Editor’s Note: Cellina Danvers, a rising senior at Florida State University, recently completed a summer internship program for the City of Apopka in the Mayor’s office at City Hall. Danvers is majoring in Communications and Technology and is scheduled to graduate in the spring. This is her account and experiences, in her own words:
By Cellina Danvers
Three years ago, I left the City of Apopka and my childhood home to start my collegiate journey four hours away from anything and everything I have ever known. Three years later, I found myself at the historic brick building of Apopka City Hall interviewing for an internship with newly elected Mayor Bryan Nelson and his administrative assistant Stacy Van Camp.
Little did I know these two people and many others would change the course of my life.
After a day or two, I was offered the position, to which I humbly and enthusiastically accepted. I didn’t know what to expect but what I received was far greater than anything I could have asked for. Whether I was in Downtown Orlando sitting in on a Metroplan meeting, in Mt Dora learning from St. Johns Water Management, at a Denny’s sitting with Chief of Police Michael McKinley and Apopka principals discussing how to best protect students, at a political Hob Nob learning about candidates, enjoying an amazing three-course meal prepared by Wekiva High School students or attending a conference with commissioners, mayors, and judges alike, I can quite honestly say that Mayor Bryan Nelson may be the busiest person I’ve ever met, let alone the busiest person in Apopka.
And yet, with every experience I shared with Mayor Nelson I felt involved and important. If I was not following the mayor around town, I was in City Hall attending a City Council meeting or an Economic Development meeting. A big part of my internship was to conduct and present thorough research on current and future developments the City is working on, to which the Mayor and Stacy reviewed and talked through with me.
Information became understanding, and I began to comprehend how daunting the task of working in an elected office can be. Nevertheless, both Mayor Nelson and Stacy always made time to teach me what they could despite how hectic their schedule was that day.
The once foreign City Hall quickly filled with familiar faces and friendly encounters. A quick wave to Tami (receptionist Tami Hobbick) at 9am, the witty banter between (City Administrator) Edward Bass and Mayor Nelson, (Community Development Director) James Hitt and his cheerful demeanor, an occasional visit from Mrs. Nelson who soon became “Momma Nelson” and Stacy’s contagious laugh were all integral parts of my day.
I looked forward to working with and for the City of Apopka every morning. As my internship comes to an end and I head back to school, I can’t help but reflect on this experience. If I learned anything from Stacy and the mayor, it would be the importance of people. We all have one thing in common, and that is our humanity. I think that we often forget that in the midst of our religious, ethnic, socioeconomic, and political backgrounds.
Stacy Van Camp once said to me “If someone were to ask you for help, your job is to do all that you are capable of. Not just point them in the right direction, but lead them there”. More people like Mayor Bryan Nelson and Stacy Van Camp should hold public office, and because of them, I’ve been inspired to further my education and apply to law school. I believe we always find our way back home, and I am lucky to call my home Apopka.