Commerce Student Seeks Career in Capitol


Photo Courtesy of Congressional Black Caucus Foundation

Williford in his official photograph with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation

Diana Vasquez, Staff Writer

Aaron Williford starts his mornings differently this spring than he did last fall. Instead of waking up in his dorm room at Texas A&M University-Commerce, he wakes up to the Washington DC skyline and catches his metro ride to work that day.

“At first, I was scared,” Williford said. “I had to research everything even just to get here.”

Williford is pursuing his dream of becoming a U.S. senator this semester by working with Congressman Bennie G. Thompson in the Department of Homeland Security. Williford found this opportunity by applying to be an intern at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. CBCF for short is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy, research and educational institute that aims to advance African American opportunities.

His application process included writing lengthy essays and submitting letters of recommendations. Recalling getting his letter of acceptance to the program, WIlliford said he was floored.

“It was an eye opener for me,” he said, “It gave me a chance to better myself and the name of my university.”

Williford looks to Congressman Thompson as the reason for believing he can accomplish his goals. Thompson represents the 2nd District of Mississippi, which has the highest percentage of African Americans in the Hill.

“He is a phenomenal man, and I do not just say that because I work for him, I say that because he is a walking unfinished history book,” WIlliford said.

Williford duties in the office vary day-to-day and include improving his writing skills.

“I’m learning about my history and doing things that are forcing me to develop my thought process,” he said.

Williford does a lot of research for subcommittees, program work, and a lot of reading and research. While he cannot get into specifics for security reasons, he did mention some of his studies involved Homeland Security.

Williford said, “Basically anything dealing with Homeland Security, I have heard or read about it.”

The most challenging part of his internship is the overwhelming opportunities for networking.

“You have to develop relationships and network the right way. The type of people I am meeting day-to-day is incredible,” Williford said.

While most other interns are seniors and some are recent graduates, Williford is just a sophomore.

“No matter what I have to put my best foot forward, no questions asked,” he said.

As far as his political views, Williford said he considers himself an open voter. This upcoming presidential election is the first one he has had the opportunity to vote in.

“I am still inexperienced, still new to this, and need to research all of my options,” Williford said.

After his internship ends he plans on expanding his knowledge and getting people to vote.

“Our voices matter. There is so much that I am learning here about our influence that I need to use my experiences and encourage people to vote,” he said.

His experience in DC has completely changed his mindset and priorities, and he plans on taking that back to Commerce. While DC can be a tough place to live in it is what you make of it, Williford believes everyone has to sacrifice to get to where they need to be.

“Everyone is smart here, which is why, in order to stay here, you have to grind, grind, grind,” Williford said. “The CBCF internship program encourages interns to realize that they are capable of doing anything they want to. I’m empowered now, there is a meaning.

“His best words of advice are the ones his parents have instilled in him, ‘it’s all what you want to put into it,’” Williford said.

Williford is a 19 year old native of DeSoto, TX pursuing his undergraduate degree in finance and accounting from A&M-Commerce, hoping to become a certified public accountant. He was accepted into the Regents’ Scholars Program and began his journey as a Lion in the fall of 2014.