Motivated intern takes Washington, D.C. by storm
If you ever thought you had a lot packed in one day, you'll love to read about how Juliana Ho spent the first few months of 2006 as a Congressional page in Washington, D.C. Up before dawn, to school at 6:15 a.m., and then sometimes working until 11:00 p.m. — Juliana got a taste of what working on the Hill is like! Read her Spotlight On interview and her suggestions about what it takes to get a great internship.
How old are you?
I am 17 years old.
Where do you live?
I live in the beautiful state of Hawai'i.*
What grade are you in?
In fall of 2006 I will enter Sacred Hearts Academy as a senior.
Tell us about your internship with the United States Congress in Washington, D.C. What was a typical day like for you?
A typical day began at 5 a.m. We would quickly put on our uniforms and make it downstairs for breakfast. School began at 6:15 a.m. and ended an hour and fifteen minutes before the Senate convened. Our tasks included setting up the desks with the calendar of business, the congressional record, and the current bill. Throughout the day we did various tasks, such as serve the Senators water, make copies, and run the bills or amendments, as well as any other errands that needed to be done. A day could end as early as 6 p.m. or as late as 11 p.m., depending on when the Senate adjourned.
What was your favorite thing about the internship?
Aside from making many new friends, I enjoyed working in the Capitol. It was so exciting to walk into the Capitol everyday and be able to enter the Senate chamber without any hassle. I really loved sitting on the rostrum, a platform in the Senate Chamber, and listening to the political debates, especially the ones on asbestos and gay marriage. I felt like I was a part of history in the making.
What was your least favorite thing?
I did not have a least favorite thing, but I did encounter two hardships: the time difference, because it was 6 hours ahead of Hawai'i, and the longing for local foods.
What advice would you give someone who is interested in being an intern in Congress or anywhere else?
I recently read an article in our local newspaper that mentioned a quote by Sir Winston Churchill. It read, "To each there comes in their lifetime a special moment when they are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing, unique to them and fitted to their talents. What a tragedy if that moment finds them unprepared or unqualified for that which could have been their finest hour." This advice is the best advice I can offer to any hopeful interns or anyone in general. To me, it means you should take the opportunity when it arises. If hardships should arrive, you must fight through them; a reward, even though you might not see it right away, is waiting for you.
For those who haven’t had the opportunity to be an intern yet, I would suggest getting involved in sports or clubs and getting good grades so that you may be eligible for these wonderful opportunities. It is never too early to start planning ahead!
Are you interested in any specific political issues? Did you work on a particular topic while you were an intern?
I did not specifically work on any topics, but my sponsoring Senator, Senator Daniel Akaka, offered his bill (the Akaka Bill) while I was in D.C. The Akaka Bill, which they have been trying to pass since 1999, was finally offered in early June. The bill sadly failed with a 49 to 51 vote. The bill included three main objectives. It would establish the Office of Native Hawaiian Relations in the Department of the Interior to serve as a liaison between Native Hawaiians and the United States. Secondly, it would establish the Native Hawaiian Interagency Coordinating Group to be composed of federal officials from agencies who oversee Native Hawaiian programs. The basic goal is to increase communication and organization between the Native Hawaiians and the federal government. Lastly, the bill would provide a process for reorganization of the Native Hawaiian governing entity. I felt that his bill was interesting because it was a major issue for the people of my island. I was amazed to hear such strong opposition from many natives. They did not want to be considered a "separate entity."
Another issue that I was interested in was the gay marriage amendment, mainly because they were debating whether or not to put it into the Constitution. Many of the other Congressional Pages felt that gay marriage is okay, but it should not become part of the Constitution, while others were just completely against same sex marriages.
What is it like living in Hawai'i? How does it compare to Washington, D.C.?
Living in Hawai'i is wonderful. I love the tropical year-round weather, the delicious local foods, and the friendly people. Life in the islands is pretty laid-back and relaxing. Honestly, I do not think that you can compare a place like our nation’s capital to Hawai'i . Each place has its own positive traits that make it a great place to live. Washington is wonderful because of the many historical monuments and fast-paced work life. I liked it, but I guess it really depends on your personality.
What do you do to stay healthy?
I stay healthy by running and lifting weights throughout the week, as well as eating healthy foods. My biggest health accomplishment was when I completely gave up soda for good. While I was in D.C., we stayed healthy by running from our dorm to the Washington Monument (about 5 miles), or simply by going to the gym.
You were part of the girlshealth.gov Sounding Board. What kinds of things have you done to help us with our program?
Aside from attending the annual meetings in D.C. and the monthly conference calls, I have contributed by voicing my opinion on aspects of the program and the web site, and by informing women and girls in my community about health. I have done this with the help of the program’s calendars, posters, and stickers, as well as by word of mouth. I have also participated in local forums and conferences where I expressed my views on health issues from things I learned at the D.C. health summits.
What other activities are you involved with?
I am also involved in school clubs including Club Med and the National Honor Society, both of which focus mainly on community service. I’m also involved in both the marching and concert bands. Outside of school I do a lot of community service at my community hospital. I also participate in parades and craft fairs. I play tennis for the Junior Team Tennis Association and bowl for school.
What is it like to go to an all-girls private school?
Honestly, it’s not as bad as it may seem. At first, I was hesitant to attend an all-girls school, after 13 years at a private Catholic co-ed school. I changed my mind once I noticed everything this school had to offer. I enjoy attending an all-girls school. My success is their primary goal!
What do you want to study in college?
Currently, I am interested in becoming a nurse, simply because nurses are in high demand and I want a job that truly helps people. But, it’s not set in stone—I’m looking forward to everything in my future.
*Hawai'i is the native spelling of the word Hawaii.
Content last reviewed September 01, 2006
Page last updated September 01, 2006