Scholars earn top summer internships

(July 29, 2015) LOUISVILLE, Ky. - From Louisville to DC, several UofL students have spent the summer interning for local and national governmental and political offices.
Scholars earn top summer internships

As part of their McConnell scholarship, students complete at least one internship during their undergraduate career.

Public Affairs & Issue Advocacy

Mary Elizabeth Young ('16) is interning at RunSwitch PR, currently Kentucky's largest public relations and public affairs firm. RunSwith PR specializes in issue advocacy, media relations and public consulting. McConnell Scholar alumnus Scott Jennings ('00) is a founding partner of the firm, and alumnus Sean Southard ('15) is a new employee for the organization. As an intern, Young helps with press releases, research, media monitoring, event planning and other work related to the firm's clients.

"Interning at RunSwitch PR has been an incredible opportunity for a hands-on experience in public relations and public affairs, something I've been interested in since I first worked for GlyptusAnn Grider Jones, the McConnell Center PR Coordinator, two summers ago," Young said. "I'm thankful for the opportunity to intern at RunSwitch and learn from such a dynamic and experienced group of communications and political professionals."

Alicia Humphrey('17) is presently interning for the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy, where she specializes in research. The "think tank" is based out of New Hampshire, but Humphrey works online from her hometown in Paducah, Ky. She has written many op-eds and a policy piece on New Hampshire education policy.

"It's been a truly incredible experience for me to pursue my interest in education policy through writing and being published by a think tank at the undergraduate level. I feel that it is likely I would not have been afforded this opportunity were I part of another program at another university, and thus I feel incredibly grateful for the McConnell Scholars Program for guiding me both personally and professionally," said Humphrey.

Landon Lauder ('17) is a general intern for the Fairness Campaign in Louisville, Ky., with a focus in managing social media and news aggregation. He has spent the summer attending a variety of meetings encompassing issues such as Louisville LGBTQ tourism and elderly LGBTQ care services in Louisville. He has also traveled the state promoting fairness ordinances.

"Working at the Fairness Campaign has given me experience in not only the non-profit advocacy life, but also with gender identity and sexual orientation politics. We strive to make the Commonwealth as inclusivive and as safe as it can be," Lauder said.

Kyle Hilbrecht ('18) is a public relations intern for the Kentucky National Guard. He is focused on publicizing the State Partnership Program and archiving the Guard's recent mission to Djibouti.

"I think it is fascinating to learn how information is shared with media. It is so cool for me to be in contact with organizations like the Courier-Journal and to see projects that my team and I have been working on become news stories," Hilbrecht said.

Government Internships

Diana Lalata ('17) is a Junior Fellow at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. this summer. This is the third consecutive year the position has been filled by a McConnell Scholar. She works in the library's World Digital Library branch.

"Being in the Washington, D.C., working environment has been a unique experience of its own – I have learned that productivity does not stop and neither do cars, even when pedestrians have the right of way," Lalata joked. "My internship at the Library of Congress has allowed me to experience this productivity firsthand as we assist in various tasks, ranging from translating descriptions from Spanish to English and vice versa, choosing photographs from a Great Depression album by Dorothea Lange to display on the website and even working with Arabic content to ensure that these items can be properly found by our search engine. I am thankful to have an internship that allows me to work on improving my research and writing skills, all while making an impact within the workplace," she said.

Kevin Grout ('16) is a legislative intern for the Office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) at his Washington, D.C. location. Grout works primarily with the legislative staff on bills before the U.S. Senate, as well as gives tours of the U.S. Capitol building to visiting Kentuckians.

"Interning with Senator McConnell has been an extremely rewarding experience. It has taught me about the governmental process, the city of Washington and how to properly serve the people of Kentucky," Grout said.

Macey Mayes ('18) is an constituent services intern at Sen. Mitch McConnell's Louisville office, where she helps Kentuckians with issues involving federal government agencies. She works directly with organizing the mail, speaking with constituents about casework, filing and answering phone calls from across the nation about issues related to Kentucky and Sen. McConnell.

"Interning at the Senate Majority Leader's office has been such an incredible and humbling experience. My communication and interpersonal skills, my knowledge about the inner-workings of the U.S. Senate, and my desire to serve the public have all grown substantially as a result of holding this position," said Mayes.

Political Campaigns

Aaron Vance ('17) is a campaign intern for Alison Lundergan Grimes for Secretary of State. He is doing primarily organizational and strategy work for the current Secretary of State's rebid for office. Vance's work is centered on the field operations within Hardin County and the surrounding areas.

"Having worked with Grimes' campaign in previous years, I am excited to be back and to be working in an opportunity to not only support one of my political mentors, but to gain experience in the areas of campaign strategy, elections and Kentucky politics,"  Vance said.

By Chloe Zoeller, a 2016 McConnell Scholar