UNK Political Science Students Gain Professional Experience in Washington DC – UNK News

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Tyler Ellison
UNK Communications

Carney – Washington DC is the mecca of American politics.

It is the seat of federal government and a historic city where major decisions affecting the country and the world are made.

For political science students, there is no better place to prepare for your future career.

“In many cases, a DC internship is the first step to a job in the federal government,” says Tanner Butler, a senior at the University of Nebraska-Kearny.

From left, UNK students Arlen Gutierrez, Tanner Butler, and Braden Peterworth pose for a photo at the US Capitol in Washington, DC.  (photo courtesy)
From left, UNK students Arlen Gutierrez, Tanner Butler, and Braden Peterworth pose for a photo at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. (photo courtesy)

Butler and two other UNK political science majors spent part of the summer in the capital, gaining valuable experience while working as parliamentarians and interns for government-affiliated companies.

Originally from Broken Bow, Butler completed a six-week internship in the office of US Congressman Adrian Smith. He acted as a point of contact for voters, answering calls and questions and relaying messages to lawmakers. Butler also led his tour of the Capitol Hill Public, conducting research focused specifically on issues related to the House Ways and Means Committee. Smith is currently contesting the chairmanship of that committee.

In addition, Butler was able to attend committee hearings, attend a professional lecture series, and hang out with Smith during Congressional baseball games.

“In political science, we’re always learning what’s going on in Congress and DC,” Butler said. “It’s amazing to be there because it gives you a deeper understanding.”

Butler, a minor studying public law, is part of the Kearny Law Opportunities Program (KLOP), a partnership between UNK and the University of Nebraska School of Law, which recruits and trains students to become lawyers in rural areas. Participants receive a full scholarship to attend UNK and are guaranteed admission to Lincoln Law School if all requirements are met.

Previously, Butler completed internships at Smith’s regional office in Nebraska and the Buffalo County Attorney’s Office.

“I would 100% recommend going to DC,” he said.

Sutton’s UNK Jr. Braden Peterworth had a similar summer experience. He interned in the office of U.S. Senator Deb Fisher and fulfilled his dream of visiting Washington and joining the federal government.

“Before law school, I wanted to find a way to go to Washington, DC and experience the government, culture, and tourism,” he said. “The fact that Senator Fisher and her office gave me this opportunity during her 10 weeks really allowed me to take it all in.”

Peter Worth, a public law minor and member of the KLOP program, was in DC from late May to the end of July. Like Butler, he assisted state legislative services, led tours of the Capitol, researched specific policy areas, and observed commission hearings.

“It’s been really cool to be on the ground and really help her staff enforce legislation for Nebraska,” Peterworth said. I was well prepared and I think it will be very helpful to bring these experiences back into my teaching and research.”

The discussion of the ongoing war in Ukraine was of particular interest to him, as Peterworth studies presidents and their approaches to human rights issues.

He interacted with Fisher one-on-one several times and met “a lot of really nice Nebraskans” during the tour.

“When it comes to internships that political science students are looking for, this should be at the top of the list,” he said. “It was very precious.”

UNK Jr. Braden Peterworth poses for a photo with US Senator Deb Fisher during his internship at the Congressional Office in Washington, DC.
UNK Jr. Braden Peterworth poses for a photo with US Senator Deb Fisher during his internship at the Congressional Office in Washington, DC.

As a bonus, Peterworth attended the Washington DC Professional Enrichment Academy. This is a free value-added program for students interning at the University of Nebraska. Through this program, students meet once a week to connect with notable alumni, expand their professional network, discuss current topics, and learn about their future careers.

Lexington’s UNK Senior Arlen Gutierrez has attended the program for the last two summers.

Last year, she did an internship at TurnUp, a non-profit organization and mobile app that promotes youth advocacy and civic engagement. Through the Professional Enrichment Academy she met her two vice presidents at Cassidy and Associates, which led to this year’s internships at government affiliates.

As a legislative research intern, Gutierrez attended congressional hearings and wrote abstracts for clients. She also researched specific laws and edited her reports for the news.

Gutierrez is most proud of her research for the Immigrant Clinician Network, a non-profit organization that works with clinicians around the world to improve healthcare access and quality for immigrants.

“The UNK Department of Political Science really prepares you for this kind of work. It gives you the really good research skills you need,” says Gutierrez, who minors in public law and ethnic studies. I was.

Her research at UNK focuses on areas such as environmental policy and environmental justice. She wants to foster change that can improve the lives of everyone.

“That’s what we’re looking for. What’s the next step? How can we get better?”

Gutierrez was in DC from early June to mid-August. Outside of internships, Nebraska Senator Adam Morfeld, who connected with Rep. Lincoln through LinkedIn, met him over coffee near the White House. She also spoke with Arkansas Senator John Boozman’s Deputy Chief of Staff.

“This experience really helped me get out of my comfort zone, not only personally but professionally,” she said. “It’s insightful to hear how people got here and what decisions they made.”

Like Butler and Peterworth, Gutierrez plans to attend law school after graduating from UNK.

“I definitely want to go back to DC because I really like it and I feel like I can make the biggest impact there,” she said. “No matter what I do, I want to help someone somewhere”

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