Intern tries to find meaning in work

As a 29-year-old father of one son, Cesar Henao represents a different demographic than his fellow interns in Rep. Tim Mahoney’s (D-Fla.) office. After seven successful years in the information technology business, Henao  returned to school to study politics.

“I felt like there were bigger things out in the world for me than making a computer screen look nice,” he says.

Henao, who lives in West Palm Beach, Fla., studied computer science at Palm Beach Community College for three years before dropping out to take a job with Lexus. After a few years of sitting behind a desk there, he “couldn’t bear it” any longer, he said, and enrolled at Palm Beach Atlantic University to complete his bachelor’s degree.

Henao has traveled to Washington this spring to participate in the American Studies Program, an off-campus study semester that coordinates students’ internships in the D.C. area.

Coming to D.C. means being away from his 10-year-old son Mauricio for the first time, which has not been easy for Henao. The six weeks Henao has spent in D.C. so far have “seemed like a year,” he says. Mauricio lives with his mother, Linda Gonzales, in West Palm Beach.