CSUSB Students Selected for D.C.-based Internships

Alfredo Barcenas and Erika I. Flores awarded highly competitive internships with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus

By LatinoLA Contributor
Published on LatinoLA: July 3, 2015

CSUSB Students Selected for D.C.-based Internships

Two Cal State San Bernardino students have been selected for highly competitive internships with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute in Washington, D.C., giving the university two out of the 20 spots in the program.

Alfredo Barcenas, a senior majoring in political science, and Erika I. Flores, a senior communication studies major, will both participate in the fall 2015 Congressional Internship Program in Washington, D.C., from Aug. 22 through Nov. 14.

The CIP includes working at their assigned congressional office 32 hours per week, participating in group community service projects and attending weekly leadership sessions.

"There is no doubt in my mind that CSUSB has some of the most remarkable students in the world," said Allyson Satterlund, the university's dean of students. "All of us at CSUSB, their families and their friends, are incredibly proud of Mr. Barcenas and Ms. Flores."

Barcenas, who has been this academic year's CSUSB's Associated Students Incorporated student body president, said he couldn't believe when he heard the news that he was one of the 20 students selected from a pool of applicants from across the nation.

"I was ecstatic," he said. "Honestly, I, out of all the applicants, was selected for this amazing opportunity! I immediately contacted my mom first and then Dr. Alysson Satterlund, CSUSB dean of students, to share the news."

Barcenas, who is from Barstow, said he's always been a very involved student on campus and knew that he would need "outside experience as well." He wanted to go somewhere where he could acquire hands-on knowledge in law making while having the experience of a lifetime.

He said he wanted to learn a new skill set in a fast-paced environment and apply those skills to his campus activities when he returns in January.
"As a first-generation college student, my mother always pushed me to go after my dreams and to always challenge myself, so my inspiration came from her," Barcenas said.
He was also recently selected vice president for University Affairs in the California State Student Association, where he and other officers will represent Cal State San Bernardino and the more than 467,000 students in the California State University system's 23 campuses.

Barcenas' goal is to attend law school in fall 2016 and ultimately obtain a juris doctorate to practice law. He said running for political office in the future is a possibility.

"This (internship) opportunity will help me understand a new perspective of our
legislative system and gain real insight in law making," he said. "I believe the skills I gain from this internship will give me a competitive edge when applying to law school. I also hope to use this opportunity to motivate others to achieve their dreams."

Erika Flores, who graduated from Heritage High School in Romoland, has been an actively involved student of CSUSB since her arrival in fall 2011. She immersed herself in college life, navigating through her campus experience as a first-generation in her family to attend college.

"I am very excited to have been selected to represent CSUSB at CHCI," said the 21-year-old. "This is a great opportunity for me not only to expand my knowledge, but to also gain new skills that will help me give back to my community here in the Inland Empire when I return.

"I am looking forward to all the new learning opportunities that this experience will bring and I know that this will benefit me in the pursuit of my career in higher education," said Flores, whose concentration is in human and organizational communication.

Flores has served as president of Latino Business Students Association this academic year and previously as vice president. She has made the Dean's List several times. But perhaps what she is most proud of is mentoring young high school students, especially those in under-represented groups, get to college.

The Moreno Valley resident has been active with the Inland Empire Future Leaders program since 2009, having participated in the program herself during high school. She's returned to the program each year as a facilitator, peer counselor and graduate assistant, facilitating workshops on leadership skills, creating lesson plans in cultural learning of the bracero program, about activist Cesar Chavez, and the history of indigenous tribes of Latin America.

Flores was one of the students selected to represent Cal State San Bernardino at the 27th national conference of Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities in fall 2013, which she said was one of her most eye-opening experiences.

In addition, Flores has served on the planning committee of the Latino Book and Family Festival at CSUSB for three consecutive years. The annual event advocates the importance of youth literacy and education, something she is passionate about. She served in various roles, including master of ceremonies, managing publicity and overseeing its social media Web page.

Flores has actively volunteered in the community with the Redlands Annual Bicycle Classic last spring, CSUSB's Latino Graduate Recognition Ceremony and the Hispanic Alumni Chapter's Golf Tournament. She is also an active member of the National Society Collegiate Scholars and CSUSB's Association of Latino Faculty, Staff and Students, participating in its Madrina/Padrino mentorship program for the past three years.

In addition to her busy academic schedule, Flores is also a student employee in the university's Office of the Registrar, assisting students with a variety of services, including explaining policies and procedures.

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