Cole Crouch ‘17 – For the summer of 2014, I am interning in Washington, D.C. for Congressman and Wabash alumnus Todd Rokita ’92. Before I jump into the details, I would like to thank the Coonses and the Wabash College Political Science Department for awarding me and continuing to award numerous Wabash students with the Harold M. and Margaret R. Coons Public Service Internship Award. Their gracious gift has allowed me to experience this incredible opportunity that may not have been available to me otherwise. I am too thankful for the sacrifices my family has made so that I may experience this opportunity.
Together with my first year at Wabash College, interning in the 2nd Session of the 113th United States Congress has been the most rewarding experience of my life. Seriously. Since my first day, I have gained such a keen sense of the legislative process. As a member of Congressman Rokita’s office, I am continually informed about specific legislation pertaining to citizens nationwide and directly to those residing in Indiana’s 4th district. Everyday, I am challenged with tasks that stretch my developing liberal arts education. From drafting memos about specific issues or proposing additional questions for committee hearings, to giving Capitol building tours, listening and reading constituents’ calls, write-ins or emails/faxes addressing their concerns, I am always being tested as a writer, critical thinker and listener. Most days, my Intern Coordinator or a Legislative Assistant will assign me an interesting project. For example, I was assigned a project requiring me to review and propose additional questions on a budget hearing entitled the “President’s FY (Federal Year) 2015 Request for Overseas Contingency Operations/Global War on Terrorism.” Congressman Rokita is a member of the House Budget Committee where the notable Congressman Paul Ryan serves as Chairman. For this project, I reviewed the briefing, proposed a few questions of my own and attended the hearing. At the hearing, the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, the nation’s second highest-ranking military officer, Admiral James Winnefeld, along with other high-ranking federal officials were witnesses in a Q&A. These hearings, along with House Floor debates and intern guest lectures, like a recent talk by Majority-Leader Elect, Kevin McCarthy, are all among my favorite aspects of the internship.
While I continue to work hard on the Hill, I also enjoy my summer in D.C. The sights, sounds and scenes are fantastic here! On the weekends, apart from being a sports fan constantly glued to the TV watching baseball and soccer, I have visited the zoo, monuments, memorials and museums. I watched the World Cup Final at a watch party with over 1,000 fellow soccer fans! I started attending church again at the St. Joseph’s Cathedral on Capitol Hill. The daily experiences are each so impressive and sensational. From savoring the jovial conversations with my professors and fellow Wallies at an early summer (yet so familiar/common student-faculty) dinner, to making new friendships with students from all walks of the country, there has been a seemingly unfair amount of networking and social sphere. Go figure. College is all about learning and doing more, right? Wabash College is not just about learning more and doing more but also NETWORKING more. In this town, knowing how to interact, as a gentleman, especially, has not gone unnoticed. Those Midwestern manners have not either. Wallies, always remember, “The student is expected to conduct himself at all times, both on and off campus, as a gentleman and a responsible citizen.”
Spending this summer in the nation’s capitol has been an honor and a life-changing experience that I am certain will remain in my memory for the rest of my life. I recognize this internship has enabled tremendous growth as a young professional and citizen. I know that the knowledge and skills learned will be increasingly more useful in the future. I am so grateful for Wabash College and her great opportunities like this one. I highly recommend future students interested in public policy or the government to apply for the Harold M. and Margaret R. Coons Public Service Internship Award. Applications are made available through the Wabash College Political Science Department. Additionally, I would recommend contacting Todd Rokita’s Office about opportunities regarding potential internships. My best wishes to all the other summer interns as they conclude their journeys and I look forward to seeing everyone this fall!