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CBCF Alumni Success Stories
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Lanier Avant - CBCF Intern, Summer 1999
"The summer that I spent as a CBCF intern was the most rewarding time of my life. The Foundation's internship program was, and still is, an outstanding opportunity for young, African-American men and women to experience Capitol Hill. In addition to the camaraderie of interacting with dozens of other highly-accomplished students from around the country, interns are given a first-hand view of some of the most powerful elected officials in the democratic world.
A decade after my internship, I am still reaping its rewards. While the CBCF led me to a career in public service, my colleagues have excelled in a wide range of professions - both public and private. The CBCF has developed a model program for college students wishing to intern in the Nation's Capital. I look forward to more students being given the same opportunity that was given to me."
- Lanier Avant
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Dshawna Bernard - CBCF Intern, Fall 2009
Dshawna Bernard, SPA/BA ‘10, beams when she talks about her fall 2009 internship at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF), a public policy and research institute focused on socioeconomic equality for African Americans.
Bernard, who is majoring in political science and minoring in international studies, almost missed out on this chance. After a friend recommended she apply for an internship at the foundation, Bernard discovered the deadline was looming. “I literally had three days to get everything done,” she said. “I didn’t know if I had time.” Bernard almost gave up, but thanks to encouragement from her mother and friends, she finished the application. When she received an e-mail from the foundation weeks later, she was hesitant to open it, fearing the worst. But to her surprise and delight, she had been accepted into the internship program.
The internship would have been a hard one to turn down. It includes housing downtown, a small stipend, opportunities to attend receptions and meet speakers, and a leadership retreat. The work itself has also been challenging and allows Bernard to engage in research and writing projects. But other opportunities still lay ahead.
CBCF’s president, Dr. Elsie L. Scott, needed someone to assist her during the foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference last September. A public relations representative from the foundation who was familiar with Bernard’s work recommended her for the position. Shortly after applying, Bernard was chosen to shadow and assist Dr. Scott throughout the conference.
Although Bernard performed the typical duties of a personal assistant, she gained much more from the week-long experience. In addition to attending seminars, panels, and other conference activities, Bernard was able to observe Dr. Scott up close. “You often hear about being a strong woman,” she said. “You rarely get to see it for yourself.”
Working for Dr. Scott also provided extensive networking opportunities for Bernard. “I literally had a stack of [business] cards at the end of the ALC.”
To make time for both academics and her internship, Bernard takes night and weekend classes and earns academic credit for her work at the foundation.
But this internship is only a jumping off point for Bernard’s career goals of promoting social change. She is considering returning to the Caribbean in the future to become a politician. “I want to be an advocate for social justice in other countries,” she said. Bernard’s advocacy work has not been limited to her internship. On campus, Bernard is also a council member of Caribbean Circle, a club which seeks to educate the AU community about the diverse culture of the Caribbean. When she served as vice president last year, the club held a dinner with ambassadors, diplomats, and other politicians that attracted 100 attendees.
No matter where the future may lead her, Bernard is determined to make a difference. And her time at the foundation has been a highlight for her. “I feel really proud to say I’m a CBCF intern,” she said.
By Kathryn BaxterSource
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Quentin James - CBCF Emerging Leaders Intern, Spring 2009
Quentin James is currently a senior at Howard University double-majoring in African American Studies and Political Science. Quentin was intern in the CBCF’s Emerging Leaders Internship Program sponsored by Walmart in the spring of 2009. During his tenure in our program he was placed in the Office of Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick (MI-13). Currently, he is an associate with the Generational Alliance, a Washington, DC based coalition.
A Message from Quentin:
"Many months ago I asked each of you to help support me and my efforts of joining the NAACP Board of Directors to bring change. Well, that day has finally come. Yesterday in New York, I was officially sworn in as the second youngest member of the NAACP Board. And with that change so many more are in the works. At the meeting we elected the youngest and only the fourth woman to be chair of our board, Ms. Roslyn Brock. Here is a story where you can read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/21/us/21NAACP.html. Also, I was elected Vice-Chair of the NAACP Advocacy and Public Policy Committee which oversees all of the policy and advocacy positions of the NAACP. This committee is chaired by Lorraine Miller, the current and first African American Clerk of the US House of Representatives.
'The NAACP is making a generational shift, and I'm excited to be apart of it. The leadership development and networking opportunities provided through the CBC Foundation have prepared me, among other things, to be an effective voice for young people on the NAACP Board of Directors. Working on Capitol Hill has shown me first-hand the kind of work we have to do, and the kind of leadership we need at the forefront for the African American community. Representative Kilpatrick and every member of the Congressional Black Caucus are examples of what we can do, and what we must continue to do for African Americans throughout our nation.'"
- Quentin James
An Open Letter from Ms. Washington
"In 1979, I had the opportunity to join the second class of CBCF Interns. Still in its infancy, the focus of the program was similar to what is now known as the CBCF Congressional Fellows Program as each intern had completed graduate school. We were placed with House or Senate Committees or Subcommittees whose goal was to provide a clear pathway to increase the number of minorities on the professional committee staff in the U.S. House and Senate.
I had just completed a Masters in Public Administration and was assigned to the (then) House Education and Labor Committee. Through my CBCF internship, I learned about the jurisdiction of various House Committees, the legislative referral process and how to organize hearings and conduct oversight responsibilities. I was able to work directly with members of the Education and Labor Committee and their staff, including CBC Members staff. This exposure to both members of Congress and other professionals helped me better understand the people involved with and environment in which legislation is negotiated and the role of coalition building in making a case for legislative action.
Upon the completion of my CBCF internship, it was my good fortune to be offered jobs with both the House Education and Labor Committee and the CBCF as the Intern Program Director - I chose the CBCF. My exposure as a CBCF intern helped me land a position with the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee in 1987. The experience of working with Federal agencies, associations, unions and members of the private sector led to an offer in 1993 to join the Washington, D.C., office of UPS, as a Public Affairs Manager and after two years as Vice-President of Public Affairs. During this time, I was elected to the Board of the CBC Foundation where I served until 2005, and was able to contribute to the Intern Program.
In addition to the example set by my family, so much of my civic engagement, community involvement and interest in the political processcan be attributed to my early association with the dedicated members, spouses and staff of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Foundation, who serve a population much broader than their districts."
- Sheryl Webber Washington
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