Campus Life

UWF honors student researches Congressional Black Caucus

For Angelica Jenkins, senior majoring in Criminal Justice, being a member of the University of West Florida Honors Program has definitely had its perks. With her sights set on a career in law, the ambitious and energetic young woman has already had the chance to meet and talk with some of the leading policy makers and legislators in the United States. As part of her Honors thesis, Jenkins researched the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and had the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. and interview several of its members and staff.

“My thesis sought to understand how the CBC works with and helps advance its members to positions of leadership in Congress and in the political arena as a whole,” said Jenkins. “I researched and interviewed members of the CBC in Washington, D.C. to demonstrate the role of the caucus and how its members have steadily been receiving higher positions in their committee assignments and congressional positions in Congress.”

Jenkins took an interest in the role of the CBC after completing a group project in a “Research in Congress” course at UWF. Her group studied the role race and gender play in Congress and particularly how each affects African-Americans women serving in Congress. The class took a research trip to Washington, D.C. and Jenkins’ group interviewed members of Congress on this research topic. This first project sparked Jenkins’ interest in the CBC, and she decided to pursue a more in depth research study of its role for her Honors thesis.

“I started my thesis project by gathering data and formulating questions,” said Jenkins. “I then went about sending letters to the congressional offices explaining my research objectives and requesting interviews with particular CBC members or their staff. I followed up with phone calls and reiterated that I only needed 15 minutes of their time.”

Jenkins efforts and persistence paid off in the end. She traveled again to Washington, D.C. in January and was able to interview 25 members of Congress and/or their staff. During her interviews with the legislators, she asked questions such as what does the CBC have the power to do; what role does the CBC play in committee assignments; what has been the CBC’s greatest success and failure; and how has the CBC helped advance the position of its members?

“I learned that the CBC works to push the issues that are most important to the African-American communities across the nation,” said Jenkins. “It bans together to support legislation and its members as they seek leadership roles. While the CBC has a great amount of influence, its membership is not large enough to completely control a vote. Therefore it does have to gain the support of other groups within Congress in order to achieve policy goals.”

Jenkins says working on this project has given her an intense interest in political science and constitutional law and government. After she earns her bachelor’s degree in May, she plans on attending law school and hopes to pursue a career in corporate or civil rights law or go on to earn her doctorate.

For more information, contact the UWF Honors Program office at (850) 474-2934 or e-mail

Written by Jaimie Woodard, University Marketing Communications