A Gator in Seminole Territory

It's been four weeks since I started working in the Florida Senate under the Bob Graham Center’s Tallahassee program. Throughout this program I have met an abundance of interesting individuals spanning from the other interns living here to the incredible staff at my office. At first, it was a bit difficult assimilating to the lifestyle here. There’s a reason why Gators call Tallahassee ‘Talla-nasty’.

Of all the interns, I was the first senate intern to start. It was a nerve-wracking pre-session first week, and I tried to absorb as much information as possible. I never experienced the fast-paced environment that surrounds the world of politics. It was a thrilling first week, and it was nice spending it with the chief of staff. Speaking of the chief of staff, she is the kindest. I was fortunate enough to have chosen an incredible office and each day (on my way to work while I curse in the legislative shuttle), I remember the safe environment I have in my office.

At first it was a bit difficult to understand the priorities of certain matters. I truly believe anyone interested in politics begins their interest with a naivety that will surely be crushed time and time again. After seeing the work that is done at the state level of government, it was clear that to make good changes you need to make wise choices. It also taught me that in politics everything has a double meaning. This was also the first time I've ever had a job. I volunteered here and there but having responsibilities and working long hours is something I am not used to.

What’s a typical day like?

There is no such thing as a ‘typical’ day in the Senate. It is filled with a bunch of bill reports and blisters that seem to fog up any recollection for the day. I’m the face of the office, and to elaborate on what that means I basically sit in the front of the office and greet people. I enjoy that part of the day very much because it gives me the chance to meet new people. Additionally, I have also had the opportunity to talk about issues that interest me and learn new perspectives from constituents and politicians alike.

What are the benefits of the program?

I have no complaints on the program and have enjoyed working with a great group of people. You also learn a lot about the legislative process, particularly within the state government. It serves as a measure of what you want to do with your life. Often, we all say we want to be politicians or lawyers (sorry pre-med), but do we actually know what’s in store for that career path? A big part of me chose this internship to figure out what I want to do after graduation. With so many routes to politics, I see now the importance of diversifying your mind with unorthodox types of knowledge.

I do miss my friends from Gainesville. It’s so important to keep connections back home. My friends are the best, so they keep me in the loop and text me throughout the day. I go back regularly and look forward to seeing them soon.

What has been the best moment thus far?

The best moment so far has been meeting President Kent Fuchs at a pizza dinner we all shared. He’s very attentive and really engaged in conversation. I told him about my presence in the office as a clown who makes people laugh and discussed the importance of interning with one of the few (and most active) Hispanic legislators. It was nice having the chance to flex on President Fuchs on how wonderful my Senator and his achievements are. Plus, I took so many pictures of him, my phone automatically made an album for his face.

Seriously, do you like it?

I can end this article on a high note by answering that question with a 100% assurance. Everything about this internship so far has solidified my desire to help people and represent their needs. I thank the Bob Graham Center for allowing me to represent UF and in turn, giving me the chance to meet the incredible staff.