For Trinity students Nicole Bracey and Janeashia Williams, working on Capitol Hill is a “great experience” that offers them hands-on skills and excellent networking opportunities. Working on Capitol Hill during a presidential campaign makes the experience even more meaningful.
Bracey and Williams were selected for the highly competitive and prestigious Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Internship in Communication. This year marks the first time the program has been offered and, among the area universities represented in the program, only Trinity has two students participating. The students intern in a congressional office 20 to 25 hours a week, receive a $5,000 stipend for the semester and participate in a weekly discussion of readings and current events. As part of the program, they will produce a portfolio about their experience, develop a community action plan, keep a journal about their internship, write an op-ed and complete a community service project. “It’s a rigorous program,” says Bracey, “and we are learning so much.”
Nicole Bracey, who graduated from Elizabeth Seton High School in Maryland, is interning with the director of communications for Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC). She conducts research and plans media events. “Every day is different on Capitol Hill and I work in a very busy office,” she says. “There are so many interesting policy discussions and news events unfolding each day.” Bracey wants to pursue a career in educational policy and plans to attend graduate school in that field. “This internship has been a fantastic experience for me,” she says. “I am gaining self-confidence, I am developing strong interpersonal skills, I am meeting interesting people, and I am networking every day.”
Janeashia Williams, a graduate of D.C.’s Eastern Senior High School, is interning with the director of communications for Congressman John Lewis (D-GA). She works on press releases, pulls together media clippings, updates the media contact list and promotes special events, including a “teleforum” in which constituents could dial in and speak directly to Congressman Lewis. Williams plans to pursue a career in public relations, focusing on issues facing children, such as hunger and poverty, both locally and globally. She is interested in learning the culture of Capitol Hill: “The Congressman’s office is an organization within an organization. I am strengthening my interpersonal skills as I gain a better understanding of how the organization works.”
Williams and Bracey, who are both majoring in communication, value their Trinity experience. “The skills that I have learned at Trinity are the skills that I will apply throughout my life and career – writing, public speaking and critical thinking,” says Williams, who has studied all four years at Trinity. Bracey, who transferred to Trinity after studying at two public universities, notes that for her, “Trinity was a good decision. I know my professors and they take a real interest in me. I really thrive in a small environment.”
To apply for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation internship, the students had to be nominated by a faculty member. Dr. Diane Forbes-Berthoud, assistant professor of communication and chair of the communication program, nominated both Williams and Bracey. “She believes in us and thought it was important for us to pursue this internship opportunity,” notes Williams. “That kind of faculty support is so important at Trinity.”
Williams and Bracey are enthusiastic about interning on Capitol Hill during a presidential election. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” says Williams. “This is an historic moment to see a woman running for president and an African American running for president,” she notes. “To be on Capitol Hill during the primaries is very exciting,” she adds.
Williams also admires the leadership of Trinity graduate and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi ’62. “This is what Trinity represents. She is the first woman to be Speaker of the House – that’s not only history, that’s Trinity history! I love walking by her office knowing that a Trinity woman is the highest ranking member of Congress.”
As Williams and Bracey prepare for graduation in May, they both appreciate the fact that Trinity is a women’s college. “As a woman, I have gained so much self-confidence at Trinity,” notes Bracey. “My Trinity experience will be with me for a lifetime.”