FIU Students Train with U.S. Politicians in Washington D.C.

Hamilton Scholars Fall 2021 cohort, from left to right: Carlos A. Becerra, Bryan Escalona, Luis Moros, Amelia Raudales, Gerald Torres, Elizabeth Gonzalez, Nicole Hatton, Robert Crohan, Karol Menco, and Eric Feldman. Photo courtesy of Bryan Escalona.

Yansall Rasquides / Staff Writer 

FIU students took to the U.S. capitol this Fall for the Hamilton Scholars Program, where young advocates train with the nation’s leading politicians.

The group of eight students, including Bryan Escalona, a senior economics and political science major, were selected to participate in a rigorous semester of paid internships and networking with alumni and professionals in Washington D.C. The program aids students in achieving a future career in government.

“It is going to be a sacrifice, we work a lot, but it’s all worth it,” said Escalona who interns for Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25). “I think… D.C. teaches that everyone is capable of balancing out everything with time management..and that a future here is possible.”

Bryan Escalona smiles in front of Capitol Hill. Courtesy of Bryan Escalona.

Applicants must show a unique interest in finding a career in Washington, D.C. to participate in the program. Many are even offered a job at the end of their internship.

Nicole Hatton, a senior studying international relations and political science, plans to conclude her journey in the program with an internship at the U.S. Department of Commerce.

“After graduating I definitely [see] my future here,” said Hatton. “It was really exciting to get this experience and be in the thick of it.”

Hatton’s career goal is to work as a foreign service officer. The program allowed her to prepare for her future in the federal government. 

Another scholar, Gabriella Lassa, a senior studying political science, was chosen as a member of the 2020 cohort. 

She emphasized how invaluable mentors, like Eric Feldman, associate director of FIU’s Talent Lab, were in guiding the experience.

From Left to Right: Michelle Palacio, Luis Moros, Prachi Lalwani, Noah Churyk, Gabriella Lasso, Chloe Little, Nicole Hatton, Amelia Raudales, Gerald Torres, Bryan Escalona, Elizabeth Gonzalez, Robert Crohan, Zyannah Greaux, at a meeting. Courtesy of Gabriella Lasso.

Lasso was unable to attend the program in person due to the pandemic last year, but this played to her benefit.

From back left to front: Gerald Torres, Bryan Escalona, Noah Churyk, Chloe Little, Elizabeth Gonzalez, Robert Crohan, Gabriella Lasso, Zyannah Greaux, Nicole Hatton, Amelia Raudales,, Prachi Lalwani, Karol Solis, and Eric Feldman take selfies at the airport. Photo courtesy of Gabriella Lasso. 

Feldman invited Lasso to join this semester’s trip before she graduates next year.

“Since I couldn’t experience D.C. in person, they said to me… ‘We’re going to give you a scholarship and help you come to D.C,’” said Lasso. 

Lasso said she was excited and grateful for the program giving her an opportunity to work at the nation’s capital. 

Lasso now interns for Congresswoman Maria Salazar (Fl-27), with secretarial duties such as linking problems with legislation to its proper district office.

The team not only supports their cohort, but also students outside of the program.

“If you need help applying to an internship, whether it be a resume, your cover letter or an interview, the FIU in D.C. team is always going to be there to help you, regardless if you’re in the program or not,” said Escalona.

Lasso also advised potential members to give it their all. The deadline to apply for Spring 2022 is Oct. 18, 2021, at 9 a.m.

“Know that you are qualified and you have something that others don’t have,” said Lasso. “I wouldn’t be here without the program, so I guess my main tip is just to apply.”

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