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East Central University double-major Diego Cifuentes is embarking on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity this spring.

The native of Miami, Florida and resident of Pauls Valley, Oklahoma, is going to do an internship for U.S. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida, representing the 27th District which encompasses most of Miami and Coral Gables) in Washington D.C., while earning 15 hours of college credit to kick off 2018.

“This is a huge opportunity. I’m humbled and honored to have this, being a first generation college student,” said Cifuentes. “My motivation for this is to make a difference and inspire all.”

Cifuentes got to meet Ros-Lehtinen, who is the first Latina to be elected to Congress and is set to retire late in 2018 after 35 years in elected office, through their mutual philosophy of standing for Israel.

“We met at the annual CUFI (Christians United for Israel) Convention in July,” Cifuentes said. “The entire office strongly encouraged me to apply for one of their internships.”

Cifuentes, who majors in elementary education and mass communication, certainly had the credentials not only through his academics, extracurricular activities and social engagement, but serving as an intern while at Pauls Valley High School, where he graduated in 2015. He has served as both a freshman and sophomore senator for ECU’s Student Government Association and is now representing ECU and serving in the House of Representatives for the Oklahoma Intercollegiate Legislature.

While in high school, he served as a page for then State Senator Susan Paddack, who is now director of ECU’s Oka’ Institute.

In 1989, Ros-Lehtinen became the first Hispanic woman and first Cuban American elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. She has served as chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

“For such a time as this, I am humbled and excited to take on this new adventure,” said Cifuentes, who was born and raised in Miami, Florida. “To know that Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush were once interns for Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen, I am thrilled to see what the future holds for me. I hope to make a positive impact during my time there.”

Cifuentes said his parents actually met Ros-Lehtinen one time during one of her campaign stops in Miami.

“This is an honor for me. I am excited to have worked and to work with both Oklahoma and Florida politics,” Cifuentes said. “I plan on having an online blog so everyone can keep up with my adventures.” said Cifuentes.

He has received support for his endeavors from his family, friends and church in both the Ada and Pauls Valley communities, along with the ECU community. He is involved in the children’s ministry and college ministry of H20 Church in Ada.

His online blog can be found at .


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