When a Washington, D.C. internship popped up on the listserv at University of Miami (UM) that Ana Moas belongs to, it wasn’t long before she applied for it.
“It looked like a pretty sweet deal,” Moas told SFGN. “All you had to do was pay for food and any other activities.” Everything else was paid for. It was the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s highly competitive, award-winning Congressional Internship Program, which allows students to go experience first-hand what it’s like to work on the Hill and participate in its shenanigans. Out of hundreds of applicants to the program nationwide, only 42 were selected, among them Moas.
“The idea is to make us more aware. Being that we’re all Hispanic students, the hope is we make this part of our future if we ever choose to become leaders in the Hispanic community,” Moas said.
Every student had a sponsor, and hers was the David Bohnett Foundation, a leading social justice non-profit and grant-making foundation with a focus on LGBT and progressive inclusion in the political process.
“I think they chose to fund us because of the social activism that we would have with the program,” the 20-year-old Moas said, adding, “A lot of our time was spent on the Hill or in law offices. But we participated in some community services. It wasn’t so much about going out and changing the world right away, but more about what we’d do when we got home.”
Now that she’s home, though, Moas has been busy preparing for her last year in school. When things slow down, she plans on applying to the Peace Corps and finding ways to help out grassroots organizations and groups in Cuba, her homeland.
“We got to witness DOMA getting struck down. It was key to igniting a spark that would have us be more interested in being social activists. It wasn’t an LGBT focus per se, but it was definitely part of what we talked about,” Moas said about how her time in Washington inevitably lent itself to gay issues even though it wasn’t implicitly intended to do so. “This summer has doubtless been the most transformative of my life.”
The psychology and economics double major is planning on graduating in May 2014.