Miami-Dade Beacon Council Researcher Served as White House Intern
Stephannie Cetoute, Manager of Research & Strategic Planning for the Miami-Dade Beacon Council, served this past fall as a White House intern working for the National Economic Council. The Miami native worked on policy for a portfolio consisting of retirement and the debt restructuring of Puerto Rico among other financial issues. Below, Cetoute tells us about some highlights including her bonding with the Former First Lady.
Was the White House working environment what you had expected?
Yes, thanks to television programs like West Wing, the working environment at the White House was consistent with my expectations. There was a lot of fast-learning to do at the beginning and things moved at a rapid pace. The people were phenomenal to work with, extremely intelligent and passionate about the work being accomplished.
What did you learn?
One of the biggest lessons I came away with is the immense power in community organizing. As citizens, we have an important part to play. If there is a problem in our community, we have to ask ourselves what can we do as a community to be part of the solution. In that same respect, citizens also have the right to hold government accountable for governing and if there is a shared belief that government isn't doing a good job, then organizing within a community to speak out becomes a powerful tool.
If you had to choose one meaningful experience during the internship, which would it be?
It was such an interesting time to be in the White House that it's hard to choose a single experience. However, one of my happiest memories is meeting First Lady Michelle Obama. Our intern class had the chance to ask Mrs. Obama some serious and pressing questions and some not so serious and pressing questions; all of which she answered with wisdom and wit. After the Q&A, I approached her and told her she was phenomenal and inspiring. She then hugged me- it's a moment I'll cherish.
Would you recommend the internship to others?
I would highly recommend an internship at the White House to others. This experience has enhanced my view of public service. I would also recommend that applicants reapply if not selected the first time around.