Pictured left to right: Lauren Whitt, Lindsey Peterson and Elizabeth Heffernan.
Three Buena Vista University political science students are interning in Washington, D.C. this semester at locations that include the White House, a law firm, and the Naval History and Heritage Command.
The students are:
- Elizabeth Heffernan, a junior political science and English double major from Sioux City, who is interning at Marzulla Law, LLC.
- Lindsey Peterson, a senior political science and history double major from Alta, who is interning at the Naval History and Heritage Command.
- Lauren Whitt, a senior political science and English double major from Sloan, who is interning in the White House in the office of Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden.
"The Washington Center program is one of BVU's signature experiential learning opportunities," says Dr. Brad Best, associate professor of political science, who serves as coordinator and liaison for BVU students participating in Washington Center internships. "It is one of the reasons we're successful in attracting outstanding students on their way to terrific futures."
"In this highly competitive job market, students are more serious than ever about accessing value-added experiences," he adds. "The way in which BVU supports students in finding internships distinguishes us in this region."
Elizabeth says she wanted to intern with a law firm because she plans to go to law school after graduating from BVU. "I was interested in the type of law in which the Marzulla Firm specializes, which is inverse condemnations, as well as water rights, tribal claims and environmental cases. Their office is in Washington, D.C. but the attorneys work all over the United States." (Inverse condemnation is a term used in the law to describe situations in which the government takes private property but fails to pay the compensation required by the 5th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.)
"I think this experience will help me grow in my communication and networking skills as well as expose me to more of a real-life work environment and prepare me for law school," she adds.
Lindsey, who has previously visited the nation's capital, says "There is no better place to study history. I selected the Naval History and Heritage Command because it allowed me to conduct historical research and the opportunity to learn about an area of history with which I am not familiar." Her duties with the organization have included archival research to fact-check scripts for a new naval museum. "I go to the National Archives or the Library of Congress and sift through hundreds of pages of very old documents looking for information that will help me complete my assignments," she says.
"I wanted an internship that would allow me to learn and develop skills necessary to be successful after graduation," says Lauren. "When I was accepted into the White House Internship Program, I was ecstatic. I knew that this internship was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
Lauren's work in Jill Biden's office includes assisting with press clips, scheduling, research, correspondence and other activities. "I believe this experience will confirm my desire to work in public service and give me a clearer understanding of the education and experience I need to achieve my career goals. Whether I join the working world or continue my education at law school or graduate school is still undecided."
Other organizations that have hosted BVU Washington Center interns over the past decade include the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Department of the Interior, the Smithsonian Institution, INTERPOL, the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, and various law firms and policy advocacy groups.
"Our students routinely report finding their internship appointments challenging, yet rewarding beyond their expectations," says Best. "It's a world-class experience and, for most students, a major step forward professionally."
The students each received sizable grants to help cover expenses from a fund established by Don Lamberti and his wife, Charlene. Lamberti is a Life Trustee and the founder and former CEO of Casey's General Stores. The Otteman Student Research and Internship Fund and the Harry Blackmun Scholarship also provide additional assistance for students.