Amigas, I am finally back in Los Angeles after traveling to the east coast for two amazing opportunities. I am so excited to finally share my experiences with you!
For the first part of the week, I attended the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) Public Policy Conference in Washington, D.C. As an alumni of the CHCI Intern program and CHCI Alumni Association regional board member, I was honored to represent the Los Angeles chapter at the national conference.
What is CHCI you may ask? CHCI is a Hispanic nonprofit and nonpartisan 501(c)(3) leadership development organization based on three cornerstones:
Educate. Empower. Connect.
CHCI provides numerous opportunities in “Developing the Next Generation of Latino Leaders.” Each year, CHCI impacts the lives of nearly 1,600 Latino students and young professionals through its fellowships, congressional internships, scholarships, Ready to Lead (R2L®) college readiness program, and R2L NextGen program.
Every year, CHCI also holds its annual Public Policy Conference during Hispanic Heritage Month. The Public Policy Conference consists of various panels and discussions regarding policy areas affecting the Latino community and the nation, such as education, healthcare, immigration, and technology. For example, this year there was an immigration panel with five senators from the Gang of 8 (including Senator John McCain) – a CHCI first! The discussions you engage in and the passion of the national leaders you meet is an experience you will never forget.
The end of the conference concludes with the CHCI Awards Gala. It is the largest and most prestigious gathering of national Hispanic leaders coming together to network and celebrate the achievements of the Latino community. It was an honor to be in the same room with this year’s honorees: Salma Hayek Pinault, Dr. Juan Andrade, Jr., and Dr. Francisco G. Cigarroa. It was the perfect way to end the conference and send us off with the motivation to pay it forward to our community and the next generation.
As I mentioned before, I am a proud CHCI alum. During summer 2007, I was selected as one of thirty-two Latino college students to work on Capital Hill through CHCI’s Congressional Internship Program. I worked for my local district (Texas-16) under Congressman Silvestre Reyes. That summer was life changing for me in many ways. I was inspired by my fellow peers and by the numerous Latino government and national leaders I met that summer. I had never been around so many successful Latinos who had the same ambitions and passions as I had. In fact, it was my CHCI internship experience that convinced me to apply for law school. Not only did it impact my career path, but I also made life-long friends through the program.
My CHCI experience also had a tremendous effect on my family. My grandfather never imagined when he immigrated to this country from Mexico that his first granddaughter would work in D.C. and on Capital Hill. I have never seen him so proud! Hearing how happy he was when I would call him from DC are moments that I will treasure forever.
Amigas, I strongly encourage you to apply for one of CHCI’s leadership development programs. Whether you are in high school, college, or graduate school, there are numerous ways to become a part of this empowering organization. Even if you done with your educational pursuits, I highly recommend attending the public policy conference at some point in your career. CHCI is has changed the lives of thousands of young Latinos across the nation since its inception in 1978. I can only hope that it will do the same for you.
For more information about CHCI and its programs, go to www.chci.org and check out the video below: