Interning on Capitol Hill has been on Angelo State senior Evelyn Burch’s bucket list for a long time.
“I wanted to intern on Capitol Hill since I was in grade school,” she said. “My neighbor worked for a congresswoman. Growing up, I got to go to her house and get to know her a little bit. I’ve always been interested in politics.”
That dream came true last fall, when Burch, a political science major from Clinton, Md., was selected for the ASU Political Science and Philosophy Department’s 2018 Government and Public Service Internship Program in Washington, D.C. She interned for U.S. Representative K. Michael Conaway, who represents the 11th Congressional District.
“Essentially, I was performing basic office and clerical duties and running errands,” Burch explained. “But it did go beyond that in that we were also writing, and writing on behalf of Mr. Conaway. It went through rigorous edits of course, but we were getting to learn more about the policy and just gaining skills ourselves.”
Along with two other interns, Burch served in Conaway’s office for four months. Besides her basic office duties, she found other ways to get involved.
“One of my favorite things was actually giving tours of the U.S. Capitol,” Burch said. “Every day, that was the absolute highlight. Whether it was for constituents for other members or Mr. Conaway’s constituents, it was really great to take people around. I got to talk about two of my favorite things, history and political science,and be a tour guide.”
“I also volunteered at the portrait unveiling for a committee chairman who was retiring,” she continued. “Basically everyone showed up – the speaker of the house, the house minority leader – all the leadership in the House of Representatives. I got to be there to see all these people come speak about this chairman, helping out different members, getting to talk with them one on one. It’s a really good memory.”
On her last day, Burch experienced a full-circle moment when she bumped into the same congresswoman whose house she used to visit.
“I ran into her as she was walking to go to the House floor,” she said. “I just had that moment and thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I had that dream in second grade. And here I am – it’s come true.’ It was a surreal moment.”
Back at ASU for her final semester, Burch isn’t done yet. She’s working on her undergraduate thesis, and continues to be involved with multiple organizations on campus, including the Political Science Association, Modern Languages Association and Honors Student Association. She’s also a member of the San Angelo Community Choir.
Once graduation comes, there won’t be much of a break. Burch plans to continue with an internship she’s held since 2017 with the U.S. Department of Defense, where she has spent her last few summer and winter breaks.
“I’ll be interning over the summer, but I’ve also been applying to graduate school,” she said. “So far, I’ve been accepted into five programs that are mostly geospatial science programs. It’s a change from the political science major, but my hope is to pursue it because it will further my goals of working in the Defense Department.”
While her résumé is sure to be chock-full of experience, Burch acknowledges Angelo State for the opportunities the university has given her.
“A lot of my opportunities have come through the ASU Honors Program,” she said. “Attending conferences at military academies; presenting papers and posters at honors conferences on my research. My junior year, I participated in a fellowship through the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, where I was working with a mentor in D.C. and ASU faculty to produce a research paper for submission to an academic journal. That was a really special opportunity.”
And all those opportunities, including her most recent internship, have solidified Burch’s decision she made way back in second grade.
“I arrived in D.C. expecting to leave really jaded,” she said. “I can’t say my opinion changed significantly about Congress as an institution overall. But seeing how hard the members themselves work, and the people who work for them, I came away not jaded at all, but with a much greater appreciation for the work of the people who make up the legislative branch.”
“It was different than what I expected, but a good different.”