Being on the Other End of Advocacy: 2023 Wolanin Intern Cristalina Ramirez Reflects on Capitol Hill Experience

Thomas R. Wolanin intern, Cristalina Ramirez on Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.

For three months, Cristalina Ramirez called Capitol Hill her home as she worked as the 2023 Thomas R. Wolanin Congressional Internship program. 

The TRIO Student Support Services alum has organized constituent correspondence, answered essential calls, given Capitol tours, and attended hearings, briefings, and receptions while working in the office of Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA)

She said, what has astonished her most is “being on the other end of advocacy…where I’m taking so many calls, reading so many emails, and meeting with people.” Sitting alongside constituents and legislative staffers has taught her that “the most effective communication is…starting with a direct ask and then saying why it’s important—then people are more inclined to listen.”   

The Council invites applicants for the 2024 Thomas R. Wolanin Congressional Internship. The deadline to apply is Friday, September 29, 2023.

The Wolanin Internship has opened many doors for Ramirez and made her more trusting of her dreams of pursuing a job in wildlife conservation from a government affairs lens.  

Ramirez is no stranger to hard work, bringing a wealth of experience in human resources and volunteerism. As a first-generation student and the youngest of five children of migrant farm workers in rural Washington, she was committed to meeting educational and professional goals that her parents could not attain. While studying for a sociology degree at Washington State, she helped coordinate WSU’s food security initiatives as an Americorps team member, mentored first-year students, and was active in student government and cultural organizations for Chicanx/Latinx students. 

She has worked as an intern for the United Farm Workers and, using an award from the WSU SSS program, was able to study abroad in Spain. After graduating in 2022, she served as an academic advisor in the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) that she was once part of. 

Ramirez says she would “100 percent” encourage other TRIO students to pursue a D.C. internship.  

“I gained so much value—knowing how our laws are made, how Congressional offices operate, what happens in briefings and hearings. So many people are coming to voice their concerns and needs, and wants—and it’s all so powerful. We’re all just trying to make our little corner of the world better.” 

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