Conclusion of a four-part series on the Schaeffer Government Service Fellows Program.
The nation’s capital was a hotbed of activity when Minerva Solis-Rubio spent 10 weeks there during the summer. She saw a sit-in by Democratic Congress members. She went to the U.S. Supreme Court on the day of a major decision. And she attended policy briefings and responded to numerous constituents on immigration and Social Security, among other things.
“It was a really interesting summer there,” said Solis-Rubio, an international relations and Spanish double major at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. “I definitely learned a lot. It’s hard work, but it does inform you about the legislative process.”
Solis-Rubio took part in the Schaeffer Government Service Fellows Program, which offers undergraduates internships with elected officials and agencies at the federal, state and local levels. In addition to their internships, fellows are paired with alumni who serve as mentors. The students receive a stipend, and housing and travel costs are paid.
Solis-Rubio worked for Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Los Angeles), where she watched Congress in action. Her internship duties were varied and included responding to constituents’ correspondence, attending policy briefings and writing reports. She also spent time at the Supreme Court and around the U.S. Capitol.
She learned some valuable lessons, including the art of discussing politics and other sensitive issues with people who have vastly different opinions.
“It gave me confidence to talk about politics,” Solis-Rubio said. “It encouraged me to try out new ideas and really listen.”
She said she understands the importance of knowing your argument well, being able to cite facts and statistics.
“You learn how to carry yourself,” she said. “You see people getting into debates. They know how to get their points across. You have to make sure you come across as the person you want to be.”
She recalled a conversation she had with a Latino from Texas who supports Donald Trump.
“We have completely different views,” she said. “I genuinely asked his opinion. He could explain it and it was very telling of D.C.: People can express themselves in a very different way than you see in other places.”
In the future, Solis-Rubio said she hasn’t ruled out working in government.
“When I’m older and I have the patience,” she said. “I do care about my community in Los Angeles.”
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