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Recent SAC Graduate…

Dominic Ochoa, who received an associate degree in engineering, leaves the lab for Capitol Hill
dominic ochoa intern

Recent SAC Graduate Heads to Washington DC for Congressional Internship

This spring Dominic Ochoa, a recent San Antonio College graduate, will be in Washington D.C. as part of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute's (CHCI) Congressional Internship Program. He will also be working as an intern in the office of Joaquin Castro, U.S. Representative for Texas's 20 th  Congressional District.

That Ochoa is pursuing a Congressional internship may seem surprising since he received his associate degree in engineering. However, it was a previous internship Ochoa had with NASA while he was still a SAC that piqued his political interests in Washington.

"One thing my mentors at NASA harped on during my internship was a familiarization with the policy making process because it so greatly affects what NASA does," explained Ochoa. "As someone who aspires to be an NASA engineer and possibly a leader at NASA, I thought it would be a good opportunity for me to apply."

While finishing courses for his degree, Ochoa applied for the CHCI Internship and was one of only 21 students in the nation to be accepted for the Spring 2018 position. When he was contacted by the CHCI program with the good news, they suggested he apply for a separate internship with a local congressional office. He applied with Castro's office and won an internship spot shortly thereafter.

While in Washington, Ochoa will work at Castro's office Monday through Thursday, attending legislative meetings and working with constituents who contact the congressman, including giving tours of the Capitol.

On Mondays, Ochoa will attend training sessions and other workshops sponsored by the CHCI. "They will be focusing on leadership development and networking skills. They are going to give us many opportunities to learn from and talk to Hispanic leaders in Congress. Things you would normally not be able to get," said Ochoa, adding the CHCI will also have the interns participate in volunteer work.

Ochoa said he is looking forward to the Congressional internships as a much needed break after spending much of his time outside of class working on engineering projects such as the recent hydrogen fuel cell vehicle that took a third place finish at the Shell Eco-marathon Americas in Detroit last April and a submarine that can be used by search and rescue divers during emergency operations.

Ochoa said he is looking forward to the Congressional internships as a much needed break after spending much of his time outside of class working on engineering projects. At SAC, he helped design and build a vehicle powered by a hydrogen fuel cell and a mini-submarine that can be used by search and rescue teams.

"It made me realize not only why I was in STEM but also that I wanted to in my career was to help people and make a difference in my community. It made me realize I really want to be an active force in my community and help people. That's what I want to do. If policy making is an avenue I can do that, then I will certainly take it," said Ochoa.

When his internship ends, Ochoa said he will resume his academic career and intends to transfer to the University of Michigan in the fall. 

 

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