With so many universities in Indiana, it’s rare for an internship program to pick applicants from just one. This spring, when Mayor Joe Hogsett’s office revealed its list of chosen interns, all 10 were IUPUI students.
Senior Cynthia Morraz and junior Tarena Lofton are two of those interns. Both work in the mayor’s office’s department of communications, where they are excited to assist the mayor in his initiatives. Morraz and Lofton see a bright future for Indianapolis under the Hogsett administration and are equally optimistic about IUPUI’s growing role in local government.
Morraz is double majoring in journalism and international and global studies. She’s minoring in Spanish with a certificate in Latino studies. In addition to her internship, Morraz is also involved in student organizations, the multicultural center, and student government
Lofton is studying journalism with a concentration in public relations and a minor in political science. She’s involved with on-campus political groups and multiple national honors societies. She and Morraz have been interning since January.
Morraz and Lofton have varied responsibilities. Lofton works mostly with the mayor’s social media presence and with SustainIndy, a program that helps protect Indianapolis’ environment. Morraz also works with social media, but has specifically made use of her fluency in Spanish by translating the mayor’s press release introducing the city’s new director of international and Latino affairs.
“There was a press release that went out,” Morraz said. “They also wanted one in Spanish, so I took charge of that ... I was able to combine my Spanish skills and my journalism skills into one, and it worked out pretty great.”
Morraz is especially excited to be part of reaching out to the Latino community in Indianapolis.
“[I want] to make sure we have a strong foundation within the international and Latino community in Indiana,” Morraz said.
They’re both passionate about fostering education in the city, like with the city’s Enroll Indy program. Enroll Indy gives parents information about the various public and charter schools to choose them and offers a streamlined enrollment process.
“I don’t think the place that you live should determine the kind of education you get,” Lofton said. “I grew up in Fishers that has one of the top education systems in the country. I think everyone should have the same opportunities that I did.”
Morraz and Lofton have confidence the mayor’s commitment to criminal justice reform. Morraz stressed the importance of encouraging officers to create bonds with the communities they patrol.
“It’s [about] building those relationships with the communities and making sure we don’t see these officers as strangers … but that we actually have a relationship with them.”
Lofton mirrored her comments, advocating the mayor’s position of rehabilitation over vindictive punishment.
“He’s not only interested in putting people into jail, he wants to actually help them so they can turn around their lives,” Lofton said.
Morraz and Lofton are very positive about the future of Indianapolis. Lofton commented on the city’s growing profile after hosting the Super Bowl in 2012. Morraz revealed her hopes of establishing her career in Indianapolis after graduating.
“There’s so much potential in Indianapolis and it’s becoming a hub for everything. I would like to be part of the change… if Jags end up in government offices anything is possible,” Morraz said.
Morraz and Lofton highlighted diversity as a key step to achieving that bright potential. They’re specifically adamant about seeing more women and minorities in public office.
“If you don’t have a person that looks like you in office then you just get the feeling that they don’t care about you. I think that’s a start to have a great foundation and a bridge between the people and the local government,” Morraz said.
They see IUPUI as an important part of that bridge between being in the community and serving the community. Morraz and Lofton both highlighted the university’s closeness to downtown as a big part of its success.
“You’re in Indianapolis. If you want to be a doctor, you’re right around a bunch of hospitals. If you want to work in politics, you can walk to the capitol building.” Lofton said.
“It’s a big part of what’s to come for the future of Jaguars.” Morraz added.
Morraz and Lofton are strong advocates for being involved in local government.
“Change starts with local governments” she said. “It’s kind of like building up the ladder. Whereas in the national level you don’t see change as much. In local government you can see it because it starts at your home,” Morraz said.
Lofton concurred, arguing that being informed is critical to every resident’s well-being.
“Local government is everywhere. It impacts you whether you favor it or don’t or whether you’re interested or not,” she said.
Any Jaguars who want to be more informed about their local community can visit the mayor’s website, Facebook page, and Twitter.