Our CAPAL Scholar Spotlight is Disha Banik, a senior at University of California, Berkeley currently studying abroad in Shanghai, after interning with the House Democratic Caucus this summer.
What are your main responsibilities at your position? What are some of your big projects?
As a Congressional Intern at the House Democratic Caucus, I rotate between four teams in the Caucus staff: front office, member services, press and policy. In the front office I answer phones, sort the mail and work with the operations team to prepare and set up for Caucus events. Events include weekly Caucus meetings, staff receptions and panels. In member services, I write weekly memos providing clips and summaries of the most important updates for nearly 70 Congress members. In press I help record and edit videos of Members, help set up press conferences and live streams of events, and design Facebook graphics. In policy I verify data on various issues and write memos based off hearings, briefings and policy papers.
How does this internship/scholarship fit with your professional and career goals?
The CAPAL scholarship has made my summer internship with the Democratic Caucus financially feasible, and I am so grateful for CAPAL. My internship with the Democratic Caucus fits directly with my professional goals. I hope to come back to Capitol Hill and work for a caucus, a Democratic Member or Democratic staff of a committee after I graduate. At the Democratic Caucus, I have gained practical experience in an array of functions within a Congressional office, ranging from policy to press. I am open to serving in any capacity initially after I graduate, and this internship has enabled me to dip my toes into those capacities.
What do you hope to achieve this summer through your scholarship/internship experience?
I hope to understand how Congressional offices, particularly Caucus and leadership offices, operate on a daily basis. I hope to learn what role each part of the office plays and how the various roles – legislative, press, scheduling, operations and politics – interact. I wish to learn about the legislative process and bill cycle. By the end of my internship, I hope to be able to dabble in labor and energy issues, the two areas I’m most interested in, perhaps by attending a hearing or writing memos based off policy papers.
I also look forward to meeting other interns and professionals on and off the Hill and hearing about their stories.
What does public service mean to you?
Public service means giving back to society and uplifting those who are not as fortunate as you. It means striving to improve the quality of life of your community, however narrowly or broadly you define your community to be, and expanding opportunity to those who are not as lucky as you. Public service means looking beyond your individual interests and committing yourself to working to improve the lives of others.
What do you consider to be the most interesting thing about you?
I was born in Kolkata, West Bengal, India, where I lived until I was four years old.
What are you most excited to do in Washington D.C. this summer?
I’m excited to sight-see historical sites, peruse art galleries and explore all the restaurants in DC. I can’t wait to check out a book at the Library of Congress, sit in the Washington National Cathedral and finish up the Smithsonian museums I haven’t yet seen. I’m hoping to check out the music and arts scene in DC, particularly DC Jazz.
Disha Banik spent this summer as a Congressional Intern at the House Democratic Caucus. She hails from the golden state of California, namely the Bay Area, where she has been lucky to witness the political leadership of many AAPI trailblazers. She is studying Political Science and Public Policy at University of California, Berkeley. She is entering her senior year in college and hopes to work on the Hill after she graduates. Disha has been involved with several organizations at her university, including the Associated Students of University of California, Cal Berkeley Democrats and the Berkeley Political Review. Aside from politics, Disha enjoys outdoor recreation – hiking, canoeing, kayaking and skiing – and the arts. She is always up to watch a jazz and blues show or peruse an art gallery, of course with good food and good company.
Meet all of our 2015 CAPAL Scholars & Interns here.
Posted by Taylor Huang-Boutelle
Taylor is an incoming Senior at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is double majoring in World Literature and Feminist Studies, with a concentration in Law, Politics, and Social Change. Taylor is in the D.C. cohort for the Center for Asian Americans United for Self Empowerment (www.causeusa.org) and is currently a summer interns at the Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership, where she is focusing on development and fundraising, and will be developing the blog content for this summer. Taylor is passionate about issues of representation, coalition between underserved communities, and creating spaces for strength and solidarity around injustices through community activism and public policy. taylor.boutelle [at] capal [dot] org