ON THE HILL is the official Victory Congress intern blog. Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of LGBTQ Victory Institute. Learn more about the internship at winnerinstitute.org/vci.
Public service is not easy, it can be heartbreaking. As I begin to focus on my career, I know I want to help those who were raised like me. I still remember the year when the subsidized housing developments in my hometown, designed for low-income tenants, were demolished. My aunt, my cousins and many of my friends lost their homes. What made this event all the more tragic was that these developments were destroyed for no particular reason. I grew up in a run down apartment that was covered in mold and overrun with bed bugs and even now I don’t have a real home. I live in university accommodation during the academic year and in any space I can during the summer. The harsh reality is that within our nation, I am still one of the lucky ones.
Whereas I once thought that advocating for change in government would produce the most positive change, I now believe that the individual is too often forgotten in the political machine. My ambitions, per se, have not diminished— only the route I choose to direct them to. I believe the most influential work starts closer to the ground. Every role I have taken on has been for the benefit of the community around me. My position on Capitol Hill is no different. Every phone call, every memo, every co-sponsorship request, and every word I write for the Congressman is conducted with the lives of individuals in mind. If a task does not contribute to an overall positive impact on people, it is not the one I will accept to take on. If I can even make the slightest difference for those who have lived like me, I will have a fulfilling life.
However, I must admit that I am aware that this profession is not able to lend a hand in all respects. Working on Capitol Hill, I witnessed how bureaucracy can leave an individual in shambles. I spoke with students who were terrified after the Uvalde shooting. I have spoken with people on the verge of losing their homes. I spoke with constituents through the fallout from Dobbs vs. Jackson. I spoke with people who were unintelligible due to frustration, sadness or fear. It was all the more difficult to have held similar positions before.
Going into this internship, I had one goal in mind: to see how the legislative branch of the federal government works in action. My takeaway is that it “works” quite slowly in an incredibly disconnected way from people. And the influence of a congressman is limited, let alone an intern. There’s a lot of work to do and now is not the time to let the fire go out. Change will come through all kinds of public services from all kinds of different people. It will come from those who look like me and also from those who do not look like me. Representation is power, but power is meaningless unless it is used to change the system that caused a need primarily for representation.
With what I have learned during this experience, I hope I can move forward as an advocate for the people. Whether I find myself working in a classroom, behind a library desk, employed by a federal agency, or perhaps back in an office on the hill, I will always remember that the role of a public servant is to help the individual. Progress starts in the field.