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Baylor students invade the Hill

Aug. 23, 2004

Interns catch

'Potomac Fever'

By MIMI WIGGINS, contributor

Brittney Bain, a Missouri City junior, was just one of thousands of college students to fill up the Washington, D.C., Metro and walk the capital's streets this summer.

Bain said she rode the Metro for eight stops to the capitol for work every day, along with hundreds of other college interns.

Bain was one of several Baylor students to spend the summer working for little or no pay on Capitol Hill this summer. Bain lived in on-campus housing at George Washington University for the two and a half months she was in Washington.

"I worked as the press intern in the majority leader's office," said Bain. "I did the clips every day, which basically meant finding all mentions of Tom DeLay in major news sources within the last 24 hours and compiling them into a report for the office each morning. I also attended press briefings and worked on other office projects."

The summer included such events as Ronald Reagan's state funeral, the dedication of the World War II memorial and several debates over the upcoming presidential race.

Jeff Leach, a senior from Plano, spent his summer doing research in the White House. Leach also lived in GWU campus housing.

"The Office of Political Affairs was my first choice," Leach said. "I got lucky and got the offer -- it has been fun."

Leach said he was able to get his internship by connecting with Baylor alumni who knew people in the department of political affairs.

Leach also said he saw his experiences as "getting to be a small link in a big chain of people."

Kirk Marshall, a Houston junior worked for the Department of Labor and worked directly under the assistant secretary, "a position which is appointed by the president and Senate confirmed."

Marshall lived in Falls Church, Va., took a taxi everyday from his place to the Metro, which he would then ride, got off and walk to the Department of Labor.

During his time with the Department of Labor, Marshall's duties included leaving Washington to assist at a conference called Workforce Innovations in San Antonio, for a week.

"Washington, D.C., is not just a city, it is an experience," Marshall said. "It is so fast-paced, so productive and so full of people wanting to accomplish so much with their lives. I would be privileged to go back anytime."

Marshall said the "culture" of Washington has influenced him to become a more knowledgeable person, and pay more attention to what is going on in the world.

Caleb Jones, an Albuquerque senior, interned for Sen. Pete V. Domenici (R-New Mexico).

"I absolutely loved working with the other interns and rubbing shoulders with powerful politicians every day," Jones said.

Jones said his duties included sorting mail, running errands to different offices within the Senate office buildings, helping to write letters in response to legislation and giving tours of the capitol.

Jones vacated a senate office building during a code red terror-scare in early June on the day Reagan's casket was to be laid in state. Jones remained composed.

Jones recalled his experience, "I escorted the senator out of the building during a plane scare in early June."

Jones also said the evacuation was scary but well-organized.

When asked what was the biggest surprise about life in Washington, Jones replied in an e-mail, "I did not expect Washington to be run by 25-year-old, fresh-out-of-college students."

Jones and Cameron Boone, a senior from Clear Lake, were roommates at American University for May, June and part of July.

Boone worked in the office of Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R- Texas), and worked closely with our military legislative assistant for a couple of weeks.

"One day I could maybe see myself in Washington," Boone said. "Washingtonians call it 'Potomac fever'...once you have experienced life on the hill, you have a zeal to return."

Laura Loomis, an Arlington senior, worked in the office of Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) and said she would encourage students to look at all sorts of internships in Washington, not just the ones on the Hill.

"Many committees and subcommittees provide opportunities for students, which provided opportunities to focus on certain areas of legislation," Loomis said. "In addition, the longer the internship gives a better opportunity to experience Washington, D.C., and to see the city during the times Congress is in session and in recess."

Loomis had the opportunity to shadow Barton on several occasions and meet people associated with the State Department and the White House.