Red & Black Politics
The College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (CASNR) is home to many hard working students. Each semester, a select few take their talents to Washington D.C. to work hand-in-hand with a few of our nation"s lawmakers. A number use this experience to start a career.
Established in 1998, the CASNR Congressional Internship Program has provided internships for more than 65 students with different U.S. leaders including Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson and Congressman Mike Conaway.
With the help of donors, scholarships lessen the burden of living costs for students during their time in Washington D.C.
To be eligible for the internship, students must go through an interview process. Previous House Committee on Agriculture intern, Graysen Ortega of Lubbock, Texas, said the selection process was an intense experience.
"I didn"t know what to expect," Ortega said. "When I walked into the room for my interview, I was so nervous, but it felt really good walking out of the interview and knowing that I had done my best."
Laramie Adams, an agricultural communications graduate from Gustine, Texas, moved to Austin, Texas, to intern for Texas State Senator Robert Duncan in 2009. He said he soon realized he had a passion for politics. After returning from his internship, Adams said he heard about the CASNR Congressional Internship Program in Washington D.C.
"After discussions with God, my family, friends and work colleagues, I decided to apply," Adams said. "It is the best decision I could have made."
When Adams made the big move to Washington D.C., he said he had no idea what he was in store for. For some interns, Washington D.C. is nothing like they had expected. Growing up in a small town, Adams said the internship experience taught him how important it was to expand his horizons and not get stuck in a comfort zone.
"I grew up in a town of 400 people, went to college in a town of 275,000 people. Moving to a town of 600,000 where I knew nobody was scary," Adams said. "However, I made friends quickly and realized how much I could learn, so it made the experience a real treat."
Interns" perceptions of what their jobs will be like vary. Some think they will be fetching coffee, while others believe they will be writing legislation. The reality of the job is a balancing act. Interns are responsible for giving Capitol tours, along with other office-based duties.
"When I came to the Hill, I wasn"t expecting much," Ortega said. "I was excited when my boss asked me to help work on a committee hearing. I started to feel like I was part of something great."
Today, 25-year-old Adams has graduated from Texas Tech University and is living in Washington D.C. He now works for Congressman Frank D. Lucas of Oklahoma. Adams represents Lucas as his communications director. It is his job to handle all aspects of Lucas" communications within the office.
"I write his press releases, op-eds, blog and do all his social media in the personal office," Adams said. "Additionally I coordinate his radio/television interviews and make sure he is prepared to talk about current issues in Congress."
Adams is not the only Texas Tech graduate walking the halls of our nation"s capitol. Many alumni from the CASNR Congressional Internship Program, along with the President"s Congressional Internship Program, have made Washington D.C. their home.
"Texans roll strong up here and we stick together," Adams said. "Even though I have many great friends who are from different states, my Texans remain my favorites up here in D.C."
While in Washington D.C., interns will have the opportunity to meet important people. Through the office traffic, many interns will meet future employers during their time there.
"It"s exciting to know that I have somewhere to go
after I graduate," Ortega said. "The connections that
I made while in D.C. were irreplaceable."