From our APAHE member, and future leader!

Summer of Service: During the summer of 2014 the IOP is proud to sponsor and work with over 150 students who are spending their summers in politics and public service around the world. Learn more about this program.

Interning On the Hill with Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi

Authored by John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum Committee Member Happy Yang.

As a passionate advocate for immigration reform and a fierce proponent of women in leadership, I am proud to intern for Democratic Leader and first female Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. Leader Pelosi is also my home district representative. Through my internship, I have been able to see how a leadership office operates behind the scenes and to better understand how Congress functions.

On my first day of work, I escorted guests to an event where Pelosi honored Elizabeth Dole for her work to support military families and caregivers. Dole was the first woman to be elected to the US Senate from North Carolina, and I learned a lot by watching these two women graciously supporting each other across party lines.

Some of my intern duties have allowed me to see Congressional debates. For example, I took notes for an Agriculture Appropriations bill markup. Drafted and supported by Republicans—and highly contested by Democrats—this bill would allow financially struggling schools to waive the national standard on lunch.

While the Republicans argued that the bill would give struggling schools more flexibility to comply with health standards, the Democrats railed against the bill for rolling back the progress that had already been made.

When I checked constituent emails, I encountered dozens of e-mails about this hotly anticipated committee debate. During the debate, even though Democrats knew that Republicans had already gotten enough votes, many of them still offered a critical and passionate rebuttal. I was inspired by the Democrats’ persistence, even in the face of defeat, and I hope I can bring the same level of commitment to every issue I face, whether as a student or a civil servant.

Last but not least, as an intern on the hill I am able to see how Congress members take actions on issues they care about. One day after work, on a whim, I ventured to the other side of the Capitol to watch the Senate floor in action. On my spontaneous trip, I saw both Senator Elizabeth Warren, whom I helped elect at school in Massachusetts, and Senator Barbara Boxer, who represents me at home in California.

Following the tragic mass shooting in Isla Vista, California, Senator Boxer was making a speech on the Senate floor, laying the ground for the gun violence prevention bill she would soon introduce to the floor.

It is uncertain whether Congress can act on this bill before the November election, and government gridlock can be discouraging. However, in the Senate that day, I was inspired that the people who represent me to make decisions inside the beltway actually care and want to fix the problems facing our country. Trying to fix the problem – isn’t that the start of public service?

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