Imagine this: as a political science major, you’ve secured a three week internship in Washington, D.C., the hub of the nation’s political arena. You have the chance to work face-to-face with a member of Congress and to observe first-hand the ins and outs of the legislative process on the national level.
After all, it’s not every day you get to sit in on a legislative committee meeting in the House or Senate. And in your down time, you can choose to explore the little-known underground network that connects important buildings in D.C. or meander through the typically off-limits stacks of the Library of Congress. Sounds nice, doesn’t it?
Unfortunately, such an experience often comes with a high price tag. Although by early 2011 Hayden Bauguess (Political Science, ’14) had secured a three week summer internship with North Carolina Congressman Howard Coble, he had not yet figured out how to fund it.
Like many other undergraduates living on a budget, Bauguess thought the high costs of living in D.C. might make his dream of interning in the nation’s capital difficult to achieve.
Thankfully, Bauguess was resourceful. He applied for—and won—the Latta Washington Internship Scholarship. The $1500 scholarship, provided by college alumna Sandra Latta (Political Science ’84) put his dream in reach.
In late May, he packed his bags and headed for D.C. While working for Congressman Coble, Bauguess learned about the Capitol and gave tours to groups made up of people both from around the world and, occasionally, from his small home town of Gibsonville. He completed office work for the congressman and talked to Coble’s constituents. During free time, Bauguess toured the floor of the House and Senate, explored the private stacks of the Library of Congress, and sat in on numerous legislative committees.
Bauguess says the experience opened his eyes and changed his perspective on Congress. As he sat in on various committee meetings, he gained new insights into the myriad factors that must be considered when lawmakers craft legislation for an entire country. Could he have learned about this from home?
“Sure, I could have learned about all of this in a political science class,” Bauguess said. “Anything can be taught. But you just can’t compare that to a hands-on experience like I had. I wouldn’t have come away with the same understandings I have now.”
Bauguess, who hopes to participate in another internship next summer, plans to either attend law school or join the Coast Guard after graduating in 2014. “I like to serve, and I want to give back. I’ve got an intense passion for politics, and I want to use that to serve the people of this country who don’t have a voice, or those whose voices aren’t being heard. I want to make sure that people in power hear what little voice the people do have. Whether it’s in Washington or in the Coast Guard, I intend to give back to my community.”