Student interns for US House’s first Latina
One Cal State Long Beach student spent his hot summer days interning for Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, receiving hands-on experience with the federal government while serving California’s 34th district.
Arturo Enrique Montoya, a 23-year-old political science major, began interning for Roybal-Allard, the first Latina elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, on May 24 and worked until Aug 16.
“It was a lot different than I expected,” Montoya said.
Anticipating long hours of answering phone calls and ordering coffee, Montoya was thrown into the world of public service — only occasionally executing office tasks to give breaks to Roybal-Allard’s staff.
“I would go into the field with field deputies and attend meetings, and to other celebratory meetings where we would present organizations with certificates,” Montoya said. “It made the time very interesting and made me see it isn’t all just office work.”
Montoya was also present during the historic budget debates that pushed the U.S. to the brink of default, causing the federal government’s Standard and Poor’s credit rating to fall from AAA to AA+.
“There is a disconnect between what the public sees and what actually happens, but it’s not due to us having access to information that the public doesn’t,” Montoya said, referring to the federal government’s most recent budget. “There was stuff that I learned that I could have easily learned on my own if I had taken the time and initiative to do a search. Everything we did is supposed to be accessible and is supposed to be viewed by the public.”
Beyond legislation and debate, Montoya worked directly with constituents of the 34th district, which is historically democrat and has a large Latino population. He listened to their opinions and conducted research on their behalf.
“When you go home at the end of the day knowing that you were able to help someone who called in need, it’s fulfilling,” Montoya said.
But limited resources and budget problems have limited the amount of dispensable aid.
“You can’t help everyone,” Montoya said. “It’s very sad when someone calls and we can’t do anything for them, not because we chose not to, but because we weren’t able to.”
A congressman visited a political science class of Montoya’s last spring and told the students about summer internships. Montoya took note and called his congresswoman to inquire about the internships. After turning in an application, he was given an interview, and subsequently offered the internship, which he accepted.
Montoya hopes to work in government after earning a master’s degree, and believes his experience interning will help. His ultimate goal is to one day represent his community in Congress.