Colgate students have fanned out across the globe to apply their liberal arts know-how in a variety of real-world settings. They are writing back to campus to keep our community posted on their progress. Doug Whelan ’19, from Webster, N.Y., wrote about his legislative internship in the nation’s capital.
This summer, I was lucky enough to work as a legislative intern in the Washington, D.C., office of my home-district congresswoman, Louise M. Slaughter, gaining valuable experience in government and politics.
I was doubly fortunate to be working in the office of one of the most experienced leaders of the House of Representatives. Representative Slaughter is the oldest woman in Congress and has represented the Rochester, N.Y., area for nearly 30 years. She currently sits as the ranking member of the Rules Committee, which she chaired from 2007 to 2011. During that time, she was instrumental in moving landmark legislation, such as the Affordable Care Act and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act, through Congress.
My job as an intern varied from day to day, but primary tasks included answering phone calls; replying to constituent inquiries by researching policy issues relevant to their questions and then drafting response letters; providing tours of the Capitol building to visiting members of the district; and relaying information that I gathered at policy briefings to legislative staffers.
One of the most enriching elements of my time in Washington was the opportunity to listen to famous speakers, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senator Jeff Merkley, and Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson. At the end of the internship, I completed a research project on a piece of pending legislation of my choice. The project included a set of memos to be delivered to the congresswoman.
While my internship was full of unforgettable memories, I will always remember the days following the tragic shooting in Orlando, Fla., when I sat in the House gallery watching Representative Slaughter participate in the gun control sit-in. It was a rare opportunity to witness civic action firsthand at the highest levels of our democracy.
Spending the summer on Capitol Hill affirmed my commitment to public service as a personal passion and long-term career goal. While I was sad to leave a place that so often felt like the center of universe, I know I’ll be back in the future to build on the experience I’ve gained.
Whelan wasn’t the only person interning in Congress. Here are a couple posts saying thank you to Colgate students for their work during the summer.
— Paul J. Mather (@Paul_J_Mather) August 12, 2016
— Senator Lisa Baker (@SenLisaBaker) August 12, 2016