Program places minorities

By Ricky Nesbitt

Student Association Vice President David Gonzalez took advantage of an opportunity to broaden his leadership abilities.

This summer Gonzalez participated in a program held in Washington, D.C., designed to place minority students in internships.

“The program that I went through was called The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars, a non-profit organization that placed me within their Minority Leaders Fellowship Program,” Gonzalez said. “I worked for the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.”

The program has benefited more than 18,000 students since its beginning in 1989. It is an opportunity for students of color to improve their leadership skills and acquire a working knowledge of the inner-workings of U.S. government.

Once begun, fellows are expected to commit the majority of the week to their internship while reserving one evening for an academic instruction by faculty.

Those accepted into the program serve as entry-level professionals with their job makeup reflecting about 80 percent professional duties and not exceeding 20 percent clerical duties.

“Although it was a nine to five job, I had to work later on projects,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said he assisted the Vice President of Chamber Operations in compiling a $650,000 proposal to the Department of Transportation. In addition, Gonzalez had the opportunity to hear President Clinton speak, meet with members of Congress and company executives.

Accepted applicants are awarded a full fellowship valued at $5,000. The support of corporations and private foundations pay for housing and program expenses.

The college or university of the prospective fellow is required to pay for travel expenses and a $125 a week stipend.

Gonzalez has been offered an all expense paid trip back to Washington. The program is titled Building Bridges to Opportunity and is scheduled to take place September 19-26. The seminar will feature guest speakers from AT&T, Coca-Cola and Hallmark.

Gonzalez said he encourages Latin-American and other students to send in resumes and to become more involved so opportunities do not pass them by.

To get more information on internships at The Washington Center’s Minority Leaders Fellowship Program, contact Miya Hisaka, director, at (202) 336-7600.