An Evergreen Student’s Journey to National Politics

January 2, 2018
Matt Ramirez

After years of hard work, finishing college, and completing two internships, Matthew Ramirez ’16 is now working alongside politicians in Washington D.C.  After working for noted legislators such as Washington Senator Patty Murray and California Congressman Ted Lieu, he now works for Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, leader of the Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing San Francisco. As Pelosi’s legislative correspondent, Ramirez helps handle topics such as immigration, oversight and government reform, and judiciary issues.

Here, he’s revealed the key to success and how Evergreen helped him unlock that door.

What made you decide on Evergreen?

Evergreen had great reviews, I had friends who were going, and I received financial assistance—Evergreen gave me a pretty sizeable scholarship.

What was your experience at Evergreen like?

Looking back on the first year, I had some questions that I think are shared by a lot of freshmen.  I was like, ‘Do I need to be in college? Where should I be going? Am I going to a good school? Am I going to the right school? What should I be studying? What should I be doing?’

All of these questions really started coming to the surface, right where the rubber meets the road.

Was there a particular program or faculty member who was influential at Evergreen?

Yes. What really helped me and guided me was entering a program, “Writing Nature, Writing Race,” taught by Chico Herbison. Chico was just this incredible professor, and has been a mentor throughout my entire career at Evergreen and onward. He always had his door open and was always willing to talk. And, with the help of Chico and Jean Eberhardt in the academic advising office, they gave me the tools to guide me toward the path that I wanted to be on.

How did you attain your policy internship at Evergreen?

I applied to the office of [Evergreen grad] Denny Heck '74, they said no. But they forwarded my resume to Ted Lieu’s office in California. From there, things just continued.

What duties does your current job include?

My main role is to organize the correspondence coming in through constituents. ‘What are they talking about, how many people are talking about it, what are the key phrases, what are the key issues?’ And, then I report it to my boss. I also go to policy advisors to make sure we all have the same language, we all are talking about the same thing and we are unified in our language and our response, to ensure a timely response to those constituents.

How do you assist Congresswoman Pelosi in handling the legislative issues around immigration, oversight and government reform, the post office, science, small business, and judiciary?

My job also includes policy portfolios so I take meetings, I meet with law enforcement because I handle judiciary issues for California, I’ll meet with gun violence prevention advocates. I assist several senior staff members on their legislative priorities, informing them on what is happening at the state level, what is happening at the federal level and sort of fill in the gaps for them and assist them in any way possible.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

I remember when Republicans tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The legislation made it through the House, but it didn’t make it through the Senate. I just remember being overjoyed and standing alongside people who had dedicated their entire lives to writing the Affordable Care Act.

What is your advice to current Evergreen students interested in working in public policy and/or politics?

My advice to them is don’t be afraid of failure. At first, every internship I applied to, I didn’t get. Be flexible. Evergreen is incredibly flexible! If you have a plan, if you have a vision, you can work with your professors to craft that. Find a mentor who’s a professor who can help you find your path. I think in terms of applying to an internship or applying to a job, if you get the interview, chances are you’re qualified, so I say tell a story. Evergreen students are really good at telling their stories.