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Seizing the Day

“I’ve learned that if you want to do something in life, you do it,” Trisha Raines told Hill Climbers.

Raines learned that when she sold almost everything she owned on, packed the rest into her Ford Escort and drove from her home state of Texas to Washington, D.C., without a job or even a place to live when she got here. [IMGCAP(1)]

She was partway through her trip when she got a call from the office of Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas).

Raines interviewed with the Congresswoman as soon as she arrived in Washington and recently started as her new staff assistant.

Raines, 28, said her move from Texas to D.C. required some adjustment. For starters, she didn’t have any furniture. And she had to get used to sharing an apartment on H Street with a roommate after having her own place in Dallas.

But Raines said those hangups are minor when she considers the larger picture. “It’s the best thing I’ve ever done,” she said.

Raines came to Johnson’s office with a host of experience, having served most recently as the manager of member relations for the Greater Dallas Chamber of Commerce. In addition, Raines worked as a development associate at the World Affairs Council of Greater Dallas, completed an internship with Rep. Ralph Hall (R-Texas) and worked at the McLennan County Office of Elections in Texas.

In Dallas, she was active with Democratic political groups and volunteer work. Originally from Longview, Texas, she earned a political science degree from Baylor University in 2002.

Raines’ predecessor, Alex Enriquez, was promoted recently. His math skills couldn’t have hurt. He described himself to Climbers as a former “mathlete” because he won the Dallas citywide math olympics in sixth grade.

“Oh yeah,” he replied when asked if he meant “mathlete” like the mathlete Cady Heron (played by Lindsey Lohan) eventually becomes in the movie “Mean Girls.”

The 24-year-old Dallas native was promoted to legislative correspondent in Johnson’s office. He formerly worked as the central Florida field director for Jim Davis for Governor and for the City Year program, where he was on an AOL Civic Engagement Team and served as Camp City Year’s executive director. Enriquez is still involved with City Year in D.C.

He has a political science degree from Florida State University, which he earned in 2004.

Another new Johnson staffer, Brianna Brown, had a “finding herself” period after she graduated from Brown University in 2003. She always was interested in fashion and had to get it out of her system, she said. So Brown went to New York and worked for the Oscar de la Renta sector of Bergdorf Goodman as a sales assistant.

Now she is Johnson’s special assistant, responsible for constituent case work, special projects and community outreach from the Congresswoman’s district office. There, she spearheads efforts to make the office and the its projects more environmentally friendly. [IMGCAP(2)]

Brown has additional experience as a tutor for Sponsors for Educational Opportunity, helping with English and global studies, and as a production assistant for Camino Bluff Productions, performing research, fundraising and administrative duties. She also worked at the Brown University Third World Center and Columbia University’s Africana Criminal Justice Project.

Brown, 26, is from Lancaster, Texas, and hopes to attend law school. She also would like to make it known that she beat co-worker Byron Gipson in basketball.

Gipson started as district liaison in the same office, taking care of constituent case work, working in the community and working with the district director. He comes from San Antonio City Councilwoman Mary Alice Cisneros’ office, where he was her director of policy. He also worked for Councilwoman Elena Guajardo and for Councilman Julian Castro.

He graduated from St. Mary’s University with a degree in political science in 2003. While in school, Gipson, 32, worked with the St. Jude Research Hospital’s Up ’til Dawn program and was an external director of St. Mary’s Summer Service Program. He has served as a volunteer at many other organizations.

“I always hope to be able to serve the community in some way,” he said.

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