Dante Valenzuela


Dante Valenzuela

History and English

Tell us about your internship – what kind of work did you do? What did you find rewarding? 
Working alongside migrant rights activists was one of the most rewarding aspects of my internship. As an advocacy intern, I met human rights defenders from different fields in D.C. as they collectively lobbied towards successful legislative achievements. As an intern, I attended various congressional briefings and hearings on Latin American affairs to provide updates to the office. Some of these events including congressional oversight hearings on the family separation policies by the Department of Homeland Security, debriefings on extending protections for undocumented people via TPS and DACA, and meetings with U.S. representative legislative aides. One of my primary responsibilities was the weekly compilation of current migrant news on Central America and Mexico, which was featured on the website of Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics at New York University.

DanteHave your career or life goals changed as a result of your internship? If so, how? 
Prior to my experience in D.C., I toyed with the idea of looking for experience in congressional affairs and politics. After my internship with LAWG, I am convinced that there is opportunity for my pursuits in public office. I gained confidence to pursue my passions for work that is involved with human rights and migrant rights. I am now seeking opportunities in these fields as my next career step.

Share an exciting memory from your internship – something unexpected, an accomplishment, someone you met. 
I unexpectedly showed up on C-SPAN during my visit to a congressional hearing. I was on the front page for a day, and I have a screenshot of my face behind the testimony witness. Additionally, as part of my internship, I received opportunity to attend a panel with Representatives Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Mark Pocan and Pramila Jayapal.

Did your internship lead to any opportunities? 
I was extremely fortunate to be invited to attend a panel hosted by the Cuban Embassy as part of my internship. There, I met with the Cuban ambassador to the United States and heard a dozen experts in the field of neuroscience talk about the science behind the supposed sonic attacks to American diplomats. I also had the opportunity to visit an exclusive open bar in the embassy known as the Hemingway Bar which featured Ernest Hemingway's signature above the table.

Share a story about something special you did in Washington – an event you attended, a place you went, an exciting talk, etc. 
The UC Center had the opportunity to host Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, so meeting a justice in person was absolutely incredible.

DanteHow has living in the nation’s capital for a quarter changed you? 
Living in the nation's capital reminded me of the important work that people advocate for on a daily basis, and there needs to be local involvement across the country to enact change. I gained an appreciation for the many ways people can make a change in our society without it being directly political.

Do you have any advice for future UCDC students? 
D.C. is such a unique place that is different from the rest of the country. Learn what you can about how you fit in to the vibrant city life and what you can bring back to your community.