As the 2018 Legislative Session continues, so does our Capitol Pathways internship program, providing opportunities at the Capitol for college students of color. Part of our 33-student cohort this year is Stephany Lopez, a 1st year student at the University of Northwestern-St. Paul. Stephany, originally from St. Paul, is interning at the Association of Minnesota Counties.Stephany took some time from her busy student schedule to answer a few questions about her intern work thus far, how it has informed her understanding of the Capitol, policy in Minnesota, and her career as a student.
Q. Has your impression of the Capitol changed since participating in Capitol Pathways?
A. My impression of the Capitol has really changed since participating in Capitol Pathways. Prior to participating in the program and getting exposure to the Capitol, I thought the Capitol was no place for me at all. I felt that its culture and the majority of the people who work there were far from my place of comfort and far from my place of belonging there. Because of the Capitol Pathways program and the representatives, senators and community members who support the program and its mission of representing what our democracy truly looks like, my views and perceptions about the Capitol have changed. Now, I believe that even though I am still uncomfortable at times, I belong and have every right to be at the Capitol as anyone else.
“Prior to participating in the program and getting exposure to the Capitol, I thought the Capitol was no place for me at all. I felt that its culture and the majority of the people who work there were far from my place of comfort and far from my place of belonging there. Now, I believe that even though I am still uncomfortable at times, I belong and have every right to be at the Capitol as anyone else.”
Q. How has Capitol Pathways affected your career aspirations?
The exposure, opportunities, and experiences I have gained from participating in Capitol Pathways has greatly impacted my career aspirations. It has really pushed me to think more about the ways in which I can affect and bring change to my community. Capitol Pathways has almost been like a wakeup call to the need of representation that is needed at the State Capitol. It is hard to go to the State Capitol and not notice that there is a lack of representation of communities of color. It is rare for me to go to the Capitol and see someone that looks like me, so it is because of this that I aspire to one day be in office. I want to bring a sense of inclusiveness and ultimately, I want youth of color to look at me and think, “If she’s able to be in office, I can too!” I believe there is so much power in the youth and it is important to let them know that they are fully capable of being in power too. Capitol Pathways, along with other factors, has helped me believe that I am fully capable and so I wish to bring that feeling to others too.
Q: What advice would you give to other students interested in applying for Capitol Pathways?
To any student who is interested or considering Capitol Pathways, let me be the one to highly suggest you to do it! Do it, apply, and do it with an open mind. With no doubt, there is a lot of opportunities that comes along with being a Capitol Pathways intern. There are so many options in regards to where you could be placed for your internship so be open to interning in a place you would’ve never thought of. I suggest staying away from putting any limitations on the type of internship you’re willing to accept because you could really miss out on many great opportunities and experiences.
Help us celebrate the successful completion of these policy internships in and around Minnesota’s Capitol for our cohort! Come to meet the students, representatives from their host organizations, and other friends of the program at this end of session celebration, and stay for our keynote speaker, Justice Anne McKeig, the first Native American to be appointed to the Minnesota Supreme Court.