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Department ofPolitical Science


2019 Panetta Congressional Intern Ciara Moezidis '21

Learn more about Ciara's experience as an intern with Ro Khanna (CA-17) on Capitol Hill!

Each year, one Santa Clara student is selected for the Panetta Institute’s Congressional Internship Program. Political science and communication double major Ciara Moezidis ’21 recently returned from Washington, D.C., as a member of the 2019 cohort. We recently caught up with Ciara to learn more about her experience.

What was it like being a Congressional Intern?

The first part of the internship consisted of a two-week orientation in Monterey, CA, along with 25 other students from throughout California. We attended 20 briefings hosted by local, state and federal officials, including former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta who lectured on the challenges our nation is facing due to a lack of bipartisanship.

In August, I left for Washington, D.C., to complete a three-month internship in Congressman Ro Khanna’s office. I worked forty hours per week experiencing what most Americans were only reading in the news. Impeachment took up much of the news cycle, but on the Hill, there was so much more being done. I worked closely with the Congressman’s press secretary and tweeted about relevant issues on his behalf. I was tasked with increasing newsletter subscribers by ten percent and logging constituent concerns. I worked with the Congressman’s legislative director on the threat of war with Iran and U.S. involvement in Yemen. This was a significant experience for me due to my personal interest in Middle Eastern politics.

What were some of your most memorable moments? 

I shared an elevator with Rep. John Lewis; met all four members of “The Squad” (Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.; Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.; Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass.; and Rashida Tlaib, D-Michigan); and sat in the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Climate Change with Time magazine's 2019 Person of the Year, Greta Thunberg.

How did the program change your perspective or help influence your post-graduation plans?

My colleagues were incredibly supportive and really made me feel, even as an intern, like I am capable of doing more than sorting mail and answering phone calls. I developed a better understanding of the legislative process and why change cannot happen overnight. I also realized that amidst all of the divisiveness reported on by the media, Members of Congress were not at war in the tunnels to the Capitol. They are all human beings with the unique opportunity to serve their constituents’ interests for better or for worse.

The Panetta Congressional Internship provided me with a snippet of what life in D.C. could look like and truly opened my eyes to a world of politics that I did not know before. It also helped me to discern that I want to return to D.C. after graduation and pursue a career in international affairs.

Learn more about The Panetta Institute’s Congressional Internship Program.


Ciara Moezidis pictured with the 2019 cohort and former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.