Mr. Castillo Goes to Washington

MCU Student Freddy Castillo in Washington DCFreddy Castillo wants to be President of the United States someday.

He’s got it all mapped out.

“I’ll start with City Council and then run for mayor of Los Angeles and use that office as a stepping stone to the Senate,” says the Marymount California University sophomore. “I just want to make change in the world. Some things are not right.

“I really want to focus on the environment. There is only one planet, and we need to take care of it. And issues like immigration and criminal justice reform need to be addressed as well.”

For now, the first stop on the road to Washington for this criminal justice major is an internship. Castillo landed a plum assignment at the Office of the Parliamentarian in the U.S. House of Representatives, which provides nonpartisan guidance on legislative rules and procedures.

“It’s a small office but very powerful,” he explained. “We call it the ‘wise old man’ for the Speaker.”

He secured the internship through The Washington Center (TWC) in a partnership with MCU, which coordinates experiential learning opportunities for students to explore career options and make valuable connections while living, working and earning college credit in Washington, DC.

“What made Freddy such a good candidate for this opportunity was his passion for politics, as well as his dedication to understanding the related systems so deeply,” said Professor of English Susan Garman, who introduced Castillo to the internship.

Castillo says the experience opened his eyes to other pathways into politics.

“I really thought I had to work with people like a Congressman or a City Council member to get my foot in the door. But political work doesn’t have to be with a well-known politician,” he said.

As part of his responsibilities, Castillo would faithfully read the Congressional Record, the official daily log of the debates and proceedings of Congress, and he wrote a research paper on the life of a Congressional bill, including how it is entered, motions made and committees’ actions.

“To some people, the legislating process might be boring, but to me it is very interesting,” Castillo said.  “This is how we are spending the people’s money and what funding states are receiving.”

Unfortunately, the pandemic robbed him of his final days experiencing the sights and sounds of Capitol Hill in person.

“In a non-COVID world, I would have been on the House floor or in the halls of Congress,” said Castillo who finished his internship through his computer in his nearby apartment.

Although a disappointing finale, it was still the experience of a lifetime, he says, and living in DC was a thrill for a Santa Clarita native who had never been to the East Coast.

More importantly, Castillo gained practical work experience and the promise of a future job in the Office of the Parliamentarian should he return, and he jumpstarted his personal growth.

“I truly believe the TWC experience instilled in Freddy a greater level of confidence and certainty in the pursuit of his career dreams. This once reserved student is more outgoing and ambitious, and ready to take on the world,” said Roshni Lal, director of career planning & employer relations. “Just hearing about how he knocked on doors of TWC’s residential facilities and waved from his balcony in efforts to make new friends was inspiring!”

He says the experience has solidified his career aspirations.

“I will be back in DC,” Castillo predicts, “maybe as a visitor, but I hope as an elected official.”