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.

  • Jessica Wood | Spring 2024 Legislative Fellow

    Apr 10, 2024

    Reflecting on my time with the PA House Fellowship Program, I am imbued with a sense of fulfillment and bittersweet excitement for what lies ahead.  These past few months have been nothing short of transformative, offering me the privilege of participating in an immersive experience that profoundly shaped my understanding of policymaking and governance in Pennsylvania.

    One of the more rewarding aspects of the Fellowship Program is the depth and breadth of experiences it offers, far surpassing my initial expectations.  From attending hearings and committee meetings to drafting bill analyses, conducting policy research, and assisting with constituent services, each task entrusted to me served as a steppingstone towards a deeper understanding of legislative procedures, honing my analytical and research skills along the way.

    Beyond the day-to-day work, the program provides invaluable networking opportunities.  Weekly workshops facilitated interactions with key players in Pennsylvania politics—House members and their staff, lobbyists, state agency employees, and even the governor.  These interactions have broadened my perspective on the political landscape and the complexities of government. 

    Assigned to the House Health committee, my colleagues afforded me a level of trust and responsibility that made me feel like an integral member of their team.  I am truly appreciative of each and every one of my temporary office mates for their contributions to my growth here.

    As I prepare to bid farewell to this incredible journey, I am filled with gratitude for the lessons learned, the friendships forged, and the memories made.  It’s been a journey I will not soon forget—one that has instilled in me new purpose and optimism for the future.

    Walking up to the magnificent Capitol Building every morning, it was never lost on me just how rare this opportunity to get a peek behind the curtain was.  I am immensely thankful for having been a part of it and for everyone who helped make this experience possible.

    To those considering applying to the Fellowship Program, do it.  It will shape the trajectory of your future in ways you never imagined possible. 

    Written by: Administrator

  • Claudia Huber | Spring 2024 Legislative Fellow

    Apr 4, 2024

    Sometimes figuring out your next step takes realizing where you need to be. For myself, working in the House of Representatives has been just that. Every single day I appreciated being a part of a program that I could see developing into a career one day. I took every chance to learn from the people around me, and I appreciated each moment I had working in this beautiful building.

    Public service is extremely important to me. I am a firm believer that if you see a problem or something that needs fixed in your community, you are the best person to begin to make the change and be an advocate. Working with the House of Representatives has only highlighted that for me. Meeting with leaders and members in the House and working with my Committee Executive Director Glendon has made this experience so immersive. You do not just get to see the changes happen. You will get to be a part of them here.

    In my time here, I have learned how the research happens on issues that Pennsylvanians are concerned about. Working on the Republican Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, I got to see the intersections of environmental policy making firsthand. Developing skills on how to research and write my own, original piece of legislation, I now have the knowledge of how the legislative process works. I have been able to take something I am passionate about and begin to see it become a reality.

    A very personal issue to me is that the marking of dams becomes as safe as possible on our waterways. There are dams in the Commonwealth that are extremely dangerous for people using the waterways, and the presence of adequate signage can quickly become the difference between life and death. Writing my bill on updating these requirements and raising awareness of the danger these dams present is a step in a direction that I only dreamed I would be able to take. By far, that has been the most rewarding part of my experience—taking something you care about and investing your project to it.

    Written by: Administrator

  • Tyler Mruczinski | Spring 2024 Legislative Fellow

    Mar 18, 2024

    My time as a PA House Legislative Fellow has been one of the most fun, fulfilling, and instructive political and educational experiences of my life. Let me explain. This has been fun because there is always a new aspect of government and political life to undergo. The fellowship allows for a broad and liberal day to day acquaintance with how government works. The Fellowship administrators take us one day to the House Parliamentarian where we get acquainted with democratic etiquette, proceduralism, and constitutionalism, while the next day we meet with the communications directors for both the PA House Republicans and PA House Democrats, giving us knowledge and hands-on education in political communication, messaging, and public relations! There is always something going that will add to your resume.

    A particular advantage this fellowship gives you over other types of political volunteer work is that you are treated as active staff member for which party caucus you wish to be assigned to. There is no running errands or pickup lunch or bringing coffee. In my time here I have been given an office cubicle like other employees and put to work for the caucus. I have written policy research and information memos for representatives on subjects such as marijuana legalization and abortion regulation that have then go on to be shared among the whole GOP caucus and cited by members in Appropriations hearings. One gains an appreciation and understanding of government insulated against the cynicism of the outside world. Here you learn and see that representatives and elected officials are not infallible nor are they selfish liars. Instead, they are error-prone human beings trying their best and requiring assistance and grace. Perhaps the most rewarding effect of the Fellowship is that it is anti-polarizing. I have met with both Republican legislators and Democratic legislators on different extents of the Left-Right spectrum. But all of them share the same goal of making life better for their constituents and state, even while they disagree on the policies that will bring about that. The PA House Legislative Fellowship provides a dash of hope to us Fellows in this hateful and polarized political era.

    Written by: Administrator

  • Allison Jedrzejek | Fall 2023 Legislative Fellow

    Dec 11, 2023

    If you are reading this wondering what a fellowship at the Pennsylvania House might hold, I want to tell you that you can accomplish nearly anything here that you set your mind to. Your fellowship coordinators will schedule incredible events. Some of mine included meeting both Governor Josh Shapiro and Lieutenant Governor Austin Davis and being introduced on the House floor during Session. This is a rich program with plenty of opportunities to network and immerse yourself in State Government.

    But outside of the already amazing schedule of events, there is so much opportunity and support for any goals you may have in mind. I was assigned to the Aging and Older Adult Services Committee with Representative Patty Kim. I absolutely adore Rep Kim and loved working to help Pennsylvania’s seniors. I even drafted my own legislation on reverse mortgage counseling over the course of my fellowship. Additionally, I quickly learned that being assigned to a committee does not limit the policy you can explore and work on. I was interested in exploring new technologies such as blockchain and artificial intelligence and I was able to work with the emerging technology caucus to create legislation in that area too (Shout out to Representative Napoleon Nelson and Michelle!). One of the highlights of my fellowship was helping host an event with the company Coinbase where we introduced blockchain legislation (that I helped draft!) and taught Representatives about the future of Crypto. This just goes to show that this fellowship truly lets you explore any area of policy you are interested in and is an amazing opportunity to give back to your community.

    Another highlight of my fellowship was working at Representative Kim’s Senior Health Fair! I was able to bring my unique skill of violin playing to the table and performed for Harrisburg’s seniors during the event. This further supports my overall message: almost anything you are interested in doing here, from a policy idea to a musical performance, will be supported by the amazing people who work here. I want to provide a special thanks to my supervisors Chuck Miller, Michelle Bohnke, and Jason Stephen in the Aging Office for supporting me throughout the duration of my fellowship!

    Finally, please note that you do not need to have prior experience in politics to thrive here. I attended Lebanon Valley College and have my degree in Business Administration. The fellows had weekly educational workshops that I found incredibly helpful while working here and I was met with endless support from staff and Representatives.

    Following my fellowship, I will be attending Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law. I am grateful for this fellowship and the opportunities and skills it has provided that will surely aid me in my legal career. I will always look back fondly on my time during this fellowship and recommend it to anyone who is interested in learning about public policy.

    Written by: Administrator

  • Ryan Carpenter | Fall 2023 Legislative Fellow

    Dec 5, 2023

    The old maxim is “all politics is local,” but this semester I saw the truth behind that statement thanks to the House Fellowship Program. Not only did I work for the Local Government Committee, but the chairman’s district borders my own home district, and I went to school in one of the communities within his district. From writing letters to constituents whose street names, I recognized to reading up the entire Municipalities Planning Code I saw how much quiet, but important work goes on at the local level. While there are some mainstays of committee works like letters and bill analyses, there was no shortage of new things to learn either. Land use laws, the different classes of municipal governments, and the requirements of cemetery registration are among a few topics I learned for committee work.

    The Fellowship exposed me to a variety of perspectives. My work in committee frequently involved bipartisan solutions to issues brought to our attention by the Local Government Commission and various local stakeholders like the Municipal League, Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs, and Municipal Authorities Association to name a few. Moreover, the Fellowship connected me with a variety of important actors in state government from legislative officials, the executive branch, and third parties.

    The most important thing I learned during my work in the committee is to be flexible. One of my interviews with the representatives taught me that it is nearly impossible to predict where life will take one, so it is best to be flexible for whatever may occur downstream. The Fellowship puts you in the room with many different opportunities, expected and unexpected, but you still have to seize them.

    Written by: Administrator

  • Marcus Walko | Fall 2023 Legislative Fellow

    Dec 4, 2023

    When I got my acceptance letter for the House Fellowship, I was excited to finally apply my education in a real-life setting. Anybody can read about state government in the news or talk about it in a classroom. Relatively few people see how it actually works firsthand. This Fellowship gave me the rewarding opportunity not only to see, but to participate in the process.

    Many ideas I had about how the House of Representatives works were completely wrong. That’s not a bad thing – it means I learned. I was assigned to the Health Committee, chaired by Rep. Frankel, which was a great place to see what it really takes to pass important legislation on controversial issues. I attended committee meetings, sat in on stakeholder meetings, and even did some of the work myself, like writing bill analyses and co-sponsorship memos. Absent from most political education is the fact that lawmaking is deeply dependent on personal relationships. The interactions between individual politicians, staffers, and members of the public are easily overlooked but are often the most important part of shaping legislation.

    The workshops and interviews made for some highlights of the experience. I got to listen to valuable information and advice from people throughout state government, including the House Parliamentarian, the Lieutenant Governor, and the House Minority Leader. Each of these workshops and interviews provided valuable insight into the different offices and careers in Harrisburg.

    To any future Fellows, I must stress what many others already have: talk to people. Networking can lead to memorable learning opportunities and important connections. It is also one of the most useful skills you can have, especially if a career in government is the goal. Some of my most valuable moments here were ones that happened because I went ahead and introduced myself to somebody. You never know who you’ll meet or what might happen.

    Written by: Administrator

  • Sadie Yoder | Summer 2023 Legislative Fellow

    Aug 11, 2023

    This fellowship began as a daunting experience and ended as a wonderful opportunity to network, improve a multitude of practical skills, impact state legislation, and advocate for issues that are of utmost importance to me. This semester my group of fellows got to meet the Governor Shapiro and Lt. Governor Davis, have breakfast with Speaker McClinton, experience a rare Dome Tour, interview members of the General Assembly, and so much more. Every single day I spent in the capitol was with a sense of newness and appreciation, and I’ll never forget just how beautiful this building is.

    Every new work experience is intimidating at first and becomes more familiar over time, and this fellowship is no different. While the program is challenging and pushes you to do your best work, it’s never overbearing, and you always have resources and people to reach out to if you need help. The committee assignments for fellows are very intentional, and within your committee you will be able to research topics that are of interest to you. My committee assignment to the Professional Licensure Committee was perfect (shout out to Kari, Joe, Jamie, and Rep. Burns). I have never had the pleasure of working with such kind, smart, capable, and understanding people. I will miss you guys!

    As a fellow, you have some amazing opportunities to develop research and writing skills as well as meet incredible people like the Speaker of the House and the Governor. While you are assigned with fellowship projects that lead you to draft your own legislation, many assignments align with the type of work you will complete for your committee. This includes attending committee hearings and voting meetings, conducting policy research, writing co-sponsorship memos, drafting legislation, sending documents to the Legislative Reference Bureau, and so much more!

    I highly recommend this program to everyone who is interested, even if you don’t want a career entirely focused in politics. This experience will teach you essential information about the way our state’s government operates and will give you skills that can be used in any other job you take on. You also get the opportunity to draft and even introduce your own bill into the House. Who wouldn’t want to do that?

    My advice to any upcoming fellow would be to push themselves outside of their comfort zone. It’s easier said than done, but stepping outside your comfort zone is the best thing you can do for yourself here. While you can already expect a fantastic experience from this program, make it more beneficial for yourself by meeting tons of new people and taking on big projects. Introduce yourself to everyone you can, set up meetings to talk to representatives and senators, and create a bill that you wholeheartedly believe in. You can really make this program your own, and the last thing you want is to leave here wishing you could have done more. The time truly flies by, so take in every single day.

    Written by: Administrator

  • Matthew Peipher | Summer 2023 Legislative Fellow

    Jul 31, 2023

    The House Fellowship Program is a true glimpse into the inner workings of the state Legislature.  I certainly had some preconceived notions about what working in the Capitol would be like, and those were almost instantly proven wrong. I imagined that working in the halls of government would be full of stiff and combative personalities solely focused on their individual goals. What I instead found was a setting where nearly everyone will greet you with a smile and a hello in the hallways regardless of if they work with you daily in your office or have never seen you before. There are no doubt tense moments in the political encounters and maneuvers that occur on the House floor and in committee hearing rooms, but the “off-camera” moments are much more humanizing and welcoming to all than one might expect.

    The staff truly make the fellowship experience in the Capitol enjoyable and professionally beneficial. They are there to help guide and mentor each fellow as they learn the ropes of legislative work ranging from bill analysis and drafting to constituent work and complex research. The staff of the House of Representatives and the Legislature in general are the gears that make this place function and spending a summer working among them has been a fantastic learning experience.

    The placement of the House Fellowship gives each fellow an opportunity to work closely with a specific committee and have a support network to develop the necessary skills to produce quality work product. In my case, I worked with the House Environmental Resources & Energy Committee on a wide variety of topics that were impacting Pennsylvanians every day. I got to hear many perspectives from members across the Commonwealth, executive agency directors, analysts, interest groups, and other stakeholders about important environmental-related issues. It is a gratifying experience seeing the nightly news or statewide press cover an issue that I was working on only hours earlier.  

    Above all, I feel an immense amount of pride working for the House of Representatives. Driving up State Street every morning to the imposing sight of the Capitol and leaving the building walking through the Rotunda reminds me each time to take in everything this place has to offer and has made me recognize how unique this opportunity is. This program has allowed me to grow significantly and develop a professional network while also doing meaningful legislative work in the Capitol of the state I call home.

    Written by: Administrator

  • Mackenzie Poston | Summer 2023 Legislative Fellow

    Jul 28, 2023

    My overall experience in the fellowship was that it was a very positive and enlightening experience, I would recommend doing the fellowship to any student who is interested in knowing about the world and wanting to do something to help people. It was informative, an application of real-world skills, and different from other internships because of the multitude of different activities available. Initially, I didn’t think that I would get as involved in the political world as I was, networking was a big part of this experience and the people I’ve met have given new skills I didn’t have before. I had presumed a majority of the work would be behind the scenes research not really allowing for an opportunity to visit so many facets of the House.

    The fellowship allowed me behind the scenes access to how things are actually run in the Capitol, preparing me for a world in which people had to side with their district rather than their own opinions on a subject and alliances are important parts of whether work will get done. I learned more about the legal system than I had before, I knew there had to be a lot of moving parts in the Capitol to get things done but I underestimated the level of mutualism and symbiosis necessary to complete tasks. This had a long-lasting impact on the way I think of the world, especially the political world.

    It is different from other internships in the sense that you are working with people who can change how things occur in the state legislature on a daily basis. Commentary you put forth and work you do can impacts hundreds of thousands of people. Someone you meet as an intern could end up being a state representative, an executive director, or a research analyst for a variety of committees. The overarching effects of what a few words can do is amazing. Other internships definitely can have tangible results in the same way, but it seems different as actions in the Capitol impact people statewide.

    Written by: Administrator

  • Katrina Raser | Summer 2023 Legislative Fellow

    Jul 26, 2023

    From Protester to Policy Writer: A Radical Perspective of the PA House Fellowship Program

    Today marks the beginning of the end, by which I mean the last year of my 30s. Looking back, it’s been an interesting decade to say the least. The first year of the third decade was distinguished by a surprise pregnancy. From the beginning, it has been my firm belief that “the world is on fire” and that concern over the state of the world stayed at the forefront of my mind as I debated whether I could, would, or should add another person to the planet. The day before my 31st trip around the sun, was supposed to be the day my legacy would arrive. However, my daughter operated on her own clock from the start and has consistently done so ever since. The year after that, another frightening shift happened. Coupled with the birth of my daughter, I transformed the flame I saw consuming the planet into the fire lit under my [expletive deleted] pushing me to step out of my comfort zone and into the fray. The next few years, much like the preceding ones, were spent embracing a somewhat unconventional approach to advocating for reform. In 2019, in pursuit of democracy, I found myself in the gallery of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. There, in an effort to bring attention to the issues of bribery and corruption, I was involved in a theatrical approach, in which a group of likeminded activists and I showered the floor below with one-dollar bills as we chanted the word “bribe.” After a few years, as many losses, a significant number of court appearances, and a great deal of frustration with the justice system, I ultimately decided to pursue a career in law to try and affect institutional change while doing as much as is possible to protect individuals from the current deficits in the system. As part of curriculum at Widener Commonwealth Law School, I must complete experiential learning credits. For me, some of those credits are being earned here, in the PA House Fellowship Program. As fate would have it, I was placed in the very same Committee that I had spent a great deal of time “enthusiastically lobbying.”While my fellow Fellows are probably not as close to acquiring the protections of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, they have each been able to offer their own unique perspectives. I have gained a wealth of insight from them and am truly inspired by the drive they exhibit as they work to advance the issues that they are passionate about. Here, in the House, I have been able to observe, first-hand, the government they don’t teach you about in books. The “real” strategy that goes on is absolutely fascinating. I’ve been able to witness “power plays” and strategic missteps. I’ve gotten a deeper understanding of how Representatives can individually maneuver, committees can control, leadership can command, and caucuses, houses, and parties can coordinate as strategic bodies. With the difference of one seat, and now an even split, it has been a very interesting experience indeed. Being here during budget season, while chaotic to say the least, has allowed me to get a glimpse of the constituent, advocate, and lobbying activity as well as the affect governing can have on the lives of the Representatives and their staff. I watched as our elected officials and their exhausted staff members worked into the night. I mourned as the missed birthday parties, deferred vacations, and hours of time that on other things were all surrendered to the clock that was ticking on the budget. The humanity of the people here has really shone through, at least in this office. Representative Conklin has been a riot to work with. He has regaled me stories that only a seasoned veteran of this place has to offer. His personality really comes through in every interaction he has. Someday, I hope to venture up to his district and see his band play. There may or may not be heckling involved. Nonetheless, he has “tolerated” my presence better than I would expect from most. As a joke, I wrote a House Resolution to recognize today as “Korean-American Legislative Fellow Day.” He read it, chuckled, and had it printed as a citation. A million thank yous, Conklin! Even if this office is the only one celebrating Korean-American Legislative Fellow Day, it’s still one more than it would have been without you (and in my opinion it speaks to our elite status since we are clearly the best office).Now that the House is in recess, I feel like this place is a ghost town. Gone are the days of full parking garages, bustling hallways, and endless emails. On the one hand, it is a little disappointing knowing that the most exciting part is over. On the other hand, it has given me the time I need to work on writing my bill, which is, after all, the final assignment for the Fellowship Program. Through the Fellowship I have been able to garner feedback from a host of invaluable sources. The Legislative Reference Bureau has been exceptionally helpful in transforming my bill into something coherent and constitutional. In addition, I have had the opportunity to bend the ear of the Chair and Executive Director of the House Judiciary Committee—who offered useful strategic advice and connected me with other resources.

    Finally, the Fellowship Program has provided access to so many people and experiences that may otherwise have been out of reach. So many people have responded positively to my inquiries with constructive feedback and real-world insight—from stakeholder organizations on the national level to the Bar Associations, and more. I was able to snag time with my own Representative, Patty Kim. The Fellows have had meetings with the Speaker of the House, the Parliamentarian, and so many more folks who graciously gave us their time and insight. The Program also includes a plethora of extra-legislative activities put together by the two sheroes, Keisha and Nicole—most notably, the Dome Tour. Led by Capitol Preservation, the tour was full of historical information, fun facts about the construction of the dome, and stunning views.Overall, the government is what I thought the government was. It’s not looking good for Pennsylvania. Nationally, we are the 10th worst state, based on metrics that include being: 50th in higher education, 47th in fiscal stability, 46th in infrastructure, 38th in economy and quality of water and air, and 36th in education. We lead the country in unemployment (3rd), racial inequity in incarceration (7th), and juvenile incarceration rate (9th). And affecting legislative change will be challenging for the average person in Pennsylvania since we also have the 5th most corrupt government.

    Things aren’t great, but they can be because there is still hope. I found it here, of all places. I found it in the humor, the humanity, and the humility of certain Representatives. I found it in the wisdom and the power of the staff that operates quietly behind the scenes. I found it in my cohort of fellows who are chomping at the bit to change the future. I found it in the two women who carefully organized and gently guided us through this Program. Maybe the legacy I will leave my child, is a wild ride on a dying planet filled with suffering and struggle. Or maybe it’s the beauty that can be found within the people who, in the midst of this mess, are actively working to promote a better future for everyone.

    Either way, chin up, feet forward, and have a happy “Korean-American Legislative Fellow Day!”

    Written by: Administrator

  • Corinne Ellis | Summer 2023 Legislative Fellow

    Jul 25, 2023

    Success In State Government

    Adapting to feeling comfortable with being uncomfortable is a unique skill to have. As an introvert, it can be difficult to break out of habits that hold you back from showcasing your skills and voicing your opinions. As for me, I have been learning how to be okay with stepping out of my comfort zone, and this fellowship has provided me with more confidence in my ability to stand up for others and work in government. Throughout this Fellowship, I have been able to work on issues that I care so passionately about, research legislation, and conduct work that will directly impact so many Pennsylvanians. While working for Representative Patty Kim’s office in the Aging and Older Adult Services Committee, I have been able to learn about a policy area that I did not know much about, and it inspired me to center my bill project around the needs of senior citizens in PA.

    Advice that I would give to future fellows for success in state government is:

    Do not compare yourself to others. No one can be you and with your passion and hard work, you will be proud of what you can accomplish at the end of this journey.

    Never be afraid to ask questions and for help.

    Everyone here is so supportive and helpful, and they all want to see you succeed.

    Network, network, network!

    Whenever you can, introduce yourself to new people, State Representatives, and other interns in the building. You will be surprised by how much you can learn and what other opportunities are waiting for you just by asking questions and introducing yourself to a stranger.

    This fellowship has been an amazing experience, not only was I able to write an original piece of legislation, but I was able to meet with all my favorite State representatives, meet the Speaker of the House, attend a Q&A session with the Governor, and Lt. Governor, and do my favorite thing which is researching legislation that will be introduced on the house floor. There was never a moment of doubt for me when it came to studying law and working in government. The minute I walked into the Capitol; I knew I belonged there. I look forward to the future, and I cannot wait to attend law school, begin my work in public service, and maybe run for office one day.

    Written by: Administrator

  • Darby Matvey | Summer 2023 Fellow

    Jul 20, 2023

    When I was applying to this fellowship, I was scared. One of my professors, who I asked for a letter recommendation, asked me to list out my accomplishments. Speaking about myself in that manner felt like bragging. It was uncomfortable acknowledging what seemed like mere moments in my life were considered accomplishments. I never asked for letters of recommendations other than high school. I never did an internship before, and I wasn’t active in on-campus activities or clubs. But then fear turned into excitement.

    When I learned that I got the fellowship, there was a sense of new beginnings. The day before my fellowship began, my mom and aunt helped move me in, and we visited the capitol. Having the opportunity to work in the Capitol building is a good enough reason to pursue this fellowship. It is so beautiful with its most detailed engravings and the grandest fixtures. That’s when the excitement turned into pride. There are little moments like walking into the Capitol through the big, grand entrance in the morning and thinking, “Woah, I get to be here every day” or meeting someone you’ve only seen on social media and TV and feeling almost starstruck. As I approach my final semester of undergrad, the significant amount of time and effort I’ve dedicated to my studies makes me believe that my aspirations are coming to fruition. I’m proud that I went through with something that seemed scary and challenging. More times than not, the things that seem scary turn out to be the most rewarding experiences.

    I had the opportunity to meet with some encouraging, insightful, and kind representatives with some being from where I’m originally from and others that just sparked my interest. I met those who help bills become law, leaders, and community members from both sides of the aisle and state. I got the chance to challenge if the path I thought I wanted for myself is still the path I want for myself. Simply being here in Harrisburg, in this building, is an accomplishment. My mom told me that I’m living the life she used to dream about, and she would’ve loved to do what I’m doing. My parents crafted the steppingstones and lifted me up as high as they could so that I could have opportunities like this, the ones they deserved but never received. That’s when pride turned into gratitude.

    Written by: Administrator

  • Nathaniel McCloud | Spring 2023 Legislative Fellow

    May 11, 2023

    Working in the State Capitol has been an exciting, hands-on experience. The fellowship has been a wonderful learning process because the programming and structure are perfect training wheels. Through practice I’ve learned to navigate the Capitol—no small feat—and through the fellowship’s experiences and trainings I’ve acquired skills and knowledge about politics beyond what I could have possibly learned in coursework.

    The office I am placed with—Legislative Policy and Research Office in the Democratic Caucus—has been invested in making sure that I quickly learned the skills that I need to succeed and kept me on a steady trajectory of growth. With consistent mentoring and training, they helped me produce substantive work for members of the state house just weeks into the internship. And since I am contributing to projects for members, my boss and co-workers are invested in my success. Knowing that I’ll have that support has given me confidence in my work even when presented with challenging research projects.

    Learning the standards of a committee, office, or caucus can be difficult, but developing the skills needed and persisting in the attempt to get details right is a satisfying process. After going through the rounds of revisions, responding to the mark-ups, and building the reflexes to catch mistakes, I have developed the skills needed to succeed in the Capitol. Now that I’ve learned those baseline skills, I’ve been able to engage with the work of the General Assembly.

    The House Fellowship provides opportunities that make learning inevitable, and the placement that the fellowship gives participants is a launchpad to further work in government. It is an ideal way to learn how the state legislature works and to acquire the skills needed to contribute to Pennsylvania’s lawmaking.

    Written by: Administrator

  • Daulten Dombrowski | Spring 2023 Legislative Fellow

    May 1, 2023

    The weeks here at the State Capitol here have flown by. The first few days, it was quite intimidating to be inside this building but that quickly passed as my supervisors and coworkers got me on board. The biggest thing that I have learned is that while it may seem intimidating to outsiders, government is not so scary. Government is made up of people, normal people, all working towards a common good. While the members of the General Assembly may not always agree, it is a very interesting experience to be able to meet many of these members and then see them operate in their respective chambers.

    There is so much that can be learned through your 13 weeks here in the program and I encourage any participant to take full advantage. The weekly workshops and tours that the fellows have taken part in are very refreshing and enlightening: it is truly a different experience from learning about these things in a classroom. Through this program, fellows have the opportunity to meet senators, representatives, and lobbyists and hear their very unique and insightful perspectives on what government is. Nothing can prepare you better for working in government than actually being here, and this program does just that.

    If you are a political science student or any individual who has any interest of working in the government in the future, I encourage you to apply for this opportunity. The House Fellowship is an excellent complement to what you have learned in the classroom and you get to network with some great peers and colleagues during your time in Harrisburg. You have a front row seat to the change and debates that go on here in the Capitol and it will be something that will be valuable as you graduate college and enter the workforce.

    As a fellow, I have had some excellent practice sharpening my writing skills for this format. I have interacted with normal citizens through constituent letters, written co-sponsorship memos and bill analyses for members of the General Assembly and had the opportunity to research and draft an original bill. If you have passion for government and for change, bring it with you to Harrisburg and it will take you a long way towards success.

    Written by: Administrator

  • Lessons Learned: Ariana Genna, Spring 2023 Legislative Fellow

    Apr 21, 2023

    Before I started the House Representative Fellowship, I was wary of what the experience might be. I accepted a position to work on the local government committee, something I was nervous about. I was grateful for the opportunity, but I was fearful that I might not do well—local government work was so far out of my wheelhouse. I share these fears because they helped teach me some of my most valuable lessons here at the capitol as summarized below:

    Lesson One: Sometimes, you are just so incredibly wrong, so keep an open mind. 

    I quickly learned that most of the perceptions I had of the capital were wrong. I had thought that it would be very cold and corporate, but that is the farthest thing from the truth. Representatives, directors, assistants, etc., have gone out of their way to include me, to help connect me, and to make me feel welcome. And most importantly, all my nerves about my position and work were alleviated; I truly love the work I have gotten to do during my time in the House fellowship.

    Lesson Two: An experience is what you make of it, so take every opportunity you get.

    The fellowship program only lasted thirteen weeks, so I wanted to make the most out of my time in the program. I am particularly interested in environmental policy, so I made a point to connect with people working on these issues. I got to chat with various people at the Department of Environmental Protection. I wanted to get to know as many people as possible, so instead of interviewing one Representative for the fellowship, I chose to interview four. Their varying perspectives and insightful advice were invaluable. I learned that to get the most out of this fellowship, I needed to seize every opportunity: take every chance to attend a hearing or meeting, go out of my way to make new connections, and work as hard as I could on every project.

    Lesson Three: Find what drives you and run with it. 

    I care so much about a wide range of issues, and I want to work on all of them. However, this often leaves me burnt out and makes my work less effective. So, in every interview I had with the Representatives, I would ask them how they avoid this and how they find their focus. The best advice I was given was from Representative Patty Kim. She told me that you can’t possibly fix absolutely everything. She said that I need to find what I care about most: what drives me, what keeps me up at night, the thing I could talk about for hours on end about. And once I find that I must work on it every single day. That, she said, is how you make real progress. Her advice seemed almost obvious, but to me, it was so helpful and what I needed to hear most.

    Lesson Four: There is good, and it is finding a way. 

    Before starting this position, I thought it was nearly impossible to get bipartisan support on critical issues. But, especially working on the local government committee, I saw just how much we worked with our political counterparts. Not only was the relationship with our counterpart amicable, but it was also productive. We were getting real work done, and it was often bipartisan. This showed me that even when politics is so polarizing, we can still find a way to work together for the good of the Commonwealth.

    I am truly grateful for all the wisdom that was imparted to me during the House fellowship program, as it has positively changed both my professional and personal outlook.

    Written by: Administrator

  • W. Alex Simmons | Spring 2023 Legislative Fellow

    Apr 12, 2023

    Pennsylvania State University

    When I applied for the Pennsylvania House Fellowship Program, I never gave a full thought of what the program would entail. I was a junior in college, nervous as to whether I’d find an internship any time soon. Being neglected by other internships shook my confidence, but fortunately it was a fantastic gift and opportunity for me. Once accepted, I started to question whether I truly deserved this opportunity, and whether I was bright enough to be a part of this program. Fortunately, I quickly realized that those around me were just ordinary people like me. These were not high and mighty individuals who think greater of themselves than others, but ordinary people who don’t take themselves too seriously, and were there to make a difference for Pennsylvania.

    Even though I was only an intern, much of my work was used by my assigned committee. The co-sponsorship memos, bill analyses, constituent letters, and more were all used for different legislation. These were not projects I worked on that never saw the light of day, they were projects that assisted in making a difference. Although I may have only added small pieces to larger puzzle, it was gratifying to see that my work assisted in the legislative process, which can eventually lead to a Pennsylvanian’s life changing for the better. I believe that is what I got most out of my time with the House of Representatives, knowing that while only being an intern, I contributed to the legislative process, something you can never get in a classroom.

    Looking from the outside-in, it is easy to say Harrisburg doesn’t know what they are doing and that the capitol is a circus. Some days, it is in fact a circus, however that does not change the fact that each representative, senator, and staff member truly believe that they are doing the right thing for Pennsylvania, something I had a hard time envisioning before this fellowship. What I noticed in my time is that no matter what someone’s political affiliation or personal views were, each member was there to represent their constituents’ views, not their own. Without a doubt, each member is there for the right reasons, and I hope to see that continue.

    When it is your turn to walk through the main rotunda for your first day with the Pennsylvania House Fellowship, do not take it for granted. It is an honor to work where thousands before us have assisted in shaping the communities we and our neighbors live in. It is an honor to work in the most beautiful building you will ever walk into. Most importantly, it is an honor to assist in bringing people’s needs to fruition. It can feel like a dream walking into the most beautiful state capitol building in the nation, but do not forget why you began your journey into this field in the first place.

    Written by: Administrator

  • The Power of Passion- Katerina Coffman

    Apr 10, 2023

    Pennsylvania State University, Animal Science

    If I were to write a manuscript for my time here, I’d name it the Power of Passion. The
    story of political unrest, where partisan divide and failure to compromise shut down the House
    Chamber. I watched legislative business come to halt, a novel listening tour take place, and
    special session come to fruition. I witnessed three victims of childhood sexual abuse testify on
    the House Floor, and subsequently pass a constitutional amendment that would protect barred
    victims of childhood sexual abuse. It was the power of their passion and pain that ultimately helped to unite the august body and established justice for victims of childhood sexual abuse.

    It was throughout these moments where I recognized the power of harnessing my own
    passion within state government. My passion for agriculture stems from my involvement on my
    grandparent’s dairy farm; a 100- cow dairy located in rural Huntingdon County. These
    experiences ultimately led me to Penn State, where I’m pursuing a degree in animal science with
    a focus on agri-business management. The College of Agricultural Sciences has been integral in
    providing hand-on experiences for students like me, as well as linking students to resources,
    peers, alumni, and members of industry. While at first glance, I’m an unusual candidate for this
    fellowship, I’m not the only person whose background in agriculture led them to state
    government. Over the past thirteen weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to work with Kerry Golden,
    the executive director of the House Republican and Agriculture Affairs Committee and former
    College of Agricultural Sciences alumni. Our shared passion for agriculture has allowed us to
    partake in meaningful discussions surrounding animal health, food security, agricultural policy,
    and dissect the framework of these policies. It is the blood, sweat and tears of our farmers that
    ignite our passion and motivate us to collaborate, research, draft, and pioneer a legislative
    roadmap to safeguard agriculture.

    As you read this, I encourage you to think about the last time you shared your story, and
    how you used it as a segue to advocate for the issues that are most important to you. I hope you
    surround yourself with people who share your passion, as well as interact with those of differing
    experiences or backgrounds. These differences ultimately provide a unique opportunity to
    advocate for others, as well as raise awareness for members of your community and industry.
    While my time here has come with delays, I would be remiss not to remind you that we couldn’t
    have made it back on-track without people harnessing the power of their own passion. Never
    underestimate the power of your own passion.

    Written by: Administrator

  • Yomarilis Rodriguez | Summer 2022 Fellow

    Aug 12, 2022

    The greatest takeaway I have taken from my experience as a fellow, and one I hope helps prospect applicants, is that the officiality of government may seem scary and intimidating yet, it is people who run it and that is what we must bear in mind. Politicians and everyone working besides them and behind closed doors, are people with their own likes, dislikes, lived experiences and biases.

    I think once you adopt that mentality, it becomes easier to combat imposter syndrome. After all, working in government is about servicing and connecting with people and for that, any and all experiences help—from working in retail to a gas station to a fast-food restaurant.  

    Memberships to different social groups will shape your experience here, just as it would in the outside world. My family and I are not originally from the U.S. and English is not my first language. I’ve lived for extended periods of times in cities, suburbs and rural areas and altogether, experiences like these ones have shaped my views—views that bleed into my interactions with people and can sometimes be met with kindness and receptiveness or ignorance, ambiguity, and hostility. (Of course, we should keep in mind that responses are complex and should not be forced into binaries. The aforementioned claim is merely an example used to illustrate a point.)

    Do not dwell on your fears and anxieties but instead push yourself to connect with others. You’ll find that there are great people working with each other like a network trying to bring about many projects to life and give all possible communities a chance to speak and voice their concerns.

    As for what my day-to-day life looked like at the Capitol, one thing is certain, two days were never the same.  I was able to work on countless projects from press conferences to constituent letters, interviews, memos, research and among many other things. As I’ve said, it all depends on your willingness to work, and the connections you make. Nothing is over until it is. Give your very best till the end.

    Yomarilis with Representative Danilo Burgos (left) and Democratic Leader Joanna McClinton (right).

    Written by: Administrator

  • Ryan Setzenfand’s Blog

    Aug 3, 2022

    This summer’s been the dream of a lifetime to see up close and behind the scenes how Harrisburg really works, be in the midst of developing a record $45+ billion budget someway somehow (usually on time… just not this year) and get to know so many admirable public servants – some of whom are often in front of the camera with many more working tirelessly behind the scenes.  This has easily been the most fulfilling and excited I’ve ever been about work.  I found myself reflecting on “Service Above Self” – the motto of the Rotary ingrained from my high school days – recognizing the unspoken sacrifices of the staff to serve the public interest and craft sound policy. I’m proud to have gotten to know and work alongside them during those late June nights, understanding that the diligent research, analysis, discussions, and the decisions made could move the needle or even mountains. For that and the Pennsylvanians we serve, it’s worth it.

    I came to the Fellowship with an understanding of the flipside and what it’s like to be a citizen needing the help of your legislators. I grew up listening to my great-aunt’s story, having lost both of her parents by the time she was 12 and dreaming of becoming a special education teacher, but finding out she was unable to get student aid due to her status as an orphan.  She worked with her Representative and Senator, of different parties, to advocate on her behalf and address the oversight of the system that made it more difficult for orphans to go to college. This compelling story solidified in my mind the fact that public officials have the power to make a difference in both an individual’s life and the lives of society at-large, both in terms of policy and constituent service.  Through my own work on a constituent case, I helped someone find a potentially life-changing clinical trial. 

    Constituent letters.  Bill analyses. Cosponsorship memos. Interviewing Representatives. Data analysis. Writing bills! All of it helped prepare me for the “boss level” of the Fellowship: THE Bill.  While I began the summer with an idea of what my bill would be, after more research I went back to the chalkboard.  I crowdsourced ideas asking my friends, family, and followers for their perspectives and came up with 8+ possible bill ideas, all on different policy areas, and began moving forward on each a little.  I found myself lucky, as the Fellow with Chairman Matt Bradford’s Democratic Appropriations Committee, that I was surrounded by some of the best go-to subject matter experts in the building who were willing to mentor me and share their knowledge on everything from agriculture to pensions to education to health care to Stata and R to… you name it!

    As a rising senior majoring in Accounting and Political Science at Penn State, while I learned so much about the legislative/budget process, countless policy areas, and the institution, I’m glad to say I was still able to contribute to the team.  Despite, or arguably because of, my unique background, I provided input on tax and business structure legislation and asked probing, but thoughtful questions on everything from the teacher shortage to communication strategies.  This is to say your perspective is valuable – speak up.

    To the prospective/current Fellows doing their due diligence reviewing prior Fellow postings as I had, I have a few pieces of advice.

    1: Ask as many questions as you can and of different folks, that’s how you’ll learn the most, and maybe even teach your mentors something.

    2: If you’re in the minority party (or even if you’re not), sometimes things can be frustrating to not see your policies move forward, which is understandable. If that’s the case, know the work you do today lays the foundation for tomorrow.  Exhibit A: The topic of one of my bills was based in part on an idea from 1997 (special thank you to the House Archives).

    3: Reach out to the Representative(s) you want to interview ASAP as their schedules are busy. Special thank you to Representatives DelRosso, Freeman, Quinn, and Zabel for the great conversations and being so generous with their time.

    4: Lastly, recognize that people want to help you make the most of your time here. Even in what seems like the center of polarization, there are still people on both sides of the aisle willing to chat, help, or give advice.  You’re a Fellow now, welcome to the family.

    Written by: Administrator

  • Olivia Wilson’s Blog

    Jul 22, 2022

    Imposter Syndrome

    Olivia Wilson

    Like most college kids, I’ve worked minimum-wage jobs for minimum respect from the general public who just wants their large, sweet tea in a timely manner. I’ve tutored other students and shown them around my campus, giving insider tips and trying not to take myself too seriously. A combination of a bulky resume and an impressive enough interview led me to working in the Pennsylvania State Capitol as a 21-year-old sorority woman. I thrifted enough professional clothes to get me through the summer and walked up the marble steps to an intimidating Capitol building which was surrounded by naked statues and security guards who called me “ma’am” for the first time in my life.

    I have to thank my newswriting experience for getting me familiar with state and local government, but nothing could have prepared me to work in this building at my age. While I walk into work each morning, I dodge visitors who are stopping to take photos of this place I myself am only beginning to grow familiar with. At school I am still a kid, just trying to get my degree like everyone else and being forgiven for my mistakes. This summer I am a “yuppy” with my own desk in an official government office, reading emails and working on amendments that the public doesn’t know about yet. I write constituent response letters on behalf of people who have thousands of followers on Twitter, and every day question if I’m qualified to do the work I’m doing. When I drive past the news van in the parking garage every morning I don’t have to wonder if something tragic is happening nearby; I have to remind myself that I’m working in the place where news happens every day.

    My grandmother asked me how I like living and working in the “big city” which, compared to where I grew up, this is. I didn’t grow up around people who worked in government or had to wear high heels or a tie to work (unless they were my teachers). I’ve only ever been a student, and here I work alongside people in jobs I didn’t know existed. The only thing that could have prepared me to work here, is being here. Coming to work in the Capitol has been a practice of “faking it until I make it” and, so far, that has worked pretty well. People take me as seriously as I let them. We’re all just here to get work done, and we’re playing for the same team. I don’t have to remind myself that in another month I’ll be a student again, sitting in a classroom living the same life that I always have. That isn’t going to change the fact that I’ve been here and done this. No matter where I end up from here, I will always have this experience (which some say is just as meaningful as a Master’s Degree). I had to learn very early on that I didn’t get lucky to end up here: I earned it.

    Photo Op – PA House Fellowship Program Summer Semester;

    Written by: Administrator

  • Kalee Fahndrich Blog

    Jul 13, 2022

    Representatives, Senators, Executive Directors, Research Analysists, Legislative Assistants, and Administrative Assistants. Those are just a few of the job titles of the individuals I have met so far during my time as a Legislative Fellow with the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. My undergraduate degree is in psychology and I’ve always had an interest in people. I find it fascinating the way that people think and engage in relationships with others. During my time as a Fellow, I have been able to observe countless interactions that occur between Members and staff on a daily basis. The two key takeaways I’ve noticed are to always be yourself and the importance of relationships in the workplace, especially in a setting like the House of Representatives.

                    Coming into this fellowship, I struggled with how I wanted to present myself in a new professional setting. Working for the government was intimidating, and as someone who tends to be energetic and bubbly, I worried how I would fit into an atmosphere that seemed so formal. I am super excited to say that I was overthinking it. Looking back to the beginning of the fellowship, I did not push myself into a box to seem more like what I pictured to be a government employee, and I am so happy I did not.  By being myself, I was and continue to be able to make personal connections with everyone that I meet. When walking down the halls, the people that I have formed relationships with stop to talk to me. I feel supported to explore and learn as much as I can during my time as a fellow. By being myself, I have formed relationships with all types of staff here at the House of Representatives, and it enabled me to feel open and comfortable to talk to them about any questions I may have about the work that I am doing or even just questions about their roles at the Capitol.

                    As a fellow, I am fortunate to have the opportunity to observe interactions in a multitude of settings. I have sat on the House Floor,incommittee meetings and stakeholder meetings. One of the things that I’ve noticed is the collaboration that occurs daily. Even though a lot of the staff work for individual representatives, they still go out of their way to help each other when possible. Despite being a partisan place, collaboration is evident and necessary. Representatives work with each other within their own caucus to vote bills out of their committees. Representatives also take the time to speak with their colleagues across the aisle about their ideas and ways that they can work together to achieve a common goal. Working in an atmosphere that is naturally politicized can be intimidating but it is encouraging after meeting so many different individuals that at the end of the day we are all people who want to achieve a lot of the same goals. The personal relationships that I have formed and observed have allowed me to grow as an individual and an employee and I am thankful for the time that I have spent so far as a fellow with the PA House of Representatives!

    Written by: Administrator

  • Addison Price, Spring 2022 Legislative Fellow

    May 4, 2022

    You can view Addison’s TikTok on her experience with the Fellowship Program by clicking here!

    Starting my first week here, I was bouncing with nervous energy. I feared being judged or falling behind at work; my imposter syndrome was at an all-time high. As I walked through the Capitol in my new blazer and stumbling in my uncomfortable heels, seeing professionally dressed women walking confidently across the tiled floor, I felt like a kid playing dress-up. My worries increased as I made my way into the East Wing to meet my Executive Director on the Aging & Older Adult Affairs Committee. However, upon meeting the staff in the office, I immediately felt like I had found a place I could fit in. My Executive Director walked me through the basics of the Aging Committee, defining all the acronyms (AARP, PALA, PACAH, etc.) I would soon be adding into my own vocabulary.

    Riddled with questions too nervous to ask, and worried to sound dumb, I tried to figure everything out on my own. This proved to be an impossible task after the first week, when I finally turned to Representative Samuelson and said, “I’m confused, can you explain this bill to me?” As he pulled up a chair and talked me through each point, in nearly perfect detail, I realized what it meant to be a Representative of the people. These 3 months have taught me more than any political science class I’ve been in. I understand it takes more than just a degree to be a great politician. To see the compassion, care, and empathy of the House members and their staff, I knew I was pursing the right career.

    Watching not only Rep. Samuelson work, but also others, I saw firsthand the devotion to their constituents and the Commonwealth. I learned that Rep. Samuelson still writes constituent letters back by hand and answers each one no matter how trivial the content may seem. I met with trailblazer Rep. Benham, who inspired me to continue striving for my goals, no matter how unattainable they might seem to me, as well as speaking with Rep. Patty Kim who followed her fervor of wanting to do good for her community. I began to grow passionate myself, matters of aging affairs became increasingly interesting to me as I sat in on meetings, town halls, and press events to educate myself as much as I could.

    I began to understand the references to obscure language prevalent in the Aging Committee. Completing bill analyses, letters of support, and even a constituent letter sent in admiring the Rep. for his legislation support. I became friends not only with my committee office staff, but also the other interns, who I realized felt the same nerves I had started with as well. Rather, I know I have the other nine as a support system, turning to them when I need a fresh pair of eyes on my bill draft or a set of ears to listen to my speech. As I was assigned research projects and joined in on meetings, I began to see the problems in care of older adults, drafting my own piece of original legislation based on mental health support for long-term care facilities.

    The experiences offered by the Fellowship have been something of a dream, especially for someone who grew up playing with her Presidential Barbie every night as a child. I was able to meet Governor Tom Wolf and get introduced by Speaker Cutler on the House floor. Just simply being on the beautifully designed House floor and watching bills start their journey to become law constantly feels unreal, no matter how commonplace it becomes after weeks of Session. The historical significance of this building can get lost on you at times, but every morning as I walk through the Main Rotunda, I remember those who came before me.

    The Fellowship flew by before I had time to full grasp how incredible the experience is. I went from walking in alone and nervous, to leaving feeling secure with my new friends by my side. As my time here sadly approaches the end, I walk around the halls in my heels confidently, knowing this experience has heightened my skills, expanded my network, and ignited a passion for public service.

    Written by: Administrator

  • Josh King, Spring 2022 Legislative Fellow

    May 2, 2022

    The opportunity to participate in the House Fellowship Program and work alongside staff at the Capital every day is an invaluable experience I will benefit from the rest of my life. I came into the program expecting to learn a lot on how the political process works on the inside and the experience certainly did not disappoint. The networking this opportunity provides is second to none as we had the privilege to meet with many legislators and lobbyists on a regular basis.

    On the first day of the program I was assigned to work in the research department for the Republican Local Government Committee. I met my supervisor, the executive director of the committee, and spent the first few days reading various laws that were the most relevant to the committee. It was a challenge to learn so much new information over the first weeks, but I enjoyed every minute of it and soaked up the opportunity to grow myself.

    In the following weeks, the Fellows were tasked with the responsibility of writing our own bills. We went through the process of researching our topic, studying current laws, identifying potential solutions, drafting the bill, and then presenting the legislation in the majority caucus room on the final day of the program. And of course there was always someone available to assist me throughout the process. It was an incredible time of experiencing the process involved in drafting a bill.

    Throughout the semester we had workshops with legislators, lobbyists, communication leaders, and staff members. We received tours of the state library, state museum, house archives, and an exclusive capital dome tour. We also had the privilege to meet the Governor, Speaker, and House Parliamentarian.

    Because of the experience this opportunity provides, it is the best internship program available to learn the inside operations of the Pennsylvania House of Representative. Throughout the semester, I worked with my executive director to fulfill the everyday responsibilities of a staff member. I learned how to draft legislation, write co-sponsorship memos, communicate with House members, and respond to constituent requests. It was the most practical, hands-on experience you will ever find in the political world.

    I had the opportunity to meet many Representatives throughout the semester. Walking down the hallways and seeing Representatives and Senators in person (and even the governor once in the cafeteria during lunch) was always surreal. One of my favorite aspects of the program was interviewing and talking to Representatives about their responsibilities and the issues they’re most passionate about. They are the movers and shakers of Pennsylvania politics and I was always grateful for the time they dedicated to discuss issues with us.

    My time in the fellowship passed by very quickly and I will be forever grateful for the lessons I learned in the program. I would highly recommend all college students considering a future in public policy to apply for the program. It is an opportunity unlike any other that provides first-hand experience in the legislative process. It may not be the easiest job around but it’s an incredible experience that is highly rewarding.

    Written by: Administrator

  • Devin Peart, Spring 2022 Legislative Fellow

    Apr 20, 2022

    If a professor or teacher ever tells you that they know what the legislative process looks like in class, take that with a massive grain of salt. What you learn in university and through media is great, it really is. But nothing comes close to actually being here to witness the process firsthand and see how “legislating” gets done. While my journey here in Harrisburg has flown by, this has been one of the greatest experiences of my life thus far and has opened my eyes to new possibilities that I had not considered before this experience.

    This internship has not been one where I was stuck doing administrative chores for the bosses. I learned how hands on this experience would be on day one when I met my executive director as I was thrown into a meeting with various members of the Urban Affairs committee discussing bills and policy. To be clear, this was just ten minutes into knowing my executive director. This example is just one of many where being a fellow in this program has allowed me to explore so many different areas of the legislative process. Aside from the experience I have gained regarding constituent services, drafting bill analyses and co-sponsorship memos, and conducting policy research, the personal and professional relationships this program allows you to take away are simply incredible. Working with a diverse group of people with ideas from every corner was very rewarding and those relationships I gained are going to be with me throughout my career.

    One of my favorite memories that I will take away from this experience is being on the floor of the House during Session. Seeing how our legislators interact with one another and seeing the procedures on the House Floor as bills are voted upon was surreal. As I said before, its one of those instances where the classroom cannot do the real thing justice. It must be witnessed firsthand to appreciate and comprehend exactly how the legislative process works and how it plays out in practice. Interacting with the members themselves was something that I was very thankful for because it gave me a new understanding of government as a whole. At the end of the day, the people who represent us are exactly that; they’re people. They experience the same emotions we do, the same stresses we do, and when it comes down to it, the vast majority do their best and do what they think is right for people. Were it not for the fellowship, I would continue to walk around with the wrong perception of politicians and legislators.

    As part of the fellowship, my committee assignment has been nothing but an honor to be a part of. Being assigned to Urban Affairs made me apprehensive at first, but my preconceived notions were changed once I got into the issues and saw the work being done by the committee. The most rewarding part of the fellowship for me was seeing how the work we did and were doing affected the way people live in the real world in their daily lives. Even if my work here in Harrisburg improved the life of just one person, it will all have been worth it. Serving the needs of Pennsylvanians through this fellowship has been nothing short of amazing, and all the while I was working alongside incredible individuals for the good of this Commonwealth.

    Written by: Administrator

  • Chase Richards, Spring 2022 Legislative Fellows

    Apr 8, 2022

    Throughout my academic career I have always maintained a keen interest in politics and public policy. As someone who plans on pursuing a law degree after college, the House Fellowship was the ideal internship to provide real-world experience for my academic interests.

    Nothing compares to having the opportunity to spend a semester at the Pennsylvania Capitol. It is a refreshing change of pace from the traditional classroom setting by being able to play a small role in assisting the legislative process. Working a forty-hour week is nothing new to me, but the daily workload at the Capitol is substantially different than the types of retail or manual labor jobs that I’ve held in the past. Several different tasks are assigned simultaneously, ranging from completing bill analyses, to penning constituent letters, to conducting research on a multitude of subjects. I was surprised at the autonomy I have been given to ensure work gets done. A critical skill that this program forces you to develop is the ability to multi-task and efficiently budget your time so that everything is completed in a punctual manner.

    Aspiring law students benefit from the ability to delve into reams of primary texts. Analyzing bills pending in committees or examining older statutes is an excellent way to develop statutory interpretation skills. A significant portion of how the law is interpreted hinges on how the language is drafted. Subtleties in the text can drastically change the intended meaning of the statute if a comma is misplaced or an ambiguous word is used. I was able to gain insight into this craft by meeting with the Capitol’s Legal Reference Bureau, where I learned about the best practices in formatting and drafting legislation.

    Interning in the House has given me a perch to observe different facets of the legislative process. Sitting in on meetings has afforded me the chance to watch legislators and staffers engage with prominent stakeholders on pieces of legislation. This has enabled me to see how the perspectives of officials in the executive branch, in addition to the concerns or support proffered by stakeholders from the private sector informs the development of the final legislative product. Being present for some of these interactions helped broaden my understanding that lawmaking is far more deliberative and fluid of a process than the staid and procedural way it is often described in the classroom.

    Ultimately, politics and public policy rests on communication. Being able to express pertinent information with the appropriate tone is paramount to getting the job done. A key benefit of this program is that it promotes writing with concision and clarity. Preparing a bill analysis requires a different writing style than responding to a constituent letter, which necessitates a more conversational tone that conveys Through a process of trial and error, my writing skills benefited tremendously from grasping these nuances.

    My time at the Capitol proved to be an invaluable experience in establishing myself in a professional setting. It also set my expectations on what professional skill sets are being sought after in the job market right now. Everything hinges on interpersonal skills and being able to effectively communicate with those around you. Interning in the PA House of Representatives has been the capstone of my academic career and has given me the experience and practical knowledge to venture out into the job market with confidence after I graduate.

    Written by: Administrator

  • Hunter Cramer, Spring 2022 Legislative Fellow

    Mar 31, 2022

    The PA House Fellowship is an opportunity that I have long been anticipating since I first became a political science major at Shippensburg University. To work in state government has been a long-term goal for my career aspirations. The fellowship has immersed me in the world of government, and it has not disappointed.  During my time as a fellow, my experience has taken all my undergraduate presumptions and thrown them out the window. Working in government challenges all my previous education of how it operates. Although college classes like to present a streamlined political process, working in Harrisburg proves it is anything but. Political moves are well calculated, anticipated, and require many different moving parts to accomplish. From the outside, you may hear complaints about how inefficient government is. While working in Harrisburg, you realize that all legislation is a team effort that requires the most observant of eyes. This strong attention to detail is unavoidable to walk away from the program with. Working in Democratic Caucus Chairman/Representative Dan Miller’s office has been an amazing experience with staff who went out of their way to make sure I am enjoying my fellowship and continuing to learn. Working in leadership was definitely a different experience than the typical fellowship experience, but as I learned there is no typical day in Harrisburg.

    In the current political landscape, partisan affairs are displayed in a particular lens that presents compromise as nonviable. Differences are accentuated and similarities are trivialized. Trust me, growing up in Chambersburg I often ideologically felt like a “blueberry in a bowl of tomato soup.” Once again, working in Harrisburg has revealed that this outside perception is a misrepresentation of staff and elected officials. Despite our ideological differences, all the interns get along like friends who have known each other since childhood. We have representation on all parts of the ideological spectrum. However, we do not let these beliefs or differing life experiences prevent us from working together. Our different personalities make it highly unlikely we would have been friends, if not for the fellowship that brought us all together. We all eat lunch together and go out of our way to hang out, outside of the fellowship, regardless of an hour-long commute awaiting. Not only will I walk away from the internship with a new set of amazing friends, but a motivation to constantly reach across the political isle as party affiliation can be such a misguided way to judge other individuals.

    While on my journey, crafting bill analyses, communicating with constituents, writing my final bill, and working for the caucus, I have worked with amazing individuals from both parties who share this common belief of helping individuals unconditionally. Although it’s not true of everybody, there are just as many well-intended staffers and representatives in the Democratic Party as there are in the Republican Party. When living in a time where the loudest in the room get the most attention, it can be easy to forget that most of us are working for a better community. One piece of advice I have for future fellows and staff is to always treat everyone with respect and kindness. People will notice how you uplift others, and those that hold these values highly will always stick out in the best possible way.

    Working in the Capitol is truly a magical place. It took me at least a month to get over just how beautiful the architecture is here and even now I discover new secrets. The Capitol itself is well designed, but a lot of the magic is what occurs inside. During my time in the fellowship, we have met Speaker Cutler, and Governor Wolf. Both were very enjoyable experiences. Sometimes, things just naturally unfold at the Capitol in a way that would never happen anywhere else. For example, after our workday, sometimes the interns meet up and talk in the Rotunda. I was mid-conversation while I was distracted by a man randomly wandering the lobby. We could not believe that roaming beside us was U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Oz. We ended up talking to him very briefly and regardless of my personal beliefs, it was still a noteworthy experience. Occurrences like this just naturally unfold when working in a place with such prestige.

    I am grateful for my time as a fellow in Harrisburg and particularly grateful for the staff who have helped me along the way, especially, Legislative Assistant Jessica Luce. Representatives Dan Miller and Kyle Mullins have both given me virtuous ideals to uphold for a future working in Government. Although the process was at first intimidating, I have gained the necessary skills to understand how Harrisburg works. These skills have allowed me to meet amazing individuals, provide meaningful research and legislative work for Democratic leadership, and the ability to contribute to improving Pennsylvania.

    Written by: Administrator

  • Andrew Portas, Spring 2022 Fellow

    Feb 24, 2022

    I’ve taken AP U.S. Government in high school and a myriad of political science courses in college. Never before have I actually partaken in the things I learned about in these courses. My professors and instructors are profoundly knowledgeable in the legislative process, yet virtually none of them have held public office or worked in the field. Thus, I sought the opportunity to receive a “boots-on-the-ground” experience. As I’m reminded every day, this is precisely what the Pennsylvania House Fellowship offers.

    Transitioning from a school schedule to one of a full time-job in a brand-new city was certainly a daunting challenge. Suddenly I had to adapt to a new environment and conduct work with broader, real-life implications. By my first day, I was already entrenched in the legislative process, serving on the House Republican Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee. My Executive Director and Senior Research Analyst brought me along to a meeting on EMS issues and spelled out the complex, dynamic yet exciting work I’d be doing. “You will drown,” they said, “but we will always be here as your lifeguards to keep you afloat.”

    Drown I would, as difficult research was compounded by multiple bill analyses, committee meeting scripts and external letters. But they had kept their word; when I had a question or wanted a revision, they were quick to offer. I was not being “babysitted” or subjected to the role of the “coffee-fetcher.” Rather, I was engaged in the work of a true legislative research staffer, and in three weeks, I’ve learned more about the legislative process and policy implementation than I have in any other educational setting. I’ve refined my ability to read and interpret legal language, effectively communicate with policy stakeholders, and capitalize on a vast web of research resources available.

    Furthermore, I’ve established a strong network of colleagues, fellow interns, and friends in the time I’ve been here. Fellow research staff who’ve been here longer than I’ve been alive strive to make me feel part of the team. House Members convey a sense of vested interest in my future and are quick to commend interns for a job well done. The program’s nine interns quickly became acquainted and despite partisan affiliation, have been committed to helping each other succeed. In fact, many of us have already become good friends. It’s rewarding to know I have a reliable group of peers that I can discuss professional challenges with or simply grab a pizza with in a new job and city.

    My time here is quickly passing as a House fellow, and every day I try to make the most of it. As I endure these next few months, I’m confident these positive experiences will only multiply. Life as a fellow was certainly daunting at first but is one that every political junkie or student interested in public service should pursue.

    Written by: Administrator

  • 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