By Ana Cristina Bailey ’25
Five Notre Dame undergraduate students spent the summer interning in Washington D.C. and taking a virtual course as part of the Cross Cultural Leadership Program through the Institute for Latino Studies.
They lived in community together and spent their summer exploring the city. The students got a taste of adult living — they did their own grocery shopping, worked their own budgets, and figured out how to get around, all while holding full-time internships. They learned to navigate D.C.'s public transportation and took advantage of all the capital has to offer, from visiting museums to trying new cuisine.
Their alumni mentor, Juan Rangel ’15, supported them throughout the summer and took them to different neighborhoods. One highlight was their tour of the historic area of Columbia Heights.
David Barrera ’25, an economics major and Latino studies minor, interned at the Hispanic Association for Corporate Responsibility (HACR), researching the representation of Latinos on executive boards of Fortune 500 companies. He worked closely with the organization’s CEO and benefited from the connections he fostered.
“My internship at the Hispanic Association for Corporate Responsibility (HACR) opened my eyes to the reality of Latinos' struggles in corporate America. I feel passionate about the work HACR is doing and hope to see more representation of Latinos in the corporate world,” he said.
As an economics and global affairs major, I interned for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in their department of Migration and Refugee Services. I worked on "The Border Is Everywhere" initiative, creating country conditions reports detailing the reasons why many refugees are making the journey to the U.S. border.
These reports were sent to case managers across the country to assist them in serving these populations. For my own part, I can say that I saw firsthand how research can have a tangible impact in helping different groups, and my experience helped me identify my passion for research.
My peer Josue Rocha ’25, a political science and computer science major, worked with UNIDOS US on their education policy team. He combined his passions for political and computer science in his internship by gathering and refining data used to inform public policy.
Says Josue, “My internship was really enlightening for learning more about the importance of data analysis for non-profits. CCLP helped me see how I can use modern technology to help advance the Latinx community."
Joseph Trinidad ’24, a biology major, interned at the Latin American Youth Center, where he conducted STD and pregnancy testing, distributed food at a pantry, and created educational materials for young adults about health and wellness. His experience was valuable in reaffirming his commitment to service in healthcare.
Joseph’s involvement in the healthcare industry both during and outside of his time in CCLP “exposed [him] to the vulnerability of those that needed the greatest assistance, along with how their economic status and lack of adaptability marginalized them further.”
Stephanie Acosta ’22, a neuroscience major, interned at the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) on their policy team. She played a large role in preparing for LULAC’s annual National Convention and Exposition in Puerto Rico ,and even facilitated her own sessions at the conference. Yesenia Mendoze-Arriaga ’24, also interned at LULAC.
Rounding out the group is Sofia Casillas ’24, who interned in the office of Congressman Joaquin Castro, representing Texas's 20th congressional district. All of us look forward to using our experiences to fuel our professional growth and thank the ILS for this opportunity.