Nataly’s Acceptance into the CHCI Internship Program
By: Leopoldo Vargas, GALEO Intern
June 22nd, 2018
On Wednesday, May 30th, 2018, Nataly Morales Villa received news that would change her life forever: she learned that she had been accepted into the prestigious Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) Internship Program. This news is significant for someone who has been active in her community to make the world a better place for immigrants around her. From serving at El Refugio and Stewart Detention Center (a detention center for undocumented immigrants) to serving as a canvasser for GALEO, there is no doubt that Nataly thoroughly deserves this unique opportunity. But no achievement is earned without some sort of sacrifice and dedication, and Nataly’s story is no exception.
Nataly was born in El Mezquital, Durango, Mexico. Her parents, who merely studied up to middle school, immigrated to the United States when Nataly was only five years old. They immigrated with the intention of helping end a terrible “cycle of poverty and adversity” in order to help Nataly succeed. Today, the dreams of Nataly’s parents of seeing her reach a level of higher education have come true. Nataly is currently double majoring in Political Science and Spanish at the University of North Georgia. The dream has recently taken a step further with Nataly’s acceptance into the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) Fall 2018 Internship Program.
Through this internship, Nataly will have the chance to intern with a Congressional Office on Capitol Hill through CHCI. Nataly has expressed an interest in interning with Representative Luis Gutierrez from Illinois or Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto from Nevada, first elected Latina Senator in the nation. She will be interning for 32 hours each week during the upcoming Fall 2018 program from Monday through Thursday. On Fridays, Nataly will attend leadership courses, similar to GALEO’s GIL (GALEO Institute for Leadership), in which participants become more knowledgeable about their leadership skills and enhance their abilities to become strong leaders in their community. The timing of the internship is special to Nataly as Hispanic Heritage Month will take place while she is interning. She will be able to attend the CHCI 41st Annual Awards GALA, which will take place during this cultural celebration. Nataly is excited for this GALA as they will recognize Univision reporter Jorge Ramos this year.
Nataly expressed that she never imagined that she would be taking the Political Science route. Nataly has shared that she originally intended to become a Spanish teacher, but her encounter with GALEO changed her life forever. Because she is a Goizueta Scholar at her school UNG, Nataly has had to accumulate 30 hours of community service. To help her reach those hours, a group of Nataly’s friends introduced her to GALEO. At GALEO, Nataly became familiar with canvassing, at-large voting, and gerrymandering through the up-close experience. She has been canvassing with this non-partisan group since 2015 and still attends their annual Power Breakfast (which is a large fund raising event). In 2017, she began and completed the GIL training. She heavily credits GALEO for helping her earn the CHCI internship, especially because she “gained the encouragement” to apply for it due to the experiences and knowledge gained through GALEO.
Upon receiving the news of her acceptance, Nataly expresses that she was “overwhelmed with emotion”. This is especially true as “the internship is very competitive”, and she had already applied 3 times. Not only this, but this achievement shows how far Nataly has come through her journey in the U.S. Although she was undocumented from the age of five when she arrived to this country until the age of eleven, she didn’t let that “dictate her future”. She says that her immigration status did not inhibit her from reaching her educational goals. From her experiences as a former undocumented immigrant, Nataly shared some advice to DREAMERS: She urges DREAMERs to believe in themselves and work hard as a multitude of people are putting their “granito de arena” (grain of sand) to make their community a better place for everyone, including those who are undocumented. “Immigration status should not take away humanity or potential”, claims Nataly. Through her congressional placement, Nataly hopes to gain the skills to better advocate for her community and expand her knowledge in the areas of immigration and access to higher education.
NOTE: The opinions expressed in this blog are the opinions of the author only. It is not to be assumed that the opinions are those of GALEO or the GALEO Latino Community Development Fund. For the official position on any issue for GALEO, please contact Jerry Gonzalez, Executive Director of GALEO at firstname.lastname@example.org.