Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Guest Blog: Kelya Marte (2016, Political Science)

Keyla Marte receiving the Chair Person’s Award at the 2016 Award Ceremony 

Up until this point…

When I first applied to the 2016 New York State Assembly Internship, I was unsure if I would really receive the chance to participate in such a prestigious program. Previously, I struggled throughout my academic career and I was not always the top scorer in my class. With this being said, I was hesitant to apply and worried that I would not be able to get into such a competitive internship.

But regardless of my doubts, I decided to take a risk and apply. Within two short weeks of sending my application, I received my acceptance letter in the mail and was ecstatic that I had been selected to participate. This news came as a shock to not only to me, but also to the campus community as I would be the first Daemen student ever to attend this program. With less than two months left of the fall semester, I had to make a decision on whether or not I would move to Albany to embark on an opportunity that was truly once in a lifetime.

I arrived in Albany, January 3rd 2016, and prepared for my first day of orientation. The infrastructure of the tan castle-like building known as the Empire State Plaza was breathtaking. The splendid elevated staircase and the historic Philip Henry Sheridan statue that stands in front of the staircase made me feel as if I was a part of our great national history in real time.

I quickly learned about the brief history of the Empire State Plaza, which was built under Governor Rockefeller, and many of the buildings that were designed by founding architects. The historic aspect of our nation’s capital architecture speaks volume on the importance of this institution. As I entered the Legislative Office Building, I noticed the marble halls and it suddenly hit me that this would be my home for the next four months. 
The New York State Legislature and the Empire State Plaza
From the moment I stepped in the Legislative Office Building in the Capitol of New York, I did not know exactly the journey that lay before me but I was determined and willing to learn all that I can.

Attending and completing the New York State Assembly internship is one of my greatest achievements. This institution has allowed me to challenge myself and really understand the importance of applying skills outside of the classroom and implementing them in the real world. I was granted the opportunity to develop personal and professional skills. The internship at the Assembly has been an enriching and surreal experience. During my time at the Assembly, I was able to review and conduct research on topics in regards to laws of New York State. These topics include areas such as childcare, education, women’s rights, prison systems and much more.    

Kelya and Assemblymember Jaffee (D-97th District)
It has been such a profound honor to serve Assemblymember Ellen C. Jaffee, who represents District 97, Rockland County, located 30 miles from New York City. Her tenacity and commitment to the work of her community has been enlightening. Mrs. Jaffee is a pioneer in the legislature who is committed to ensuring everyone has fair access to their rights. She is a wonderful role model and mentor and I am so grateful I was able to experience the program under her leadership.  

A Day in the Legislature
My first few days in the office were right at the beginning of  what is known as “budget season” This is the time period in which the Assembly, the Senate and the Governor have to all come together to decide where funds will be allocated to each year. During this time, advocates representing various government-funded issues come to Albany requesting an increase in aid for various programs. I was able to meet with constituents from District 97 as well as many other districts to discuss legislation and hear them voice their concerns about what was important for their community. The diversity of topic areas has expanded my knowledge in all areas and has encouraged me to remain updated on issues affecting citizens. 

Keyla Marte as Ellen C. Jaffee during Mock Session 2016: explaining her vote in the affirmative on raising the age.
The spontaneity of the Legislature will consistently keep you on your toes. There is so much to learn about New York State policy. Contrary to popular belief, your major or choice of interest should not limit your ability to participate in this program. Although, I have a Political Science background I was able to learn about issues affecting the health field, sustainability, education, social services and much more. I was able to meet with physicians, doctors, lawyers, psychologists, scientists and more to discuss laws that affect them. In other words, no topic area is off limits when it involves the well-being of individuals. The legislator's duty is to serve the persons who elected them and that includes people from all backgrounds and occupations.

Prior to the internship, I had a negative view of politicians, especially after hearing negative news often shared in the media. Participating in this internship allowed me to change my perception and come in contact with leaders who are passionate, diligent and dedicated to the betterment of society. As elected officials, their duty includes ensuring fairness is being practiced in all topic areas and to contribute to the development of New York State.
The Internship Committee gave us the opportunity to attend issue forums with powerful individuals and share our questions or concerns. In addition, I was able to attend class once a week with Dr. Ledford and receive extensive information on how the legislative body operates.
Furthermore, I was able to witness history as New York State raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour and legalized Mixed Martial Arts.  
Keyla and Assemblymember, Charles Barron
New York City Mayor, DeBlasio

Assemblymember, Victor Pichardo

Keyla Marte an d Assemblymember, Maritza Davila at SOMOS weekend in Albany
Intern Class of 2016 with State Comptroller, Tom DiNapoli

The Final Stretch  
Throughout this experience, I have been able to push myself beyond my limits and fully understand the context of chasing after what you want. Although I was hesitant to apply in the beginning, I remained enthusiastic and determined to make the most of this experience and as a result, came out soaring.

On May 11, 2016, I was awarded the Chairperson Award for the New York State Assembly Intern Class of 2016. This award is the highest award to receive and demonstrates that I displayed active political engagement, leadership skills, academic success and an overall outstanding performance during my duration of the program. This award was given to me by the Intern Committee's first African American NYS Speaker, Carl Heastie, and the Chair of the Higher Education committee, Debra Glick.

Professor in Residence Dr. Angela Ledford

Dr. Maniscalo and Dr. Nyshima presenting award to Keyla Marte

Dr. Nishiyama, Vickie Presti, Keyla Marte, Dr. Ledford and Dr. Maniscalco
It is such a profound honor to receive this recognition and confirmed to me that embarking on this experience was indeed the right decision.  

Legislative Director Christina Philo, (left of Keyla)
and Assemblymember Ellen C. Jaffee (right) with the new interns.
I would like to thank my Assemblymember Ellen C. Jaffee (seen on right in photo immediately above) and her Legislative Director, Christina Philo (on left)  for their commitment to my professional and academic development. They were so instrumental to every part of making this experience memorable.

All the staff in the office both in Albany and in the District are committed to realizing Assemblymember Jaffee's vision for a better New York. Her passion and rigorous commitment to improving the condition for all is a powerful reminder to keep fighting.

Now more than ever, as I prepare to walk the stage at Daemen College's 65th annual Commencement ceremony and enter the real world, I feel more confident and equipped with the academic and professional skills to ultimately fulfill my dream of becoming the Secretary of Education.

Overall, this has been by far one of the best experiences in my undergraduate career. Every professor and staff member in the internship program was available at all times and ensured that all of the interns had the necessary skills and background knowledge needed to be successful during our internship duties.  

This entire experience would have not been possible without the Career Services Office and History & Political Science Department at Daemen College. I cannot express my gratitude to each and every one of you for supporting me and ensuring that my transition to Albany was as smooth as possible.
I hope that my time here in Albany can serve as an inspiration for other students to participate in the program of their choice. Although, doubts and fears may be present, I would encourage you to go for it.  I have been honored to have been asked to extend my internship until the end of June and I look forward to continuing my professional network at the Legislature.
The memories and skills I have gained in Albany will continue to serve me as I move forward to the next part of my journey.  
College Day

New York State Assembly Intern Class of 2016

**Keyla Marte will graduate on May 14th with a degree in Political Science.
Her senior thesis project was entitled,"The Role of Corporations in Public Education: A Case Study on Charter Schools in New York."
Keyla's Faculty Academic Advisor is Dr. Lisa Parshall, Associate Professor of Political Science


Denise Mills said...

What an exciting semester, Keyla! This is such valuable professional experience for you! Best of luck in what will be a very promising future!

Ramonita Orengo said...

You make me so proud! May God continue to bless and guide your career paths love you infinitely never give up and stay humble! xo mom xo

Gina said...

Keyla Eddie and Gina Morales are sooo happy and proud of you I knew you could do it congrats hugs and kisses reading your blog made us cry because we are so proud of you and your mom go all the way!!!!!! :)

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