Yanet Velazquez has traveled from the corridors of West Hall High School to the corridors of the U.S. Capitol in three years.
The University of North Georgia student is an intern in the office of U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Conyers. Johnson represents east Atlanta and its suburbs — DeKalb County and parts of Gwinnett, Rockdale and Newton counties.
Velazquez is part of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s internship program, which includes 22 people from around the U.S.
Velazquez majors in international affairs — a change from her freshman year when she majored in criminal justice.
She said she changed during her first year, and “I really liked politics and government and the whole international relations thing. I found it a very interesting relationship between the U.S. and other countries and how they work together.”
Ambitions for after college are not certain, but Velazquez said “definitely” work in the public sector — and perhaps “a congressional office or embassy.”
Velazquez also said she would think about running for public office — maybe the U.S. House of Representatives.
The internship is “definitely eye-opening,” Velazquez said. “You see kind of what the small details are that go into planning for the district and helping people back home.”
She said she does research for other staffers, provides help for constituents, takes calls and functions as a staff assistant.
She works in the office Monday through Thursday and spends Fridays in seminars — “We focus on different community issues, things that we can take back to our community.”
The internship is a 12-week program that started in February. Interns receive a stipend, housing and travel expenses.
Velazquez said she shares an apartment with girls from Maryland, Oregon and California.
She said she learned about the program through a Google search.
At UNG, she is the president of Latino Student Association and is active with the International Student Association.
She will be a student orientation leader this year — providing incoming freshmen with tours, orientation and information. She also works in the dean’s office.
When she was at West Hall, Velazquez was involved with student government and helped start a chapter of HoPe — Hispanic Organization for Promoting Education. She also played volleyball and was a member of FOCUS, an international club. She was in the International Baccalaureate program.
“I’m very blessed to have this opportunity,” Velazquez said.