Germanna internship program helping him find public service path
Since he was in the second grade, Javier Penzelina has had a dream.
Germanna Community College’s internship program is helping him make it a reality:
The 2008 Caroline High School graduate and resident of Ruther Glen knew he wanted to be involved in politics, but wasn’t sure what exactly he wanted to do or how to get his foot in the door..
Penzelina has been figuring it out with help from Cheri Ober, Germanna’s internship coordinator, who’s helped him land on Capitol Hill in the office of U.S. Rep Steny Hoyer and in Richmond on Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s staff.
Working for Rep. Hoyer in Washington, he focused on issues of concern to fellow millenials.
In Richmond, he worked in constituent services.
With the governor’s office, “I was able to get a better understanding of how state politics work, “ Penzelina said.
In Washington, he said he was surprised to see that politicians who seem to be bitter foes in the media are often friendly when they’re not in front of the cameras. Penzelina has been interested in politics since the second grade and “the 2008 presidential election confirmed my desire to pursue a career in government.”
As a result of his experience, he’s decided that “Ultimately, I’d like to run for public office.”
“Javier is focused and has a deep commitment to serve the American public,” Ober said. “I’m impressed with the sacrifices he has made to complete the two internships… these opportunities gave him the fire to want to continue his education and succeed in a political career.”
Penzelina thanked Ober for her help and added that Caroline Maloney, his second-grade teacher at Ladysmith Elementary School, helped him see what was possible early in life.
“She encouraged me to reach for the highest level,” he said of Maloney. “She never placed a limit on how far I could go.”
“Cheri has been a great person in my corner,” Penzellna said. He said she’s been working hard with him in an effort to land a White House internship.
Penzelina spent the early years of his life with his aunt and uncle in the northern part of the Bronx, in a neighborhood on 224th St.
“It was a diverse neighborhood and diversity was the pillar my upbringing was centered around,” he said. “When we moved to Virginia, we had to make the adjustment from a but city to a slower-paced rural area.”
Spending his formative years Virginia “has taught me more about myself,” he said, “and it is why I want to give back in the best way I know how–public service.”
The interships forced Penzellna out of his comfort zone. He said he had to assert myself in intimidating situations, speaking up in meetings with high profile people.
He will graduate from Germanna in May and will study political science at UMW.
He said he’s glad he chose to start at GCC.
“The professors here do a really good job and they’re really friendly and cater to the needs of students here..”
“For me, Germanna made economic sense,” he said. “It cut my tuition in half. I’m debt free right now. When I graduate from UMW, I won’ t have the same debt as someone who went to a university for four years.”
“I’ve really enjoyed my time at Germanna and I’m grateful for the internship opportunities,” he said. “I encourage other students to take advantage of the opportunity.”