NEWBURGH – Mount Saint Mary College student Giselle Martinez of Newburgh, N.Y. had an outstanding semester in Albany as the session assistant for Senator Jessica Ramos (D), Senate District 13.
Martinez, a HEOP student, was a session assistant with the New York State Senate Undergraduate Session Assistants Program. The semester-long internship offers talented students an immersive experience in the legislative process. It provides participants with an appreciation for a variety of government processes, including legislation development, legislative sessions, and interacting with constituents.
“My experience in Albany was beyond phenomenal,” Martinez explained. “I met several senators who inspired me to serve our state and I gained knowledge on how our government works.”
Her responsibilities included devising and implementing a system to keep track of all incoming scheduling requests from constituents; taking meetings with constituents and organizations on behalf of Senator Ramos in order to learn more about their issues and interests; assisting in gaining co-sponsors for Senator Ramos’ bills; and more.
Martinez also participated in the Model Legislative Session event, where she and other interns were given the opportunity to draft their own bill and debate it on the floor through the same proceedings as the Senate. Her mock bill regarding immigration reform in New York passed the mock session with 20 votes for and five against.
Kelvin Herrera-Hassan, Mount HEOP director and one of Martinez’s mentors on campus, said that the internship “has only added to her long list of accomplishments as a rising HEOP senior.” He added that as a member of the college’s HEOP Leadership Council, Martinez “has set the tone and standard for what it means to be an HEOP student at the Mount. By actively being involved, she has not only enhanced her college experience, but has set herself up to be truly marketable for future job prospects.”
Those job prospects are already paying off: “This experience has opened up countless doors and even led me to my current job, where I work for Assemblymember Jonathan Jacobson (D-Newburgh),” Martinez explained. “I gained networking skills and became more familiar with state politics. I plan on attending law school in Albany after graduating from the Mount and hope to return to the Capitol to continue working for the government.”
From aiding with her résumé to providing ongoing assistance with the application process, Martinez credits Career Counselor Heather Fitzsommons and the entire Career Center at the Mount with helping her land the prestigious internship.
“Heather was with me every step of the way, guiding and encouraging me to apply,” Martinez explained. “She met with me every week for months until the application deadline, helping me polish and review my writing.”
In addition, Martienz thanked Jeffrey Kahana, associate professor of History at the Mount and her advisor for the internship, and her HEOP mentors like Herrera-Hassan, for being “a great support system.”
Martinez is proud to be part of the legacy of Mount student involvement in the Senate Undergraduate Session Assistants Program, which includes Xiomara Loarte ’14 in 2013 and Nirmala Singh ’17 in 2016.