Inside the Office of Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.): Melanie Abe

Title: Staff assistant

Age: 22

Hometown: Denver

Education: B.A. in political science and global and cultural studies from Whittier College in Whittier, Calif. 

Last job: Fellowship with the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and the Global Environment 

Philosophy on phone etiquette: Every person that calls is calling for a reason. You must be polite, courteous, patient and understanding because you never know who is on the other end. After all, you are the voice of your office. 

Most bizarre incoming call: It’s always strange when people are put through to our office by a third party, and they are not sure who we are or why they are calling us. We get a lot of diverse calls, but I try to treat everyone equally.

Professional role model: My father

Most embarrassing moment on Capitol Hill: Hurrying to get last-minute signatures, with a fast-approaching deadline, I ran down a hall in Rayburn and failed to notice that someone had spilled coffee. I wiped out, both my phones flew into the air and I landed on my knee. There were both witnesses and battle wounds.

Interests outside of work: Sightseeing, road trips, museum visits, hiking, Disneyland!, being with family/friends.

When it came to her career, Melanie Abe always knew she would take the road less traveled.

All of her family members are engineers, but Abe said that from a young age, she was certain that she wanted to work in government one day.

Abe grew up in Oahu, Hawaii, but her family ultimately settled in Denver, which she considers her hometown. Abe said that in their professional pursuits, her family “always did their own thing, but I was still persistent and clear” in her dreams of public service.

When she moved to California to attend college, Abe said, her aspirations didn’t falter. “Basically, I declared my major during the first semester of my freshman year,” she said.

Abe also interned for two summers at the Labor Department, experiences that only strengthened her desire to return to Washington.

With her spot in the Capitol now secured and her job well under way, Abe’s long-held ambitions have still barely changed.

“I am fully confident that this is what I want to do,” she said, adding that she loves the overall process of creating policy that affects the community.

“You can serve in the military, but being a public servant [is] one of the best ways for me, personally, to serve my country,” she said.

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