Ever since Jennifer White ’14 was a junior in high school, she has had her eye on the prestigious internship program with the New York State Assembly. However, it was her public policy course “Sexual Minority Movements and Public Policy,” taught by Professor and Chair of Public Policy Craig Rimmerman, that ultimately inspired her to apply for the position.
“I felt that this opportunity and experience could never be matched, and something that would happen once in a lifetime,” she says.
Similar to a college application, the application for the internship included an essay and several letters of recommendation. A writing sample was also requested in order to demonstrate her interest in environmental policy. This was a good fit for White, who is an environmental representative on campus and, as such, has worked on many recycling and sustainability initiatives on campus.
The application process was rigorous, but one that paid off. White was accepted and placed to work alongside Republican Assemblyman Peter D. Lopez, who represents Schoharie County.
Now a few weeks into the internship, White has already acquired numerous responsibilities, including speaking with constituents and meeting with lobbyists. She also facilitates Lopez’s signing, co-signing, and multi-sponsoring of a bill. The internship is proving to be extremely hands-on and eye opening, as White is able to enter the Assembly chamber while in session and observe the voting and outcome of new bills being signed into law.
In addition to duties assigned by the Assemblyman, White is responsible for completing academic components of the internship. She is required to write a 15- to 20 page paper and attend weekly public policy forums.
She has already learned an immense amount from the experience, especially concerning the policy process and how it works.
“I learned quickly that in the Assembly, things begin with grassroots movements and activism, which are wide scale and effective,” she said.
Many of White’s courses and experiences at the Colleges provided the foundation for a solid work ethic and an intense passion for learning the inner workings of the public policy world. She credits the course Environmental Ethics, which she took with Instructor of Philosophy Rodmon King, for teaching her the value of critical analysis and looking at environmental issues from many different perspectives.
When White returns to campus in the fall she will pick back up with her work as an environmental representative, a position that allowed her to initiate many recycling initiatives on campus. In the meantime, she will continue to garner invaluable skills through an amazing opportunity in the NYS Assembly Internship Program.
Miranda Warder, assistant director of employer development at HWS, notes this is a significant achievement. “The New York State Assembly program has historically not accepted underclassman. The program truly made an exception for Jennifer based on her passion for the program. We are very proud of her.”