Rockford student interns in Durbin’s Senate office

Rockford resident Catherine Valdez will spend eight weeks interning for U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), working behind the scenes in the Senator’s Capitol Hill office.

Each year, close to 50 students intern in Durbin’s Washington, D.C., office. Interns process constituent requests, help with legislative duties and lead Capitol tours for Illinois residents visiting Washington. During that time, they gain firsthand knowledge of the legislative process, learn about the inner workings of the federal government and develop valuable research skills.

Forty-five years ago, I started my career on Capitol Hill as a college intern for Sen. Paul Douglas (D-Ill.) ,” Sen. Durbin said. “I will never forget that day in February of 1966 when he agreed to hire me as an intern to work in his office. It was one of the most exciting things I had ever done; a student from East St. Louis, Ill., was going to work in the office of a U.S. Senator. I know what a valuable experience it can be, and we strive to make sure all of our students get a glimpse into the workings of the United States Senate.”

Daughter of Rudy and Julia Valdez, Catherine recently received her associate’s degree from Rock Valley College. She will transfer to the University of Illinois at Chicago in the fall to pursue a bachelor’s degree in history, with minors in French and political science. She graduated in 2009 from Rockford Boylan Catholic High School. As an intern for Durbin, Valdez enjoys learning about the Capitol’s history and sharing that knowledge on tours. She is also particularly interested in veterans’ affairs.

My history professor helped me find this opportunity, and I didn’t know what to expect,” Valdez said. “I’ve gotten to meet people from all over Illinois and hear different stories. I’ve never been so proud to be from Rockford.”

The internship program is designed to provide interns with experience in the core functions of a Senate office and allow them to gain a better understanding of the federal legislative process. Internships can range from six weeks to 12 weeks.

From the Aug. 15-21, 2012, issue

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