RALEIGH — David Roman leaped out of his seat with excitement last month when he heard he would be heading to Washington, D.C., for a summer internship on Capitol Hill.
But Roman, 19, who graduated from Wake Tech Community College with an associate’s degree this spring, also quickly realized he had a lot to figure out.
Roman wasn’t sure how he would afford to buy a wardrobe of suits, find a place to live or get around once he arrived in the city for his six-week internship with U.S. Rep. David Price.
But conversations with the administrators at Wake Tech quickly turned things around as the community there came together to send him on his way.
The Wake Tech Foundation donated spending money, an administrator helped him find a place to live with her relatives in the area, and faculty and staff donated ties and suits – each with a Wake Tech pin attached by Stephen Scott, the president of the college.
“It’s really something,” Roman said. “I could not be more thankful, but it makes me feel so shy.”
Roman was a senator in the Student Government Association, volunteered with the International Friends Club and was active in the Campus Crusade for Christ. He graduated with a 4.0 grade point average.
Dana Teague, director of campus service at the college’s Northern Wake campus, said Roman has a reputation as a dedicated student and volunteer – characteristics that carried over as he worked to make his internship a reality.
“He was willing to do anything he could to make sure he went,” she said. “He showed a lot of initiative.”
Roman hopes the internship is the next step on his path to a career in public service. He’s long known he wanted to be involved in government and politics but the opportunities seemed distant.
Now, he knows he has a shot.
“This internship makes me realize that is possible,” he said.
‘Everything just clicked’
After graduating from Wakefield High School in 2012, Roman headed to college at UNC-Charlotte expecting to put in four years of school there.
But after a semester of too much partying, he was back at home in Raleigh, figuring out what to do next.
Roman enrolled at Wake Tech and found his stride, joining clubs and devoting himself to academics. The harder he worked, the more things made sense.
The final pieces – of knowing that he could do the work and succeed – fell firmly into place in the waning days of this year.
“It was this change in mentality that happened this semester,” he said. “Everything just clicked.”
With his confidence firm, Roman was able to chat with Scott, the president, one day on campus, which led to his first meeting with Price, and, later, the chance to apply for the internship.
Andrew High, a spokesman for Price, said the congressman always looks forward to introducing students to public service through the internship program.
And in Roman’s case, he comes with a history similar to Price’s own. Price also began his academic career at a two-year school.
High said interns have a chance to learn how the whole office runs, everything from sorting mail and giving constituents tours of the Capitol to taking notes at hearings and writing memos.
Roman said he can’t wait to be in the midst of everything, learning as much as he can.
After this summer, he would like to get to work on his bachelor’s degree. He has dreams of Chapel Hill, UCLA or Cornell. While he may have to delay a year to make sure he has his financial bearings, Roman said he’s committed to continuing his journey.
“I just really want to make the most of my life,” he said.
Barr: 919-836-4952; Twitter: @barrmsarah