2002-2003 Academic Year

Student Lands Prestigious Internship

Vicenta Arrizon only ventures out of California for trips to Mexico to see her extended family. This summer that will change as she heads off to Washington, D.C., the hub of American politics, as an intern for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute.

Vicenta ArrizonVicenta, 20, of Oakland, is a junior at Pitzer College majoring in political studies and pursuing a minor in economics. She came to Pitzer from the Webb Schools in Claremont.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute was established in 1978 as a non-profit, non-partisan educational organization dedicated to developing the next generation of Latino leaders. CHCI's educational services are designed to provide Latino students with the tools and resources they need to succeed in attaining a higher education.

"It's a phenomenal opportunity," Vicenta said. "I'm really looking forward to gaining a hands-on understanding of the workings of government."

The knowledge she will gain during the summer program should prepare Vicenta for her career goals of either attaining a law degree or entering politics as a policy maker or as a campaign organizer.

Every summer, 30 promising Latino undergraduates from across the country are selected for an eight-week program in the nation's capital. Vicenta will be joining students from Harvard, Rice University, Howard University, Georgetown, Berkeley, Stanford and Wellesley, among others.

CHCI provides participants with transportation, housing and a $2,000 stipend for local expenses.

After a weeklong orientation, interns are assigned to congressional offices where they gain first-hand knowledge of how the U.S. government works. Assignments may not necessarily match the interns' political views. Interns' duties may include responding to constituent inquiries, drafting correspondence, monitoring hearings, conducting research and assisting with general office operations.

While in Washington, interns are required to collaborate on a community service project. The project serves as a vehicle for interns to exercise and strengthen their organizational skills and cooperate to achieve a common goal.

Vicenta, who was nominated as an All-League player as a member of the Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens volleyball team, knows all about teamwork. She also has been involved in other areas of campus life. She serves as a residential adviser, is the former manager of the Marquis Library and works as an assistant to Professor Maya Federman.

Whatever the arena, Vicenta says Pitzer has prepared her for any endeavor.

"The internship opens doors to many other possibilities," Vicenta said. "It is a great chance to forge lifelong connections and engage in stimulating work with like-minded people."

"Vicenta is really dynamic and very aware of people and their points of view, which would be good in a political setting," Professor Maya Federman said. "She's really good at seeing what needs to be done to make things work. She shows a lot of initiative and her extensive political science background will serve her well."

"In addition, Vicenta is very proactive and makes many aspects of the Campus Life Committee on which she serves run quite smoothly. Her thoughtfulness and intuitive knowledge of how an institution's programs could be better run have made a difference here at Pitzer. It's a quality that will be beneficial in Washington," Federman said.