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Name: Lorraine Carrasco

Hometown: Mayaguez, Puerto Rico

CHCI Program(s)/Year: Public Policy Fellowship 2011-2012

CHCI Program Placement(s): Hon. Silvestre Reyes

Current Position/Organization: Director, External Affairs / The Nielsen Co.

1. Many CHCI alumni and current program participants have battled and continue to battle common challenges as they strive to become Latino leaders in their communities: living and working in low-income communities, some in single-parent households, as recent immigrants, DREAMERS, or first-generation American citizens. What challenges did you have to face to get to where you are today?

It was particularly challenging coming from a small city in the west of Puerto Rico. Moving to the mainland right after graduating college was exciting and scary at the same time. The hardest aspect of coming to D.C. was leaving my family and friends, however, their love and unconditional support was the main reason I’ve never looked back.

2. What motivated you to apply to the CHCI program(s), and why do you think they are important for Latino youth?

Prior to being selected as a PPF, I had participated in other leadership programs through different organizations. I always knew I wanted to return to Washington, D.C. after completing my bachelor’s degree. My goal and desire to pursue a career in politics in the federal government was what motivated me the most to submit an application. The opportunities and access CHCI provides its program participants are crucial for career and leadership development.

3. What have you been doing since you finished the CHCI program(s)?

After completing my program, I continued to work on Capitol Hill as press secretary. I eventually moved to CHCI to continue working in communications and further develop my fundraising and strategic planning experience. Last fall, I became a graduate student at American University, and at the beginning of this year, I transitioned into the private sector as the new director of external affairs for Nielsen.

4. What impact did your CHCI experience have on your career and development as a leader?

One of the main aspects of being a CHCI participant, and now alum, is the exposure and access you get to the amazing network of leaders and talented individuals. In my experience as a fellow, my sponsor played a crucial role in my development as a young professional. Up to this day, he continues to be my mentor. Needless to say, some of the people that you meet through CHCI can provide you with invaluable opportunities.

5. How do you continue to give back to the community?

I continue to stay active with the CHCI Alumni Association; it is important not only to spread the word about CHCI programs, but also serve as a mentor to the upcoming classes. I also continue my love for service by volunteering with Doorways for Women and Families, a non-profit organization that provides assistance to the victims of domestic abuse and the homeless.

6. Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years, and what do you still want to achieve?

In the near future, I picture myself working as a policy analyst in the federal government after completing my master’s in Public Administration and Policy. My long term goal is to become a hospital administrator, especially in the area of children with disabilities. I expect to apply my expertise and knowledge in public policy to become an advocate and explore ways to better allocate government resources to better provide for their needs.

7. What advice would you give current and future CHCI participants?

Make sure you immerse yourself with the CHCI network. Some of the people you meet through CHCI’s events will be your mentors down the road and help you with your professional development.