Intern Series: Christine Avila
By: Christine Avila, introduction by Aileen Zhong, Policy & Programs Associate at the Campaign for College Opportunity
At the Campaign there is nothing we love more than working with passionate students who are eager to make a difference in the world and who remind us exactly why we fight so hard for college access and completion. Every year we have the opportunity to watch talented students cultivate the skills to become effective student advocates in the policy making process and develop strong leadership skills. This summer, we were excited to host our high school intern, Christine Avila, who joined us from the Harvey Mudd College Upward Bound program – a program that helps low-income, first-generation college bound students gain the skills necessary for college success. Christine is an embodiment of everything we look for in our student leaders. We hope you enjoy her story!
This was my first summer away from home, and I was away for six weeks. I experienced my first internship with the Harvey Mudd Upward Bound Program through the Capitol Internship program in Sacramento, California. I was assigned to a mentor who works at the Campaign for College Opportunity, their vice president, Jessie Ryan. I was really nervous before it had started because, I had no idea what I was getting myself into and while my peers had been lucky enough to work alongside each other at the California Department of Education (CDE) in other buildings, I was left alone. However, I soon realized how much I loved interning with the Campaign!
I was happy being able to intern away from my peers because I had all the tasks and projects to myself which was really cool and it helped me feel accomplished. I really got along with my co-mentors, Aileen Zhong and Sara Arce, because they were very welcoming, friendly, and fun to be around. Throughout my internship I joined my peers at the CDE building on different activities such as touring the capitol and the governor’s office, a career panel, as well as touring the Stanford Mansion, and meeting the California Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson. I also prepared for my final presentation on a bill of my choosing. The bill was SB 1050 (de Leon) which was really cool because the Campaign for College Opportunity strongly supports the bill so I had a lot of help from Aileen and Sara. I chose this bill because I’ve always wondered how other students receive their education, and this caught my attention. I strongly support this bill because I believe that everyone deserves a chance to receive higher education and equal opportunities to go to college.
In addition to the bill I presented on, I learned about things such as the legislative process. One huge topic I focused on was higher education. I was really shocked that many schools don’t have the resources that their students need in order to go to college and receive the education that everyone should have. I learned so much over the past couple weeks and I’m glad I did. I now understand things that I once thought I’d never learn about.
When I wasn’t at the Campaign office, I was with my UB peers dorming at UC Davis. I was able to go on weekend trips and experienced a lot of new things. For the first time I went ice skating; I visited Stanford University as well as Berkeley; I went to San Francisco; I toured UC Davis; and I even spent the day at Lake Tahoe. Every morning from Sunday to Friday we had two morning classes, Literature and Public Policy and even had homework. It was hard at first, but I learned so much in both classes especially in public policy. I learned about things that angered me, made me sad or happy, different topics every night, and week that kept me interested. This internship really opened my eyes and let me view the world from a different perspective, which not many have the opportunity to do. This experience is something that everyone should try to have, because it’s incredible how much you could do and learn in just a couple weeks. I had the best internship, and I really hope I get to experience many great internships as time progresses.