Fellowship Blog

EXPLORING PENNSYLVANIA STATE GOVERNMENT FROM THE INSIDE-OUT

This blog is maintained by our PA House Fellows. Here, they will share with you their experiences in State Government during their time at the Pennsylvania Capitol. Their perspectives are unique and their stories should be shared.

  • Former Fellow Spotlight

    May 14, 2019

    The PA House Fellowship Program began in 1982. Since then, more than 400 students completed the internship.   Many of those students have found employment in government or government-affiliated institutions.   It’s time to see what some of our former Fellows have been up to.

    Jennifer Bernstein was a Fellow in the Spring of 1997, while attending Millersville University.

    What are you doing now; where are you working?

    After grad school, I worked on Capitol Hill for a number of years before becoming a healthcare lobbyist.

    Why did you apply for the Fellowship?

    I was bored in the classroom and wanted hands-on experience.

    What’s your favorite memory from your internship?

    Walking into the rotunda on my first day and feeling incredibly lucky for the opportunity I had been given.

    What skills did you develop during this internship?

    Research skills, networking skills, experience with public speaking, and an understanding of how a legislature truly functions.

    How did the program help you after the internship?

    The skills I  learned in the program were a huge benefit once I started working on the Hill.  I didn’t feel quite so lost in the chaos.

    What advice would you give to future interns?

    Network, network, network.  Every job I’ve been offered is because I knew the right person…and my ability to perform well at my current job relies largely on relationship-building skills that are used to gather information.

    Written by: Administrator


  • Former Fellow Spotlight

    Apr 12, 2019

    The PA House Fellowship Program began in 1982. Since then, more than 400 students completed the internship.   Many of those students have found employment in government or government-affiliated institutions.   It’s time to see what some of our former Fellows have been up to.

    Mark McGothigan was a Fellow in the Fall of 1986, while attending Temple University.

    What are you doing now; where are you working?

    Currently I am a senior technical writer in product development of x86 enterprise and cloud servers at Oracle Corporation based in Santa Clara, CA. Since 2007 I have worked at the Sun/Oracle global business unit, which is the hardware technology manufacturer for the software based company. These computers are building blocks for the Oracle Cloud and Engineered Systems infrastructures that run many financial and governmental database applications.

    Why did you apply for the Fellowship?

    I was encouraged to apply by an academic advisor at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA. I was interested in doing something different for my final undergrad semester and this was a better fit for me than a typical semester abroad.

    What’s your favorite memory from your internship?

    I remember that it was exciting to be present in the house caucus room on election night watching the results with many representatives. There was a lot of political conversation and anecdotes being shared that provided insights into the election and political processes. I also had prepared an election forecast for a house representative that turned out to be accurate when the results were finally in. Meetings with the House Speaker and Parliamentarian of PA were also insightful.

    What skills did you develop during this internship?

    I wrote my first press releases, speeches, and compiled clippings for the Democratic Information Office which was an opportunity to follow developing stories in depth. I also honed my writing skills. The office manager was a former teacher and mentored my writing projects. I also tried developing some legislation, researched using the legal databases of the time (Lexus and Nexus), and met a wide variety of state officials to learn what it really took to run a state. My social skills became more polished. I used many more people skills than previous positions.

    How did the program help you after the internship?

    The broadened experiences gave me a head start to any profession and help me choose one that was for me. Prior to this fellowship I had limited office experience. The program helped me to deal with many different people in an office environment. I returned to the computer industry after college, but a peek at the inner workings of government was invaluable when I became a contract writer. In general, I think that I gained a much greater understanding of the political process in government and industry. What I learned about constitutional law and the legal process was a great starting point. Learning so much about the great history of PA and the early formation of the state increased my interest in PA history which made my time in PA much richer.

    What advice would you give to future interns?

    Use the semester to sort out your future options. Soak up all you can out of this unique experience. Make the most of the many opportunities afforded to you. Enjoy Harrisburg too.

    Written by: Administrator


  • Opportunities to Listen Everywhere

    Mar 20, 2019

    Christo Huntington, King’s College

    One week before the October 1st application deadline for the House BMC Fellowship spring term, my college academic advisor sent me the program brochure to ask if I was interested. In a mad rush to gather two letters of recommendation, provide a well-developed writing sample, supplement an official college transcript, and polish my resume, I hoped to consider how this opportunity would impact my life. Throughout that hectic week, I found moments to discuss my goals and future plans with friends, family members, and professors to determine if this program was for me.

    On one of the days that week, I rode on the campus shuttle back to the commuter parking lot in order to get to my car and go home. On the shuttle, the driver struck up a conversation and I mentioned to him that I hoped to participate in this program. Right as I was getting off the bus, he said, “Don’t forget us little guys on your way up. I am rooting for you, kid.” This quote has stuck with me for two reasons. The first being that when people assume power in an elected office, the interests of many constituents and minorities are often dismissed or ignored. The second reason I valued this interaction so much, was because it proved that I had so much to learn by listening, observing, and interacting with people. That bus driver had heard my passion for government and law in our discussion, so he wanted to give me support in my future pursuit while reiterating how important it would be to remember where I came from.

    Since that week and the interaction with the shuttle driver, I have been nothing but thankful and humbled by this experience and opportunity to work with some of the best people in Pennsylvania.

    On the frigid morning of January 17th, 2019, I walked up the steps of the capitol building filled with a nervous, excited, and anticipatory energy. I found my way to the room where I met the other interns for the first time. After the brief introductions and an opening meeting with the program coordinators, the other Fellows and I were taken to our previously determined committee placements. When I was taken to my placement with the House Judiciary Committee, I realized the uniqueness of this opportunity for the first time. I rationalized that I was about to substantially contribute to the legislative body that determines the course of action for all of Pennsylvania’s judicial system.

    When I arrived with my committee, I was greeted by two House Judiciary Staff members, Senior Research Analyst Jeff Fox and Executive Director Attorney Tim Clawges. These two staffers immediately invited me to join them in their conversation about baseball after I introduced myself, which made me feel right at home. I later met another Judiciary staffer, Attorney Dave Vitale, who is a graduate of my college, King’s College, and serves as the legal counsel for the Democratic Judiciary Committee. Coming from Northeastern Pennsylvania, I imagined Harrisburg would be filled with high-profile people from big cities that I would have no connection with. When I found out that Dave was from Nanticoke, a small city near my hometown, we made an instant connection. We regularly share memories and stories about our time in NEPA and how it has made us the people we are today. I am thankful to have found these three great mentors that have given me advice, insight, and legal instruction regarding government and life in general.

    As a Political Science and Philosophy student at King’s College in Wilkes Barre, PA, I have learned about the structure and history of our state government, common political philosophies, and the different ways in which legislative action is taken. I had yet to experience the atmosphere of a state legislative body and understand what procedural actions inside the Capitol go into turning an idea into a law. Participating in the House BMC Fellowship Program as a sophomore in college allowed me to discover some of my intentions as a Political Science and Philosophy student. 

    I have learned several lessons during my time as a House Fellow. The first lesson I learned is that it is important to diversify your inputs and sources by listening in order to build the most independent and unique version of yourself. There are so many different ideologies in the Commonwealth that need to be considered whenever a bill is discussed. If you limit the type or sheer number of opinions you consider while pursuing a piece of legislation, that specific bill is more than likely to impact someone that was not originally considered. Find the time to listen and understand someone else’s viewpoint to make your ideas better and well-developed. 

    The second concept that I learned from this experience is that Fellows should focus and embrace the activities of today. There were a few times in the beginning of the fellowship that I found my tasks daunting for a 4-month fellowship, especially the original legislation proposal. Some days may be jam-packed with hearings, press events, and other opportunities for Fellows that may become overwhelming if you do not plan out your attendance. Other days were less crowded and allowed me to regroup and develop a plan for my assignments and events in the Capitol. Throughout each day, I reminded myself that I was given an opportunity that most students would never experience. I was given full-access to Pennsylvania’s legislature and kept the mindset that I needed to make the most out of every day. 

    Christo with Rep. Tim Briggs and Rep. Eddie Pashinski

    The third and final major lesson that I learned as a Fellow was that every interaction, piece of research, and personal experience contributes to the way our Commonwealth develops and grows. As a House BMC Fellow, I was able to weigh every single interaction I had with stakeholders, House members, and staffers while conceptualizing my original legislation. Each one of those interactions played a vital role in the development and drafting of my original legislation. In hindsight, I now realize how my legislation concept could impact the Commonwealth in so many more ways than I originally imagined. It will also serve as a gateway to future legislation that will help future Pennsylvanians. While doing research for the Judiciary Committee, I discovered that every word counted. A word such as “may” or “shall” can make the difference between a bill that would pass unanimously and one that would not pass at all.

    There are some opportunities that a political science student that wishes to gain independent thought and learn more about their government cannot pass up, and this is that quintessential opportunity. So, to anyone considering submitting an application for the House Fellowship Program or merely reading this post, I urge you to keep your ears open and listen, find as many perspectives on a particular subject to become the best version of yourself, and most importantly, “Don’t forget us little guys on your way up.”

    Written by: Christo Huntington


  • We Are Moving Forward, Together.

    Mar 18, 2019

    Sarah Long, Messiah College

    I am currently a senior Politics/Internationals Relations major and Spanish major. I had first heard about this opportunity my freshman year of college, three and a half years ago, from a professor. I had been dreaming about this fellowship since then and was elated to find out I had been selected for the position. However, in truth, when I was placed on the commerce committee, I was quite nervous, given my background was not at all in finance or business – I had only taken one economics class! However, through this fellowship I have learned a lot about things that had scared me in the past, like tax credits! I have really grown to develop my researching skills in the process.

    An enormous benefit of this program has been the way it takes what I have done in the classroom, learning to critically think and write, and puts it into practice in a very real way. I have learned how to draft a wide variety of documents, from memorandums to legislation. The fellowship also has provided an “up close” look at what politics is really like in Pennsylvania. The pursuit of Commonwealth prosperity through 203 different voices can be difficult at times but is also extremely rewarding.

    The Fellows with Speaker Mike Turzai

    My goal is to attend law school this coming fall and this internship has given me a good introduction to the process of law making and legal drafting. It has also demonstrated to me the extreme importance of many voices in the process of creating any sort of real change. I was told by one Representative that “government works better when the people are involved,” and while it may make things more difficult, I really do believe this to be true. Meeting people that believe in unity has given me great hope and determination to move forward with purpose as the world changes around us and because of us.

    If you are thinking about applying but are unsure, I would invite you to apply to the program! You know what they say: you miss all the shots you don’t take.

    Written by: salong2019


  • Desire to Pursue Justice

    Mar 13, 2019

    I began my college career pursuing a degree in Social Work. I wanted to pursue justice and this field seemed the most tangible way to foster justice. Towards the end of my freshman year I attended two Legislative Advocacy Days- one in Harrisburg and one in Washington D.C. Other than voting, this was my first taste of being involved in government. My fellow students dreaded Legislative Advocacy Days, they were worried about meeting with Representatives and felt pressured. I loved it. I felt energized by the energy of the day and found myself pursing advocacy work.

    Laurel Hicks, Messiah College

    In the fall of my sophomore year I began doing legislative advocacy for an internship. I loved what I was doing and added a major in Politics & International Relations. I found my politics classes interesting and that macro-level thinking made more sense to me than micro-level. I finished my sophomore year by switching my Social Work major to Sociology & Anthropology, in order to pursue further opportunities in macro-level thinking and government work.

    It is now the spring of my senior year and I am doing a fellowship in the House of Representatives. My first taste of government work three years ago was a hint at a career path. The other fellows and I are now a little more than halfway done with the fellowship and I still have to remind myself that I am working in the Pennsylvania Capitol each day.

    This fellowship is entirely what you make of it. There are days when there are so many things going on that I cannot catch my breath. There are other days when I have nothing time-sensitive to do and could accomplish all necessary tasks by an hour into the work day. I love having a different schedule every day and never knowing what exactly I will be doing that day. I have come to love the days when there is nothing going on, because then I can delve into a research avenue for my committee, or have meetings with staff members about my proposed legislation, or meet with the Legislative Reference Bureau, or anything else. Those days are the ones where you make your experience. I began this experience intimidated by the people around me. I was nervous to state my opinion or meet with people because I did not want to be an inconvenience. I quickly learned that everyone here started at the bottom. There was no reason to worry because they had all gone down the avenues I was pursuing, or similar ones. Throughout this fellowship I have learned to be confident and share my opinion.

    This fellowship solidified my desire to pursue a career path in government. People need to keep fighting for justice on a micro-level, but they cannot do that successfully if there are people preventing them from a macro-level.

    Perhaps you are interested in this fellowship because you have always loved government, but even if it is a new development for you, do not hesitate to pursue it. If you end up in this fellowship, regardless of your journey to getting here, take every opportunity that is in front of you, and be confident in your abilities.

    Written by: laurelannehicks


  • From Freeport to Fellowship

    Mar 11, 2019

    Anyone who knows me well will agree that I have always had pride in my rural background. From Boston to Athens to Harrisburg, I have always carried this perspective with me that I hope never slips the mind of the great people I encounter along the way. I’m from Freeport, Pennsylvania; a small, working-class town of about 1,800 people. We take great pride in our working-class roots as a town, and I know my family takes pride in it as well. My family has construction workers, welders, nurses, coal miners, and any number of other occupations you can expect to find in a small, western Pennsylvania town.

    Jesse Tomkiewicz, Allegheny College

    My interest in politics began when I noticed economic changes in my area. Steel mills and other manufacturing jobs have been disappearing for decades. I also noticed that the Walmart up the road was running many of the small businesses in town out of business. A couple years ago our we lost our brick company in Freeport as well. After seeing these changes I’ve been motivated to get involved and ensure that towns like mine are not forgotten.

    I’m now a first-generation college student at Allegheny College (junior) double majoring in political science and philosophy. At Allegheny College I’ve been very involved in political life regarding campus workers, partisan election efforts, and non-partisan work designed to enhance campus political interest. I also have spent two summers doing academic research which has been very helpful. Additionally, I am a co-president of a community service organization on campus called Allegheny Veterans Service that donates time helping veterans in our community. I have a long list of family members who have proudly served and I’m very pleased to honor their service through our work. Allegheny College has done a great job providing me with the skills necessary to succeed in all my endeavors.

    Because of my commitment to serving veterans, I was placed in the Republican Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness committee. Although I’m a Democrat, the committee has been extremely non-partisan in a refreshing way that you’ll find nowhere else in politics. The executive director and research analyst that I work under have been fantastic. They’ve been great mentors to me and have treated me with great respect. Their expertise has made them great coaches as I learn all the different responsibilities of the committee. Every day I am proud of the work we do. I could not be happier with my committee placement!

    I have thoroughly enjoyed my experience in the fellowship overall. To see how the legislative process works with hands-on experience is instrumental to anyone who desires a deeper understanding of politics. I can’t imagine my education being complete without this fellowship. I also have enjoyed living in downtown Harrisburg. From my perspective, this is a big place with endless things to do. I’ve enjoyed adapting to the city life, although I must admit it is much quieter at night time when I’m at Freeport!

    In the future, I plan to attend law school and specialize in labor and employment law. My background has greatly influenced this path and I believe the PA House Fellowship has helped me along my journey. Without the fellowship experience, I would have a very incomplete understanding of legislative processes. I hope one day to become an agent for enacting change within communities like mine.

    Written by: Jesse Tomkiewicz


  • Former Fellow Spotlight

    Mar 11, 2019

    The PA House Fellowship Program began in 1982. Since then, more than 400 students completed the internship.   Many of those students have found employment in government or government-affiliated institutions.   It’s time to see what some of our former Fellows have been up to.

    Ebonnie Simmons Vasquez (second from right)

    Ebonnie Simmons Vasquez was a Fellow in the Spring of 1995, while attending Cheyney University.

    What are you doing now; where are you working?

    I am currently working at the Department of Human Services, Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, Children’s Bureau.  I am the point person for child and adolescent mental health Evidence Based Programs offered in Pennsylvania

    Why did you apply for the Fellowship?

    I was interested in working in state government.

    What’s your favorite memory from your internship?

    I enjoyed presenting a piece of mock legislation to my legislator, Rep. David P. Richardson, and my entire fellowship cohort.

    What skills did you develop during this internship?

    I enhanced my public speaking, problem solving, critical thinking, and analytical writing.

    How did the program help you after the internship?

    This program was instrumental in my acceptance to graduate school.  It helped me secure employment in Rep. Joseph Preston’s district office, while completing my graduate studies.  It helped prepare me for future employment opportunities including lobbying, teaching social policy, and public policy creation.

    What advice would you give to future interns?

    It’s ok not to know what you want to do right now, the learning comes with the process.  Live in the moment, enjoy the experience, and learn as much as you can.

    Written by: Administrator


  • People, Passion and Politics

    Mar 8, 2019

    Kerry Buffenmeyer (second from right), Lebanon Valley College

    What a journey it has been, from wanting to be a dentist until the age of 13 to a biochemist until the age of 16. It was not until my senior year of high school that I decided I wanted to peruse a political career. All it takes is a passionate and kindhearted person to influence a life forever, I was lucky to have several of those people in my life in the form of teachers and professors. From Mrs. Finkin and Mr. Wentling to Dr. Dolan and Dr. Benesch, these educators and scholars positively changed my entire outlook on life, as well as, my goals and ambitions.

    It became my passion and dream to better the lives of as many people as I could, whether I knew them or not. I was instilled with the desire to peruse a life of civil service, which can take many forms. I have been blessed over my college career to intern in a few of these pathways, from the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs at the Fort Indiantown Gap to a lobbying firm by the name of Long Nyquist. Now, with the BMC internship, I have been able to experience a whole new world of possibilities and experiences. Not only has this internship exposed me to new careers in politics, it has also provided me with ample ways to peruse a life of civil service.

    This may sound rather corny, but all of the expectations I had for the BMC internship have already been met and I am only half way through the experience. I look forward to coming into work everyday; I am constantly learning, growing, networking, and smiling. Once again, however, it goes back to the passionate and kindhearted people in life. I have been blessed to work with such amazing and knowledgeable people in the Democratic House Education Committee. Alycia Laureti and April McClenton are truly the nicest and funniest people I could have hoped to work with, they help so many people both directly and indirectly. Thanks to these two amazing women, I am more certain than ever that I belong in the Capitol as a research analyst. I am beyond grateful for this experience and I cannot recommend it highly enough to other students who are interested in politics or civil service.

     

     

    Written by: kbuffenmeyer


  • Something to Learn Every Day

    Mar 4, 2019

    Marissa Howe, Temple University

    I became a journalism major because I enjoy storytelling and I love to explore new ideas. There is always a new story to tell, a different perspective to listen to, and another subject to study. I have never worked in politics before this fellowship, but I have found that no day is the same. I’ve researched many different policies, tracked legislation, attended hearings, and written bill analyses, and I have learned something new every day.

    I am originally from Illinois, and my interests in politics began during Barack Obama’s campaign for President. While my familiarity with Pennsylvania politics is limited, I have learned a great deal in the short time that I have been in Harrisburg. I was placed with the Democratic Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, and the bipartisan attitude of the committee as a whole and the tenacity and passion of the Representatives is a constant reminder of the most basic aspirations of any government body – to serve the people and advance their interests.

    This fellowship has provided me with the opportunity to explore a variety of potential careers since I have had the chance to meet many people serving in different roles and learn about how they became involved in politics. I am a junior, so this is primarily a learning experience for me, and I have not decided on a specific career, but this fellowship has opened my eyes to several opportunities. 

    I would encourage anyone who may consider applying to this fellowship to recognize the unique opportunity it provides. Fellows have the chance to learn about the political process first hand and encounter people with a wide variety of experiences. This program can help students build confidence in their abilities and develop practical skills. The experience of working in a building as magnificent and historic as the Pennsylvania Capitol is awe-inspiring in itself, and while it may be intimidating at first, this program provides the resources, support, and encouragement to ensure that students can thrive.

    Written by: marissahowe


  • The Path Ahead

    Feb 28, 2019

    I’ve been dreaming about getting into politics since I was 11 years old. The 2008 election and the fallout of the Great Recession made me realize how much political decisions shaped the lives of every one around me. I wasn’t sure exactly what “getting into politics” meant at that point, but I knew that’s what I wanted to do. Not that I wanted to be a politician–I didn’t like the idea of being in the limelight, especially when I was young.  I just wanted to play some role in shaping the political decisions that order and organize our lives.

    Casey McDaniel, Allegheny College

    As I learned more, I was a little overwhelmed at all the different ways I could do this. Staffer, lobbyist, organizer, academic, campaign worker, policy analyst, pundit–there were so many paths I could take, how could I choose just one? I knew that I could probably make a difference no matter career I chose, but I wanted to be sure that I was both maximizing my impact and interested in the day-to-day work. I wanted to be in firm control of my future.

    When I was accepted into this program and found out that I would be working for an office in Democratic Leadership, it was a huge weight off my shoulders. After spending so much time dreaming about working in politics, I would finally get my chance. And, like any college senior, I was beyond relieved to know that I would have a solid path to a career post-graduation. With this opportunity, I assumed that it would be easy to plan my future and finally decide on the role I’d play in politics.

    I was completely wrong. Now that I’m halfway through this 13-week program, I’m even less sure about what I want to do. I’ve been confronted by even more career possibilities and expanded my policy interests. At the same time, I feel far less overwhelmed thinking about my future than I did 6 months ago, when I came back to Allegheny College to start my senior year. Instead of getting caught up overthinking I’ve felt freed to explore the opportunities available to me as they come, without worrying so much about exactly where I’m headed.

    Much of this transition is due to my time here in Harrisburg. This fellowship has given me the opportunity to make some inspiring connections and work in the great and historic institution of the Pennsylvania General Assembly. I’ve been able to explore the in’s and out’s of life at the State Capitol and develop a more grounded sense of how political work actually gets done. And, though I only have the responsibilities of an intern, I’ve built confidence in my abilities and put into practice what I’ve learned at Allegheny. This fellowship has made me realize that it is okay to feel like a beginner–because I am one. I don’t need to know the exact route my path takes or where it ends, I just need to take this beginning and see where it goes. Hopefully every stop along the way is exciting as this one!

    Written by: Casey McDaniel


  • Former Fellow Spotlight

    Feb 14, 2019

    The PA House Fellowship Program began in 1982. Since then, more than 400 students completed the internship.   Many of those students have found employment in government or government-affiliated institutions.   It’s time to see what some of our former Fellows have been up to.

    Jay D. Wiederhold was a Fellow in the Fall of 1993, while attending Penn State Harrisburg. 

    What are you doing now; where are you working?

    I am currently the President of the Pennsylvania Beer Alliance in Harrisburg.  I represent/lobby for beer wholesale distributors in PA and in DC.

    Why did you apply for the Fellowship?

    I applied for the fellowship because of my love for government.  I was a Public Policy major at PSU Harrisburg and thought it would be a great opportunity to work in/get a feel for what I was hoping to do at some point after graduation.

    What’s your favorite memory from your internship?

    My favorite memory is more about who I got to work with during my time as a fellow.  I truly remember the friendship and guidance of Tom McCormac and Rep. Karl Boyes.  I guess my favorite memory was finally getting to present my final project to the House Republican members in Caucus.  It was a great time of my life and I cherished every moment.

    What skills did you develop during this internship?

    I developed several skills throughout my time as a fellow.  I developed the ability to write legislative memorandums.  I learned to analyze and draft legislation.  I gained great interpersonal skills and helped to hone in on my public speaking.  I also began to shape my strong negotiating skills through my time as a fellow as well.

    How did the program help you after the internship?

    It played a direct role in kickstarting my career in PA politics.  I landed a job right after graduation with the Republican House Finance Committee within their Research Department.  At the time I didn’t know it, but that was just the beginning for me as I enjoyed 12 years with the Caucus before moving to my position that I currently hold today.

    What advice would you give to future interns?

    Cherish the moment and take advantage of all the knowledge in that building.  There are amazingly talented staff within the Capitol and it’s very important that you listen and learn if you truly intend to work within State Government at some point.  Enjoy the moments as they may be some of the very best you have during your college years.

     

    Written by: Administrator


  • Here We Go Again…

    Feb 4, 2019

    The Spring 2019 Fellows have started their semester with a bang!  They jumped into their placements with heads high, eager to learn.  They have the ambition, confidence, and determination to make this semester successful.  Over the last month, each of them have made a home for themselves in their respective placements.

    • Marissa Howe is from Temple University and is placed in the Democratic Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee.
    • Sarah Long is from Messiah College and is placed in the Republican Commerce Committee.
    • Casey McDaniel is from Allegheny College and is placed in the Office of the Democratic Caucus Chair.
    • Kerry Buffenmeyer is from Lebanon Valley College and is placed in the Democratic Education Committee.
    • Jesse Tomkiewicz is from Allegheny College and is placed in the Republican Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee.
    • Laurel Hicks is from Messiah College and is placed in the Democratic Aging and Older Adult Services Committee.
    • Christo Huntington is from King’s College and is placed in the Democratic Judiciary Committee.

    Over the next few weeks, each Fellow will provide an update on their experience.  Be sure to check back regularly.

    Written by: Administrator


  • A New Jerseyan taking on Pennsylvania politics

    Nov 8, 2018

    I have always been attracted to and surrounded by politics from a young age living in New Jersey. I can vividly remember as a young kid during Barack Obama’s 2008 election campaign knocking on doors in different neighborhoods spreading the word about Obama’s campaign, and that’s where it all started. Ever since then, the attraction I had towards politics and government has only turned into a passion of becoming an elected official in the future.

    During my high school years I focused hard on understanding the fundamentals of history and politics. In addition, how to learn from the past so that we can better ourselves and society for the future. After high school graduation I was accepted into York College of Pennsylvania where I study Political Science and Legal Studies. Throughout my years at York College I have had the opportunity of interning in local government, state government, and a congressional campaign.

    From the local level I interned in New Jersey City Councilmen, Joe McCallum’s office, which was insightful, being my first government internship. At the state level I have had the pleasure of interning in Lieutenant Governor Mike Stack’s office, learning about the Board of Pardons process and how the Pennsylvania State Senate functions. Before returning to Harrisburg, I was able to intern for the George Scott for Congress Congressional Campaign learning more in-depth how congressional campaigns are run in day to day operations.

    Mikal Jenkins, York College of Pennsylvania, Office of the House Minority Whip

    With the help of all those great opportunities and experiences I was accepted into the Pennsylvania House Fellowship Program, which has been second to none. I have always wanted an internship that allowed me to have a front row seat in the legislative process, and the Fellowship Program has far exceeded expectations. I am placed in the Democratic Office of the Minority whip, Rep. Mike Hanna’s office. Where I’ve been able to attend caucus meetings and stake holder meetings, draft bill analysis, write constituent letters, conduct legislative research, and create professional relationships. I never would have thought of being so involved in Pennsylvania state politics, but in a way, Pennsylvania has become my second home.

    After graduating from York College of Pennsylvania I plan to take all the experiences and knowledge I have and apply to law school at Rutgers – Camden University. After law school I hope to dive back into the political arena, whether in New Jersey or Pennsylvania, to fight the good fight for those individuals who cannot and for those who need better representation.

    Written by: Administrator


  • ONE STEP AT A TIME

    Oct 31, 2018

    In 1976, one of the most iconic scenes in movie history debuted on the big screen.

    Anyone who has seen the Rocky movie series, is familiar with the scene that I am referring to. With the well-known theme song playing in the background, it begins with a montage of clips depicting the training routine of aspiring boxer, Rocky Balboa.

    After running through the streets of Philadelphia, throwing some punches in the ring and dropping to the ground to do push-ups, Rocky fiercely races up the steps toward the entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of the Arts. Once he reaches the top, he jumps in the air, lifts his arms and celebrates his achievement, while looking out at the view of the City.

    Jaclyn Victor, King’s College, House Democratic Urban Affairs Committee

    On the first day of my Fellowship, as I made my way up the front steps of the Pennsylvania State Capitol, I couldn’t help but attempt to channel my inner-Rocky, however, I quickly realized that I was no Rocky Balboa.

    Let’s just say, I was unable to imitate the ease and athleticism that Rocky portrayed as I was out of breath by the time I reached the halfway point. But nearly 7 weeks into the Fellowship, I am able to climb those same steps without any issues.

    What people, including myself, fail to realize about the iconic Rocky scene is that the ease and athleticism that Rocky portrays is a direct result of the countless hours of practice, training and dedication he put into developing his craft.

    Trish Downing, the first paraplegic female athlete to complete an ironman triathlon, echoes this sentiment by saying, “Greatness doesn’t come overnight. It comes one step at a time.”

    You might be wondering, what does Rocky have to do with my experience with the Pennsylvania House Fellowship Program?

    Similar to Rocky, the other Fellows and I have incredibly ambitious goals that we have been passionately working towards achieving. Given the prestigious nature of this Fellowship, our participation in this program is one step in the right direction. Participants are given exclusive access to the intricacies of State Government, along with the resources to further develop the skills that we’ll need in our prospective careers.

    As a Fellow placed in the Democratic Urban Affairs Committee, I have written bill analyses, responded to constituent concerns and researched topics, such as affordable housing, gentrification and property taxes. I’ve gotten to attend stakeholder meetings and to hear directly from various elected and appointed officials within the House about their experiences. In addition, it has been truly enlightening to witness the legislative process at every stage, beginning with a bill’s initial drafting to its final passage.

    When the House is in session, one of my favorite things to do is to sit in the gallery and simply observe everything that goes on. I’ve always known that I wanted to hold an elected position in State Government, and seeing legislators in action definitely inspires me to pursue that goal.

    While it’s important to set goals for ourselves, it’s equally as important to appreciate the journey along the way. Even though I’m not on the House floor giving a speech or voting on a piece of legislation, I can still make a positive impact, especially in this program, where Fellows are regarded as equal members of the team who can offer meaningful contributions.

    Dedicating the necessary time for development and improvement is also critical while pursuing a goal. I understand that the training and knowledge that I am receiving now, will allow me to be a more effective legislator in the future. Even when I encounter challenges or feel like I lack expertise, I try to remind myself that it is a natural step in the learning process. I don’t have to be an expert in every subject, but I do have to be constantly willing to learn. And while it might be difficult in the moment, eventually it will get easier.

    Ultimately, I want to encourage anyone who is pursuing a goal to remember the words of Trish Downing and to embrace the work-ethic of Rocky because no one can achieve success overnight, it can only happen one step at a time.

    Written by: jaclynvic


  • Five Tips for a Successful Fellowship Experience

    Oct 29, 2018

    Ken Wallace, Elizabethtown College, Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee

    Adapt to the circumstances.

    I take my involvement in education, employment, and extra-curriculars at Elizabethtown College very seriously. So long as I fulfill my duties and demonstrate initiative, I am typically pleased with the results. The same level of effort and time invested while drafting a piece of legislation or working with the House Republican Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee is not guaranteed to produce a favorable outcome. Many times, we must compromise on our ideas and consider areas which we might have emphasized too heavily or overlooked. In some instances, we come across unexpected sources of inspiration that we wish we could have encountered earlier. Either way, we need to take these experiences into account and more adequately prepare for the next opportunity.

    Work smarter.

    For many of the papers I am assigned at school or tasks I receive at other jobs, I often hit the ground running and embrace a “learning-by-doing” mentality. An attitude of hard work and independence is an important thing to have, but it is difficult to overcome a lack of experience. There are public servants within state government that have been here for decades. That’s not a bad thing, either. They have spent a substantial portion of their career watching the legislative process unfold, and regardless of partisanship, they have grown accustom to working across the aisle and have been dealt their fair share of failure and success. In times of political polarization, this patience and prudence proves to be invaluable, and these individuals through their stories and sage advice may save you a lot of struggle later on. 

    Think opportunity, not obligation.

    When we enter a community, religious, school or political position, we often do so with the expectation that we will receive thanks if we lead our people to success, but that we will not be held fully responsible in the event of failure. This pressure we put upon ourselves quickly turns public service into an obligation, where we feel it necessary to take constrained actions, say rehearsed lines, and weaken our promises. Everyday when I come into work, I have the opportunity to form meaningful, purposeful relationships with the citizens who are our constituents and staff who are part of our team. Because of those interactions which occur throughout my time at the fellowship, I am able to learn more about myself and the meaning behind each policy, which spurs a passion that I will then apply to improve the lives of Pennsylvanians.

    Respect and treat others well.

    Anyone who commits themselves to public service is forgoing opportunity elsewhere to further their condition. Individuals are undoubtedly interested in bettering their own health, gaining higher status, and enhancing overall wellbeing, but those who work in public service spend the majority of their time providing this for others. That requires true patience, sacrifice, and selflessness. There should be an honest effort to recognize those qualities and better understand one another. No matter where we are headed in our private or professional lives, or where we have come from, there is no such thing as a self-made person. To quote the late historian, George Burton Adams, “We are made up of thousands of others. Everyone who has ever done a kind deed for us, or spoken one words of encouragement to us, has entered into the make-up of our character and of our thoughts, as well as our success”. With that said, we as well, should regularly perform kind deeds, practice reciprocity, and provide steady encouragement to those in our environment.

    Seek self-improvement.

    No matter the condition you find yourself in, whether you are one of my loved family members or friends, a kind stranger, or a prospective student who is looking to apply for the fellowship, the best thing we can do to improve the condition of ourselves and those around us, is to continually transcend our old, lesser self. The little things we think of as small or trivial, be it making our bed, exercising in the morning, calling a parent to wish them well, offering to help a coworker or supervisor, preparing dinner for roommates, volunteering for a local organization, or making time for the people in our lives, are pathways to real and substantial change, if we consistently apply ourselves in this direction. Balancing this full-time fellowship with college night classes and all my other responsibilities presented a challenge, but I remain focused on the real prize which is becoming the improved version of myself.

    Written by: Administrator


  • Don’t Be Afraid to Get Your Feet Wet

    Oct 26, 2018

    As a first-generation college student who was once in ESL all through elementary school, I never imagined myself interning in the House Democrat Education Committee. Being selected as one of the fellows for the PA House Fellowship Program been one of my most significant accomplishments. I am someone with goals and aspirations, and I am determined to make sure I accomplish them. I knew since my freshman year at Lebanon Valley College that I wanted to be part of this program.

    Shilesky Montalvo Cruz, Lebanon Valley College, House Democratic Education Committee

    Upon graduation, I plan to attend law school with the goal of working at a law firm. Before the start of my internship, I had a basic understanding of government. Throughout these seven weeks, I have gained a vast array of knowledge. As an intern, I have researched bills, drafted memos, written constituent letters, senate letters, bill analysis, press release, articles for the Diversity & Inclusion Newsletter, and House Resolutions. In addition to the office work, I attend State Board of Education meetings, Democratic Caucus, Committee meetings, and Session.

    This fellowship is an excellent opportunity to grow as someone who would eventually work in government. While interviewing one of the legislators, she told me something that will stay with me forever. “To do something you’ve never done before, you have to get your feet wet. While you are in the process, remember to be yourself. Every circumstance you encounter is the stepping stone for what is yet to come.”

    The PA House Fellowship Program is an opportunity for anyone interested in politics or government to get there “feet wet.” When people back at home ask how my internship is going, I say it’s going great because it is. For anyone looking to get lots of experience, knowledge, and network with professionals in government, then this is the right internship for you.

    If you are someone who thinks they won’t apply because you might not get it, I say APPLY! If you want something, you must work harder than ever to earn that because if not, did you really want it? This internship allowed me to grow and learn so much about what government is all about. Every experience, lesson, and opportunity has shown me how much potential I have. I am honestly so thankful to have been selected for this fellowship. I am excited to continue learning more about government.

    Written by: Administrator


  • Building Relationships to Fulfill Social Responsibilities

    Oct 23, 2018

    In a nationally polarized society, the members and staffers who work under the dome of the Pennsylvania State Capitol have found a way to compromise and work with each other on both sides of the aisle. Shellie Sauerwine from Republican Human Resources demonstrated to us that it’s sometimes easier to talk about peanut butter versus chocolate than it is to discuss topics like criminal justice reform, gun rights, or public education. That’s exactly how members and staffers connect outside of the dome in order to work better together under the dome.

    Representatives are true colleagues here; they have a mutual drive to work hard for their constituents. Sometimes, I think people outside of the Capitol “bubble” forget that they are people, too. Members dedicate their entire lives to their constituents and work up until they physically cannot work anymore. Representative Markosek never missed a vote in his 35 years of service. There have been members who came to work while battling cancer and other serious sicknesses. Members pack up their lives and leave their families for days at a time, and miss school plays, baseball games, birthdays, and anniversaries.

    In addition, Representative Kim and Representative Oberlander taught us that their dedication goes far beyond any criticism they face. Individuals who approach them to share their story and how the representatives have fought for them make all of the long days and missed family events worth it. Social responsibility to our neighbors surpasses any divide between us. The divide is only there because of a difference of means; the goal is still to help each other.

    Jess Pavey, Susquehanna University, House Republican Finance Committee

    One of the key qualities of the PA General Assembly is the effort to debate and compromise with one another, and they do this by building relationships. Chief Clerk Dave Reddecliff emphasized how connecting with someone on a personal level allows you to work better on a professional level. While he served as a member of the house research staff, he was able to build a workable relationship with his counterpart on the Democrat side that prospered on trust and cooperation.

    Member’s best friends can be found on the other side of the aisle. Members have both working and personal relationships with their staff which promotes efficiency and effectivity. They all respect each other and know that they are people too who have families and lives to go home to at the end of the day. A difference of opinion or authority does not separate anyone in this building. They are all working toward the same goal of fulfilling their social responsibility.

    Through the Fellowship, I was placed in the House Republican Finance Committee, where I mainly address constituent concerns and write bill analyses on tax laws and policies. Now, I know what everyone reading this is thinking: “Ohhh taxes. That’s cool.” I’ve learned that even the most seemingly boring subjects can be the basis for a really exciting experience. The entire research staff for the House Republican Caucus has welcomed me along with the other Republican interns, Ken and John. They are more than willing to give us advice and get to know us as individuals.

    Most importantly though, the “A” team has taught me a lot about state government and how we can do our part to address constituent concerns and contribute to the overall goal of social responsibility. I have really appreciated this opportunity to build meaningful relationships with my coworkers and gain further inspiration for my career goals.

    Written by: Administrator


  • Feeling the Rush

    Oct 16, 2018

    Every morning, I experience a rush: I walk into work and see one of the most elaborate capitol rotundas in the United States. Most mornings, unless I have a meeting to run to, I pause for a moment to take it all in – the intricate tile mosaics, the imposing yet elegant staircase, the vivid colors of the dome, the incredible paintings throughout the building – and feel honored to be able to work in the people’s house on the people’s issues. Even though I’ve walked through the main rotunda every day for the past month, I still feel the awe visitors experience when they walk into the building, the passion of the speakers and protestors on various issues, and the weighty knowledge that the action or inaction of people in this building can have consequences far beyond what is expected.

    Every day, I am reminded that this is the people’s house, that this apparatus of government exists to serve the people, and that I am lucky to be a part of that apparatus and serve the people.

    Joe Keller, Messiah College, House Democratic Human Services Committee

    I serve on the Human Services Committee, and am honored to have a part in working on solutions to the problems many Pennsylvanians face, such as medication-assisted treatment or a lack of adequate housing for persons struggling with an addiction, lack of services for those with a disability or autism, and deficiencies in current mandatory newborn child screenings. On this committee, I am able to concretely apply what I have learned through two other political internships outside the Capitol and three years of studying Politics at Messiah College.

    But even with that outside experience and head knowledge, I have realized people won’t actually know what it’s like in the House until they’re in the House. I certainly didn’t. Spoiler: a bill doesn’t actually become a law as easily as Schoolhouse Rock would have us believe.

    If you’re thinking about applying for this fellowship, I would urge you to never forget the importance of this building and what goes on here, and to just do it.

    Let’s face it: we’re student-fellows. We’re not the ones voting on difficult decisions. But by proposing an original piece of legislation, which you will do as part of this fellowship, you have a unique opportunity to truly impact something you deeply care about, because your idea just might be signed into law. You will have the unique opportunity, out of every student in Pennsylvania, to write a law that will remedy current and past injustices, enable people to live their lives to the fullest, and ensure equality in the future. This incredible opportunity can only be maximized by you and your actions, however; so you must take the initiative and just do it, whatever “it” is.

    It’s challenging, but incredibly rewarding. Who knows? You might just want to do something like this for the rest of your life.

    Written by: joekeller1


  • New Semester, New Faces

    Oct 10, 2018

    The Fall 2018 fellows are off and running!  The students have the drive, perseverance, and enthusiasm to make this semester one of the best.  Over the last month, each of them have made a home for themselves in their respective placements.

    • Ken Wallace is from Elizabethtown College and is placed in the Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee.
    • Joe Keller is from Messiah College and is placed in the Human Services Committee.
    • Mikal Jenkins is from York College and is placed in the Office of Minority Whip, Rep. Mike Hanna.
    • Jess Pavey is from Susquehanna University and is placed in the Finance Committee.
    • Jaclyn Victor is from King’s College and is placed in the Urban Affairs Committee.
    • Shilesky Montalvo-Cruz is from Lebanon Valley College and is placed in the Education Committee.

    Over the next few weeks, each Fellow will provide an update on their experience.  Be sure to check back regularly.

     

    Written by: Administrator


  • You Have To Start Somewhere. Be Confident!

    Feb 28, 2018

    I can still remember the day like it was yesterday, the day I had received my letter of acceptance into the Pennsylvania House Fellowship Program. I was in shock but also excited that I had been chosen to be a part of this experience. I kept telling myself I wasn’t going to get it because this had been my first time applying for a professional job and it was also my first time having a big interview so I was extremely nervous. But here I am today, working for the Republican Local Government and Transportation committees! I am about half way through the program now, and the biggest word of advice I can tell anyone who is starting an internship is to never put yourself down and take advantage of the opportunities you have.

    To be honest, it was difficult for me to adjust to this professional atmosphere. I live about two hours away from Harrisburg, so coming all the way out here all by myself was a huge step in my life to branch out from my normal surroundings. As a student pursuing a degree in political science at Temple University, I thought working hand-in-hand with public policy was a great opportunity for me. But one thing that really got in my head when I started the program was how intimidated I was because I was the youngest and felt like I was the most inexperienced in the program. The other fellows in the program are all seniors, ready to graduate, and looking at jobs for after graduation. I felt so embarrassed explaining to my colleagues that this was just a “learning experience” for me and that I had no future plans at the moment. But I soon learned that it’s okay to be in the position I am in. A lot of people still don’t have a set plan for their future endeavors. Even as I got to know the other fellows more personally, they too are still trying to figure out what path to take with their professional lives. This internship is a learning experience for all of us and what we are learning here is experience that we might never get anywhere else.

    In regard to my professional experience here so far, I have grown so much and have learned a great amount of information about the legislative process. I have drafted bill summaries and bill analyses for house bills, which has enabled me to read and translate legislation. I even have had the opportunity to network and do research for several Representatives to find information for bills that they are sponsoring, which is pretty neat that I have had some influence in legislation and have helped with the process. And don’t get me started with Session! I have actually had the chance to be on the House floor and witness legislation be voted on and I am now currently working on drafting my own legislation! When I take a step back and look at everything I have accomplished so far here, I feel much more confident in myself and my abilities.

    I started this program feeling like I didn’t fit in, but once I started to get in the flow of things and got to know my staff and fellows more personally, I have become more comfortable and I feel as if I am a part of a team. It doesn’t matter if this is your first internship, you have to start somewhere and take advantage of the time you have because time flies by!

    Written by: Taylor


  • Put yourself out there!

    Feb 22, 2018

    Feeling exposed is never a comfortable experience. On my first day of work, I was taken to my office to meet the rest of my committee’s staff and to situate myself at my desk. As you can see from the picture, my desk is very exposed. If a person needs someone from the Committee of Aging and Older Adult Services, I am the first staffer he or she will find. On my first day as a fellow in the PA House of Representatives, this was terrifying to me. The first time a constituent came in to find my Chairman, I froze. I was so nervous that I was being asked anything at all, as I didn’t feel qualified to speak as a staffer of the committee. This eventually faded. As more and more constituents came in, I accepted that, yes, I am a staffer of the committee and that, yes, I am capable of interacting with these constituents.

    This was not the only time that I felt uncomfortable at the start of my time here. The idea of submitting a draft to my supervisor for comments was very hard for me to accept. I was still in the mindset of a student, thinking that I needed a couple rounds of drafts and peer edits before being able to send a final copy to my supervisor. I realized quickly, however, the value of working as a team and trusting the members of that team. My supervisor gave me suggestions on what to edit for my first assignment, and after making the edits, she told me that she was very happy with the final product. The importance of this teamwork was solidified for me when my supervisor actually asked me to look over one of her assignments – and told me to send her suggestions for edits! I decided to put my insecurities aside and sent her an email detailing exactly what I thought needed to be changed. She liked several of my suggestions and asked me to make the appropriate changes. Although this experience seems small, it taught me not to underestimate myself or my abilities.

    Much of this fellowship experience so far has been a personal experiment in exposure. From picking up the phone and calling our department liaisons for specific information, to giving my supervisors my opinions on certain policies, I have found myself in situations where I have had to actively set aside my own insecurities. This has helped me grow both personally and professionally. As I move forward in my professional career, I will be faced with moments that require a strong opinion or leader. I know that because I have been exposed to situations where I have had to overcome my nerves and insecurities, I will be able to rise up to future challenges.

    Written by: Larissa


  • Unexpected Opportunities

    Feb 21, 2018

    Here I am with the Majority Appropriations Chairman, Rep. Saylor

    I have always been unsure about the specific career path I wanted to commit to. I just knew I wanted to be in a business setting and working for a corporation. I’ve considered plenty of fields such as marketing, actuarial science, accounting, human resources, and more, but I could never stick to one. The only thing that kept me optimistic about my uncertainty was that I was often told work in my selected field would be much more interesting than learning the material in a classroom.

    I am an Accounting major with aspirations in the field of business, so I would have never guessed that I’d be a part of the PA House Fellowship. I was always open to trying new things, but getting involved with state government had never crossed my mind. In fact, joining the Frederick Douglass Debate Team at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) is the only comparable experience to my position as a Legislative Fellow under the PA House of Representatives.

    As a Legislative Fellow that was placed on the Finance Committee I am experiencing things that I’d never thought I would so soon. I am going to meetings with the Treasury Department. I get to sit and personally watch the governor’s address in my own workplace. I am actually watching a law go from a basic idea to being passed and practiced by citizens in the state of Pennsylvania.

    This fellowship is also helping me develop skills that I can take with me anywhere I go. Prior to this fellowship, I was comfortable with public speaking, but I was not comfortable with talking to business professionals one-on-one. It was something that I just did not have enough practice with in order to be comfortable with doing it. Now I am meeting new people and being placed in networking opportunities daily. I went from being nervous to introduce myself to an employee to speaking to everyone I see in passing. Aside from networking I am gaining writing skills, analytical skills, and skills to better work with a team in a professional setting.

    As far as professional experience, being placed on the Finance Committee has helped me develop a career interest in tax and consulting. I am tasked with many projects that lead me to help constituents and research many tax laws inside and outside of Pennsylvania. Prior to coming to this fellowship, I had told myself that I did not want to get involved in tax accounting, but this is a prime example of how your college coursework is not as appealing as doing the work professionally.

    The PA House Fellowship was not relevant to my course of study, but it was an opportunity that I just could not pass up on. This amazing fellowship is equipping me with skills that would benefit me for the rest of my life. The fellowship allows you to not only do committee work, but allows you to network and treats you like a full-time employee.

    Written by: Ryan


  • Figuring Out What the Future Holds

    Feb 15, 2018

    I have always had trouble picturing myself as anything other than a student. Of course there have been career paths that have interested me, but I’ve never been able to stick to one “dream job.” As a result, my entire educational experience, from high school on, has been all about exploring career paths and gathering as much knowledge as possible. Constantly learning bits of information about a wide variety of topics has been my favorite part of this experience, and it has also introduced me to tons of career possibilities. Along the way I’ve been able to rule some things out (President, architect, psychiatrist, accountant, and art teacher to name a few) and discovered several others that I like, ultimately deciding on the broad field of law. At one point I was afraid to pick a college major because I thought that would lock me into a specific career path for the rest of my life, but that was far from the truth. Programs like this, the PA House Fellowship, have exposed me to hundreds of career paths and positions within my field of study that I otherwise never would have heard about.

    Unlike some of the other fellows that you will be hearing from, this experience hasn’t been too far outside my comfort zone, nor has it been extremely different from other internships and classes I have had. Coming in, I was a little worried that I might not learn anything new because I had interned in the U.S. Senate and taken a class on legislative behavior. I had already seen the man behind the curtain and had all of the college kid idealism sucked out of me and replaced with pragmatism and political strategy back in 2016. Sure, I knew I’d like the fellowship, but what more was there for me to learn about the legislature? A lot. There’s always more to learn. While the work I did on the Hill was similar, I only scratched the surface of the legislative process in D.C. But in Harrisburg, I’ve been able to really dig in by applying some of what I learned before I got here. On top of that, I’ve discovered some more career options for people with law degrees, so maybe the House hasn’t seen the last of me.

    I enjoy the work that I do here, even if it isn’t a wildly new experience for me because legislative and legal research is something I see myself doing in some capacity in the future. I love to dive into a topic and immerse myself, digging through every statute, every study, every news article, and every spreadsheet that I can get my hands on during the research process. I want to be able to answer any questions anyone could throw at me… and then I want to move on to the next research topic. My placement in the Democratic Finance Committee allows me to do just this, especially when the committee isn’t busy and I’m responding to constituent requests or questions.   I get a topic, I find out more, write something up, answer some questions, and then I move on to my next topic. Some topics warrant much more in-depth research than others, some are boring, some require me to become highly familiar with certain aspects of the law, and some point me in the direction of a career I think I might like to have in the future. I realize that might not sound attractive to other people, so I want to clarify that my experience is not the same as anyone else’s. I couldn’t begin to count how many times I’ve been told that “this fellowship is whatever you make of it.” I’ve made it into an opportunity for me to become more familiar with the laws and structure of the Pennsylvania government because that is what I feel will benefit me in the legal profession. Other fellows may feel that networking in Harrisburg or completing research on one specific topic will be more beneficial to them, and that’s cool too.

    Even though I’m almost 22 and I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, I’m not worried about it. Sure, I’ve decided that I’m going to be an attorney, but just like picking a major wasn’t the end of the road, I know I’ll have a long and winding road of possibilities ahead of me when I graduate from law school. And even though I have a few more years as a student, my internships have taught me that being a student and an employee don’t have to be all that different, because a good bureaucrat or public servant needs to know a little bit about a lot of things and always keep learning.

    Written by: Abby


  • Different? Yes. You CAN do it.

    Feb 13, 2018

    Andy in the “Rising Sun” Chair: History never sets!

    In the Capitol, you see many faces running around — young, old, wearing suits, wearing jeans, and everything in between. When I first saw the young kids, however, I couldn’t help but be reminded of when I toured the Capitol building over a decade ago. I was young, energetic, and my mom always reminds me of how I wrestled with my brother on Governor Rendell’s floor. In that moment, I (and my mom) would have never believed that I would be working in arguably the most elaborate State Capitol building in the future. In fact, that idea wouldn’t have been realistic until just 6 months ago!

    As a Psychology Major, I knew my background was maybe not the most typical for a PA House Fellow. Yet, as a person, I knew my passion, interest, and drive was enough for me to take a chance. And while I was not preparing for such an opportunity for years, when I started the application in September, my heart was set on becoming a PA House Fellow. That, again, is the short answer of why I pursued being here, if you would like the long answer, please contact me!

    Now, the point of this post is for those who may have had similar thoughts as I did, such as: I’m not going to be prepared, I don’t have the background knowledge, I’m new to politics, etc. Well, unless you worked in the Capitol or were a PA House Fellow, you don’t actually know what it’s like to be a PA House Fellow.

    Those who know me, know I talk about a “growth mindset” whenever I can. Essentially, having a growth mindset means that you believe that you can achieve something through real effort and learning. This also means not being afraid of failure or making mistakes. If you fall into the opposite of that, meaning you believe skills and talents are natural abilities, then you said to have a fixed mindset. I have worked hard the past few years to adopt a growth mindset in my life, and truth be told, had I not, I would not be here.

    I knew that I wasn’t going to understand much coming in, and boy was I right! Yet, I also knew my heart was set on this, and I was going to put in the effort to be successful here. I was going to learn as much as I could, ask questions, Google A LOT, and not be afraid to mess up on something I never did before. And that is what I’ve been doing since I’ve been here, and guess what? I know how to write a bill analysis, do policy research and answer constituents’ questions/ concerns, I know that I have a lot more learning to do, I know I belong here, and I know I will be successful #GrowthMindset.

    While that was a nice closing sentence, I’m not finished. Don’t let your own assumptions about your “preparedness” effect your decision to pursue this, or anything else in life. If you have it in your heart to do something, and you’re willing to put in the work, then go for it! Yes, it may be different, but also yes, you can do it. So challenge yourself, and be a Fellow. The worst that can happen is that you’ll walk away with an in-depth understanding of the state legislative process. You may even get your own parking spot! Not so bad, right?

    Written by: Andy


  • A New Year is Here!

    Jan 30, 2018

    Our Spring 2018 fellows have kicked off the new year with enthusiasm diving into all things state government. It has been less than two weeks and they are already off to an excellent start in their respective committees.

    • Ryan K. Stewart Jr. is from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and is placed in the Finance Committee.
    • Andrew Nunn is from Allegheny College and is placed in the Urban Affairs Committee.
    • Taylor Eubanks is from Temple University and is placed in the Local Government and Transportation Committees.
    • Larissa Gil Sanhueza is from Pennsylvania State University and is placed in the Aging and Older Adult Services Committee.
    • Abigail Aumen is from Elizabethtown College and is placed in the Finance Committee.

    …Here’s to new lessons, new stories, and new adventures ahead! 

    Written by: Administrator


  • Happenings

    Nov 30, 2017

    Over the past few weeks, it has been a busy time for the fellows as their tenure at the Capitol is coming to a close. They are wrapping up their individual pieces of legislation that they present next Friday and they are meeting with so many different people along the way.

    The Fellows meeting with Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf

    The Fellows meeting with Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro

    The Fellows meeting with Commonwealth Court Judge P. Kevin Brobson

    Former Fellows Workshop

     

     

    Written by: Administrator


  • You Don’t Know What You’ve Got Until It’s Gone

    Nov 13, 2017

    A Summary of PA’s Response to the Equifax Security Breach

    As a fellow for the Republican Commerce Committee, I have become increasingly familiar with the Equifax security breach, the PA laws surrounding breaches and credit reporting agencies, and the bill drafting process.  As a young person whose main influence on my credit score is my abundance of student loans, I did not realize how much was truly at stake when your personal information is accessed.  I always thought to myself, “I don’t have any assets and no one wants to take on my student loan debt. I don’t need to worry about someone stealing my identity.” Oh, was I wrong.

    With security breaches like this one, an individual does not have to have a long list of high-valued assets or tons of money in their account- they just need to be an American citizen.  If a hacker can obtain a social security number and use that in conjunction with another variety of personal information, they can begin to open new accounts under your name.

    Personal information, as I mentioned above, has been a topic of debate in light of the Equifax breach.  What is truly personal anymore, when we all have social media accounts and personal cell phones and computers? This was a question for the Commerce Committee to answer.

    I have sat in on meetings between the Committee and various stakeholders.  The Committee has listened to industry representatives from companies like Amazon and Verizon, in addition to working closely with the PA Attorney General’s Office.  In these meetings, a variety of aspects of HB 1846 were debated, but especially the definition for personal information.

    The definition for ‘personal information’ now includes things like one’s SSN, driver’s license number, passport number, and taxpayer, patient, insurance, and employee identification numbers.  As we advance technologically as a society, this definition also includes identifies such as fingerprints, facial scans, retina and iris images, voice signatures, and any other biometric data.  Identifiers that are not covered in the definition of personal information are maiden names, IP addresses, routing codes, or vehicle registration and titles numbers.  I learned a lot about bill drafting by listening to the debates on what should and should not be included in the definition of personal information.

    Handling the Equifax security breach went further than amending bills, though this was a major consequence of the breach.  I was also tasked with responding to constituent concerns.  If a constituent had a question or comment, I addressed it.  Most of the comments I responded to pointed out the flaw in out system- individuals that had a breach of data through no fault of their own now had to pay the company responsible for the breach in order to freeze and protect their credit.  Everyone could easily see how this violated consumer protections.  HB 1847, introduced by Representative Driscoll, addresses this concern, by amending a section to reduce the fee for a credit freeze from up to $10 to up to $5.  Additionally, it prohibits the consumer reporting agency that has been subject to a breach from imposing a charge on any customer for placing a freeze on a consumer report.

    In addition, Chairman Ellis of the Commerce Committee, Representative Driscoll, and Attorney General Josh Shapiro held a press conference to discuss an action plan to protect Pennsylvania citizens from corporate harm due to breaches of security.  I was able to witness all that goes into a press conference- time, date, location, press release, talking points, contacting media outlets, etc.  I found it to be exciting how quickly and carefully the state government was responding to this constituent matter.

    When I started this fellowship, I had no idea how important my identity truly is.  And now, through governmental processes, I have learned how vital my personal information and cyber security features are in everyday life.  I now have tangible experience with many aspects of state government, and it was rewarding to witness this bipartisan effort to protect consumers first-hand.  Interning through this fellowship gave me hands-on experience is fixing a problem that affected millions of Americans, while learning a lot about myself in the process.

    Written by: Becca


  • Enjoy the Time

    Nov 2, 2017

    The moment to moment experience that this Fellowship offers is unlike anything I have ever done.  Be it from sitting in on lobbyist meetings to being able to walk up stairs and see live debate on the House floor.  This Fellowship offers a full experience and one that I would say is unmatched in many ways.  I feel that the biggest reason for my enjoyment and how it is unmatched comes from the office that I work in.

    Working under Rep. Mike Carrol, the Democrat Chairman of Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, Richard Fox, the Executive Director of the committee, and Sandy Mutzabaugh, the legislative assistant have made this experience memorable.  All three of them have taken an interest in helping me absorb an excessive amount of knowledge in the legislative process.  Rep. Carroll has been a Member for almost a little over ten years now, while Richard and Sandy have been working in government for over 31 years and 28 years respectfully. The work environment they provide allows me to ask constant questions and get direct answers. My team is a big part of why I enjoy what I am doing.  Be it from us laughing about what we did this weekend to discussing why a representative voted a certain way.  They as a group make it a thrill to come to work and help make this Fellowship a great experience.

    I think other blog posts have echoed the sentiment that this Fellowship offers more than a class room setting, but I also wanted to share my experience of working with a great group of people who care a great deal.  They want a better Pennsylvania and have shown me that through their job.  The Fellowship permits you to ask tough questions while giving you the people and resources to find answers.  As I was typing this, I turned and asked Sandy several questions relating to the change in governors and enjoyed every second of our discussion and that is what the Fellowship offers the most.

    City life: A mural that I walk by to work everyday

    Written by: Isaac


  • The Stepping Stone to Success

    Nov 1, 2017

    Luncheon at work with the Philadelphia Eagles

    After getting accepted into the fellowship program I was full of excitement! Prior to my acceptance, I had no luck in finding an internship relevant to Political Science. The Pennsylvania Fellowship Program gave me an opportunity to learn and gain an experience in the professional world. Going into the fellowship, I knew I had a basic and solid understanding of government and politics. But, what I studied and read in books does not compare to the actual hands-on involvement encountered within my committee and fellowship.

    Currently, I am seven weeks into my internship and I feel like I have learned so much within that short time frame. As an intern for the Judiciary Committee, I have researched bills, drafted memos, and actively participated in constituent relations. Each of these variety of tasks contribute to a larger development of increasing my communication and analytical skills. As a future law student, I found that I was susceptible to the many preconceived notions about the judicial system and its inherent legal nature. But, what I have learned is that the passage of bills and legal process takes a much more unwavering and systematic approach in order to achieve its full intent.

    Aside from my committee duties,  the fellowship challenges me in more ways than I could possibly imagine. The idea that I have the opportunity to draft my own piece of legislation is a huge accomplishment within itself. The coordinators of the fellowship have created the program for students to excel in various aspects of the political spectrum, in addition to molding me into becoming a much more well-rounded professional. Thus far, I have met many professionals and acquired great networking skills. Because of this, I feel that I have made connections with the right people.

    This fellowship is a great stepping stone for what is to come in the future for the ultimate success in life that most people seek to attain. I know that what I have learned from this fellowship will prepare me for the working world. A wise woman told me that, fellows are no longer young professionals, but that we are business professionals-Sheryl. Which means we will experience the same trials and tribulations as every other person in the Capital. This saying stuck with me because I don’t see myself as just an ‘intern’, but rather another business professional working towards the same goal.

    If there was something I can take away from this fellowship it would be that “No one owes you anything.” You must work hard to achieve the ultimate satisfactory attainment level, and the fellowship has prepared me to want to achieve more. The PA House Fellowship Program has challenged me to develop a strong work ethic. And this strong work ethic is one that I will take with me into law school and into my future profession.

    Written by: Alex


  • Welcome to the Legislative Process

    Oct 31, 2017

    The biggest struggle I encountered during my first couple of weeks in the fellowship was acclimating to the bureaucratic environment of state government. There’s a learning curve when it comes to understanding the procedures and norms of both, the committee that your placed on, and the legislature as a whole. Like any professional in a new work environment, you have to figure out how your committee functions, and the role that you play in its administration. The key to being successful during your time in the fellowship, is understanding how to best service the needs of your committee staff. Every staff member has different preferences and modes of conducting business. It’s your job to figure out how your superiors operate. For example, your Executive Director might prefer to be updated throughout the course of your assignment, or they might need to see a finished product before they can offer recommendations. It’s about determining  how you can best be utilized by the committee staff.

    Getting into this mode of thinking, “how can I best service the needs of those around me?“, can be quite difficult. Everything you’ve experienced thus far, in public school and in higher education, has been focused towards servicing your needs. Whether it be career services or faculty advising, higher education is designed around providing services for your benefit. However, when you’re dropped into your placement, it’s on you to develop the social skills to anticipate the needs of your colleagues. Think, how can I help them?, not how can they help me?. The professionals who are the best at anticipating the needs of those around them, (their representatives, stakeholders, constituents, and staff), are the ones that are most successful in the legislature. It’s not all about networking or being the most knowledgeable person in the room, although, those aspects are important too.

    One of the many fortunes of the fellowship is being able to participate in the legislative process. To work on my legislation, I’ve been given all the resources that a regular staff member would have access to, such as legislative services, legal counsel, and contacts. I’ve also been fortunate enough to meet with the various interests concerned with the subject area of my legislation. These interests include, state agency employees, lobbyists, non-profits, and representatives. Coordinating with these different parties can sometimes be a balancing act. You have to consider the desires of the stakeholders, the expertise of the agency employees, and the reality of needing sponsorship from a representative. However, the opportunity to have such a hands on experience in the legislative process as an undergrad is unparalleled. I’ve been thanking my lucky stars every day that I’ve been privileged with such an amazing experience.

    Written by: Nathan


  • The Balance between Idealism & Pragmatism

    Oct 30, 2017

    It is incredibly rare to have an internship alter fundamental perceptions of purpose, politics, and personal philosophy. My experience with the House Fellowship Program has already substantively challenged all three of those basic parts of my identity.(…and I’ve only been here seven weeks!)

    As a senior in college preparing for the next chapter of my life, my worldview, personal philosophy, and values are currently evolving. This fellowship has proven to be well-timed, not only for the incredible opportunities for professional development and immersion in policy making, but also for the impact this fellowship has had on my perspective at such a pivotal point of my life. I have long fostered an idealistic commitment to social justice and respect for all humans, and this fellowship has introduced me to a healthy way to combine this ideological purity with realism and practicality.

    Prior to serving as a legislative fellow here in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, I was firmly situated within two worlds: the ivory tower of academia and the idealistic bubble of activism and the non-profit sector. In both of those settings, I spent a lot of time and energy thinking about systems of injustice in the abstract and advocating for the victims of those unjust systems. Throughout this process, I would often come across what I perceived to be an obstacle to progress: The Pennsylvania State Government. Often the idealism and purity of ideas formed within the bubbles of academia and activism appeared to be incompatible with the practicality inherent to state government, and before serving as a fellow here, I found that practicality to be frustrating.  After less than two months working full-time in the State Capitol, I have come to understand that idealism and practicality need not be oppositional, and can instead supplement and strengthen each other.

    The legislative process, when done correctly, distills pure, ideal values about what is just and fair into manageable pieces of pragmatism that tangibly improves the lives of Pennsylvanians. It’s a fascinating process that I have had the privilege to witness firsthand and participate in over the course of the past few weeks. By immersing myself in the daily functions and processes of the State government and meeting key players in those functions and processes, my deepened comprehension of how value-driven principles – often formed in the bubbles of academia and activism – evolve into practical implications for Pennsylvanians has fundamentally transformed my approach to my ultimate goal of strengthening and protecting justice and equality. I have come to understand that an idealist notion of how systems ought to be requires an understanding of how systems are.

    The Pennsylvania State Government is not an obstacle to progressing toward a more just world, but it is rather a powerful vehicle that anyone invested in working toward a kinder future must understand and harness. This fellowship has given me unparalleled access to the many moving parts, systems, and processes of the State Government, and I know that this fellowship has provided with me the tools that I will take with me and continue to tap into throughout the next stages of my life.

    Written by: Madison


  • THERE’S ALWAYS MORE TO LEARN

    Oct 23, 2017

    Coming into this fellowship, I knew I had a well-rounded education in the field of politics and government, but what I didn’t know was just how differently things work in the real world. As a student, you can read every single book on government, history, political theory, public policy, etc. However, there is no substitute for hands on learning in government. Almost every person that went to school has seen the famous animated video on how a bill becomes a law from School House Rock. If only the process was as simple as the video made it out to be.

    People become easily frustrated with how long it takes our legislature to get something done, especially with the unresolved budget. I have come to understand that the reason everything takes so long is because bills are scrutinized in every way possible. Is this always a great thing? No, it can be so irritating. However, it is necessary to make sure that there isn’t legislation getting passed that negatively impacts the citizens of the Commonwealth. As a result, I have a newfound respect for the entire legislative process.

    As a fellow for the Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, I have had a terrific experience. The members of my staff have made me feel like I am a member of the team and not just some intern. They assign me legitimate work such as bill analyses, cosponsor memos, resolutions, and even bill topics. They will assign me the work and I know if I ever have any questions, they are always more than willing to help me in any way possible.

    I have had the opportunity to be hands on in the policy making process on this committee, and it has been eye opening. One of the most effective ways to learn, is to apply your skills and actually do it. This fellowship has afforded me the opportunity to test my skills in a real world setting. Therefore, not only do I feel like I know more about the process, but more importantly I know that my skills are applicable in a professional capacity. I am going into my 7th week here at the Capitol, but it feels like I just started due to how engaged I have been with the process as well as members of staff.

    Every college student has always been told how important it is to network. Early in college I would always take that advice very lightly. Since I have started here, I now understand why every professor I have had has given me that same advice. Networking is essential to succeed in this field, and I am finally able to do that every day when I walk into this building. Each day brings a new story, new faces, and new challenges. Each challenge is different from the last, and I learn a new lesson every day. This is truly something that you don’t regularly get in a classroom environment, and I would not trade it for anything in the world.

    Written by: Matt


  • Welcome, Fall 2017 Fellows!

    Sep 25, 2017

    It has been two weeks since our fall fellows have started their fellowship here at the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and they are already off to a great start!

    • Madison attends Temple University and is placed with the Commerce Committee.
    • Alejandra attends Neumann University and is placed with the Judiciary Committee.
    • Matthew attends Elizabethtown College and is placed with the Veterans Affairs & Emergency preparedness Committee.
    • Isaac attends Susquehanna University and is placed with the Environmental Resources & Energy Committee.
    • Nathaniel attends Elizabethtown College and is placed with the Urban Affairs Committee.
    • Rebecca attends Lebanon Valley College and is placed with the Commerce Committee.

    …We are excited to see how the remainder of their time here in the House unravels!

    Written by: Administrator


  • Farewell, Summer 2017 Fellows!

    Aug 16, 2017

    We are very proud of our graduate and law school Summer 2017 fellows. Each one successfully researched, drafted, and presented their original legislations. During their 13-week tenure at the Capitol, they comprehensively learned about the multifaceted nature of State Government. We anticipate only the best for their future endeavors.
    Best of luck and well wishes Erin, Emma, Bill, Stephanie, Dan, and Sarah! 

    Written by: Administrator


  • Getting by with a Little Help from My Supervisor

    Jul 12, 2017

    If you read my last blog post, you know that the process of finding, applying to, and securing my internship with the PA House Fellowship program was driven by anxiety and fueled by a contradictory mix of low expectations and high standards. This process was in and of itself a major learning experience, one that I kept in mind when it came time to start my internship. Although I was not as nervous for my first day with the House Fellowship program as I had expected, I remained apprehensive about meeting my future coworkers. Upon being introduced to my supervisor, I realized I had no reason to be concerned. To every person which we encountered during the next several weeks, my supervisor made sure I was introduced – not just by name, but by background. This was especially helpful during our first Committee dinner, attended by Representatives from both caucuses as well as their staff. Even on days with little opportunity for outside interactions, my supervisor has ensured that I am feeling comfortable in my office, yet busy enough to feel challenged by my assignments. She has repeatedly emphasized my ability to maintain a flexible schedule, in terms of balancing Committee responsibilities with Fellowship obligations, as well as taking advantage of every other opportunity presented to me throughout my time in the House.

    The importance of building and maintaining a strong relationship with one’s supervisor cannot be over-emphasized. During an internship I completed years ago, my supervisor was welcoming enough. However, due to her high position within our office and busy schedule, she rarely made time for me. While I understood the circumstances of that supervisor-intern relationship, I was nonetheless made to feel as an afterthought or burden on several occasions. My relationship with my current supervisor could not be further from that experience. Despite her large number of responsibilities, my supervisor is always sure to check in with me daily, even if it is just to chat for five minutes. This has made all the difference in my internship, as she has helped me to make a number of connections within and outside of the Capitol. My supervisor joked during my first day with the Committee that she was happy to finally have another woman in the office, as the rest of the staff are men. Although this was just an off-handed remark, it has stuck with me throughout my internship as a reminder that women continue to be drastically underrepresented in politics, especially within the state of Pennsylvania. Having such an experienced Executive Director as my supervisor has reinforced the importance of ensuring women’s places at the table, and her direction has encouraged me to find my own place in state government.

    Written by: Erin


  • Never a Dull Moment

    Jul 11, 2017

    How does that old saying go? I believe it is something along the lines of “time flies when you’re having fun.” This saying came to mind when someone in the office asked me how many more weeks remained in the Fellowship Program. I had to pause for a moment to come to terms with the reality that I had just wrapped up my eighth week working for the Democratic Office of Chief Counsel. It is mind boggling to me that two months can fly by in what seemed like the blink of an eye. But as the old saying goes, this is what happens when you are busy, engaged, and having fun with the work you are given.

    The month of June here at Pennsylvania’s Capitol has been nothing short of organized chaos. During one moment you are attending the bill signing of “Libre’s Law”, which enhances the criminal penalties attached to an individual convicted of animal abuse, and in the next moment you are researching recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court decisions that could potentially affect current legislative proposals. As a law student who just completed my first year, it was fascinating to see the Judicial and Legislative Branches of government at work with some of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decisions handed down on June 20th. All of this along with the hustle and bustle of a hectic budget season and the daily duties of being a BMC Fellow has made for an exhilarating month. The excitement of not knowing what each day will bring is something that I have been looking forward to since the first day of the Fellowship Program.

    The month of June has even presented me with the opportunity to expand my understanding of Turkish culture. This opportunity arose during a celebration of Turkish dance, music, and food which took place in the main rotunda. This celebration was accompanied by members of the General Assembly who spoke on the importance of embracing everyone no matter their cultural background. The festivity was well-attended by various individuals from all different backgrounds, and the food was absolutely delectable.

    The Fellowship Program has energized me by always staying engaged, being given meaningful projects to work on, and constantly moving around the Capitol attending various functions. During the past eight weeks, I have never said to myself, “I’m bored.” The program is the polar opposite of boring. It is engaging, meaningful, and there is never a dull moment if you do it right.

    Written by: Dan


  • Colonels in the Capitol

    Jul 7, 2017

    As a recent grad, I am incredibly thankful to have found an enriching program to participate in. Fresh from the classroom, I am curious as to where my degree can take me. I am also curious to see if there are any other former colonels (Wilkes Alum) working in the capitol. This summer I’ve had the opportunity to meet alumni in Harrisburg. As a fellow I am required to interview legislators to discuss what life is really like in state government. I used this opportunity to interview a fellow Wilkes University alum, Representative Eddie Day Pashinski.

    I recognized Representative Pashinski, for he’s so involved with Wilkes University. Representative Pashinski has a unique background and great story. His career began at Wilkes, where he received his MS in Music. After graduating he became a music teacher and choral director in Nanticoke, PA. During his time as a music teacher Rep. Pashinski became dedicated to the Teachers Unions and meeting with legislators to discuss public education issues. One particular meeting began Eddie Pashinski’s path to politics. He was meeting with former Representative Kevin Blaum of the 121st District. The purpose of their meeting was to discuss the health care issue. The incredible cost of health care worries Pashinski and he’s incredibly passionate about the issue. This was evident in his meeting with former Rep. Blaum, who encouraged him to run for office and to take his seat in the 121st District. Representative Pashinski distinctly remembers this meeting and Rep. Blaum handing him a packet telling him to run for office….and he did.

    Representative Pashinski was a dedicated teacher, and it is evident that he has directed that passion to legislation. When I asked him, “what is it like serving the district of your Alma matter?” He smiled and said. “It is a great honor and privilege. The greatest gratification is when I can make lives better”. Representative Pashinski was great to interview. He is clearly passionate and as a former teacher interested in students. We discussed issues in Wilkes-Barre, his work, and the health care issue. It was a unique learning experience, and an enjoyable meeting. I concluded the interview with one final question, “What advice to you have for any future colonels or any student interested, who wishes to pursue a career in politics?” He responded,

    “You need to possess two things, 1) you need alligator skin, because people can be tuff and 2) You have to have the desire to help people. I recommend anyone who has a desire to help people get involved at any level of government”.

    Written by: Emma


  • The Rundown

    Jul 6, 2017

    Panoramic Photograph taken by Sarah during the Dome Tour

    When interviewing as a candidate for a prospective position, there is always the “on paper” description, the interaction between yourself and the interviewer, but there also exists an acceptance of the unknown. As the interviewee, you do your best to research the position, previous employees, Glassdoor reviews, LinkedIn connections, and the like. As the interviewer, you walk a fine line between overly enticing the potential candidate and scaring her away, all the while trying to articulate something that is difficult to put into words. On either side, there is risk in whether the more intangible details will mesh.

    So, in this blog post, I would like to elaborate on what the initially unknown aspect has entailed for myself while providing tips to make the most of the fellowship experience. I will discuss what the day to day has been like, rather than merely providing the broad strokes.

    Starting from the top, fellows are hired through the Bipartisan Management Committee. The program coordinator, Sheryl Thomas, is the go to for all things fellowship related.

    Tip 1: know your various roles. There are two hats that fellows wear during their time at the capitol: (1) a part of the fellowship program, reporting to Sheryl and (2) a part of a committee, reporting to the executive director of said committee, and there are also experiences that are unique to each role.

    Tip 2: Master your calendar. Fellows receive a calendar that maps out, roughly, the following: workshops (like Communications, Women in the House, and Lobbyists), tours, assignment deadlines, and the general schedule for session and holidays. It is critical to stay on top of the many moving parts by keeping an organized calendar.

    Tip 3: Patience is a virtue. As a part of the fellowship duties, we must interview at least one representative. This may seem straight forward, but it can quickly get away from you. Representatives’ schedules are constantly evolving, and it is hard to predict what might arise. I benefited greatly from being flexible, patient and persistent in this process. Only one of my three interviews has gone according to plan. Though, I enjoyed the different circumstances from the “on the go” style interview to the delays which allowed me to interact with other staff members.

    Tip 4: Find balance. We must balance the fellowship duties and the duties associated with our committee. Within my committee assignment thus far, I have worked on various bill analyses, constituent letters, and co-sponsorship memoranda. I have also attended bill hearings, committee voting meetings, and everything in between. There are times when commitments will overlap, and you will need to prioritize to maximize your experience here.

    Tip 5: Set goals. In addition to the aforementioned new experiences, I am hitting the ground running on my big project, which will culminate my time spent in the fellowship program. Fellows create their own unique piece of legislation and go through the entire process from drafting to presenting their bill to an audience. While we are given guidance on when certain portions of the project are due, it is critical to be on top of your own timeline.

    Lastly, Tip 6: You get what you give. As with most things in life, you are liable to get out of this program as much as you put in. It is important to ask questions, try new things, reach out to people you do not know, and do not forget to simply do what is expected of you. People are likely to notice even the “little” things you do (or fail to do).

    Written by: Sarah


  • No Easy Task

    Jul 5, 2017

    This is not a typical internship.  Each fellow is placed in a committee or leadership office for the summer and aids their office in anyway necessary.  On top of committee meetings, research projects, and writing language for bills and amendments, we have weekly meetings and assignments for the fellowship program.

    Our final project for the program is one we have been working on since day one.  We are to create our own piece of legislation.  With only 13 weeks to do this, on top of weekly committee and fellowship assignments, it has been challenging so far.  The first step in this project was coming up with an idea—not as easy as some would think.  I have had to specialize my idea over the weeks.  Originally, my legislation was going to establish a business district revitalization fund, but I quickly found that this was entirely too broad.

    Today, my proposed legislation is to establish a fund or grant program that would help municipalities pay for projects that would create pedestrian-/cyclist-friendly areas.  It took me three weeks to have a concrete idea for legislation.  I have been researching every day for the past three weeks since this idea was formed for how to implement such a program.

    Earlier this week, after a month and a half of working on this legislation, I met with a lawyer of the Legislative Reference Bureau about the next step in the process: turning this idea into a bill.  During the hour-long meeting, we discussed whether any such program exists, which it does not at the state level.  We also further looked into existing statutes to find possible acts in which this may be added to.  It was then decided that after two more weeks of research and working on this legislation, I would come back with proposed language for the bill.  This will be two months’ work for a single rough draft.

    The point of my blog this week is that taking an idea and turning it into a proposed bill is a long and complex process.  Many people, including myself before this internship, do not fully understand why it takes so long to create a new law.  It will take me two months to have a rough draft of my legislation, another week or two for a final draft.  If this was a representative’s bill, a co-sponsorship it would then have to be considered by both parties and debated.  The amount of time this could take is unpredictable.  Should it pass the House, it would then have to be discussed and debated in the Senate.  Again, the time for this to happen is unpredictable.  If the Senate makes any changes to the bill, it must go back to the House to be agreed upon.  Then, it would finally go to the Governor.  (That is a very simplified version of the process).

    I hope that those reading this blog will not only have better knowledge of this process, but will understand that it is no easy task.

    Written by: Stephanie


  • Mid-Summer Recap

    Jun 28, 2017

    Hi Y’all! I am back and ready to recap my experience thus far in the program. I have encountered shear excitement since the beginning of June. Our committee had a limited number of bills on the floor when I arrived; however, we have had ample action since! I joined my Executive Director on the floor numerous times to witness from the front row, how things get done in Government. It is exciting to see so many interests being represented down on the floor.

    I have become completely immersed in Finance Committee issues. As legislation passes and fails, the constituent requests continue to pour in to the research staff. Everyone wants their voices heard, and their inquiries met. Responding to these requests can be daunting at times, but upon completion of a response I feel fulfilled in knowing that my work is helping people all around Pennsylvania get their questions answered. This program has absolutely buzzed with activity, and I feel as if I have grown immensely during my time at the House of Representatives.

    Among our great projects and assignments, the Fellows are constantly networking and meeting key decision makers within Pennsylvania State Government. To date we have met the Parliamentarian; Legislative professionals; Lobbyists; Members of the House; and, two highly respected women from the House also shared their time and experiences with us. A few of our upcoming engagements include meeting the Auditor General, Lieutenant Governor, Judiciary Committee Chairmen, and Chief Justice Thomas Saylor.

    This program has encouraged me to review my future career plans. Because of this review and in consultation with my Executive Director, I have organized my school schedule to expand upon my experiences this summer by complimenting them with academic coursework. This program has opened my eyes to the broader opportunities State Government has to offer, and I have no doubt my past commitment to government in conjunction with my experiences this summer will help guide my future career.

    “Death comes to all, but great achievements build a monument which shall endure until the sun grows cold.”
    — Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Written by: Bill


  • Expect the Unexpected

    Jun 27, 2017

    I’m what my mom calls a “list person.” Whether I’m going grocery shopping, packing for a vacation, or moving into a new apartment, a detailed, often color-coordinated list can be found on my person at all times. I’m an organizational freak by nature, but my list-keeping obsession has transcended helpfulness all the way to becoming necessary for my functionality. Imagine my horror, then, upon encountering any form of spontaneity – unplanned weekend trips, unanticipated head-colds, unexpected bills. My life has, until quite recently, centered on one basic philosophy: Learn what to expect and plan accordingly.

    When it came time to start grad school last August, my thoughts started with what I would consider normal concerns by the average person’s standards: moving into my apartment, finding my way around a new campus, and adjusting from undergraduate to graduate academic life. But the thoughts did not end there. Instead, they began to concern the rest of the fall semester. And winter break. And spring semester. And summer. Well, my year-long lease was signed in August, bestowing on me the responsibility of paying rent for not only the fall and spring semesters, but for the following summer, as well. The question that lodged itself in the back of my mind was three-fold: What was I going to do the following summer to A) ensure my rent was paid, B) satisfy my master’s program’s requirement to complete an internship before my completion of the program, and C) gain rewarding experience in my intended career field? The answer, of course, was find the perfect internship. Yeah. Right.

    And thus my first (profoundly negative) expectation was established. Despite my best efforts to convince myself that the perfect internship did not exist, I refused to let my pessimism get the best of me. So the list-making began. When I met a woman named Sheryl Thomas at a campus career and internship fair during October of my first semester of grad school, I was surprised to learn that she represented a program through the PA House of Representatives that seemed to satisfy all of my concerns with planning my following summer: a stipend, credits, and the ability to spend 13 weeks interning with a House committee while developing my own piece of legislation. I was sold.

    My list of opportunities became significantly shorter (read: I crossed out every other option) and I wrote a new list – this time, it contained all of the application materials needed for the PA House Fellowship Program. As the end of the fall semester approached, I began discussing my plans to apply to the program with my classmates. One after another, I learned that they had previously participated in the program. Every person I came across sang such high praises of the program that my curious interest became unrelenting desire. With that unrelenting desire came familiar pessimism. If the program was truly as awesome as my colleagues were saying, I had a snowball’s chance in hell of competing with other applicants.

    This feeling of inadequacy continued until I was invited to interview for the program with Sheryl, and did not dissipate until the fateful day that I got my acceptance email. In the following days, as I celebrated with friends and family, I was forced to come to terms with an unfortunate realization. Despite holding myself to an incredibly high standard, I tended to expect the worst out of every situation. This pessimism could not be remedied by any amount of self-encouragement, and the process by which I obtained my dream internship could not have been further from what I expected.

    I would quickly learn in the following weeks that my love of lists did not only fail to prepare me for getting the internship. It also failed to prepare me for the whirlwind of experiences I would encounter during my time in the House. Over the past several weeks, I have realized that much of what happens within the Capitol cannot be anticipated. Although members of the General Assembly and their staff coordinate much of their respective schedules on thinking they know what is going to come next, the truth is that anything could happen at any moment. Bills could unexpectedly pass or fail, advocacy groups could make surprise visits to the offices of Committee Chairmen, or the budget could actually pass right on schedule (fingers crossed!).

    In my office in particular, much of the adjustment toward unexpectedness has centered on office dynamics. When you never know what kind of moods your coworkers are going to be in upon their arrival, it makes for an interesting morning – every morning. Although I know what I can expect from myself, it is impossible to know what you can truly expect from other people, especially in a political environment. Luckily, I have come to realize that state government employees show up every day, ready to do their jobs, regardless of what comes their way. More importantly, I have learned a few valuable lessons that can be useful to anyone entering a new work environment: Have faith in yourself. Trust in the opportunities presented to you. And, most of all, expect the unexpected.

    Written by: Erin


  • Meeting with the Speaker of the House

    Jun 23, 2017

    Meeting with Speaker Mike Turzai
    (Left to Right) Speaker Turzai, Dan, Emma, Sarah, Stephanie, Erin, and Bill

    Written by: Administrator


  • From Graduation to the Governor’s Office

    Jun 20, 2017

    On May 20th, I graduated from Wilkes University with a Bachelors in Political Science and minors in policy studies and International studies. The bittersweet moment of receiving my diploma was the final farewell to the place I’ve called home these past four years. The next day I was moving into my new apartment in Harrisburg to start my next journey. Prior to graduation I accepted a position as a PA House of Representatives Fellow in the Republican Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee.  I was given the opportunity to apply what I have learned at Wilkes to real legislation. I have had multiple classes on congress, but I have never applied this knowledge to work. My background is far from state government, which is what drew me to the program. I applied to learn, to experience PA politics, and so far, I am pretty happy with my choice.

    On my first “real” day of work, I was called down to my supervisors office. To my surprise we were making a trip to the Governor’s office for a bill signing. Seeing the final outcome of legislation is a unique experience. I had the opportunity to meet Senators and Representatives, all very happy over their victory. My favorite part of the bill signing is seeing the staff’s reaction. All the countless hours of hard work paid off, and their product was being signed by the Governor. Seeing this only two days after graduation is something I’ll never forget.

    Walking into the Governor’s office is a bit intimidating. The Governor’s office is beautiful, and probably one of my favorite rooms in the Capitol. Everywhere you look is a part of history. It’s also hectic, and on signing days there are people running all over the place. Often guests attend the signing, especially people, or special interest groups who’ve helped inspire or work on the legislation. I’ve met firefighters, members of the military, veterans, and paramedics. I met all of these people in one day, and in one office. It is a whirl wind of handshakes, smiles, and photos. There are at least three different photographers taking multiple pictures.

    I was fortunate enough to be introduced to the governor at the end of the signing. I explained my position, the program, and what school I am attending. It was a great experience meeting the governor, for he was truly interested in what I was doing at the capitol. Every day I meet someone new, and each day is filled with another adventure. I have visited the Governor’s office for six different Bill signings, all of which have produced a smile on the crowd of people witnessing the event. The Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee is always busy, but the committee produces legislation. Seeing the legislative process from start to finish is truly a rewarding experience, and a great way to spend my summer!

    Written by: Emma


  • Best of Both Worlds

    Jun 19, 2017

    For as long as I can remember, I knew that I wanted my career to be in either law or government. It was only within the past two years that the light bulb finally went off and began to show me that my career aspirations could fuse and be in both law and government. This realization occurred to me after I had finished my first internship with the Pennsylvania House of Representatives while working in Representative Michael K. Hanna’s Office, Democratic Whip. This experience truly opened my eyes to the opportunities available for me to pursue my passion of law and government. I completed that internship during the fall semester of my senior year at Kutztown University, and from that point forward my focus was on applying to law school.

    After choosing to come back to Harrisburg to attend Widener Law Commonwealth, I remember pondering what opportunities would present themselves to get back into state government. Then, during the fall semester before one of my civil procedure classes, the Director of the Law and Government Institute at Widener, Professor Jill Family, passed around a flyer for the Fellowship Program. When she told us that this was the first time the Fellowship was being offered to law students, I took it as a sign and knew I had to apply.

    I was ecstatic to learn that not only was I selected to participate in the Fellowship Program, but also that I was placed in the Democratic Office of Chief Counsel. My experiences in the Chief Counsel’s Office have included attending various committee meetings, tracking specific bills, attending Democratic Caucus, learning the tailored roles of attorneys within a governmental setting, and working on issues directly affecting the House. Thus far, I have gained more of an understanding on the interplay of law and government in a month than a year in a classroom would teach me. I feel as if that is the beauty of the Fellowship Program. The type of access you have to learn and network, while familiarizing yourself with the legislative process is second to none.

    I consider myself extremely fortunate to have been selected to participate in the Fellowship Program, and have been embracing everything this program has had to offer during the past month. I plan to continue to take full advantage of this rare opportunity to enhance my understanding of the intricacies of law and government.

    Written by: Dan


  • Safe Bets

    Jun 9, 2017

    Have you ever faced a difficult decision and wavered between following your heart or taking a safer path? For me, I faced this dilemma and chose the latter at numerous critical points in my life. I remained pleasantly unaware of this tendency until I found myself at a painful crossroads in my career. To be dissatisfied in the direction of my work life so early on was disheartening, and it was evident that something needed to give. As it turns out, that something was me.

    To summarize how I arrived at that point, I stifled an initial interest in government and the political realm to pursue a degree in Business Administration. This choice was a result of my perception that a business degree offers a greater chance of a high paying and fast paced career in a relatively quick amount of time post-graduation. In short, I viewed it as a safe bet for my future.

    Through this lapse in judgment, I was afforded the opportunity to join the fulltime workforce. For the past five years, my mobility through different roles and organizations kept me motivated. I formed strong relationships with co-workers and learned a great deal about leadership, patience, and customer service in its broadest form. However, after a certain career-related decision resulted in regret, I was determined to leave my comfort zone. I realized that to effectively serve others, I must first take steps to serve myself. My first step was switching gears from a career in logistics to returning to law school.

    My complete shift in focus from business management to law school may have seemed abrupt from an outside perspective, and I was all too aware of the potential judgment. This was compounded by the all too often negative rhetoric surrounding the attorney career path, but I knew I had to push on. The past pressures I felt to go with the status quo had somehow lifted.

    I have since found myself uttering something similar to the cliché that once you start to follow your gut things begin to fall into place. A year ago I was drudging away in a position that I did not see a future in. Now I have successfully completed my first year of law school and landed an internship in state government – an arena I timidly hoped to get into for years.

    Now this brings me to my current challenge. I am fortunate to be a part of the PA House Fellowship Program, and I do not take this privilege lightly. I plan to take advantage of every opportunity to grow and get out of my comfort zone. There is no shortage of staff ready and willing to assist, and the wealth of knowledge I encountered in just the first four weeks is staggering.

    I was reminded during the initial interview process that the summer program takes place during budget season and therefore may be busier than other times of the year. This news was exciting to me rather than daunting as I am always up for a challenge. As a fellow, there is no shortage of work to occupy my time. There is always something to be done, and the access we are afforded as fellows is remarkable. From events and workshops like behind the scenes tours of the capitol dome to performing duties through my committee assignment, I feel thankful for this experience every day.

    I am fortunate over the past year to have returned to school to pursue a law degree and now I am taking part in a fellowship that I know will open many doors for me. I hope touching on this in my blog allows insight into how people with drastically different paths can end up sharing common interests and goals. Reflecting on my story serves as a reminder to myself to not let fear control my decisions. My small leap of faith has served me tremendously in the past year, and I can only hope that I will continue to embody this spirit going forward.

    Written by: Sarah


  • Hitting the Ground Running

    Jun 7, 2017

    If you would have asked me just two years ago if I would be in the position I am today, I would have told you, “Absolutely NOT!”

    Two years ago I was preparing for my senior year at Washington and Jefferson College as an economics major, planning to enter the workforce immediately after graduation.  Certain events and conversations with past mentors led me to search for graduate programs.  I quickly found the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs where I am now studying International Political Economy.

    For the summer, I am the House Aging and Older Adult Services Committee intern.  There has been one topic of constant importance to the committee—unification.  Governor Wolf has proposed the unification of four state departments—Departments of Aging, Drug & Alcohol Abuse, Health, and Human Services—into a new Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).  Governor Wolf announced his proposed Secretary for the new department, Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller, shortly after I started my internship.

    Thanks to the fellowship program, I was able to attend the House Democratic Policy Committee’s hearing on the new DHHS that took place on June 5th.  Secretary Designee, Teresa Miller, along with members of the Governor’s Office and the Office of the Budget, created the panel who were questioned by the Policy Committee.  Secretary Miller focused largely on efficiency throughout the hearing and expressed her intention of keeping open communication with legislators, stakeholders, and employees during the transition period should this unification take place.

    Efficiency is what she plans to strive for should she become the first Secretary of the Department of Human Health Services.  It’s easy to talk about improving efficiency, but a completely other thing to actually improve it.  As Insurance Commissioner, Teresa Miller keeps in contact and encourages feedback from her employees so as to better understand the needs and issues of those needing the services offered.  She plans to encourage this practice should she be appointed Secretary of DHHS, as well as have open communication with legislators and stakeholders.

    It is an interesting time to be working with the Aging & Older Adult Services Committee.  We are busy and are kept on our toes with new updates everyday regarding the possible unification.  I have come into this internship hitting the ground running, and I am loving every second of it.

    Pictured above, from left to right: Eric Hagarty (Deputy Chief of Staff, Governor’s Office), Teresa Miller (Secretary Designee), Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski (D-District 121).

    Click on the following links to watch the public policy hearing:

    Part one: http://aka.ms/azuremediaplayer?url=http%3A%2F%2Fpahouselivestream-pahousevideostream.streaming.mediaservices.windows.net%2Ff010ee59-2ae6-473b-badf-c1096151a2ea%2F8ff45f3d-4f69-45f0-9bad-4869cb087e65.ism%2Fmanifest

    Part two: http://ampdemo.azureedge.net/azuremediaplayer.html?url=http%3a%2f%2fpahouselivestream-pahousevideostream.streaming.mediaservices.windows.net%2f6e4691da-1cab-4c06-b324-e752ff75c062%2f1620f67d-064a-456a-a485-670b57ee5dcc.ism%2fmanifest

    Written by: Stephanie


  • The Fellowship with the “Natural” Fit

    Jun 5, 2017

    I have the good fortune of writing the first blog post on behalf of the summer 2017 cohort of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Fellowship Program.

    So how did I get here? Well, let me tell you…

    Initially, I was unsure how my background would align to being a good fit for the fellowship program. But upon reflection of my educational and professional experiences, I quickly realized that this fellowship program is a natural fit! Growing up in rural Pennsylvania, community service was a cornerstone of my upbringing. At the age of 14, I joined the volunteer fire service. I continued to pursue that passion through college by residing at a volunteer fire station in lieu of college dorms. While in college I was an intern for the local 9-1-1 communications and public safety center.

    Upon completion of my Finance degree from Penn State Harrisburg, I found employment with an investment consulting firm, while I remained committed to assisting the volunteer fire stations both at home and where I attended college in my spare time. After two years, I joined the executive branch of Pennsylvania’s government as an investment analyst at the state employees’ pension system. After approximately three years of working at the pension system, I wanted to further my education as well as position myself for a career that would have a greater impact on those around me.

    I enrolled at the Charleston School of Law in the fall of 2016, where I observed the legal challenges faced by citizens all over the United States. I initiated my search for summer opportunities to expand the academic skills I developed, and then I found the Pennsylvania House Fellowship Program. I cannot imagine another internship that would draw so well upon my background while allowing me to expand my research and writing skills. Drafting constituent memoranda, researching current laws for inclusion in potential legislation, and the prospect of writing my own legislation before the end of the summer all contribute to the natural fit of the fellowship. I am currently working with the House Finance Committee on projects involving taxation issues affecting the residents of Pennsylvania. The opportunity to meet with legislators, learn about the legislative process, and then to see the process in practice has been absolutely incredible. I am eager to continue learning and I have no doubt that this summer will be an exciting adventure of growth and education, unrivaled by any prior experiences I have had to date.

    Written by: Bill


  • Welcoming the Summer 2017 Fellows!

    May 11, 2017

    Today, we welcome Sarah, Stephanie, Daniel, Bill, Erin and Emma to the Pennsylvania House Fellowship Program! We are excited for this bright group of graduate and law school students. This will be a busy term with the Budget just around the horizon and we know that they will hit the ground running.

    • Sarah attends Widener School of Law and is working with the Local Government Committee.
    • Stephanie attends University of Pittsburgh and is working with the Aging and Older Adult Services Committee.
    • Daniel attends Widener School of Law and is working for Legal Counsel.
    • Bill attends Charleston School of Law and is working with the Finance Committee.
    • Erin attends Penn State Harrisburg and is working with the Consumer Affairs Committee.
    • Lastly, Emma will be attending George Washington University in the fall and is working with the Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee.

    Written by: Administrator


  • Wrapping up 13 Weeks

    Apr 11, 2017

    Thirteen weeks has flown by and the fellows have just wrapped up their final presentations. They worked hard in researching, drafting and presenting their own legislation last Friday.

    We are proud of the exemplary work they have contributed to the fellowship over the spring and we expect to hear nothing but the best for their future endeavors.

    Good work Josh, Kiryl, Sam, Briana, Heather, and Ronald!

    Written by: Administrator


  • One Generation’s Dream is Another Generation’s Reality

    Mar 27, 2017

    With less than three weeks remaining, I have been reflecting on the experiences I have undergone, workshops I completed, and people I encountered. My professional growth has expanded more in these past ten weeks than in any other comparable stage of my life. I have been pushed past my comfort zone and into my learning edge. I have been urged to present my ideas using unique techniques, while considering all possible viewpoints. This has been a good lesson to learn and will be advantageous to me as a future law student and potential lawyer.

    I have always been of the opinion that oppression of different identities does not simply get better over time, rather the forms of oppression change over time. This may seem pessimistic to some people but for me personally, it has motivated me to discover skills that will be effective in improving the lives of marginalized communities. Being a part of this fellowship has altered my view on life. This fellowship has enhanced my life because I have never been so empowered to make change at the state level before. Another way I have been able to see how my life has enhanced is to compare my situation to that of my families’ past generations’ circumstances.

    Looking at the lives of my mother, my father, my grandfather and grandmother is a good indication of this. For example, my mother was a waitress and worked in elderly care for many years. She has simultaneously had multiple jobs for most of her life. My father has been an HVAC technician for over thirty years and I have witnessed the toll his body has taken from such a manually intensive job. My late grandfather worked at a Giant grocery store and at the U.S. post office simultaneously for over forty years. My late grandmother worked for the Pennsylvania House of Representative until she retired in 2003. She performed cleaning services at night and during the day she worked in the capitol cafeteria as a cashier. I often wonder what my grandmother would think of what I am doing in this fellowship. If she knew while she was cleaning the Capitol building late into the night, that one day her grandson would be working there as a legislative intern, writing independent legislation, I know she would be immensely proud. These examples show that generation of hard work and sacrifice can sometimes eventually open up new opportunities for the next generation. I am only 22 years old and this May I will be graduating from Lebanon Valley College with a bachelor’s degree and this fall I will be attending law school. I am the first in my family to gain a bachelor’s degree and now the first to be attending law school.

    I believe that education is the major tool of liberation and this education does not stem purely from a traditional sense of the term. Education can come in a number of different ways; the people you meet in your life, conversations you have and lessons you learn. It is easy to see on paper how this fellowship provided me the opportunity to participate first hand in the legislative process. This fellowship has given me various tangible skills. I have learned how to write effectively, research competently, and draft legislation. These are all great skills that I have been endowed with by this fellowship, but there are much more abilities that you cannot measure quite as easy. I could not describe in words how much I have grown in such a brief period of time. I have learned skills that will stay with me for life and I am tremendously appreciative to have had all these experiences.

    My Grandmother…

     

    Written by: Sam