa continues to provide leadership training to young student leaders during her visits to San Antonio.

Melissa is also the first in her family to pursue a college education. She is currently an undergraduate student at American University in Washington, D.C. where she is perusing a degree in International Relations, and a minor in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. During her college career, she volunteered at multiple battered women’s shelters and worked with survivors of human trafficking. She also interned at Women Thrive Worldwide, a non-governmental organization based in Washington, D.C., committed to improving the lives of women around the world. Melissa researched opportunities for partners from the Global South and attended conferences and seminars that focused on best practices to improve the lives of women.

Melissa looks forward to taking part in the CHCI internship opportunity. She hopes to gain insight into our country’s legislative process as well as learn how to become a better leader so that she may serve as a knowledgeable and effective representative of the Hispanic community.

Jose Andrade
Hometown: Anaheim, California
School: Cypress College
Major: Undeclared
Placement: The Office of Rep. Loretta Sanchez

Jose Andrade is a first year student at Cypress College in Cypress, California. He is a first generation Mexican-American in the city of Anaheim, California. As a high school student, he had the privilege of attending culturally diverse school campuses. At Savanna High School, Jose was vice president of the International Club, and enjoyed learning about the different cultures represented on campus.

Being a firm believer in the idea that individuals can be role models, Jose enjoys volunteering at the local Boys and Girls Club as a mentor for youth. He has a passion for learning and strives to bring benefits to others through his actions. He has considered a career as a teacher, but feels life has many more experiences for him to learn from, before he selects a career to pursue.

From his CHCI experience, he hopes to gain insight on how and why decisions are made in the legislative process. He also hopes to acquire leadership skills that will help him become a better individual and use these skills to contribute more to his community.

Ana Frias
Hometown: Roswell, New Mexico
School: The University of New Mexico
Major: Political Science
Placement: The Office of Senator Tom Udall

Ana Frias was born in Mexico, moved to the United States when she was two years old and was raised in Roswell, New Mexico. The first in her family to attend college, she is a senior at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, double majoring in political science and Spanish. Upon finishing her undergraduate degree, Ana plans to attend law school and pursue a career in family and immigration law.

Ana is involved in many organizations at the University of New Mexico. She is a proud member of the Pi Gamma chapter of the Chi Omega Fraternity, the Phi Alpha Delta Pre-Law Fraternity, the Trailblazer's Student Ambassador Program and also works on campus as an event planner. Ana is also heavily involved in her undergraduate student government serving as a Senator, chairing the Steering & Rules Committee, writing legislation relevant to the university as well as New Mexico and participating in many of the agency events.  She is passionate about politics, public policy, and education.

As a CHCI intern, Ana looks forward to learning more about the public policy process and how policies impact the Hispanic community. She seeks to challenge herself during her time in D.C. in all areas, as well as using the skills obtained through this internship as a foundation to building a career in immigration and family law.

Jacquelyn Gonzalez
Hometown: Anaheim, California
School: California State University–Fullerton
Major: Education
Placement: The Office of Rep. Grace Napolitano

Born and raised in Anaheim, California, Jacquelyn Gonzalez is a first generation Mexican American and the youngest of five children. Her parents migrated from Jalisco, Mexico to the United States in the pursuit of a better life with greater opportunities. Witnessing the struggles and efforts of her family, it was always instilled in her to take advantage of any opportunities available to her as a U.S. citizen. Therefore, she attributes her accomplishments to the encouragement and support of her family.  

Jacquelyn is currently a senior at California State University -  Fullerton (CSUF). As a child and adolescent studies major with an emphasis on education, Jacquelyn has had a wide array of experiences in the educational field in working with both Hispanic students as well as international students. After witnessing the growth and impact of the undocumented student community on her campus, Jacquelyn initiated a research project aimed at exploring the barriers and experiences of undocumented students at CSUF, as well as investigating the impact of faculty and staff in their assistance towards this student population. Through the Center for Research on Educational Access & Leadership at CSUF’s College of Education, Jacquelyn received a grant to further explore the experiences of this underrepresented community and how institutions can better serve them. She has also participated in lobbying events at the California State Capitol, pushing for the passing of the California DREAM Act. Jacquelyn has also worked with children, adolescents, and women at a women’s shelter, working with victims of domestic violence and human trafficking.

Furthermore, Jacquelyn has had opportunities to explore international educational systems. She taught students in China as well as in southern Spain for a year.  In addition, she recently finished coordinating English workshops in Northern Thailand.

As a CHCI intern, Jacquelyn hopes to gain a better understanding of policy making and the legislative process. Jacquelyn understands the value and impact of policy on education and immigration and is eager to gain the experience needed to one day have an influence in these areas. With her passions for education and immigration reform, Jacquelyn hopes to continue this outlet in serving and assisting immigrant communities as well as advocate for policy reform.

Michelle Malouf
Hometown: Miami, Florida
School: Florida International University
Major: Business Administration
Placement: The Office of Senator Mark Udall

Born and raised in Miami, Florida, Michelle Malouf's upbringing has been culturally diverse. Her cultural heritage has gifted her with a keen understanding of the Spanish language coupled with a rich sense of heritage. She is currently a senior at Florida International University, majoring in international relations with a minor in economics.      

Since high school, Michelle has always demonstrated a passion for service. In FIU, she immediately became an active member of Service for Peace, consistently promoting and attending community service events. She also became the director of service for her professional business fraternity, Alpha Kappa Psi.

As an intern for the CHCI, Michelle hopes to become a motivation for all Latinos to become active citizens both within their communities and throughout the nation. She is excited to delve deep into the political environment by working at a Congressional office and is eager to hit the ground running.

Ashley Nunez
Hometown: Franklin, Tennessee 
School: University of Tennessee
Major: International Studies
Placement: The Office of Rep. Ed Pastor

Ashley Nuñez is a Miami-born Cuban-American student living in Franklin, Tennessee. She is a sophomore at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and, although her major is still undeclared, she intends to pursue a degree in international studies.

As an International Baccalaureate high school graduate, Ashley challenged herself with her school’s most difficult curriculum while being heavily involved in extracurricular activities and working part-time to save up for college. Ashley graduated in the top percentile of her class and moved on to become an active member in the University of Tennessee’s Chancellor’s Honors Program. Ashley spent last semester with the International Studies Abroad program in Madrid, Spain, at the Universidad de Antonio Nebriija.

Ashley is incredibly honored to be a part of the CHCI experience and eager to tackle the challenges of Capitol Hill. She hopes to gain a better understanding for the legislative process and the effect it has on our daily lives, while helping to promote Hispanic involvement in government and policy making.

Agustina Perez
Hometown: New York, New York
School: Marymount Manhattan College
Major: Political Science
Placement: The Office of Senator Kristen Gillibrand

Agustina Perez is a first generation Mexican-American and the first woman in her family to attain higher education in Marymount Manhattan College as a political science and international studies major. Agustina firmly believes that the CHCI internship will give her the chance to hone her skills in leadership and gain a greater insight into the political system of our country. Agustina was born and raised in New York City's "Spanish Harlem." Growing up in a very diverse community, Agustina pictured herself from a young age working in Washington, D.C. and being the voice of those who could not be heard, whether it be due to their gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, or any reason.

In 2011, she became one of five fellows for the Civic Leaders of Tomorrow Fellowship Program, given by Borough President Scott Stringer. She has interned with the Urban Justice Center working with the Street Vendor Project, a membership-based small-business advocacy organization. Agustina has a long history of being civically engaged, volunteering with her college’s Black and Latino Student Association, the Bowery Center, the United Nations Club, Big Sister Little Sister, the Social Justice Club, March for America, Mt. Sinai and Clearwater as well as being an activist for the Dream Act, the HEOP lobby and with the Occupy Wall Street activities.

To Agustina, this internship is an opportunity to learn and gain experience on Capitol Hill, and to show that Latinos can contribute to this nation. Acceptance to this program represents a great accomplishment in her life. She gives thanks to her parents and the inspiration of her many mentors throughout her life.

Abel Ramos Taype
Hometown: North Miami Beach, Florida
School: Florida International University
Major: International Relations
Placement: The Office of Rep. Joe Garcia

Abel Ramos Taype is a senior at Florida International University in Miami, Florida. He is working towards a triple major in international relations, political science and anthropology, and a minor in entrepreneurship. Born and raised in Lima, Peru, he is familiar with current events in Latin America. This background sparked his academic interests as well as his search for solutions and improvements in the community.

Abel is an active leader in numerous student organizations, including FIU's Student Government Association. In 2011, he studied at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, obtaining a certificate in Peruvian Studies. While studying there, he volunteered as an observer during the 2011 General Elections and Andean Parliament and later became a member of several non-governmental organizations such as International Amnesty, Transparency Civil Association and Techo. He is also an environmental programs assistant at FIU’s School of Environment, Arts and Society.

Every action taken by Abel has contributed to his exceptional development as a professional and guiding him to the path of excellence. As a CHCI intern, Abel expects to attain valuable leadership experience and fulfill his interest in public policy, representation and civil liberties, while increasing his understandings about the legislative process.

Jeanette Roman
Hometown: Riverside, California
School: University of California-Riverside
Major: English
Placement: The Office of Rep. Ruben Hinojosa

Jeanette Román was born on Fort Gulick Army base in Panama to young parents of Panamanian and Puerto Rican descent. When she was four years old, her family moved to Texas where she grew up. She graduated from Lamar High School in Arlington, Texas in 2001 and later that year made her transition to California where she would experience more personal growth.

After years of working odd jobs as a child care worker, telemarketer and in the service industry, as well as developing an an interest in politics and social causes, Jeanette finally started her college education with the goal of becoming a civil attorney in 2010. She graduated from Irvine Valley College in 2012 with a degree in Humanities & Languages, and transferred to the University of California – Riverside later that year, where she currently attends as an English major. Her experience in the public sphere with social issues involved volunteering for Representative Mark Takano’s (D-CA) campaign, the first openly LGBT person of color to serve in Congress, as well as being a social media coordinator for an anti-human trafficking advocacy group, Advocacy to Stop International Slavery & Trafficking (ASIST). ASIST has won the Recognition Award for Excellence from the National Association of Social Workers, which, along with Jeanette, was featured in The Dallas Morning News.

Jeanette hopes to gain new personal growth and experience from CHCI. Her interest in politics and leadership, as well as her determination to enable great changes in her neighborhood, city, state, and the country, has motivated her to learn as much as possible about being a great leader and representative of the Hispanic and Latino community.

Tania Salazar
Hometown: East Hartford, Connecticut 
School: Temple University
Major: Economics
Placement: The Office of Senator Richard Blumenthal

Tania was born and raised in Sao Paulo, Brazil to parents of Colombian descent.  She has lived in Brazil, Canada, and the United States. Tania went to Capital Preparatory Magnet School in Hartford. She held the position of vice president of her school’s National Honors Society.

Currently, Tania double majors in political science and economics and minors in French at Temple University in Philadelphia, where she has been involved with the Economics Society as secretary and as student government representative. She has also been a part of ADEL, a Latino association on campus. During her college career, she has volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters as well as with Breakthrough Philadelphia. She interned during the summer of 2012 with the campaign of Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz outside of Philadelphia.

As a CHCI Intern, Tania is looking forward to taking advantage of this opportunity by learning as much as possible. She is excited to be working with her state’s senator, Rich Blumenthal.

Alec Wiener
Hometown: El Paso, Texas
School: University of Texas-El Paso
Major: Accounting
Placement: The Office of Rep. Henry Cuellar

Alec Wiener is a first generation Mexican-American and the youngest of three. He was born and raised in El Paso, Texas and is currently in his second year at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), pursuing a double major in accounting and finance.

Alec is heavily involved with the Honors Program at UTEP, where he served as an undergraduate student assistant at the honors house, a mentor for the honors peer mentor program, and as a member of the university honors council. Through his work with the honors peer mentor program, he has helped students network and challenge themselves academically. Other organizations which he is involved in include ONE, which fights extreme poverty and preventable disease, and the Accounting Society at his university.

As a CHCI intern, working under Congresswoman Grace Napolitano, Alec hopes to be able to observe leadership skills being used and to gain leadership skills as well. In addition to this, he hopes to learn about the political process that takes place at the federal level of government.

Luis Zarco
Hometown: Cicero, Illinois
School: Michigan State University
Major: Communications
Placement: The Office of Senator Michael Bennet

Luis Miguel Zarco is currently a student at Michigan State University, where he is a communications major. Luis started off his journey in Chicago, spending his summers with his grandparents in rural Mexico. He learned what life was like without electricity, running water, or any modern day conveniences. These summers helped him to view all accomplishments as humble stepping stones from which he and his family can push themselves further.

Luis is the first in his family to graduate high school, and is within grasp of his bachelor’s degree. He hopes to inspire not only his family but all individuals that he comes across, by promoting pride of oneself and their heritage. He has served as co-shair for Culturas de las Razas Unidas, which prides itself on helping Latinos feel welcomed to the sometimes unfamiliar environment of higher education.

Luis hopes that by participating in the CHCI's internship he can further his abilities to help people. He knows he will be able to refine his speaking and writing skills, so that eventually one day he is either crafting public policy or influencing it.