Trinbagonian interns at White House

Kelene Chung is seventh from left in front row with fellow White House interns and President Barack Obama.
Photo courtesy of the White House.

Although Kelene Chung interned at the White House for almost two months, when President Barack Obama stood in front of her to congratulate her at the end of her summer internship, she was shocked, awed and plain overwhelmed by the occasion.

Twenty-year-old Chung is a sophomore at Middlebury College in Vermont. There her major is political science.

Born in Arima, Trinidad & Tobago, the Harlem resident has aspiration of contributing at the highest level of political service and earlier this summer earned a coveted opportunity to intern at the White House.

With support from her parents Lennox Chung and Louise Noel – who is married to reporter Peter Noel – the 20-year-old immigrant successfully earned one of the coveted internships for the summer 2013 program.

The mission of the White House Internship Program “is to make the White House accessible to future leaders around the nation and to prepare those devoted to public service for future leadership opportunities.”

It is understood that “a White House Internship provides a unique opportunity to gain valuable professional experience and build leadership skills.”

Interns are placed to work in one of several White House departments, including the Domestic Policy Council, the National Economic Council, the Office of Cabinet Affairs, the Office of Chief of Staff, the Office of Communications, the Office of Digital Strategy, the Office of the First Lady, the Office of Legislative Affairs, the Office of Management and Administration, the Office of Presidential Correspondence, the Office of Presidential Personnel, the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, the Office of Scheduling and Advance, the Office of the Vice President, the Office of the White House Counsel, and the Office of White House Fellows.

Chung was assigned to work in the Office of the First Lady, Michelle Obama.

The fact Chung was not a Washington D.C. resident meant she had to obtain residency within close proximity to her work-place. A Noel home in the District suited the purpose and at the beginning of summer 2013, the ambitious student was settled and ready to embark on a journey few ever realize.

“Kelene was up at 4:00 a.m. every day,” Louise Noel said. “It was her duty to prepare breaking news reports in full form and transmit them to her superiors.”

“Not texts, full reports,” Noel added.

“Her writing skills are excellent,” Peter, a reputed and former Village Voice beat reporter added.

Although Harlem seems the cultural hub for summer fun and enjoyment, Chung’s summer was dominated by a learning experience inside the political capital.

Last week during West Wing week there, Chung faced the first, Black, president of the United States. Standing within eye-ball reach, the Trinbagonian, Harlem resident, student, daughter and future leader gasped at the reality of looking at one of the world’s most-powerful men.

“I felt proud and privileged,” she said.

All three parents – Lennox, Peter and Louise – echo her sentiments.

At the end of this month, Chung will head to London where she will take a course in international politics during a semester exchange program in England.

Kelene Chung.

More from Around NYC