Cooper Terry ’23 — I would first like to start by thanking the Wabash Public Policy Project for funding my summer internship. Additionally, I would like to thank Wabash College for giving me this opportunity. Without their generosity, I would have been able to take this amazing internship.
This summer I have had the privilege to work under Mayor Duke Bennett of Terre Haute. I have been taking on daily assignments to assist him and the rest of his staff as well as take on some major projects. Being able to work directly with the Mayor has been an amazing opportunity for me. I have been able to see the ins and outs of what a mayor has to accomplish. I am also pleased that Mayor Bennett has been gracious enough to let me pick his brain and learn more in-depth details of what he has done and how he got to the position he is in today. One of the most common tasks I have had to do is answering the phone for the Mayor. This has allowed me to talk directly with the people in the City. In this way, I get a sense that I am directly helping the people and making their lives living here better.
When I took this position I was not sure what to expect as far as how it would go. I never had imagined that I would have to work through some of the troubling times that I did. Unfortunately, we had a police officer ambushed and killed right across the road from our office. I could see the pain not only in the Mayor but in everyone in the community when the tragedy struck. It was a somber time mourning the loss of one of Terre Haute’s Finest. But through the dark clouds, I saw a community come together and pick each other up. People lined the streets, sent their condolences, and much more in honor of the fallen officer. I saw over 2,000 people attend his funeral including hundreds of officers not only from the area but also from around the state and even from various parts of the country. It was astonishing to see all these people come out to back the family of the fallen officer. It was a sight and feeling that I will never forget.
This internship above all else has furthered my interest in getting involved with local politics to make a difference for my community and help make a change for the better. I cannot thank all the people that I have worked with this summer enough for taking time out of their already busy schedules to teach me. I certainly hope to continue to build several of the relationships that I have developed over the summer. This summer internship has been like nothing else I have ever been a part of, a life-changing experience, that has made me look at the finer details of a city with a different lens.