Cerritos College Student Finds His Passion in Politics and His Roots
Jesus Fraire Completes the Native American Political Leadership Program
Jesus Fraire knew at an early age that he wanted to dedicate his life to helping others.
His tenth grade world history teacher Jared Kushida at Azusa High School had a significant influence on his decision. He found Jared's history class very interesting because Jared was very passionate about the world and the problems it faces. "The class sparked something in me," Jesus said. "As time went on, the word Congress began to live inside me."
He eventually decided to pursue a career in politics in order to help people in need. Once he entered Cerritos College, his mind was very mature and learning came very naturally to him. He became an honors student with a great passion for learning.
He feels very excited and ready to help his community, which he wants to represent one day as a member of Congress. Another critical reason he would like to pursue this field comes from his roots and heritage. "I feel like the Latino communities and the Native American communities have been greatly misrepresented throughout history in government," he said. "I want to change that."
The political major is on a roll with his goals. His cousin found out about the Native American Political Leadership Program and recommended that he apply for it. It was a professional internship opportunity with scholarship where participants choose an internship from a list of agencies, think-tanks and congressional offices.
He was very excited about this incredible opportunity, as he had always dreamed of visiting Washington D.C., familiarize himself with the political system and his Native American roots.
Since his representative was not on the list, he decided to send his application to Congressman Martin Heinrich (NM-1) as Heinrich's views and ideas interested him. Jesus' passion won and he was accepted, even though he was not from Heinrich's district.
The Native American Political Leadership Program consisted of classes and internship. Participants took classes held at George Washington University and lived in its dorms.
His responsibilities with Congressman included answering phones, researching bills, attending briefings for staff members, giving tours of the Capitol, greeting visitors, and running a variety of errands. Researching bills and attending a variety of congressional briefings and hearings helped him dig in deep in some of America's most intriguing issues.
The internship helped Jesus in a number of ways. Just being in the environment helped him understand and adapt to the political process in a hands-on manner. He had always imagined what Congress was like; the internship put him in the center of it all.
"Speaking with hundreds of constituents on the phone reminded me of the reason we do all this work; they are the most important part of the job. As a result of the internship, I am now much better in communication, research, and administrative duties," he said.
At Cerritos College he has had many incredible teachers who truly believe in their students. He has had great support from Monica Lopez, Lorraine Gersitz, and Dr. Sunday Obazuaye. During his first semester at Cerritos College he was a bit shy and Librarian Monica Lopez helped him become a good leader by introducing him to the Library Club, which she was an advisor for. He eventually became President of the club and shyness was a thing of the past. Lorraine Gersitz, librarian and also an adviser for the Library Club, came to visit him while he was interning in D.C. He was proud to give her a tour of the Capitol and the Library of Congress.
Dr. Obazuaye was his political science professor at the college. He was also the adviser for the Model United Nations Club, which he was also a part of. Dr. Obazuaye taught him a great deal both in and out of the classroom.
From leading the Library Club, learning new ideas in class and to receiving guidance from great individuals, Cerritos College has been the cornerstone for his future aspirations.
His ultimate career goal is to become a Congressman. He plans on starting off at the local level by serving on a school board or in the state legislature. He would also like to start his own charity focused on helping impoverished families world-wide.
"If the people truly believe in me I might even run for President of the United States one day."
The Campus Connection - May 22, 2012