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Name: Ray Mateo

Hometown: Washington Heights, NY

CHCI Program(s)/Year: Internship 2003

CHCI Program Placement(s): Office of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton

Current Position/Organization: Deputy Attorney General in the Office of the Attorney General of NJ

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

My motivation to apply for the Summer Internship Program was grounded in making a difference—that change had to come from within the inner workings of capitol hill. I wanted to learn about the political process and broaden my understanding in how decisions are made on the hill. That curiosity led to a Google search for summer internship in DC for Latinos which directed me to CHCI — a unique program, that allowed an adolescent from an impoverish inner city neighborhood in NY city to work for one of the most influential individual in the 20th/21st century.

This program is VITAL. CHCI is the ONLY program that allows the latino youth access to the hallways of Capitol Hill. An opportunity to see the inner workings of our legislative system. With the increasing population of Latinos and the growth in political participation — this is not only a Latino youth issue but a representation of our nations diversity.

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

Since my internship, I graduated Binghamton University and worked in finance for two years. It was during these two years that I realized that becoming a lawyer was not just a career but a calling. I attended and graduated Rutgers Law – Newark and was fortunate to get a judicial clerkship with the Hon. Ronald D. Wigler, J.S.C. in the criminal division. I continue to hone and develop my legal research and writing skills as well as had the opportunity to observe the best trial attorneys in our nation.

I would also like to become a certified trial attorney and be considered as one of the best trial attorneys in my state.

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

CHCI gave me the opportunity to work on issues that directly impacted my community such as education and immigration policy. This experience, along with working alongside the brightest my Latino minds in the country, is what makes this program undeniably one of the best internships in the country. To put it simply, CHCI streghthened my commitment to public service and allowed me make a significant contribution to my community through my service a state prosecutor and as an advocate of social justice.

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

One of the greatest gifts in life is the gift of a mentor. I know I would have not gotten where I am today and where I want to be if not for the time, effort and sacrifice that mentors have made for me. With that said, it is my duty to pay it forward and mentor others through the process whether formal/informal. As the president of the CHCI – Alumni Association – NY region, I spend my time promoting the mission of CHCI and creating a network that promotes professional growth. During my time in law school, I was elected president of the Latino Law Student Association where I raised funds to provide scholarships for students in need. I also participated in weekly programs aiding High Schools students navigate through the college application process.

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

I see myself in a supervisory capacity, improving our criminal justice system and promoting social justice through public interest advocacy. I would also like to like to become a certified trial attorney and be consider as one of the best trial attorneys in my state.

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

First, work hard and take advantage of the opportunity. You’re working in the most influential place on earth…Seek extra assignments, act and expect to be treated as a full-time staff. Second, be eager, ambitious and passionate because your internship/fellowship is what you make of it. Lastly, spend time with your cohort, you’re blessed to be surrounded by the future Latino leaders in our nation. I still keep in touch with most of my colleagues who are now across the nation advancing their personal careers.