Through Washington Semester, a First-Hand Look at Congress

November 25th, 2013 by Sara Bovat ’14


Michelle Moreno-Silva '15 with Rep. David Cicilline

Michelle Moreno-Silva ’15, a political science major from Pawtucket, R.I., recently completed a twelve-week internship through the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s nationally recognized Congressional Internship Program. She specifically worked in the office of Rep. David Cicilline of her home state. Moreno-Silva is one of 16 students working and studying in the nation’s capital as part of the College of the Holy Cross’ Washington, D.C. Semester Program for the Fall 2013 semester.

At her internship, Moreno-Silva gained first-hand exposure to the nation’s legislative process and issues pending before Congress. Her daily tasks ranged from writing letters to organizing the Congressman’s calendar and helping staffers draft legislation. She also had the opportunity to attend several Congressional hearings, which was an “exceptional experience” for her.

“I went to a hearing where the former Colombian President, Alvaro Uribe, was testifying and because it was such an intimate setting I was able to speak with him,” said Moreno-Silva. “We briefly discussed how the Colombian government needs to address and improve the refugee epidemic that it is experiencing. When President Uribe was later interviewed by the news, he mentioned the importance of tackling this matter. This moment made me realize that although I was only an intern, I was still able to influence policy at a minimal level.”

As an additional aspect of her internship, Moreno-Silva was asked to take on a community service project. She chose to work with high school students from the Latino Student Fund, a D.C. non-profit that runs programs which strive to improve high school graduation rates in the Hispanic community.

As part of Holy Cross’ Washington, D.C. semester program, participants compose a forty-page research thesis and take a public policy seminar in addition to their internship responsibilities. Moreno-Silva’s thesis topic assesses the extent to which the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has or has not been effective in protecting battered Latina immigrants in the United States, an issue of particular passion for Rep. Cicilline amongst other congressional leaders.

Moreno-Silva said that her experience in the nation’s capital has opened her eyes to a new perspective of the world, along with a potential future career path. “Attending Congressional hearings allowed me to fully grasp how interconnected our world is, and how decisions made in our government can trigger benefits or consequences for nations abroad,” she said. “Since the decisions made by U.S. leaders are so pivotal, I want to explore our state’s foreign affairs. Particularly, I want to work with marginalized communities in developing nations while representing the United States.”

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