Students talking in front of posters

Elio Velazquez

Image of Elio Velazquez

Elio Velazquez

New York City, NY

Academic School

Liberal Arts, Management


New York

Elio Velazquez is a senior majoring in business administration with a concentration in international business while minoring in philosophy and global studies. Despite cutting down his on-campus involvement to focus on his senior capping class, Elio has maintained the majority of his club involvement since freshman year. One of these groups is Dance Ensemble, for which Elio currently choreographs Latin dance. Elio has been a part of the Zeta Phi fraternity since his freshman year and had the opportunity to serve as the Public Relations Chair. During his junior year at Marist, Elio served on the Diversity Board for ARCO (Appreciating Races and Creating Opportunities) while also serving on SGA (Student Government Association) as the Vice President of Civic Engagement. In addition to his involvement in clubs, Elio also works for Marist Security.

This past summer, Elio interned for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute as a legislative aide under Congressman Jose Serrano (D-NY 15th District).

What made you decide to come to Marist?
I came for a tour of the campus through the Higher Education Opportunity Program. I applied to 26 schools and I decided to come to Marist out of all these schools because I felt that not only is Marist a beautiful campus, which is very important to me, but they also had my major, international business, and were really big on studying abroad, so that’s why I decided to come to Marist.

Where did you study abroad?
I did the Asia Study Abroad Program (ASAP), and we went to 14 countries in Asia and I took business courses that were directly correlated with the countries we were in. It’s a backpack excursion across Asia where you spend about two to three weeks in each country. I was able to go to Mount Everest, I went to the Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal, I meditated with Buddhist monks in Thailand. It was incredible. We even stayed for two weeks in Australia.

Can you talk about your experience interning for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute? 
I feel it was really humbling, being able to be around some of the most powerful people in the entire nation, and getting the insider look at how things are actually handled. I didn’t only talk with my own congressman, but I had the opportunity to interact with other congressmen and congresswomen. It was really cool to be able to have that first-hand experience.

What did you work on during your internship?
So my responsibilities, what I did as an intern, were to attend congressional briefings and hearings where I took notes for the congressman and then I would type that up in a memo and then I provided it to his legislative aids who would then use that information to inform him on what’s going on or how to vote on a bill. 

What inspired your interest in public policy?
My inspiration derives from growing up in an impoverished context, and when I was invited to Washington D.C. [in the summer of 2016], I had won a scholarship from the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY). That organization is what brought me to Washington D.C. to speak at a Congressional Briefing. While I was there I sat on a panel, where I spoke to congressional staff and national stakeholders about my experience growing up in impoverished areas, and I was able to provide them recommendations on how to correct some of the issues. Then, the Secretary of Education, John King, wanted to meet with us, so I got to sit down in a meeting with him, and we got to provide him with recommendations on how he could adjust the education system to make it better for people living in those types of circumstances. That experience really motivated me to look into taking on these opportunities that would allow me to intern with my congressman and really have a voice for my community.

What was it liked to be interviewed by The Washington Post and to share your experience?
I was interviewed for The Washington Post after being invited to speak at a Congressional Briefing in Washington D.C. over the summer [2016]. I guess it was very eye-opening for me to realize that a publication like that would be interested in what I have to say and to recognize the level of input that I could have, and that my opinion mattered. 

Do you have advice for high schoolers considering Marist?
I think Marist has a lot of unique opportunities, and that’s what really sets it apart from other schools, and that’s what drew me in. Make sure that you talk to some of the students, and maybe reach out to some of the professors. I can sit here and tell you a whole list of reasons why to come to Marist!

Written by Nicole Benedetto '18