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Student tells of lessons learned

Dec. 3, 2009

Internships in D.C. prove to BU student that 'anything is possible'

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Charles Dharapak | Associated Press

By Sara Tirrito
Contributor

The worst thing they could do was say no.

Thus, Emanuel Gawrieh, a sophomore at the time, plunged into two lengthy internship applications, one to the Supreme Court and one to the White House. Though applicants for the Supreme Court internship typically had to be juniors or seniors, and although the process was sometimes intimidating, Gawrieh had support from those around him.

"[The applications] were about as extensive as graduate schools', just minus the standardized tests. What kind of pushed me to apply to [the Supreme Court internship] was that the worst that they could say was no. So, I figured that I had much more to gain than to lose," Gawrieh said. "I have a best friend who was there for me and really encouraged me the whole way. His name is James Nortey. And my father and then the faculty master [of Brooks], Dr. [Douglas] Henry was a great mentor to me, and was really encouraging and then the former dean for student learning and engagement, Dr. Frank Shushok."

Shushok found it easy to support Gawrieh in applying for the internships because of the potential he sees in him to make change on a large scale.

"One of the things that I really appreciate about Emanuel is that he is always looking for opportunities to learn and he also takes initiative to seek out unique experiences, and I think that has helped land him in some pretty extraordinary places," Shushok said.

"Supporting someone like Emanuel is easy to do because he's the kind of young person that has potential to change the world. The sooner that we're able to get young people like Emanuel into places of influence where he can learn and grow and nurture his skills, the better off we all are."

Gawrieh spent January to May working at the Supreme Court with Court fellow Dr. Melissa Aubin, and through her, working for Geoffrey P. Minear, the counselor to the chief justice.

Gawrieh began work at the White House the day after he left the court. There he worked for the Domestic Policy Council, particularly the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, under Joshua Dubois. That internship lasted until August, when Gawrieh came back to Baylor for community leader training, which has been his job since 2008.

As a community leader for Brooks Residential College, Gawrieh has earned the trust and admiration of his fellow residents Henry said.

"In his work as a community leader, Emanuel has thrived not only by attending to the little details of his official responsibilities, but also by seeing a larger vision within which his service has a place," Henry said in his recommendation for Gawrieh.

"Because he understands the aspirations of our collegiate community, with its emphasis on a way of life marked by learnedness, social responsibility, and Christian faith and compassion, he is able to take up his work with a genuine sense of calling."

Gawrieh cites his job as a community leader as an experience that aided him in his internships.

"It was really shocking to me but in the application process I came to understand that a big part of what I'd done was being an RA and it was because I had the ability to understand sensitive information and how to kind of handle that and discern between what I should and shouldn't say," Gawrieh said. "That was a big deal with both of the internships."

Though they had some similarities, both internships gave Gawrieh unique experiences, from being entrenched in the atmosphere of the Supreme Court to working until nine or 10 many nights at the White House.

"They're two completely different internships and I took completely different things from them. With the Supreme Court, it's a great place, it's just a phenomenal atmosphere; it's incredibly scholarly. All of the people there are phenomenally intelligent; just some of the most caring people I've ever met. So I loved that for the experience and for the people," Gawrieh said.

"The White House, I got exposed to a different form because by the nature of the Court, the work is substantive and it's wide ranging, but it's not the same as the White House. I got a great appreciation for the people that work at the White House. It was incredibly fun, but the most challenging experience that I've had so far."

While a previous internship in Congress allowed Gawrieh to see that he didn't want to pursue politics, he found his niche with the Supreme Court internship.

"I learned when I was in high school that I wanted to do something that was related to some form of communication, and from there when I made it to Congress between my freshman and sophomore year, I learned that politics was not what I wanted to do," Gawrieh said.

"I had always had an affinity for what was just and this idea of an absence of compromise in the pursuit of justice.

When I made it to the Court, that's when I ultimately realized that's what I wanted to do. It's just a very virtuous place, and from what I learned from the people there, it's a good job to love."

Though he isn't exactly sure what he in a career, Gawrieh knows where his passions lie and has plans to attend law school after Baylor.

"I have a passion for law and justice," Gawrieh said. "I intend to go to law school. I'm applying to some schools in the north-eastern area ... and from there I would like to pursue federal court clerkships. And I guess in the interim, up until I can actually find out if I can make it into those places, my ultimate goal is to become a federal court judge."

At one point in his life, getting a job in D.C. seemed unattainable to Gawrieh. But now, he knows it's possible.

"The people I met and all the people I got to work with, that the individuals that work there, and that are able to get to those positions, are truly no different than the people that I see here and just about anywhere else," Gawrieh said.

"Coming from a small town in east Texas ... there was a huge disconnect between the people that were able to attain those things, and me and the people that I associated myself with because it just seemed impossible from where I was.

And going there made me realize that essentially everything is possible. Anything is possible, even for the most unlikely of people."