HBU Junior Karla Freyre is so passionate about U.S. government that she set about researching and then securing an internship in Washington, D.C. She began her quest in the spring of 2017, contacting the office of U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan. His office sent her an application, and after a screening process, Freyre received word that she was selected to be a legislative intern that summer.
It would be Freyre’s first time to live away from her family, and her first trip to the capital city. She collected office attire and prepared for her adventure. “I’d never been to D.C., so I didn’t know much about it,” she said. “I was able to get an apartment a couple of blocks away from Capitol Hill. The internship was set to start two days after my last final. Leading up to the internship, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it. I got on a plane the day after my last final. When I arrived, I loved it instantly.”
Freyre immediately went about exploring the city, walking to museums and iconic landmarks like the Lincoln Memorial. “There’s so much history. There was so much to do and learn,” she said. “I think it’s very important to know about our nation’s history and why it was founded.”
When she reported to work in the U.S. Capitol, Freyre was received warmly by staff, and met peers interning as well. “There were people from all over the country who’d come for the same purpose,” she said. “I think there’s a misperception that people my age don’t care about the issues, but it’s nice to see that people like me are there for public service. It’s very easy to be negative about the state of certain things in the country, but you have to be optimistic to make a change.”
Freyre investigated issues and wrote memorandums on pressing issues. “It’s a lot of reading and research, but a lot of getting up and interacting and meeting different people too,” she said.
She describes her meeting with Speaker Ryan: “He was friendly; he is someone who I agree with on a lot of issues.”
During a typical day, Freyre attended congressional hearings on matters ranging from technology concerns to gang violence. “You get to hear from both sides of the political parties. They interview experts in the field, and they get to present their case. You’re seeing people talk about issues and seeing government at work,” she said. “It brings an overall awareness about what’s going on.”
The experience aptly combined her love of mass media and government, along with her faith. “For me, as a Christian, I feel like my faith completely impacts the way I see politics. I have a moral obligation. It does affect my politics because I believe I have a moral responsibility,” Freyre said. “I saw the internship as a really big career opportunity. It’s one step closer to reaching what I ultimately want to do.”
One of the biggest takeaways for Freyre is the ability to speak more easily with others. “I’m a very shy person, so the idea of shaking someone’s hand who has degrees and titles was very intimidating to me,” she said. “But you see how people are friendly and welcoming. I feel much more confident speaking with other people because I have that experience.”
For other students who are interested in completing an internship, Freyre says, “Taking government classes at HBU illuminated the political process and sparked my interest a lot. There are opportunities to intern in D.C. or even with congresspeople locally. Have confidence and take initiative.”
Freyre would even complete another internship if given the opportunity.
“It was confirmation to me that I really want to pursue government and public service and learn more,” she said. “I think politics gets a bad reputation. People tend to see disagreements as things they can’t overcome. But there are people who are making a difference.”