One of SUNY Oneonta’s CAMP/EOP students, Catherin Flores Granados, had the experience of a lifetime this past summer interning with the Office of State and Grantee Relations in Washington, D.C.
Catherin, a sophomore from Mountain Dale, NY, was one of six College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) students across the country selected to participate in the National HEP/CAMP Association Internship Program. During the eight-week paid internship, she worked with the director of the Office of Migrant Education and many other offices nearby in the Department of Education.
During her time in D.C., Catherin was part of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, which allowed her to take a course on public policy. She was able to attend important meetings, seminars, hearings and briefings; gave tours of the Capitol to high schoolers visiting from Puerto Rico and New York City; and met a number of members of the House of Representatives.
In her downtime, she attended “A Capitol Fourth” on July 4; attended her first protest; visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture; attended several baseball games; kayaked along the Potomac River; ziplined for the first time; and made lasting friendships.
“All the people I met in this program are extraordinary,” Catherin said. “I have never met so many people that were so similar to me and knew where I was coming from. We are all unique in our own way, but we all had that drive to succeed to be the best we could to help our communities.”
Standout moments for Catherin included being able to have a one-on-one lunch with Tara Ramsey, director of State and Grantee Relations, and meeting Rep. Nydia Velázquez, the first Puerto Rican women to be elected to Congress.
Catherin said her internship helped her realize the importance of networking.
“I got to meet so many successful and outstanding Latinx women and men that really have created a name for themselves in and out of government work,” she said. “I made so many meaningful connections this summer, and I know that will help in the years to come.”
Because of her experience, Catherin, a Communication major, will now be adding a political science major.
“My whole life I’ve been surrounded by people who thought the government was this big thing that was out of our reach, when in reality it’s something that's right in our grasp,” she said. “I know what I want my future to look like now, and what is more important is that I have the confidence to get there.”
The National HEP/CAMP Association is made up of universities, colleges and nonprofit organizations that administer a High School Equivalency Program (HEP) and/or a College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP).
Created in 1981 and funded through grants from the U.S. Department of Education, CAMP assists students from migrant and/or seasonal farm-working backgrounds in their first-year transition to college by providing academic, financial and personal support. There are more than 50 CAMP programs across the country, and SUNY Oneonta's CAMP program is the only one in New York State. Nearly 200 students have graduated from the SUNY Oneonta program since its inception in 2001.