At the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF), we believe strongly in supporting future generations of the Italian American community. This is why we created the NIAF Congressional Fellowship; with it, we place outstanding Italian American college students, graduate students and recent graduates in the offices of members of the Italian American Congressional Delegation (IACD) on Capitol Hill to encourage and support the next generation of Italian American leadership.
Below, you’ll find the experience of John Mucciolo, one of our NIAF Congressional Fellows, and what he gained from his fellowship in American government.
“So, tell me again how you ended up here?”
It’s a fair question, and one that I was often called upon to answer during my semester as a fellow in the office of Congressman Steve Scalise. Whether it was guests stopping by the office on official business, constituents on a tour of the Capitol Building, or even staffers and other interns in the office, people seemed perplexed to learn that I worked for Rep. Scalise.
I, for one, never understood why people found it so shocking that a kid from New Jersey and studying in Baltimore would end up working in the Washington, D.C., office of a congressman from Louisiana. Seems like a natural fit to me!
Alright, so I understand why some people might have been initially confused when I told them where I came from. No, Mr. Scalise is not literally my representative in Congress, but our shared Italian American heritage makes us a part of a community that is as closely-knit as any congressional district.
Thanks to the NIAF Congressional Fellowship program, I was able to have a front row seat to the excitement of Capitol Hill, and I was lucky enough to do it while working for a fellow proud Italian American. From attending hearings, to serving constituents, to working in the Whip’s office, having the opportunity to work for Congressman Scalise gave me unique insight into the inner workings of our government that I won’t soon forget.
This experience was magnified by the fact that I was able to serve an Italian American member of Congress. As a young Italian American, it is always inspiring to see other members of the Italian American community succeed. This is especially true of Congressman Scalise, who has faced incredible adversity this year with nothing but great faith and optimism.
While I can’t say with certainty where my career path will lead me, I do know one thing for sure: wherever I do end up, everything that I have learned this semester in Congressman Scalise’s office will have played a huge part in getting me there, and I’ll be forever grateful for this opportunity.
NIAF is currently accepting applications for the 2018 NIAF Congressional Fellowship, taking place this fall. The deadline to apply has been extended to May 7, 2018. For more information, click here.