Social Works senior interns in Washington D.C.

Maria Villa

Social work is a helping profession, so you’ll understand why Maria Villa, senior social work major, decided to seek a prestigious internship and ultimately was placed at her dream spot.

Villa was lucky enough to receive placement at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute to complete her internship. The CHCI was founded in 1978 by three Hispanic members of Congress committed to creating a non-profit, nonpartisan leadership institute to ensure a diverse and inclusive workforce that included talented Latino Americans. On programming days, interns will have a full day centered on CHCI’s four Pillars of Leadership – civic engagement, social responsibility, self-empowerment and promoting community and Hispanic culture. For the rest of the week, Villa spends her time in the congressional office working on constituent outreach, researching bills and studying the legislative process. 

“I always knew I wanted to help people, but I never knew how. I knew that my passion was not medically inclined, so being in the medical field just didn’t feel right,” said Villa. Once she learned the differences between micro, mezzo and macro social work, she was hooked. “There is a need that is not being met in the social work realm of macro work. Policies set the foundation for the way society functions. Policy is the source of how we operate, and if we don’t have a voice at the table, how can we fulfill the unrealistic expectations that are set on us? Without this program, I would have never even considered interning in Capitol Hill.”

Villa shared that she gets to represent her family in many ways. She’s the first in her family to come this far academically. Her older siblings attempted degrees, but never finished. “This is my senior year, and unfortunately, my dad died recently and won’t get to see me fulfill his dream. I like to think he’ll see from afar. My parents came to America for our education, so me being here in Washington D.C. fulfilling that, fulfills me.”

What’s next for Villa? She plans to pursue a master’s degree in social work to empower her to give back to her community locally and advocate for policy changes nationally.

Learn more about CHCI and their other 2022 Spring Congressional Interns.