Social-working in the Capitol

by Melissa Davila, intern in the office of Representative Jessica Farrar

At the beginning of this internship, I had a lot of questions and concerns. I was afraid of the environment I was stepping into, the people I was going to meet, and most importantly, the office I was going to be placed in. One thing I was certain of was that I wanted to be a part of the 85th Legislative Session for many reasons, but primarily I wanted to help alleviate some of the fears and stress my community has been facing.

I was placed in Representative Jessica Farrar’s office. I did my research before heading to Austin, and I knew that I was going to be in a great environment. Rep. Farrar is very loved by my community and has a lot of experience at the Capitol.

My first few weeks were hard. It felt like my head was spinning during my first day at the Capitol. I was so nervous that I forgot all of the amazing things I had read about Representative Farrar. I have always considered myself very brave and outgoing, but on that day I was shaking, I was afraid, and I was three hours away from my loved ones.

On that first day, we had our first official staff meeting. We all introduced ourselves, and to my surprise, everyone had previous policy experience except for me. I was so intimidated. While I have a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work and am currently pursuing my Master’s in Social Work, I was the only one without any policy experience. On top of that I am the oldest one there – I am not your typical student – I am 34 years old.

I have learned a lot in Rep. Farrar’s office. Everyone in the office has been a legislative intern, aide, or director, which means that I am surrounded by intelligent people. My coworkers also happen to have beautiful souls. Each one of them in their particular way has empowered me and pushed me to learn a lot about different issues that I had never even considered.

I have been assigned many different responsibilities, but the one that has impacted me the most is the constituent calls that come in to the office seeking the Representative’s support. I have cried, not only once or twice, but numerous times. What can you do when you are unable to offer any more advice? What can you do when you fail to alleviate the fears and problems people face? Often, I have exhausted all of the resources available and there is absolutely nothing else I can say that can make the constituent or myself feel better. In those moments, all I can say is “I am sorry, I do not know exactly how you feel, but I am feeling your pain, and I am here for you. I am sorry you are going through this.”

In two short months, my life has changed drastically. My views and priorities have changed. I know that I am unable to change certain things, at least for now; however, I also know that I was placed here for a reason. I will continue to learn and help my community understand what their rights are and how they can advocate for improvement to their rights and on behalf of the many other important issues that we are currently facing.

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About GCSW Legislative Interns

This blog is brought to you courtesy of The Graduate College of Social Work's Austin Legislative Internship Program. The College selects graduate MSW students to intern at the Texas Legislature during its legislative session every two years. Student interns work as full-time staffers in the Legislature, either as policy analysts with the Legislative Study Group, a Caucus of the Texas House of Representatives, or in legislators’ offices. Here, they will share their unique experiences!
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