WASHINGTON -- The Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI), the nation's premier Latino youth leadership development and educational organization, welcomed the arrival of its summer congressional internship class today. Thirty-two undergraduate students traveled from 20 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico to take part in the nationally recognized and award-winning CHCI Congressional Internship Program (CIP).
The CIP works to expose talented young Latinos to the inner-workings of Congress, while preparing them to become part of the workforce pipeline to staff positions in Congress, where Latinos continue to be vastly underrepresented. According to the 2010 Census Report, the Hispanic American population grew a staggering 43 percent to more than 50.5 million, accounting for more than half of the growth in the total population of the United States in the last decade. The CIP prepares young Latinos to be role models for their community and take the first steps to becoming the future leaders of America.
"CHCI is committed to opening doors for young Latinos to have access to jobs on Capitol Hill and to bridging the wide gap we see in the lack of staff diversity in Congress," said Esther Aguilera, CHCI President & CEO. "Latinos will soon make up one of every two new entrants into the U.S. labor market and our goal is to ensure that the future workforce of America is prepared and qualified to fill leadership roles across all sectors of the economy."
CHCI also strives to create diversity within its own class of interns. The 2011 class of CHCI Summer Interns represents 11 different Hispanic ethnic backgrounds and is pursuing 19 different fields of study for their bachelor's degrees. CHCI Summer Congressional Intern and Ceres, California native Edgar E. Avalos, an international relations/English double major at the University of California, Davis, sees the internship experience as a stepping stone in the right direction in empowering the Hispanic community.
"We (Hispanics) are at a turning point in American history and it is time for us to begin to voice our opinions and to stand up for what we believe in," said Avalos. "Being part of the CHCI program this summer enables me to be part of this movement and it is the perfect experience to launch and prepare future Hispanic leaders."
The Congressional interns participate in weekly CHCI leadership and professional development sessions and meet with corporate representatives, national elected officials and foreign dignitaries. They are also required to engage in a community service project during their stay in Washington, D.C. The interns are provided with housing, roundtrip transportation to and from the nation's capital, and a stipend.