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PSS Spring '09 - The Houghton House Renaissance

From Theory to Practice

HWS students put their education to work

POLITICS & LAW

Nicole Caravella '10 worked in the office of
Senator Edward Kennedy.

Nicole Caravella '10 worked in the office of Senator Edward Kennedy.

With more than 75 internships in Washington, D.C., available for HWS applicants, students have a plethora of opportunities to intern with senators, lobbyists and government offices.

Fueled by a love of Africa, propelled by a desire to serve and supported by the John A. Ross '66 Endowed Internship Fund, Laura Martin '10 traveled to D.C. to focus her passions abroad.

With Africa Action, a national organization working for political, economic and social justice in Africa, Martin interned under Executive Director Gerald LeMelle. In addition to administrative duties, like researching talking points for LeMelle's interviews and reports, Martin got an insider's view of U.S. foreign policy as she sat in on a Congressional hearing about HIV/AIDS funding. In June, she attended a panel on South African governmental relations and met with leading experts in African studies.

"Africa is a passion that has been perpetually strengthened-both through experiences at HWS and by studying abroad," says Martin, who spent a semester in Senegal and another in London, interning at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London.

"I am aching to go back to Africa," she says, "but for now, the internship was a fantastic opportunity to continue researching and studying a place I've grown to unconditionally love."

D.C. isn't the only place to explore politics and policy. Kayleigh DeLap '10, a double major in public policy and history, juggled two internships in New York City-one with Judge Matthew Cooper '74 of the Contested Matrimonial Court at the NY County Supreme Court and the other at Brown, Gavalas and Fromm LLP, a law firm helmed by attorney and Hobart alum Robert Brown '78.

In addition to summarizing depositions at the firm, attending motion hearings with Judge Cooper and taking notes on court proceedings, DeLap, supported by the L. Thomas Melly '52 L.H.D. '02 Endowed Internship Fund, was mentored by Cooper and Brown.

"I've been able to talk with the attorneys at the firm about their paths to law school and beyond," DeLap says. "And Judge Cooper is always interested in how my other internship is going and making sure I understand what's happening. He has also been willing to sit down and talk to me about how to become a judge-which is something I'm considering for a future career path."

"When Joe Ambrosetti contacted me and asked me if I'd be willing to take on an intern, I thought, 'HWS was good to me,' so I figured I'd return the favor," says Cooper. "Little did I know that Kayleigh would be so helpful. She was amazingly well organized, had an incredibly good sense of the cases, and picked up on details. We definitely miss her at the courthouse."

Internships are "a turn from the theoretical to the practical," which is exactly why they are so valuable, says Professor of Political Science Iva Deutchman.

"Students are interested in politics or get interested in politics in the classroom, then have internship experiences, which feed their interests," says Deutchman. "Once they're back in the classroom, they have new things to share, different perspectives."

Nicole Caravella '10 knows firsthand the connection between coursework and the real world. Having recently taken a seminar on the media's effect on politics with Deutchman, Caravella says the class was "a perfect introduction" to her internship with Senator Edward Kennedy's deputy press secretary, as she followed in the steps of numerous HWS students who have interned at the late senator's office since 2000.

A political science major and co-editor of The Public Affairs Journal, Caravella spent the summer in Boston, monitoring and organizing press on Kennedy, writing press releases, attending press conferences and communicating the senator's schedule to his staff.

"Because Senator Kennedy was a very recognizable political figure, the amount of media coverage on him on any given day is extensive," says Caravella, who was supported by the Bowman Internship Award for Leadership and Civic Engagement. "In my seminar with Professor Deutchman, I learned about different methods, strategies and variables that mold public opinion, which I applied in every conversation with the press."

"When students get an internship of this caliber, they realize that the skills they learn in the classroom- writing, communication, thinking on your feet, the basics of a liberal arts education-are things employers look for," Deutchman explains.

Caravella was kept busy, especially given Kennedy's declining health, and says she was "impressed with the Senator and his staff's passion for their work. I'm lucky to have received this extraordinary opportunity at a crucial time in Senator Kennedy's career."

"Internships are critical for everybody, regardless of major," Deutchman says. "If you have an internship, and do a good job, it can lead to a permanent position-or at very least, the right contacts."

Ted Bromley '95, staff attorney for the Office of the Connecticut Secretary of State, says HWS students are well-prepared to head into the workforce. "HWS students tend to stand out because of their diverse backgrounds and course work," he says. "These distinctions are due in large part to the course and major requirements that allow HWS students to experience a wide variety of subjects and not focus solely on a single subject area."

This summer, James McMahon '11 synthesized his academic interests in public policy and history while interning with Bromley.

"This internship really helped with my understanding of public policy, as well as the execution and enforcement of it," says McMahon, who saw the process behind the state regulatory system while updating the Connecticut Voter Registry Database, which ensures elections and votes follow protocol.

"It was great working with James," Bromley says. "He was an intelligent and dedicated intern who was a great representative of HWS-able to take any assignment, analyze the issue at hand and produce a creative and valuable solution."

McMahon's hard work and creativity paid off, eventually allowing him the chance to evaluate and help choose proposals for Connecticut's new voting machines.