Cynthia Montes was one semester away from graduation, but the Cal State Fullerton senior potentially postponed her graduation and left everything behind to become a member of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.
Montes is a 21-year-old student double majoring in political science and communications, with a concentration in journalism. She is a member of the Latino Communications Initiative (LCI), and through the organization’s Facebook page, she first saw a post about an internship to follow Sanders’ campaign.
She is also a first-generation student, born and raised in La Habra with her three siblings.
Montes is involved in several clubs and organizations on campus, including Al Dia, CSUF’s first Spanish newscast, and Phi Sigma Alpha, a political science honor society.
Montes does not receive financial aid and had to begin working to pay for her education. Since 2013, she has been working for Sephora, a cosmetic company. Montes also worked at the government and community relations office on campus. At the beginning of this semester, she began work as a student assistant for Inez Gonzalez, director of LCI.
She asked faculty members like Meriem Hodge, Ph.D., assistant professor of political science, to help her review her internship application. After Montes sent the director of the internship program her application, Gonzalez called her point of contact and found that there were no longer any positions available.
“She had applied the last day of the deadline and I said ‘Well, lesson learned. You really need to submit your application as soon as you can,’” Gonzalez said.
Three days later, the director of the internship program called Montes to schedule a group interview over the phone.
Gonzalez said it is incredible that Montes was offered the position the same day of her interview. Excited and nervous, Montes did not hesitate to make a decision. “It wasn’t hard, because this is like my dream job,” she said.
Gonzalez recalled that although Montes had to drop classes and potentially postpone her graduation, she had already thought it through.
Michelle Ellis Vioreto, 21, Montes’ friend and fellow CSUF student, said Montes is “highly motivated and driven. She always had a goal in mind and she’d always done everything with a purpose.”
Montes is tasked with reaching out for the Latino vote for Sanders’ campaign.
“She always had this vision of helping people based on women’s issues in the Latino community,” Vioreto said.
Montes said that she is excited to be a part of the campaign. “For me, it is a public service and I know I am doing this for something bigger than me, for the entire country.”
Montes’ friends and professors at CSUF expressed pride in her accomplishments.
“The LCs are very happy, everyone is very happy and very proud of her,” Gonzalez said. “How scary is that, right? To say yes, pack your bags and go to the East Coast.”
However, Gonzalez told Montes to not stray from her academics for too long. “She has to promise me that she is going to come back and graduate. It would be very heavy on my heart if she didn’t graduate, but she is very focused,” Gonzalez said.
Montes will be traveling around the country until June. Her work with Sanders’ campaign has taken her to Vermont, Burlington and Las Vegas thus far.
Montes hopes to graduate this May, then finish up her coursework during the summer, but it all depends on how the campaign will turn out, she said.