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Rangel ’23 Finds Love of Public Affairs Reporting Through C-SPAN Internship

Carol Rangel outside of the C-SPAN building
Carol Rangel ’23 interned with C-SPAN while part of Emerson’s D.C. program. (Photo courtesy C-SPAN)

As a driven first-year student, Carol Rangel ‘23 walked into the Emerson College Academic Advising Center with a list of things she wanted to accomplish during her undergraduate career.

“In my mind, I needed a ladder to get to where I wanted to be my senior year, which was in Washington D.C. with my dream internship,” Rangel said. Emerson helped her at each step of the ladder, she said.

Through a partnership with Emerson’s Washington Center, Rangel interned with C-SPAN during the Fall semester. Rangel worked closely with C-SPAN’s Supreme Court producer in the programming/editorial department, and helped the team prepare by watching and taking notes on public affairs events in order to gather topics that would make points of interest for the news.

Rangel was one of about 15 Emersonians who participated in the college’s D.C. program last semester. The program allows students of any major to gain experience working in government; nonprofit, environmental, media, and communication organizations; arts, humanities and educational institutions; social advocacy groups, businesses, economics and trade firms; and law and criminal justice agencies. Past students have interned with National Geographic, the White House, the Library of Congress, the Peace Corps, ABC News, CNN, and more.

Carol Rangel in C-SPAN's control room
Carol Rangel ’23 worked behind the scenes of the control room for C-SPAN’s coverage and found Election Night thrilling. (Photo courtesy C-SPAN)

D.C. students juggle a full-time internship along with two classes — an asynchronous Emerson class, and a Washington Center class of the student’s choosing that meets once a week. Rangel said the program’s priority is for students to focus on their internships and get a 9-to-5 job experience.

“[The fall] semester was my test run to see if this is really what I want to do and if I want to live in D.C.,” Rangel said.

Rangel was also involved with archival research for special programming that goes into C-SPAN’s Washington Journal show. The internship allowed her to explore different departments outside of the Supreme Court, such as covering Senate hearings, something Rangel, who’s from Brazil, never thought she would get to do as an international student.

Apart from going into the field, Rangel’s favorite part of the internship was helping with election night coverage, when she worked in the office until 2:30 a.m. Rangel says she loved the “thrilling chaos” of having to keep track of everything going on while four screens played different things and two audio sources played in her ear. 

Carol Rangel holds her media pass outside of the U.S. Supreme Court
Carol Rangel ’23 covered the Supreme Court for C-SPAN during her fall semester internship. (Photo courtesy of C-SPAN)

“It was amazing to participate in something that big and feel like you are contributing to informing the public,” Rangel said.

Rangel first heard of the opportunity with C-SPAN in Spring 2021. Rangel was in D.C. with Emerson’s student-run broadcast news organization, WEBN, covering the National Cherry Blossom Festival. WEBN’s advisor and Journalist-in-Residence Angela Anderson-Connolly put together an alumni dinner where Rangel met Nate Hurst ‘07, a producer at C-SPAN. Hearst emailed Anderson-Connolly over the summer looking for an intern, and she encouraged Rangel to apply.

“When I first decided I wanted to become a public affairs reporter, my dream was to cover the Supreme Court,” Rangel said.

When Rangel interviewed for the position, she didn’t even mention that she wanted to cover the Supreme Court — she didn’t even think that was a possibility. So she was shocked when she was placed in the Supreme Court department. 

Not every step toward interning in D.C. was easy for Rangel. During her sophomore year, Rangel found herself struggling to secure her first internship, but Rangel received one piece of advice from Journalism Department Chair Janet Kolodsky that has stuck with her since: “Start with local media.”

Rangel ended up interning for a small newspaper, the Miles City Star,  in Miles City, Montana, during the summer of 2021. She’s also been involved with WEBN and the Emerson Channel documentary series Beneath the Surface , which helped land Rangel and internship with Frontline PBS and eventually toward her internship with C-SPAN.

“Being involved with those organizations and having real-life experiences on campus has prepared me for the real-world stuff,” Rangel said.

Rangel feels attending Emerson has been integral to her growth.

“The fact that it’s a small school and I’m able to have deeper relationships with my professors and have more one-on-one time has been essential for me,” Rangel said.

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