Austin Legislative Internship Program

Nevertheless, She persisted.

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by Elsa Mendoza, intern in the office of Senator Sylvia Garcia

Before I started this journey, my biggest concern was that I would be placed in an office that had dissimilar ideologies than my own. I was convinced I would be swimming against the waves.

However, I was fortunate to be assigned to a member who is noble, admirable and has consistent political and social ideologies – and she is a social worker! I am now faced with being so emotionally attached to my work because of how invested she is in absolutely everything she does.

Being on her team has allowed me to feel empowered as a woman, as a person of color, as a daughter of immigrants, and as a person who is not afraid to not be politically correct, all while in an environment with people who are against some or all of these characteristics.

The biggest lesson that she has taught me, without her knowing, is how troubling it can be to stand up for what is right. It is easy nowadays to just post something on social media about what you think is right and move on with life feeling like you took a stance on something important. But in the real world, it is commitment and perseverance that separates the talkers from the doers.  I have witnessed her fight the good fight with strategy, guts, and all of the energy she may have – EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Now, I am glad to know that I am swimming against the waves with someone who is not going to give up until she shifts the tides in the direction she believes in.

People know her commitment to social justice very well.  You have seen her sit for hours in solidarity with individuals who she is fighting to protect. You have seen her make efforts to inform those who may not be aware of how policy may be affecting them.

It is sometimes not easy to work for someone like that. The long hours the team puts into the work in order to provide support to such a passionate leader are not always pleasant. While inspiring, keeping up with her incredible devotion to her constituents can be physically and emotionally draining.

But then the moment comes where we witness her speak on behalf of our families, our friends, and our neighbors in ways that other members may never have the guts to do. We are there for the moments where tough decisions are being made all with one goal: social justice for ALL. As she is walking out of the office ready to face the opposition, to face the hate and the ignorance, that is the moment I feel the most grateful for the exhaustion, the long hours, and the team I have been lucky to a part of.

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