Originally published October 4, 2016
By Robert J. Fernandez
Master’s student, Social Work
I’m a nontraditional student who ventured into college later in life. Naturally, I wanted to explore and experience all college life had to offer. I chose social work due to the fact that I always knew I wanted to create, build and empower my community though social work. I acquired my Bachelor of Social Work degree in May 2015, and will earn my Master of Social Work degree in May 2017.
This past summer I was fortunate to have been selected to participate in a congressional internship with Congressmen Beto O’Rourke in El Paso. I have always been fascinated with politics and our democratic system. I felt as a community member and student that I could only benefit from this exciting opportunity.
It was an eight-week, 60-hour a month internship working with great staff, enthusiastic interns and the congressman, of course. I accomplished this while still taking two graduate level classes and being president of our social work student organization.
I was lucky enough that I was chosen to work within the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs. I primarily assisted military veterans in acquiring their benefits or assisting their loved ones with a personal request.
I was the oldest intern there. I was surrounded by young, intelligent and passionate high school and college students. One 20-year old El Pasoan stood up for the rights of all individuals by being an advocate. As a proud El Pasoan, I felt pride that these young people will be the future leaders of our community.
I will be entering my last and final internship this upcoming academic year. I can honestly say every internship of which I have been a part has taught me lifelong lessons that I will carry with me forever. If I could give any advice to our student body, it would be to vote during this upcoming election, give back by volunteering within our community, and be true to yourself and who you are. For me, being a social worker is a calling and who I was always meant to be.