Fellowship Blog


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.

  • Meghan Buchle, Spring 2020 BMC Fellow

    Apr 17, 2020

    What can I say about the House Fellowship that hasn’t been said before? When I read through past fellows’ blogs searching for inspiration for my own blog post, I felt like they’d already said everything I couldHouseFellows022420_11 possibly think of saying about the program. They talked about how much they learned during their time in Harrisburg. They claimed they never would have learned as much in a classroom. They glowed about the supportive role models and mentors they had worked with throughout the semester. Everything they’d said was so true and related so closely to my own experience as a House Fellow that I wasn’t sure where to begin. What else was there to add?

    The more I thought about it though, I realized that despite most people having the same overall takeaways from the program, everyone’s experience is unique. We will each cherish different, individual memories. Our plans for the future are different based on our experiences with this program. I think that speaks to one of the biggest strengths of this program: its ability to meaningfully impact students from all different backgrounds and with all different interests.

    During my three years at college, I have bounced between many different post-college career plans. As an Education and Public Policy major, I have been able to combine my interest in politics with a specific policy topic, which has given me a ton of appealing career options, but still no clear trajectory. When I learned about this program, I was instantly intrigued. I was excited about the possibility of getting to work behind the scenes in Harrisburg and learning firsthand about the legislative process. It seemed like a perfect avenue for me to explore some of the different careers that exist in the government. It ultimately ended up doing just that.

    Aside from the professional development aspect of the job, I was also excited about the general, overall coolness of getting to be a House Fellow. I remember walking through the Capitol on my first day, and knowing instantly how glad I was to be there. Walking through the rotunda on that first day in my too-tight high heels (side note: the floor tiles in the Main Capitol building and high heels do not get along well), I felt a flicker of disbelief I was really getting to do this. It all just felt so important and real, like the work I’d be doing would really, truly matter. Over the next few weeks, I studied up on the committee rules and learned all the short cuts to the cafeteria. I gradually settled in, but every time I walked through the rotunda with its grand marble staircase and gorgeous paintings, I smiled at how cool this job was.

    To any future fellows who might be reading this, my advice is to be confident, learn as much as you can, and never lose that sense of awe at what you’re getting to do. Very few students get to have this experience, and it truly is an incredible honor to serve as a House Fellow. There will be days where you have to do the “grunt work” or where you feel overwhelmed or unqualified. You might get frustrated or bored sometimes, but the good times – and there are mostly good times – make up for it all. Nothing beats seeing a piece of legislation you worked on make it on the news, or seeing your executive director cite your research when explaining an issue to a legislator, or explaining a legislative issue to your family because you saw it hashed out in person. The House Fellowship is an amazing opportunity for any student, regardless of your background or interests. You get a front row seat to the legislative process and might even have a small hand in shaping real change. What other internship lets you do that?

    So what can I say about the House Fellowship that hasn’t already been said? A lot, apparently. I learned so much and made so many great memories. I am so thankful that I had this opportunity, and for everyone I worked with throughout the semester – Kelly, Keisha, Alaina and Christine and everyone else on the education committee, and my wonderful fellow Fellows. This was an incredible experience that will stay with me throughout the entirety of my career.

    Written by: Administrator

  • An Unprecedented Experience

    Apr 3, 2020

    An Unprecedented Experience

    Kayla Shellenhamer, Juniata College

    kayla shellenhamer blog picture

    Experiencing the unexpected is what some people just call life. In my 22 years, I’ve experienced plenty of the unexpected. In high school, I toured 22 colleges and ended up going to the first one I ever toured (my parents were not amused). I enrolled at Juniata College as an English Major, and am graduating in May 2020 with a B.A. in Environmental Writing and Policy. Before college, I have never been outside the country and never saw myself as much of a traveler. Now, my passport is decorated with stamps from 3 different continents and 12 different countries.

     Life always knows how to surprise you; this fellowship has been no exception to that rule.

    Every day, I am taken aback by the beauty of the place I get to call work. It’s hard to believe such an unparalleled building exists so close to my home.

    The work that takes place in this building is often intricate and there is always something new happening. Some days I walked in on robust rallies on the grand staircase, other days it is eerily quiet. But regardless of the activities happening, one thing was for certain: every morning the main rotunda greets me with its small and raised tiles, the grand steps invite me into my workday, and the countless number of details continually pop out at me as I make my way to my office.

    On the first day of the program, we walked all over the building, which I deemed to be a labyrinth. I thought, “There is no way I will remember where everything is!” But, fast-forward a couple of weeks, I know that place inside and out now—I even found shortcuts.

    Toward the end of my first day, I was dropped off at a room that was to be my office for the next 13 weeks. I was assigned to the Democratic Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee. My office quickly became a great support system for me. They were always willing to listen and offer advice, introduce me to people with great expertise, and they even asked for my input on current on-going projects.

    My weeks at the capitol taught me more than any class could. I was completely immersed into state government. I was writing bill analysis, drafting memos, attending meetings and budget hearings, among a plethora of things I got to experience. I was seeing how the State government operated right before my eyes.

    I wrote three-bill analyses, thinking they would be in committee and I wouldn’t hear about them again. I was wrong. About 2 weeks after submitting them, my Executive Director excitedly ran to my desk and told me the news, they were thinking about moving them out of committee and I was invited to sit in on the meeting with the Department of Agriculture. The meetings focused mostly on language and how to make it more comprehensive, but it was exciting to see everyone in the room reference my bill analyses.

    About a week after that, my traditional internship got disrupted. The outbreak of COVID-19 caused a lot of unprecedented changes throughout the world. As things begin to slowly shut down, the House of Representative was buzzing with the news. No one knew what was to happen, no one has ever experienced something like this.

    I was told I could work from home, which meant the main rotunda wasn’t going to greet me every day and the warm glow of the lamp that illuminated my office doorway was going to be dark for a while. But, the new situation did expose me to a different working style that I haven’t experienced. All my other jobs and internships have been in-person office work, this switch allowed me to explore what working from home means and see if it is something I prefer. Turns out, it is not for me. I much prefer the environment of offices and co-workers nearby, or maybe I just miss the magnificent rotunda.

    It is an interesting, hectic, historic and unprecedented time at the House of Representatives along with the rest of the State, Country, and World. But, my time here demonstrates that life and government rarely run smoothly or predictably, and I can see first-hand a government’s response to a crisis or more specifically a pandemic. This experience prepared me more than a smooth 13-week run, it’s keeping me on my toes and constantly busy.

    Life constantly throws curveballs. I always planned on spending my last semester on campus, but this fellowship came along, and I seized the opportunity. I have never spent much time focusing on agriculture-based policy, but after being immersed in the committee, it is now one of the most intriguing topics to me. I planned on working at my office for 13-weeks, and now I am working at my desk from home. Life is messy, but if you roll with the unexpected, you will be exposed to so much and might even find some new passions, interests, and opportunities.


    Written by: Administrator

  • The Other Side of Politics

    Dec 19, 2019

    charlesoberdick pictureWhile the Pennsylvania House Fellowship program is only a few short months, the program is by far the best part of my college experience. Political science remains a degree stuck in between theory and practice, the lecture halls and city halls. Coming into my senior year at Temple University, I knew I wanted to have some professional experience to counterbalance my classes in Philadelphia. This internship has helped me not only obtain ‘professional experience’ but it has also helped me understand the “sausage making” that is state politics through a more personal lens.

    As a resident of York, I have commuted back and forth every single day of the internship. A half hour drive can easily become an eighty-minute thrilling adventure of bumper-to-bumper cars all crawling their way through Interstate 83. Despite this, every single traffic jam was worth it for this experience. This internship has helped me more than any class at Temple University. A class in a university can discuss the Overton window and chart out the various groups and factors that impact state politics, but this internship put names and faces to the faceless bureaucracy and personalizes politicians. It is easy to think Harrisburg is filled with greedy bureaucrats and even greedier politicians, but that could not be further from the truth. The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency was not a faceless organization, it was people I would turn to for helping a constituent understand loan forgiveness programs. The Lieutenant Governor does more than just “preside over the Senate,” he is a funny guy that honestly just wants to help the people of Pennsylvania in every way that he can. Everyone in Harrisburg has only supported me during my time here, and I cannot say enough about the wonderful people that work everyday in our capital.

    It is hard to come into an internship with the right kind of expectations. An intern can mean anything from an on-standby “gopher” to an overworked, underpaid employee. Instead, my time at the internship has been nothing short of amazing. I attended hearings, sat in on meetings, analyzed new legislation, researched topics for the committee, and even prepared recommended legislation on those topics. I felt like I was a necessary part of the legislative process.

    While working with the House Democratic Education Committee, I already felt like I was part of a family. The office was open and welcoming of my status as a part-time student, and more than willing to answer my seemingly endless amount of questions about their experience. I was probably most surprised by the fact I even had my own office cubicle. Honestly, the Education Committee was my first choice because of the importance of education and my interest in understanding a committee that is crucial part of the legislative process, but it also focuses on topics that are ‘just’ outside of the legislative process as well. Everyone needs an education, and the committee is always fielding questions about the many issues facing Pennsylvania in education: student debt, charter school reforms, a voucher system for certain school districts, and many, many more topics. As a student in his third year of college, I was familiar with the song and dance of postsecondary financial aid. What I was not expecting was the amount of focus given to charter schools not only this year, but the past twenty years. It helped demonstrate the perpetual back and forth that is politics, but also the personal aspect of politics. Behind every bill, there is a dedicated group of staff designed to chew through the fat, see through the house of mirrors, and understand what the bill is and what the committee and the party should do moving forward to support the people of Pennsylvania.

    When crafting my legislation, I was beyond surprised by the sheer amount of support I received from stakeholders. Every single email was followed up on, and every person provided useful feedback to better my legislation. I never felt like a burden, and that is true for people at all levels of state government. After all, Governor Wolf even found the time to chat about my bill while also providing useful feedback in between his incredibly busy schedule.

    It was beyond exciting to attend a public hearing or work on a bill and then see the issue appear in the Erie newspapers or hear the bill on the local NPR station. It was even better knowing that the topics I was researching that were not in the news would be directly connected to future work on the committee. At college, it feels like writing essays can be a constructive opportunity for developing skills, but too often I have felt like my writing was worthless once final exams were posted. Instead, the work I did on understanding the current state of college attainment would be used to understand future issues that were before the committee. My writing finally felt useful to more than just me and my professor. The internship really helped me place faces to the faceless and policies in perspective.

    As a whole, this internship has been a wonderful experience that has only me to do more than just help me “be prepared” for a career after college, but it has also been a valuable compliment to my classes back in Philadelphia.


    Written by: Administrator

  • Not your typical internship

    Dec 16, 2019

    Paige photo

    As someone who had 3 internships before starting the fellowship, I had an innate sense of what to expect when I applied for this fellowship. As an experienced intern, I knew what my roles were to be, what kind of projects I may work on, who to report to, and how to conduct myself. What I didn’t expect was how different and robust this fellowship is compared to my previous internships.

    As the legislative fellow for the Democratic Aging and Older Adult Services committee, I was pleasantly surprised to find how involved I became in the legislative process. My previous internships each touched an aspect of the public policy realm, but the fellowship allowed me to take a deep dive into policy-making process. Beginning on my first day, I was working on bill analyses, drafting constituent letters, conducting policy research, contacting stakeholders, and even writing a resolution for the minority chairman! I enjoyed the amount of trust and autonomy I was given by the committee staff right from the beginning, something which had taken weeks at my previous internships. I was accepted into welcoming environment right from the beginning where my talents, skills, and experiences were nurtured and respected. Throughout my time at the Capitol, my supervisors ensured that I was seen as more than an intern, but as a valued member of the team.

    Furthermore, the opportunities I’ve had to conduct meaningful and tangible work is unparalleled. It was heartwarming to watch on the House floor the resolution I had spent weeks working on become unanimously adopted by the House of Representatives. Moments like that reminded me of why I want to pursue a career in public service. As elected officials, the policies we adopt have real-life consequences. We are often the first ones to be made aware of injustices happening across the Commonwealth or country. More importantly, we are entrusted with the responsibility to make the world a better place. The fellowship provided me the opportunity to see up-close how the policy-making process impacts ordinary people everyday. I was often removed from this personal aspect in my previous internships. The fellowship gave me a front row seat to the policy-making process in Pennsylvania.

    Overall, the experiences and knowledge I have gained over these past 13 weeks is life-changing. I’ve always considered myself an expert on Pennsylvania politics, but now I have the clout to back me up. I’m grateful for the individuals that took the time out of their busy schedules to assist me with my legislation or to offer me life advice. The connections I made with my mentors, colleagues, and fellow fellows are some that I will cherish for a long time. I could not have chosen a better experience to finish out my undergraduate career.

    Written by: Administrator

  • Can’t Teach Experience

    Dec 11, 2019

    conor picture

    My time as a Temple University political science student has been rewarding but there are some things that just cannot be taught in a classroom. Spending the last thirteen weeks in Harrisburg has offered me countless opportunities and access that is not gained during an ordinary internship.

    I was lucky enough to work on the State Government committee throughout the fellowship program. This committee afforded me the opportunity to research and work on multiple key topics that the Commonwealth faces ranging from redistricting to pension reform. While all the research was significant and a great learning experience it is not what I will remember the most. Some of the experiences that will have a lasting impact are witnessing public hearings as the crowded rooms hinged on every word, watching an important committee vote pass after fiery discussion, being on the House Floor seeing a back and forth debate or even having a conversation with a member about the struggles of our beloved Philadelphia Eagles. It is the moments like these that a classroom will never be able to teach and only a special opportunity can offer such extraordinary experiences.

    A classroom teaches you the legislative process during those all too common lectures of “how a bill becomes a law” or “the role of a state legislature in our government.” Throughout the House Fellowship Program, you become a part of that legislative process, able to work and learn first-hand the ins and outs of the Pennsylvania government. Having the research that you conducted used in floor debates and legislation that you assisted with signed into law by the governor cannot be experienced elsewhere. No classroom lecture can give those rewarding aspects, no class allows you to take a simple idea and draft that bill, eventually even caucusing a piece of your very own completed legislation.

    I never thought in a short thirteen-week fellowship that I would be able to learn so much and gain so much insight into the politics of Pennsylvania. The only way to understand the workings of Harrisburg is to delve into the political system and embrace the experience.

    Written by: Administrator

  • Unending Possibilities

    Dec 9, 2019

    As I began my college journey, I was always on the look-out for new opportunities where I could gain experience in the field that I loved. My first semester of my first year, I had a meeting with the chair of my department at Elizabethtown College. We began planning out what I needed to accomplish during my time at Etown, and that is when she mentioned this program. The semester movedalissa stoneking photo for blog forward, and I set the program on the back burner as I continued on in my career at Etown. I studied abroad, interned elsewhere, and was learning more and more each day. Then, as it came time to plan my senior year, I remembered what my professor had told me. I decided to apply to the program. The more I learned about the program, the more excited I got, and the more I hoped I would have the opportunity to complete the fellowship. Finally, an email arrived. I clicked on it, impatiently waiting for it to load, and saw that I had been accepted. Little did I know how much my life would change because of that email.

    Flash forward almost 6 months, and I am finishing up the fellowship. Along the way I have gained so many skills that I will take with me moving forward, made great friends and connections, and insight into what I want to do in the future. I came into this internship thinking I knew what I wanted to do, and it was not work for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Nothing against the House, but I thought my interests were elsewhere. Now, I am not sure what I want to do. Normally, internships are supposed to tell you that, or so I thought, however; I also learned to be okay not knowing what I am going to do with the rest of my life. I learned that doing research, interacting with stakeholders and constituents, solving real-life problems in order to make the world a better place, that is what I want to do, whether it is here with the House, or half-way across the world with another organization, at the end of the day I can get excited knowing that I will be able to impact someone’s life in a positive way.

    For now, I am going to finish up my degree and explore the opportunities that are open or will open up for me. I formed professional relationships with staff and representatives, friendships with my fellow fellows, and new understandings of how the government works. I do not know where I will be in six months, a year, or five years, but I know that because of this fellowship, I will have the skills needed to get where I need to be.


    Written by: Administrator

  • Expect the Unexpected

    Dec 5, 2019

    abigail evans photo for blog post

    Expect the Unexpected-Abby Evans

    Going into my final year at Elizabethtown College, I sought out an internship. When I was selected for the House Fellowship program, I did not form expectations in the months leading up to the internship. I walked in on the first day knowing to wear a blazer, but that was about it. Other than that, I had few ideas about what to expect for the days to come.

    Every new day this semester has been a joy to come into work at the Capitol. On some days I have known what to expect, and on others I walk in like I did on the first day, with few expectations for the day that lies ahead. Throughout my semester, I have consistently experienced meetings, sessions, and days that have left me feeling impressed, surprised, and grateful.

    The program itself has left a lasting impression on me. Few other academic and internship opportunities have granted me the ability to experience programming that enriches my professional work. These experiences have included learning more about the Commonwealth and the Capitol, with my most memorable experience being the Capitol Dome Tour. Even though I left my winter jacket at home that day, I will never forget the experience, and the chill, of going on the roof of the Capitol and being able to look down from inside the dome. It truly gave me a greater appreciation for the place where I work.

    Of course, during my fellowship, I stayed very busy, working on many research projects, bill analyses, constituent letters, and other projects and meetings relating to current bills in the Health Committee. Throughout the semester, it became more and more exciting when my supervisor approved my work without needing to make any corrections. However, to my surprise, my learning extended far greater than these traditional components of the internship.

    I distinctly remember being on the floor for the first time. I was with my supervisor. I was following what she did, but had no idea where to stand, what to listen for, and why there were so many crackers in the back room. By the end of the semester, figuring out when and where to be somewhere, how to tune out the noise on the floor, and how to navigate past the crackers to grab bottles of water were just a few skills that I was surprised to have acquired. I also was surprised, and proud, that I finally taught myself how to change the water in the water cooler, but this is just one small victory among many during my semester.

    Besides the countless number of incredible experiences from this semester, which I could fill many pages recounting, I am especially grateful for those who I have worked with in my committee. Going into the fellowship, I had hoped to be on the Health Committee because of my interest in Health policy. However, I did not expect to have such a great experience working under my Executive Director. She was more knowledgeable about health policy than anyone else I have worked closely with. Therefore, gratitude seems to be the first word that comes to mind when reflecting on all that I have learned from her. I am equally as grateful for the research analysts on my committee, members of other committees who have helped me along the way, and my fellow fellows, who prevented me from ever having to eat lunch alone.

    Overall, I could not have imagined a better way to spend my second to last semester of college. After having this experience, I feel far more prepared to begin my career.


    Written by: Administrator

  • Politics and Positivity

    Dec 2, 2019

    katie weaver blog photo 11-25-19Almost nothing about my time in the Pennsylvania House Fellowship Program has been what I’ve expected. And I couldn’t be more thankful for that, since I enjoy having my preconceived ideas and expectations challenged. I think it contributes to growth.

    But what’s surprised me the most about this internship, and about life in the Capitol in general, is how genuinely nice many people are here. Having watched my share of national government proceedings (and, more relevantly, every episode of “House of Cards”), I used to see politicians and government employees as aloof characters. As such, I expected the general “vibe” of Harrisburg to be cold and buttoned up. This made me a little nervous to go into the internship setting, since I’m someone who thrives in a social atmosphere.

    To my satisfaction, everyone I have met has been very kind and willing to offer their advice. There seems to be a general consensus that people want to “pay it forward” by helping out new people where they can, since most everyone started out in a position similar to mine.

    I’ve met stakeholders who offered their expertise to help me with my original legislation with no hesitation. I’ve spent hours talking to various legislative assistants in other offices, just because a coworker of mine knew them and made an introduction because he thought we’d get along- and he was right. I’ve had great conversations with people that started with a simple “hello” in the hall. All these situations sound relatively banal, but they made an impact on me. I’ll remember these people for their kindness and generosity, and that’s something I hope can be said for me, too.

    This semester has taught me plenty about state politics and the annals of government. But more importantly, it’s helped me to build on my preexisting interpersonal skills. The House Fellowship Program has offered me opportunities to talk with many different kinds of people who I’d never have met otherwise. I’m thankful for everyone who’s taken the time to converse with me, whether it’s been about an issue of politics or pop culture (shout-out to my coworkers for our exciting conversations on the latter).

    As Maya Angelou said, “People may not remember exactly what you did or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.” For the overwhelming majority of the time I’ve spent at the Capitol, I’ve felt a sense of positivity that is due in large part for the amazing people who work here.

    Katie Weaver

    Written by: Administrator

  • Former Fellows Spotlight

    Nov 19, 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.

    Tabitha Ernst-Chadwick was a Fellow in the Fall of 1996, while attending Slippery Rock University.

    Tabitha Ernst-Chadwick, Slippery Rock University, Fall 1996

    What are you doing now; where are you working?

    I am the Chief Risk and Compliance Officer at Marine Federal Credit Union, a mid-size credit union located on the coast of North Carolina serving the Marine Corps family and the surrounding communities. I stay very busy as I’m also involved in numerous professional groups in the risk and compliance world. I also stay pretty busy personally as a mom of two very active girls.

    Why did you apply for the Fellowship?

    Actually, I just got very lucky to have such a wonderful team of educators at Slippery Rock. I didn’t even know about the Fellowship; in fact, I had not yet started seeking out internships. One of my favorite professors caught me one day and said “I have the perfect internship for you!” She was right!

    What’s your favorite memory from your internship?

    Wow, there are so many good memories that it is tough to narrow down to a favorite. When I think back to that time, the memories I relish most are the ones spent with the people I met there, both my Fellowship classmates and my co-workers in the office. Not only did I learn a lot, but I made some wonderful friendships. I also really enjoyed the opportunity to create an original piece of legislation. Though it was a long and tedious process, it was an experience that I truly appreciated.

    What skills did you develop during this internship?

    Honestly, there are probably too many to recount in a short narrative; not a day goes by that I don’t put to use a skill that I developed during that internship. I had always been complimented on my writing skills, so I went into the Fellowship program thinking I was a pretty good writer. But I learned that I had a long way to go! My supervisor helped me improve my writing skills tremendously. The internship also improved my research skills, taught me how to read and understand legislation, and how to interact in the political arena. Probably one of the most valuable skills I attained was how to work with and achieve results from people who thought differently than I and/or disagreed with me.

    How did the program help you after the internship?

    Well the main jump-start was an opportunity for employment after graduation. I did not end up taking advantage of it though, because I moved out of state shortly after graduation. But, that internship really set the stage for my future career path. Though I work in the credit union industry, my career has continued down the compliance and legal path. Knowing how to read and understand legislation is critical in a compliance role, regardless of the industry. And, knowing how the legislative process works also provides invaluable insight into understanding the laws that impact my industry. Because of my background and experience with the PA House Fellowship, I was also selected to be the primary political liaison for the credit union. I work with credit union political advocacy groups and meet with policymakers to discuss important legislation that impacts our industry. It was this internship that sparked those interests and skills.

    It opened my eyes in other ways that are difficult to articulate, but I will share one particularly special example. I don’t know what is required of the program today, however when I was there we were tasked with writing an original piece of legislation. One of my Fellowship classmates wrote hers on bringing a CASA program to PA. If I had not had the opportunity to work with her, I may never have heard of CASA programs or learned of their importance. Less than two years after that experience, I had an opportunity to become involved in the NC CASA program as a Guardian Ad Litem. I advocated for abused and neglected children in the court system for over 15 years. I never would have known that blessing if it were not for that connection I made at the PA House Fellowship Program.

    What advice would you give to future interns?

    Take advantage of every opportunity presented while you are there. Attend fundraisers, assist with projects, and get to know as many people as you can. In politics, law, business, or any industry you choose, those people-connections will be your most valuable asset. Spend time talking with those who have interests and opinions that are completely opposite of your own and be open to learning from them.

    Written by: Administrator

  • Former Fellows Spotlight

    Oct 9, 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.

    Melissa Seibert Hershey was a Fellow in the Spring of 1987, while attending Kutztown University.

    What are you doing now; where are you working?

    After my Fellowship, I was hired to work on special projects for two different House Members.  After almost two years in the House, I decided to return to my hometown and took a job in retail management.  At that time, I believed I was leaving state government for good.  Little did I know, six years later, I would be called back by another special project working for the President Pro Tempore of the Senate.  I now serve in a different position for the Pro Tempore, as Director of Senate Republican Caucus Services, overseeing the caucus office which serves to assist Republican Senators in their constituent outreach efforts.  My position allows me to travel the state and work with all facets of government.  In addition, I am able to work on all kinds of special projects, including the Centennial Celebration of the Capitol Building and the appearance of The Wall That Heals.

    Melissa Hershey, Kutztown University, Spring 1987

    Why did you apply for the Fellowship?

    I was seeking an internship and this program was recommended to me by a professor.  I believe at the time, it was still a fairly new program, and only for students who attended state-owned schools.  I was so overwhelmed by the building when I arrived for my interview— I thought for sure I would never get the opportunity.  I was really excited when my acceptance letter arrived.

    What’s your favorite memory from your internship?

    That is a difficult question to answer because there were so very many.  But one moment stands out in my mind as remarkable and historic.  It was a meeting with the Speaker of the House, K. Leroy Irvis, a Democrat and Matt Ryan, the Republican Leader at the time and future Speaker.   It was perhaps, only my second or third day on “the job,” and I got to sit in!  Some thirty years later, I cannot honestly recall what the issue was they were discussing; but I got the opportunity to see the two leaders, from the opposite sides of the aisle, come to an agreement with which they were both satisfied.  In fact, the Speaker not only took the time to acknowledge me, but he spoke directly to me.  He wanted to make sure that I understood that bipartisan efforts were possible on any issue and that compromise on policy issues could be reached, regardless of one’s political affiliation.  I remember being in awe of the fact that these two gentlemen genuinely seemed to like and perhaps equally important, respect one another.

    What skills did you develop during this internship?

    My internship taught me as much about myself, as about state government.  Prior to my assignment in the Speaker’s office, I felt that my future path was destined to be in research; I had always loved learning about new issues.  During my fellowship, I learned that it is truly important to be willing to work with diverse points of view and find common ground.  I found myself more interested in engaging in a more active role, not one as passive as I previously believed.  I discovered I enjoyed working in the legislature, serving the people who serve the people.

    How did the program help you after the internship?

    It is often hard to imagine one’s future self.  I know 22 year-old me never considered my career path would rise, and as I come closer to retirement, set under this dome.  Some thirty years later, I can look back and say I would never, ever be sitting in the office I hold today were it not for the opportunity I received as a Fellow.  The program gave me the opportunity to learn and develop my talents, but it also gave me the opportunity to develop a network of friends and contacts, many of which I still maintain today.  It is those friends and contacts who encouraged my future boss in the Senate to reach out to me for the job opportunity when it became available.

    What advice would you give to future interns?

    Be a sponge in paint!  Absorb everything; experience the world around you as it takes place.  Take everything in—even the smallest detail can be important in the future.  Make friends with everyone–the secretary today, could be your boss tomorrow—it happens!  And make your mark so that when you do so, you leave a lasting impression!

    Written by: Administrator

  • Former Fellows Spotlight

    Sep 20, 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.

    Justin Rummel was a Fellow in the Spring of 1999, while attending Millersville University.

    Justin Rummel, Spring 1999

    What are you doing now; where are you working?

    After spending the last 10 years in Washington, DC, Northern VA and Maryland areas, I’ve recently returned to PA as the AVP for Student Financial Services at Susquehanna University.

    Why did you apply for the Fellowship?

    The fellowship seemed like the best opportunity to utilize my college education practically prior to graduation. It also appeared to be a once in a lifetime educational experience.

    What’s your favorite memory from your internship?

    My favorite memory from my internship was working with Melanie Brown the Executive Director of the Human Services Committee.  I learned so much from her and her staff regarding all aspects of the legislative process and how to get things done in any professional environment. 

    What skills did you develop during this internship?

    I think the number one skill I developed during the internship was the ability to build self confidence.  While many see confidence as a personal quality, the ability to build self confidence by pushing myself out of my comfort zones has led to an array of professional opportunities throughout my career.

    Another skill developed via the internship was humility.  The legislative process requires a large amount of humility as it truly needs you to put the needs of others ahead of any personal or political affiliation.  Humility promotes compromise and compromise encourages success.

    How did the program help you after the internship?

    Frankly, it led to my first professional role as a research analyst in the House’s Republican Caucus.  The experiences gained over the fellowship and my time as an analyst set the foundation for my career moving forward whether it was in the public or private sector.

    What advice would you give to future interns?

    The main piece of advice I would give to all future interns is to have an open mind in all aspects and stages of life.  I think its important to understand that we are so much smarter collectively than we are individually and therefore in order to be successful we need to not only be able to provide feedback but also able to receive feedback.

    Written by: Administrator

  • Former Fellows Spotlight

    Aug 26, 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.

    Ashley Sweeney Wagner was a Fellow in the Fall of 2008, while attending Elizabethtown College.

    Ashley Wagner, Fall 2008 (second from right)

    What are you doing now; where are you working?

    I am an associate attorney in the business and finance group at Tucker Arensberg, P.C. in Pittsburgh.

    Why did you apply for the Fellowship?

    I had an interest in state politics and felt that it would be a great learning opportunity.

    What’s your favorite memory from your internship?

    Watching proceedings from the house floor and taking our fellowship photos around the grounds. Also taking a trip to my representative’s hometown with my colleagues for community outreach.

    What skills did you develop during this internship?

    Public speaking, teamwork, and drafting skills.

    How did the program help you after the internship?

    The program was an amazing resume builder and was always a topic for conversation in interviews.

    What advice would you give to future interns?

    Work hard and make as many connections as possible during your internship.

    Written by: Administrator

  • Behind the Scenes

    Aug 12, 2019

    Always having an interest in politics, I often thought about what it would be like to work in government. Wondering how bills come to fruition, amongst other concepts that help our state run as smoothly as it can, I was able to learn about the House Fellowship Program. Before I knew it, I was walking into one of the most beautiful state capitol buildings in the country every day to work.

    Alex DeLuca, Widener University Commonwealth Law School

    The PA House Fellowship Program has given me the experience that I could not have gotten anywhere else. By talking firsthand to Senators/Representatives, lobbyists, and public relations experts, it made grasping important legislative concepts easier. Seeing the logistics and the systems behind what makes our Commonwealth function, and how Representatives perform their duties is surreal. I never imagined myself going to hearings and conferences that focus on important topics heard on the news every day.

    The Fellowship ensures you are placed in a position to work hard and succeed. A great part of this program is the amount of trust and respect you are given. You are treated like any other employee in the building and anyone, no matter the hierarchy of position, is more than willing to help and guide you.

    I would highly recommend this fellowship to anyone interested in law, public policy, or just curious about the political scene here in Harrisburg. It is an experience of a lifetime, and the values/relationships I have formed during this internship are ones that will be with me forever as I continue my professional career.

    Written by: adeluca176015

  • Educated for Service

    Aug 9, 2019

    As I scouted out colleges and universities to find my “perfect match” for post-high school education, a fundamental requirement on my checklist was service. Throughout my educational experience at Quakertown Community High School, service toward others was a central component of my life that I couldn’t imagine being without. When I visited Elizabethtown College and learned about the meaning behind the college’s motto, “Educate for Service,” I knew I had found my home. In the fall of 2015, I became a Blue Jay.

    Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine my dedication to service and giving back to community would lead me up the grand marble steps of the Pennsylvania State Capitol! So here I am – happy to represent Elizabethtown College in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives through the Pennsylvania House Fellowship Program.

    Amanda Hafler, Elizabethtown College

    For me, service had always been in the form of managing fundraisers, working with community groups to run events, and raising awareness. Participation in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, both in Quakertown and Elizabethtown, provided me a distinct understanding of how to give back. In my mind, the term “service” meant raising money and awareness for a cause and the people affected by that cause.

    This experience with The Pennsylvania House of Representatives has turned the tables on my understanding, and definition, of service.

    Throughout the course of my internship thus far, I have come to know a group of wonderful people who have taught me how to serve others by drafting, researching, and collaborating on policy topics and issues near and dear to the hearts of the Commonwealth. From answering constituent letters to researching potential legislation ideas, I have witnessed firsthand how personal experience informs the policymaking process and in turn, benefits the community. Serving State Government is an unparalleled experience to anything I have done within County Government and non-profit work.

    Endless ways of serving the Commonwealth have come in the form of the projects assigned and learning initiatives this summer. When brainstorming topics for my original legislation, I tried to combine my interest in criminal justice (I have a B.A. in Legal Studies) with what I experienced working in Bucks County government last summer. When I toured the Bucks County Correctional Facility as part of that internship, I was humbled by the vocational rehabilitation and employment opportunities available to inmates within the facility, leading me to explore how one seeks employment after being incarcerated and having a criminal record. That exploration has led me to work to create legislation to assist individuals post-incarceration in finding jobs so that they can properly reintegrate as contributing members of society. The summer I served the Bucks County Clerk of Courts Office was an important piece of the puzzle, informing my service in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and the way in which I can strive to serve.

    Working in the House Office of Legislation and Policy has been quite an advantage! While not a formal committee, my office serves as the primary office of policy research and drafting for the Democratic Party. Everyone in the office has an area of expertise for which they draft and prepare policy, placing me in the unique position to learn about many policy areas. While I’m still working to find the niche where my policy expertise lies, working in this office has helped me to develop flexible analytical skills in tackling complicated policy problems. I have learned something valuable from each and every person in the office and I am grateful for what led me to the House, as well as the opportunity to experience Pennsylvania State Government firsthand.

    Ultimately, my experience this summer has allowed me to expound on the parameters and realm of service. Based on what I’ve learned at the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, service is more than awareness. Awareness is important, but service requires building bridges between personal experience and the needs of others. Service poses the question “what do I know that best informs how I can help people?” The Pennsylvania House Fellowship Program has provided me with a professional, educational, and rewarding experience in understanding public service and how I might look to define my role in that abstract. I look forward to taking the knowledge and experiences I have had this summer in the Pennsylvania House Fellowship Program back to Elizabethtown College this fall, when I return to complete my Master’s Degree in Public Policy.

    I would like to thank Jesse Teitelbaum, Keisha Wright, Ray Whittaker, and the Bipartisan Management Committee for giving me the opportunity to participate in the Pennsylvania House Fellowship. A special thank you to my supervisor David Brogan and the staff of the House Office of Legislation and Policy for their support and patience in teaching me the twists and turns of the legislative process. I couldn’t have asked for a better summer experience 😊

    Written by: Administrator

  • Challenge Yourself and Never Give Up!

    Aug 7, 2019

    I am a graduate student at Gannon university and my major is information analysis. Currently, I’m working on my thesis, “the relationship between students’ behaviors and cyber threats on social media.” This summer my adviser and I decided to keep our meetings to have some progress in my work. He advised me to focus on my study and forget about the PA House Fellowship Program. The program is not really related to what I’m doing, and I still remember his last words: “go and hopefully that will be a lesson for you about priorities!”

    But as usual I love to take risks. So, I chose the adventure to discover and learn. Two nights before our first day in the program, I drove to the capitol building, stopped, and looked up to the charming green dome with the gold “Miss Penn” statue. I told myself, “if you want it, you can do it!”

    I have been in this country for just two years. I don’t know what “bill” means or why there are all these committees! I’m still working on my language and I know nothing about the political system in America. But, I’m eager to learn and know more about this country; I always wanted to be involved and make a difference. The first three weeks were so frustrating to me, I didn’t know why I was here! I didn’t know what I was doing and I didn’t know what I would do!

    Marwah Obaid, Gannon University

    So, part of the learning curve for me was to know the basics about the political system, how the government works and how a bill becomes law. Week four, I started to feel more confident about what I was doing; things got clearer to me and I was so excited to work on my first assignment and finish it on time!

    June was such a busy and crazy month; I can name it “Command Month.” Everyone was moving, the entire building was in charge. So many exciting and important things happened in June. Starting from the House sessions (I still hear the speaker saying: “Members, please take your seats”), passing the budget, and ending with the committee meetings whether it’s voting for a bill or an information meeting.

    July was so quiet that I can name it “Vacation Month.” After all the meetings, bill analyses, bill voting, stakeholders meetings, and all the hard work, everyone deserved to relax and have some vacation.

    This program is great, I learned a lot! I learned about the history of Pennsylvania, the political system and how a bill becomes a law, and creating bill analyses. By working with the district office, we learned how to respond to constituents and their letters.

    In time you’ll know all the answers for all those questions: What are the committees and why we have them? What is the Legislative Reference Bureau? Who are the agencies and the stakeholders that we need to contact and reach to? We also improved our communication skills, how to contact Representatives’ offices asking them to take some time from their busy schedule to do an interview and to know more about their job and what they are doing. We also worked on time management and keeping track of our schedule to submit our assignments on time, writing skills (writing a memo to sponsor a bill and this is my first time to write a blog) and relationship building. You’ll have so many meetings…with senators, representatives, lobbyists, the Parliamentarian and Chief Clerk and you don’t know which door will be open for you. I came with zero knowledge about the system and I can tell you now I know more than so many people that have worked in this system for years in the state or even in the country.

    You’ll go up and down starting from navigating the “caucus system portal” and how to find the information and ending with your final project: draft your original legislative piece. But, never forget that you had the most unique opportunity that will have an impact in your future career.

    Oppose your fears and support your confidence. Always ask questions, I still remember my first day when my supervisor told me, “There are no stupid questions only stupid answers.” Always reach out to people and be willing to help.

    Don’t forget to visit the “welcome center.” I recommend it as the first place to visit in the capitol. Don’t forget to enjoy discovering Harrisburg (Midtown Scholar Bookstore, Broad Street Market, City Island, Riverfront Park).

    If you ask me, should I apply for the program? I will say “YES!”

    I’m glad that I made the decision, in addition to all the experience and the knowledge that I gained, I’m going to draft a bill about “improving cyber security in schools” which is related to what I’m doing for my master’s degree.

    Special thanks to Jesse Teitelbaum and Keisha Wright for the well-organized schedule and all the assistance that they provided. I also want to thank my supervisor, Nick Himebaugh and research analyst, Katherine Seidl. They are so welcoming and always willing to answer my questions.

    Written by: Administrator

  • Say “Yes” to Opportunity

    Aug 5, 2019

    As I nervously and excitedly walked up the Capitol stairs on the first day of my fellowship with the House of Representatives, I stopped for a minute to soak in the moment and reminded myself of a quote by John F. Kennedy; “We should not let our fears hold us back from pursuing our hopes.” I will be honest, I was terrified that I was not prepared enough for the position, but then I reminded myself that I was about to be a fellow in one of the most prestigious offices in the Capitol and work under the most experienced and knowledgeable staff, the Majority Leader’s Office. This opportunity is something I have always dreamed of and have worked so hard for, by achieving my Master’s in Public Administration from Shippensburg University in just one year and interning in the political realm for the past three summers. I knew that being a fellow in the Majority Leader’s Office was going to be an experience of a lifetime and it proved to be just that.

    Emily Kendall, Shippensburg University

    I have gained an incredible amount of knowledge thus far in the fellowship. I have composed bill analyses, constituent letters, an original piece of legislation and conducted research for the staff members on various topics. One of the most rewarding parts was the opportunity to witness session during budget season and the craziness of the Majority Leader’s Office. During this time, I had the opportunity to network with stakeholders that came into the office. One of the most eye-opening experiences of this fellowship is the behind-the-scenes experiences, from getting to witness the policy process to experiencing an up-close look on the House Floor. It has been such an honor to work for Representative Bryan Cutler and his wonderful staff members who have been so helpful and have taught me so much in such a short amount of time.

    If I could give advice to anyone that is considering applying to the internship it would be: do it. Never let your fears hold you back from accomplishing your hopes and dreams in life. If you cannot stop thinking about it, pursue it. You never know what door an opportunity like this could open up for you. For me, it is an experience of a lifetime and I have never learned so much in a short amount of time like I have during these short thirteen weeks. The moment you step out of your comfort zone, is the moment you start to achieve everything you have ever wanted.

    Written by: ekendall19

  • Portrait of a Post-Grad Fellow

    Jul 25, 2019

    My name is Deanna Campion and I just recently graduated from Bloomsburg University with a degree in Political Science and Communications. I am set to begin my Master’s in Public Administration program at Shippensburg University in the fall. I originally found this fellowship through one of my Poli Sci professors at Bloomsburg. He said that other Bloom students had completed the program and after reading the description I thought that it would be a good fit for me.

    Deanna Campion, Shippensburg University

    My interest in politics began my freshman year of college when I had taken a general education course in the Poli Sci department and immediately bonded with my professor and other students in the major. I completed an internship at the Coalition for Juvenile Justice in Washington, DC which gave me my passion for helping incarcerated and other at risk youth.

    I came into this fellowship hoping to learn more about how state level government operates. DC was wonderful, but it’s a large ocean of other politically minded people like myself so it was difficult for me to find my opening. I thought this fellowship would give me state level experience that may one day translate into something federal/national. The House Fellowship thus far has been nothing short of educational, transformative, and immersive.

    I was placed on the Gaming Oversight Committee, which at first I will admit sounded odd because it is not really close to any of my interest areas. I have had a fantastic time on Gaming Oversight so far and I have learned an incredible amount about the gambling industry and management in the Commonwealth. I have completed bill analyses (using layman’s terms of some sort) to explain bills in the Committee and attended hearings about skill gaming in Pennsylvania. I have also completed several different research memoranda which has been the most exciting part for me so far because writing has always been my strong suit.

    The fellowship has been a fantastic experience thus far and I am looking forward to completing the rest of the program and seeing where this education and work experience can take me in the future!

    Written by: deannacampion

  • Chamber Chatter

    Jul 22, 2019

    Chamber Chatter S1E1: Pilot


    Carson:  Welcome to Chamber Chatter, PCN’s weekly daytime talk show and your destination for all things PA House of Representatives!  I’m your host, Carson Nicholas, and this week’s special guest is… ME!  That’s right, folks, this week I’ll be giving you an inside look at my experiences with the Pennsylvania House Fellowship Program.

    Carson:  Thanks, Carson, for agreeing to be interviewed today.

    Carson:  Sure thing, Carson.  No problem!

    Carson:  Tell us a little bit about yourself.  Who are you?  What’s your story?

    Carson Nicholas, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

    Carson:  Sure.  So, I’m a legislative fellow in the PA House of Representatives for the duration of summer 2019.  I have the privilege of serving on the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness {VA&EP} Committee for the Republican caucus.  Day-to-day my responsibilities might include drafting legislation, attending stakeholder meetings, conducting policy research for constituents and representatives, to name a few things.  Since I am on the VA&EP Committee, our job is to aid in the creation of legislation that makes things easier for our members of the military, our veterans, and our emergency personnel.  Our job is to help our heroes be heroes – which is pretty cool.

    Carson:  That is cool.  You’re just the coolest, Carson.  Are there any other aspects to your fellowship?

    Carson:  Well in addition to my committee work, I also have homework to complete for my fellowship.  For clarification, the fellowship itself is based out of the Bipartisan Management Committee (BMC) – they are the ones that oversee us fellows and give us our specific caucus committee assignments. 

    CarsonWait, Homework?  What type of homework do you get?  Don’t they know you’re not supposed to get homework in the summer?!?

    Carson:  We are required to attend workshops – everything from meeting legislators and lobbyists to learning about press releases, to private behind-the-scenes tours of the Capitol – seeing things you wouldn’t on the public tours!  Then the BMC takes you to task.  Fellows are required to submit bill analyses, to interview legislators – I had a delightful interview with the Majority Leader, Rep. Cutler – to writing blog posts, to issuing press releases, all culminating in your final assignment: you must create an original piece of legislation, presenting and defending it on the final day of the fellowship.  A few fellows have even seen their bills turn into law!

    Carson:  Whoa, you get to write a bill?  What’s your bill idea?

    Carson:  I’m a big fan of school choice, so I’m looking at starting a pilot program for Education Savings Accounts {ESAs}.  From my preliminary research, there are a handful of school districts across the PA that have come under state receivership. I’m still in the drafting stage of it all, but I would like to see if starting these ESAs for students in these school districts might improve their quality of education.  These schools need new ideas, since their old ideas brought them into the dire straits they find themselves in now…

    Carson:  Hold on a minute, what exactly are ESAs?

    Carson:  ESAs are the latest policy trend to hit the school choice movement.  ESAs give funds to the parents of students K-12 to spend on a host of school-related expenses.  You could use them for school supplies, uniforms, musical or art lessons, and you could even use ESA funds to send your child to a different school if your assigned school doesn’t meet your child’s needs.  ESAs are a flexible tool of policymakers to help students customize the education to best fit their needs. Other states have tried this, all to varying degrees of success.  I would like to see if ESAs might work here!

    Carson:  Ah, laboratories of democracy and all that.  Very exciting.  I’ll be curious to see how your bill stacks up.  Let’s pivot back to the fellowship itself.  How does this fellowship compare to other political internships or fellowships you may have held before? 

    Carson:  Excellent question.  I have held many internships across the spectrum of the political industry.  In previous years, I’ve interned: for the Republican Party of PA, on many different individual campaigns – here’s looking at you two, Joe Peters & Dave Reed, and in polling at Public Opinion Strategies – headquartered in Alexandria, VA.  I’ve also done constituent relations in the district office of former State Representative Dave Reed.  All of these internships have given me a good perspective of the political industry itself – but nothing is quite like this fellowship.  I remind the audience that life is what you make of it, and this fellowship is no different.  This fellowship is the real deal – you are working on policy, which is what ultimately matters.  You’re thrown into the action of legislating, logrolling, and policy debate.  Each day is something new – many days are fast-paced and require you to be a jack-of-all-trades, while others are slow, allowing you to focus on legislation for a few specific topics.  You’ll meet legislators.  You’ll meet staff whose career is to research and craft legislation.  You’ll learn so much along the way, gaining insights into the political process, about people, and what goes on behind-the-scenes in the State Capitol.  If you produce good work, if you network well – and I emphasize showing kindness to all you meet, if you bring a can-do attitude, this fellowship may present you with further opportunities.  Previous fellows have landed jobs in policy research for their caucus.  They have turned this experience into opportunities at lobbying firms and at think tanks.  The sky is the limit when you’re a BMC legislative fellow!

    Carson:  It sounds like you’re really enjoying yourself.

    Carson:  I am truly grateful for this fellowship.  I have met many good people and have done many exciting things.  I believe that a fulfilling life begins with seeking experiences out of your comfort zone, ones that steer you in new directions and challenge you.  This fellowship has done much for me in the way of pushing me out of my comfort zone.  I would recommend this fellowship to anyone who desires to make their mark on the political process.  This fellowship is an excellent start…

    Carson:  Well, that’s all the time we have.  Thank you, Carson, for joining this week’s show.  Make sure to tune in next week, when the ghost of Hon. Matthew J. Ryan, former Speaker of the PA House of Representatives, joins the program to discuss his legislative accomplishments, offer his insight on the current affairs of the House, and to spill the juiciest gossip about his former political adversaries.  For all of us here at Chamber Chatter, my name is Carson Nicholas, and we’ll see you next time!


    DISCLAIMER: “Chamber Chatter” is entirely fictional and has no connection to the Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN).

    Written by: carsonfnicholas

  • Helping Professions in Government

    Jul 19, 2019

    I am originally from Ohio and have just finished my undergraduate degree in psychology from a small school in northwest PA. Currently I am taking a gap year before going to the University of Pittsburgh for a Master of Social Work, specializing in the macro side of social work in community organization and social action.

    Maddie Myers, University of Pittsburgh

    With my academic background, I, or people like myself, may not seem like the most likely candidates for an internship in state government. My studies have focused on sciences and understanding individuals rather than larger systems that govern groups and institutions. However, I think that the overwhelming drive for common good and justice ingrained in our studies is an equally valuable base for work in state government. The largely practical and human-centric perspective that people trained in helping professions have learned is a great foundation for understanding the big issues that Pennsylvania’s state government seeks to solve. Helping professions can work with individuals or groups, and some of us may be more suited to helping people at the group level.

    This is why I am so glad to have this opportunity to be in this fellowship and I encourage other people trained in helping professions to consider the benefit of this program. While I have not entered this program with the largest amount of political knowledge, I do have key experiences and knowledge with real people who are affected by the laws our government creates, and the same is true for many of my helping professional friends.

    While in this internship, I have learned how those ideas to help people and improve the state become a reality. There is behind-the-scenes work, including research, writing bill analyses and contacting stakeholders. There is definitely a lot of learning how things work as well, including the practical side of the process a bill goes through to become law and how a committee or legislator may find creative ways to solve problems or pass bills. This internship has also given me a real taste of what the government is actually like, and that experience in itself is very valuable whether your career ends up being in the private or public sector.

    Thus, I want to thank the people here in the House of Representatives and CORE staff for making this internship so enriching, and I would invite other people interested in helping professions to apply to learn about effective legislating and advocacy from this perspective.

    Written by: myersmp1

  • Former Fellows Spotlight

    Jul 17, 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.

    Matt Maturani was a Fellow in the Spring of 1988, while attending Bloomsburg University.

    What are you doing now; where are you working?

    Self-employed, Independent Agent for State Farm Insurance.

    Why did you apply for the Fellowship?

    I was a Political Science Major at Bloomsburg University and thought that I wanted to work for the state or federal government upon graduation.

    What’s your favorite memory from your internship?

    I loved walking into the Capitol building every morning.  It is a beautiful and impressive structure.  Mostly, my fondest memories are of the people I worked with during the fellowship.

    What skills did you develop during this internship?

    Definitely interpersonal skills.  The fellowship provided the opportunity to interact with people at all levels and functions of state government.

    How did the program help you after the internship?

    The people I worked with trusted me to work on important projects and that gave me the confidence to realize that I could accomplish pretty much anything I put my mind to.

    What advice would you give to future interns?

    Embrace everything the fellowship has to offer. Ask questions and take initiative.  This fellowship provides an opportunity to do real work and develop skills required in any endeavor.

    Written by: Administrator

  • Adventure Lies Everywhere

    Jul 16, 2019

    Within the first few weeks of my internship my supervisor, Jon, from the Urban Affairs Committee, told me about a locally owned bookstore called the Midtown Scholar Bookstore.  Despite being partial to bookstores, I don’t often get the chance to visit locally owned ones as often as good old Barnes and Noble.  I took this recommendation in stride and walked over to the bookstore one day after my internship and was initially very impressed with the façade, the café inside, and the two levels I could initially see from the entrance.  I perused the arts sections above and went through the history sections on the mid-level, an impressive selection on its own, and I was ready to leave thinking I had seen all there was to see.  Truly, I was looking for their economics section or at least a social sciences section as these are my favorite types of books to read.  However, I understood that this store may just not have that kind of selection as space can be limited.
    Michael Duncan, Penn State University

    To my surprise, I saw a sign directing me to their basement with more books.  I then perused their religion and world studies section in their basement.  Again, I thought I had reached the end of their selection, yet once again, I found even more.  They advertised a rare books and prints section in the room next to the world studies section.  I contemplated not going in, but eventually I relented and thought I should explore it as well.  Then as I had my fill with the rare books room, I found yet another set of rooms along with all the social sciences books I was looking for.  Finally, near the end of the last room of books there was a small room filled with only economics books, quite an awesome find for me!

    Now, you may be wondering what my exploration of a bookstore has to do with anything relevant to this blog, but I’d compare my excursion into this bookstore to my experience as a fellow working for the House of Representatives.  The deeper I explore the governmental processes in Harrisburg, the more rewarded I have been.    

    The opportunity to intern for the House of Representatives, much like the Midtown Scholar Bookstore was less purposed and more by chance.  I only found out about the opportunity a month before the application deadline through my undergraduate college’s career site (Washington & Jefferson College).  However, since I have a great desire to work in the public sector, I took the opportunity in stride much like the bookstore and have since been blessed to have the opportunity to call Harrisburg my home this summer.

    Last summer I had the pleasure of interning for U.S. Senator Bob Casey where I focused largely on assisting and contacting constituents. Maybe this position was like me entering the bookstore and perusing the first few sections.  Currently in my role with the House of Representatives, I have the privilege of dealing more substantially with policy related work such as researching policy issues, summarizing bills and amendments, and contacting stakeholders.  With each new assignment or reading, I always imagine that I know what it is like working for the government, but only until I am confronted with my next assignment.  Like the bookstore, I am constantly learning and experiencing more because I continue to press onwards in my assignments. 

    Beyond just learning the functions of government, I am learning a great deal about the work of the committee I am assigned to, Urban Affairs.  Before this internship, there was very little I knew about this subject area as it’s generally not an issue that gets much news coverage except when people are complaining about the cost of rents or blighted communities.  Also, people don’t seem to get very excited about local issues until something goes terribly wrong.  However, I’ve learned that the seemingly benign and neglected issues of urban affairs have real effects on the residents of Pennsylvania.  Local government has much more power than the average citizen gives them credit for.

    At the conclusion of this internship, I will be continuing my education in hopes of a master’s degree in economics at Penn State’s University Park.  After I complete my education, I hope to work in some capacity as an economist for the government.  I believe that I will be more than prepared for a career working in the public sector and be better able to work for the best interests of the citizens of the United States and Pennsylvania.  Even if public service is not what you intend to have a career in, I believe that this fellowship has something to offer to everyone.  In only 13 short weeks, the opportunities to develop oneself through this program are numerous and fulfilling.  I would like to thank Pennsylvania, the Bipartisan Management Committee, as well as Jesse and Keisha for their administration and support of this great program that benefits countless young adults further developing themselves.

    Written by: mduncan22397

  • On Legislation

    Jul 15, 2019


    An Act

    Amending the Fellowship Blog of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives providing for the documentation of a fellow’s experience of the Fellowship thus far and further providing for the implementation of the “communication to interested parties” procedure.  

    Daniel Wohlberg of the PA House Fellowship hereby enacts as follows:

    Section 1. The Fellowship Blog of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives is amended by adding the following:

                “Daniel Wohlberg.” A PA House Fellow who is currently attending West Chester University and is progressively working towards his Master’s in Public Administration. He hopes to one day make policy that will benefit communities around the Commonwealth.

    Section 2. The Fellowship Blog of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives is amended to read:

    § 1. Fellowship Blog Post made by Daniel Wohlberg. —

    Law is made incrementally. It ebbs and flows as it responds to ever-changing needs. Lawmaking in large part is figuring out how we can configure government to solve the problems of today. In order to form government to work for the people, it takes policymakers that will listen and do whatever they can to help.

    Inspiration for legislation is all around. It is found between the measured words of hearings and testimonies. It is found in telephone calls and letters from constituents. Sometimes, it is even found in the comments section under a controversial news article.

    Policymaking takes that inspiration and turns it into questions. How can we clarify the law as to provide remedy for this issue? How can an administrative process be made more efficient or effective?  How can we provide resources for new innovations? How can we guide PA into the future? How can we improve our citizens’ quality of life?

    As a result, I’m pretty sure I will be leaving this fellowship with more questions than I had coming in.

    One question I have been able to answer is, how does PA work? Simply, it works by lawmakers listening. PA works because it has a democratic-republican form of government that is attuned attentively to the people.  

    Section 3. This act shall take effect immediately.

    Dan Wohlberg, West Chester University

    Written by: dwohlberg

  • Jumping In

    Jul 2, 2019

    I am currently a graduate student studying public policy at Temple University.  Before graduating, I knew that I needed a real-world public policy experience.  Naturally, I thought the state legislature would be the prime place to witness public policy in action.  So, my next step was to scour the Internet for internships in Harrisburg, and fate brought me to the Pennsylvania House Fellowship.  Before my interview for the Fellowship, I had never stepped foot in Harrisburg, let alone the State Capitol building.  Now that I have been here for six weeks, the Capitol is no longer as intimidating as that day I walked in for my interview.

    Jasmine Lamb, Temple University

    Even though I have only been here for a short time, I have already learned so much.  As a Fellow working with the House Democratic Finance Committee, part of my role is to draft bill analyses for bills referred to the Finance Committee.  Bill analyses help break down the complex legal language from a bill into bite-sized, digestible pieces for readers.  In essence, you’re interpreting the “legalese” into plain English, and assessing its intent and stakeholder feedback.  My other role on the Committee is to complete any research projects, draft constituent letters, write citations, compose resolutions, file proposed bills, draft bills, file amendments, and compose co-sponsorship memos.  Since starting six weeks ago, I have drafted three bill analyses, written three letters, composed more than twenty-five citations, completed one resolution, filed two bills (one of which was Restore PA), drafted one bill, filed one amendment, and drafted one co-sponsorship memo.  On top of all that, I have also completed research and outlined policy recommendations related to the diversity of contract bids and the accessibility of after-hour childcare for working parents.

    So, to say that you will be busy is quite an understatement.  However, everyone’s experiences differ, but I appreciate the opportunity to jump right in and learn as I go.  Participating in the Fellowship right after I completed my first year in graduate school has unexpectedly been a blessing.  I often hear that classroom experiences don’t quite translate to real-world application, but in my case, I have been fortunate.  I have had ample opportunity to apply the theories and skills I have learned in the classroom to the Fellowship.  Furthermore, I have also gained plenty of skills that I believe I will be able to apply to my second and last year of my graduate program.

    I am incredibly proud and grateful to call myself a PA House Fellow.  The Fellowship perfectly complements my public policy studies in the classroom.  It is a one-of-a-kind program that intersects the realms of public policy, politics, state government, and law.  I can’t wait to continue my journey this summer!

    Written by: jasmineamlamb

  • Former Fellow Spotlight

    Jun 10, 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.

    Drew Greenwald was a Fellow in the Summer of 2015, while attending Duquesne University.

    What are you doing now; where are you working?

    I currently work for the House Democratic Caucus in the Legislative Policy and Research Office (LPRO) after working for CORE for two years in the House Archives.

    Why did you apply for the Fellowship?

    I always wanted to work in Harrisburg, and the career office at Duquesne posted an announcement for the program. I applied and was accepted for the first graduate level Fellowship in the summer of 2015.

    What’s your favorite memory from your internship?

    My favorite memory from the internship was getting the chance to witness the budget battle of 2015 firsthand. It gave me invaluable experience in how state government really works.

    What skills did you develop during this internship?

    What skills DIDN’T I develop during the internship would be the better question. I developed all kinds of professional skills like writing, presenting, interacting with stakeholders, elected officials, and staff, understanding statute, and basic skills like how to work a 9-5 Monday-Friday job.

    Drew with wife, Sarah, and niece, Cali.

    How did the program help you after the internship?

    Well, I know that the experience here helped me land my first job in city government in Pittsburgh, and then the first job offer I received in Harrisburg was directly due to the connections I made during the Fellowship. Without the Fellowship, I likely wouldn’t be working here.

    What advice would you give to future interns?

    Live in the moment—most people do not have the opportunity to do what you are doing, so enjoy it and don’t sweat the small stuff!

    Written by: Administrator

  • And They’re Off…

    May 29, 2019

    The Summer 2019 Fellows are off and running!  The ten students have started their internships with eyes wide open.  Filled with excitement, they will be trying to soak up as much as they can within thirteen weeks.  By the end, they will know the legislative process inside and out.  From there, who knows.  Make it a great internship!

    • Amanda Hafler is from Elizabethtown College and is placed in the Democratic Office of Legislation and Policy.
    • Maddie Myers is from the University of Pittsburgh and is placed in the Democratic Education Committee.
    • Carson Nicholas is from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and is placed in the Republican Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee.
    • Emily Kendall is from Shippensburg University and is placed in the Office of the Majority Leader.
    • Alex DeLuca is from Widener Commonwealth and is placed in the Democratic Children and Youth Committee.
    • Marwah Obaid is from Gannon University and is placed in the Democratic State Government Committee.
    • Jasmine Lamb is from Temple University and is placed in the Democratic Finance Committee.
    • Deanna Campion is from Shippensburg University and is placed in the Democratic Gaming Oversight Committee.
    • Michael Duncan is from Penn State University and is placed in the Democratic Urban Affairs Committee.
    • Dan Wohlberg is from West Chester University and is placed in the Republican Local Government Committee.

    Written by: Administrator

  • 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


    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