Junior in College One of 23 Selected for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Undergraduate Fellows Program
Miles Aceves-Lewis (C’22) was one of 23 undergraduates selected nationwide to participate in the Fall 2020 Congressional Hispanic Caucus Undergraduate Fellows Program. The government major is excited to apply his experiences in social justice from Georgetown to this program in order to make positive change in national policy.
“It is important now more than ever to work in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus,” he says. “The COVID-19 pandemic has deeply impacted the Hispanic community, who are some of the most vulnerable in any crisis due to inequities in society. I am looking forward to working to pass legislation that will change how our society is structured for the better.”
Pursuing a Passion
Originally from Houston, Texas, Aceves-Lewis earned a McDonald’s HACER scholarship to Georgetown College. During the scholarship application process, he interviewed Dr. Juan Andrade Jr., president of the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute (USHLI). The two stayed in frequent contact throughout Aceves-Lewis’s time at the university, where he quickly became involved with the Black and Hispanic communities.
In February, Andrade mentioned the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Undergraduate Fellows Program to Aceves-Lewis and encouraged him to apply, saying that he thought it would be a great way to make an impact on the Hispanic community.
“This program seemed like such a huge, tangible way for me to give back and contribute and it combined my passion for racial justice with community service,” Miles says.
After a long application process, Aceves-Lewis was notified in June that he was selected from hundreds of applicants to participate in the Fall 2020 cohort. He, along with 22 other students, would be trained by the Hispanic caucus and then assigned to work alongside a congressperson.
Dr. Bernard Cook, friend and collaborator with Aceves-Lewis, says that this selection came as no surprise.
“What stands out about Miles is his curiosity and commitment,” says Cook. “Upon entering Georgetown College, Miles became deeply interested in questions of restorative justice around the legacies of Jesuit Slaveholding. Miles is a great collaborator and I am sure the Congressional Hispanic Caucus recognized these qualities of inquiry and action when they awarded Miles an Undergraduate Fellowship in Fall 2020.”
At the conclusion of his orientation in August, Aceves-Lewis was told that he would be working remotely in the office of Los Angeles representative Nanette Barragán.
“I am excited to work with Congresswoman Barragán as she is very socially-minded and has a heart for the oppressed,” he says. “I am very much looking forward to what I will learn from this opportunity but I am also looking forward to contributing my own experiences.”
Though the program is only 12 weeks, Aceves-Lewis says that he sees his work continuing beyond just this experience and hopes that he can help more than just the Hispanic community.
Finding Your Path
Aceves-Lewis is biracial and says that he feels strong ties to both aspects of his identity and a strong desire to uplift both Black and Hispanic groups.
Soon after arriving at Georgetown, Aceves-Lewis found out about the university’s GU272 project surrounding reparations. Not only has Aceves-Lewis become involved with that movement on campus, and he has written a book about his experiences with the reparations movement on and off the hilltop.
“When I took International Ethics with Professor Marilyn McMorrow, I learned that there are so many issues everywhere that it can be exhausting just learning about them. But I also learned that it is hardly our duty to fix everything, we just need to choose our path,” Aceves-Lewis says. “There are so many things that are plaguing both African American and Hispanic communities, so it is important to deal with things in the present and to choose specific issues to dive into deeply.
“For me, it’s mitigating the effects of this pandemic on individuals of color, and figuring out what racial reconciliation looks like,” he concludes.
Aceves-Lewis believes that one area where he can make a real impact through the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Undergraduate Fellows Program is by writing legislation, which he hopes to see through even after the 12 weeks has ended.
“Several of the other students in the program are interested in immigration policy and pandemic relief, so I hope to collaborate with them to write a piece at this intersection,” he says. “But I do not just want to help draft this legislation, I want to keep working in Congresswoman Barragán’s office to make sure it is passed.”
A Public Service Career
Though he is taking a semester off to participate in the program, Aceves-Lewis says that he still plans to graduate on time, after which he would like to become involved in youth programs before potentially pursuing a degree in law. Though he has varied interests, the common thread between them is his passion for helping others.
“All I know is that I want to contribute to my community and I want to serve people,” he says. “I have been given so much and I want to give back.”
-by Shelby Roller (G’19)