OMA&D Academic Counseling Services

Student Profiles

Joanna Peña-Rodriguez

Joanna Peña-Rodriguez Cohort 12 scholar in front of the Capitol building

In the spring of 2022, nearing the end of her first year at the University of Washington, Joanna was informed that she had been selected to represent the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) Cohort 12 in Washington D.C. as a Congressional intern.

Before applying to this internship program, Joanna had never imagined herself, especially at this stage of her undergraduate career, walking through the halls of the U.S. Capitol. As a Congressional intern, Joanna carried out administrative tasks and dedicated a significant amount of time to legislative correspondence—meticulously responding back to constituents who contacted the office with thoughtful letters. During her time as an intern on Capitol Hill, Joanna expanded her prior knowledge about the legislative process and observed first-hand the work that goes on behind the closed doors of Congress. Simply traveling to the East Coast for the first time and taking a trip to New York City was new and exciting but in addition, over the course of her internship, Joanna had several experiences that she considers to be some of her most memorable highlights. Those include sitting in on a committee markup on an appropriations bill, visiting the East Wing and West Wing of the White House, attending briefings, sitting in on a roundtable discussion with farmworker advocacy organizations and Dolores Huerta, and attending a press conference by Speaker Pelosi on women’s reproductive health where she met Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez more commonly known as AOC.

Through the partnership of the HEP/CAMP Association and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, Joanna also attended weekly programming classes. During this time, she developed relationships with the other CHCI interns, listened to guest speakers, attended events, and overall grew professionally and personally. When the internship came to an end she graduated both as HEP/CAMP Intern and as a CHCI Intern. Now as an alum, Joanna feels she has a community on and off the Hill through these organizations.

Joanna recognizes that this experience truly impacted her in many ways, and it brings her immense satisfaction and joy to hear her parents express how proud they are of her accomplishments. Her parents migrated from Mexico and have worked tirelessly in agriculture so that she and her siblings can obtain an education and experience opportunities such as this one. Particularly, because of her background, Joanna feels proud to have been able to represent her community in D.C. She hopes this opportunity is extended to many more students from backgrounds like hers. In short, Joanna speaks of her time in Washington D.C. as life-changing and is extremely grateful that the CAMP staff shared this opportunity and believed in her potential. She is also grateful to HEP/CAMP Association for making this internship a reality.

The CAMP program played a significant role in Joanna’s first year at the UW. She speaks highly of the many ways in which the program assisted her throughout her first year. Besides, being a home away from home and a close-knit community, she is extremely grateful for the support she received from the CAMP staff. Whether she needed academic advice, financial advice, or simply guidance, the CAMP staff was always an email or text message away.

Currently, Joanna is intending to double-major in Law, Societies, and Justice, as well as Political Science with the plan to attend law school. Ultimately, she would like to work with immigrant communities and engage in activism work.

Alondra Torres

In the spring of 2019, Alondra Torres learned that she had been fortunate enough to represent not only the Husky class of 2023 but also take part as a CAMP scholar representing the 10th cohort. From the start the CAMP program provide Alondra with a plethora of resources and support, so much so that she was even accepted into a study abroad program her freshman year due to hearing about it in one of the CAMP weekly seminars!

Since taking part in the CAMP program her freshman year Alondra has been hard at work both on and off-campus. Just this last school year she was able to lead as a program facilitator for UW’s Environmental Spring Break Program. As a NASA-funded program, she was motivated to lead a team of university students to create and teach a week-long curriculum centered around environmental education to low-income schools across Washington state. Also, this year she was welcomed back as a lead mentor for the Washington State Office of Superintendent Public Instruction’s Dare to Dream Academy. Here, Alondra assisted in a monthlong program for entering 9th and 10th-grade migrant students learning more about the sciences, math, engineering, and self-development content that built academic identity and confidence in young migrant students.

The CAMP program has been an opportunity that just keeps giving even long after you finish your first year of college. Through the CAMP program’s various resources Alondra was led towards an opportunity that she could not pass. An opportunity to intern in the nation’s capital! An opportunity that she knew would make her immigrant parents proud, getting to represent not only them but many others like her; a first-generation Latina wanting to make a positive impact no matter how big or small. As a D.C intern, Alondra was able to work for the Latino Student Fund which is a PreK-12 advocacy group in the D.C. area that provides academic support for at-risk youth. The organization helps to empower Latino families and to serve as a strong advocate for parents and their children. While a part of the organization Alondra was able to lead their Listo Rapido program; a week-long intensive college preparatory summer program for rising 10th-12th graders that guides college-bound students through the college application process. The experience not only allowed Alondra to work within such a well-established organization but also gave way for her to step out of her comfort zone and travel to a place she has never been, getting to meet people from across the US. This opportunity was one of a kind and one she would never forget.

Currently, Alondra is double majoring in Psychology and Sociology with hopes to become a Psychotherapist in the future. The CAMP program has been such a pivotal piece in Alondra’s college career that she plans to continue working with them as an administrative intern for the upcoming school year.

Giovanni ‘Gio’ Perez

Giovanni Perez, who likes to go by Gio, is from Yakima, Washington and was a part of cohort 10. For his first year at UW, he was stoked and nervous for what was to come. He had some college experience doing the Running Start program at Yakima Valley College which made the transition easier, however, the academic rigor took time to get adjusted to. Nonetheless, his first year wouldn’t have been as memorable if it weren’t for the CAMP program. CAMP provided him a network of other students who come from similar backgrounds and have a goal to succeed academically. As a result, it made it much easier to find a social network that he could relate to since he had a hard time connecting with students who didn’t understand what it meant to have parents working in the agricultural field. The CAMP staff also guided Gio when he struggled the most in his first quarter. He failed his first ever class (BIOL 180) in academia and it made him feel like wasn’t meant to be at UW. The CAMP staff and mentors helped him understand that failing is sometimes inevitable at such a rigorous institution and they motivated him to push through the class and pointed him toward resources for help. Gio was able to slowly succeed in his first year and it made him understand how failing was something that he needed to experience in his life. In his second year, he was a CAMP mentor since he valued his interactions with his own CAMP mentor his first year and wanted to provide that experience to other students. CAMP also notified him of job opportunities and internships that many other UW students weren’t aware of. As a result, he is now a First-Year Network Leader for Latino/a/x individuals for the First-Year Program. He was also able to do an internship for a biotech company in Seattle called CorneaGen. The company’s mission is to provide the best products, service, and knowledge for the needs of corneal surgeons. He works with the distribution team which works on the logistics and distribution of donated corneal tissue for its use in corneal transplants. This opportunity has made him consider other careers in healthcare such as working as a lab scientist or administrator for a biotech company. It has also provided him with a great network of people who have years of professional experience in the biotech sector. He will continue to be working for CorneaGen through the academic school year and is excited to take on more responsibility and gain more professional experience. Thus, CAMP has continued to be a major part of his success and is extremely grateful for the staff and mentors who continuously work hard to provide resources and networks for their students. Feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn as he’s always willing to help students out.