Freshening Our Perspectives

For more than a decade, the Library of Congress has been pleased to participate in an internship program sponsored by the Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities, or HACU. Talented young students work paid, 15-week internships with various Library divisions, getting a hands-on view of the options here and helping us get the work done with the kind of team vision that only a diversity of eyes can bring.

This would be a good situation from any angle; however, it is even better for the Library this year, because HACU announced today that the Library of Congress has won its Outstanding HACU Public Sector Partner Award for 2015.

“We are incredibly honored to be named HACU’s Outstanding Public Sector Partner,” said George Coulbourne, chief, internships and residencies in the Library’s National and International Outreach division. “HACU’s National Internship Program has 45 federal agencies participating, so we had some competition.”

Some HACU success stories the Library is proud to have shared in:

Lia Apodaca Kerwin, who worked in the Library’s Manuscript Division in 2005 preparing the papers of former U.S. Rep. Patsy Mink (D-HI) for use by researchers as a HACU intern, was hired as a reference librarian in the division, and later was promoted to a program specialist position in the Library’s Office of the Chief of Staff. Now she is a program specialist in the Library’s Office of the Chief Operating Officer. She said HACU can help federal agencies such as the Library bring more Latino talent into their ranks. As for her own experience, “The opportunity of a HACU position at the Library of Congress was priceless.”

Eliamelisa Gonzalez, a HACU intern at the Library’s Office of Strategic Initiatives in 2010, worked on the Library’s Continuity of Operations (COOP) plan, which would allow the Library to maintain its operations in the event of an emergency that severely disrupted normal operations. She also performed new employee orientations regarding emergency preparedness, prepared training materials, updated a website and collaborated on a special project for the division chief. After working for OSI post-internship for several months, she was chosen in a competitive program by the Library’s Congressional Research Service, where she is now a human capital management specialist. “I am thankful for the HACU program, because it was the vehicle that allowed me the opportunity to come to D.C. and work at the Library,” Gonzalez said.

Kevin Pardinas, a HACU intern with the Library in 2008, now is a 5th-year associate attorney with the law firm of Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A. in Miami, Florida. He created a program manual for the Office of Strategic Initiatives that outlined ways for the Library to partner with universities and colleges. Pardinas said the most valuable aspect, for him, was “learning to work with high-level executives and administrators around the country,” which “honed my presentation skills” and made him “a much better public speaker and manager.”

Thomas Padilla, a HACU intern in 2011, now serves as a digital humanities librarian at Michigan State University. He held HACU internships at the National Archives and at the Library of Congress, and the Library offered him a fulltime job at the close of his internship. During his time at the Library he continued his graduate schooling, and he now has advanced degrees in History and in Library and Information Science. Having had “such a great experience with HACU, I looked for similar diversity-oriented support systems to help develop my skills as a librarian,” he said.

Ali Fazal, a HACU intern at the Library in 2012, now is manager of corporate business development for the mobile event app company DoubleDutch. At the Library, he worked on graphics, messaging and marketing for a program in its Office of Strategic Initiatives, the National Digital Stewardship Residency. He stayed on with the Library for seven months following his internship, then headed home to California to dig into the private sector. “Without HACU, I would have never have had the exposure … or the access to learn valuable on-the-job skills like graphic design and digital marketing, that have led me to success in my current career.”

Celia Rivas-Mendive, who worked for the EPA as a HACU Intern in the summer of 2003, now is a senior GAO analyst on the Natural Resources and the Environment team at the Government Accountability Office. She worked at the Library’s Congressional Research Service for four years following her HACU internship, via HACU’s Cooperative Education Program. “The fact that HACU took care of housing and travel logistics was critical for someone like me … someone who had never been to D.C. previously and who was moving from the West Coast. HACU changed my life by serving as a launching pad for my career in the federal government,” Rivas-Mendive said.

The Texas-based HACU, which aims to “champion Hispanic success in higher education,” started out in 1986 with 18 member institutions. Now it interacts with more than 450 colleges and universities in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Latin America and Spain. More than two-thirds of all Hispanic college students in the U.S. attend HACU member schools.

To celebrate these amazing young people—and the award they’ve made possible for the Library—today we offer this HACU haiku:

These talented kids

Diversify our outlooks —

The honor’s all ours.

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