WINSTON-SALEM — A Winston-Salem State University student who is serving as an intern in the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation in Washington D.C. wants to do her share to expose minority students to international study and legislative career opportunities.

Amilca O’Conner, a WSSU senior Rehabilitation Studies major, is one of nine participants in this year’s Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Inc.’s (CBCF) Emerging Leaders intern program in Washington D.C.

She is also currently enrolled in George Washington University’s Semester in Washington Program, giving her a combination of hands-on coursework and networking opportunities. The Raleigh native is assigned to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy. Having pursued international study and an internship on Capital Hill, O’Conner sees herself in a rewarding and unique position that many minorities never consider. She recently wrote a blog about her experiences for the U.S Department of Labor.

“This has been an awesome experience, and while I don’t have a job yet, I know that in whatever I will eventually do, I will be committed to exposing minority students to international study and careers in legislative roles,” said O’Conner. “Many minorities may not be aware the educational advantages and promising career possibilities available in these areas.”

The CBCF Emerging Leaders Series (ELS) began in 2004 as a special track of issue forums during the Annual Legislative Conference (ALC) designed to equip students and young professionals with legislative and advocacy tools to effect change in their communities.

Program Interns receive a stipend and housing and work in CBC member offices. They also attend professional development events and participate in leadership development projects. The program prepares young people to become informed decision makers and influential leaders who shape the world.

“I would like to encourage more minority involvement in governmental activities and pending legislation, and bring awareness to various issues on hand that will impact lives,” O’Conner said.
O’Conner, who wants to work in a federal legislation role, says she didn’t plan or consider this course for her life. It came from her international studies experiences, which she didn’t plan either.

O’Conner is a member of WSSU’s Ralph Bunche Society. Founded in 2007, WSSU has served as a model for future Ralph Bunche Society chapters. The Ralph Bunche Society was developed by the Phelps Stokes Fund to create a broader base of undergraduate student participation in global affairs, regardless of a student’s field of study, increase global and cultural awareness, develop language skills, hone student leadership skills, and increase minority student involvement in international arenas and the expanding global community.

O’Conner said it was because of the Ralph Bunche society she received a previous internship with the United Negro College Fund Special Program’s Institute for International Public Policy, and study abroad in Ghana and Benin. It was there she also learned of her current internship. From these experiences, she looks forward to promoting volunteerism and public service.