Notes From the Field: Dania Torres '20

Dania Torres '20 interned with the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics during the 2018 Spring Term. The following is an excerpt from her internship report.

Housed in the U.S. Department of Education in Washington D.C., President George H.W. Bush first established the Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics through an executive order signed in 1990. The office supports the federal government’s commitment to addressing disparities faced by the Hispanic community, particularly within educational opportunities. It also aims to recognize the many contributions of Hispanics towards national prosperity. I began my work at a time of transition with the new executive director, Aimee Viana. In this capacity, I closely served to inform her strategic plan under the current administration, which involves charter renewal, commission selection, and stakeholder engagement to advance Hispanic innovation, investment, and excellence.

As an intern, I attended meetings and prepared briefings within the Initiative’s three realms: outreach, the Federal Interagency Working Group, and the executive branch, which includes the President and the Secretary. I worked to amplify the Hispanic community’s perspective on the latest policy proposals, report releases, task force operatives, congressional hearings, and other departmental functions. Likewise, I helped update community organizations, government officials, and individuals from various backgrounds on the Initiative’s standing and priorities.

My projects immersed me in the bureaucratic process, both interdepartmentally and intra-departmentally. With the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Communications and Outreach, I periodically met with federal employees whose efforts focused on streamlining Department publications in educator, parent, and student newsletters. Meetings with the National Center for Education Statistics guided my research and data collection. The generated reports delivered Initiative talking points upon meeting with the White House Domestic Policy Council and Office of the Public Liaison.

This rewarding experience provided an incredible overview of the government on all levels. I put technical skills into practice when compiling critical information and developed my communication capabilities upon approaching different circles. I hope to continue taking classes that prepare me to bridge quantitative practices for qualitative ends. To best advocate for constituents, I aim to first serve within the private sector or a law enforcement agency before utilizing my understanding of individuals in the field for policy making. Thanks to Rockefeller Center funding, I was granted the opportunity to actualize concepts instilled both in classes and in programs such as Dartmouth Leadership Attitudes and Behaviors and the Management and Leadership Development Program.