Every semester, students and recent graduates from colleges around the country are chosen to participate in the White House Internship Program in Washington, D.C. For the first time in school history, two Texas Tech University students served as back-to-back interns in the program.
Andrew Serrano, political science graduate student from Odessa, and Rahel Tekola, a senior political science major from Richardson, embraced the program’s mission to make the “People’s House” accessible to future leaders from across the nation.
“Texas Tech students have served in this role for the past two semesters under President Obama, and previously during Presidents Bush and Clinton’s terms,” said Ronald Phillips, the director of the Texas Tech congressional and White House internship programs. “This speaks volumes to the quality of our interns and the incredible opportunities offered through the internship program.”
Interns are selected based on a commitment to public service, community leadership and to the mission of the Obama Administration. Interns can apply to one of 16 departments in the White House to work under for a semester. The offices include the Office of the Vice President, the Office of the First Lady and the Office of Presidential Correspondence.
Serrano, a fall 2012 intern, became interested in education policy and poverty issues while teaching in San Antonio. He wanted the internship program to help him gain a better understanding of how the policy process works in the Executive Branch. Through his semester as an intern, he was reminded of how important public service is to our country.
“It is inspiring to see everyone, from the senior officials to the young people who make up their staff, working so hard to try and make a difference.”
Tekola, a spring 2013 intern, was inspired to apply for the internship after completing a congressional internship in Washington, D.C., and a discussion with Phillips.
“Ronald saw how much passion I had for public policy and government and suggested that I apply to intern at the White House, and it all began from there,” Tekola said.
Interns participate in weekly events through White House staff members and take off-site field trips. The program includes emphasis on service, and interns participate in service projects in Washington D.C.
Tekola advises any interested student to apply for an internship with the White House, no matter their major.
“There is a misconception that only those interested in policy or political science intern in D.C., however, there are all sorts of talents and students with various passions that come from different academic backgrounds to intern,” she said. “My experience at the White House has been life changing and I am so honored to have served this administration.”
The White House provides internship opportunities in the spring, summer and fall and requires that applicants be a recent graduate, currently enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program, or a veteran of the United States Armed Forces who possesses a high school diploma or its equivalent and has served on active duty, for any length of time, in the two years preceding the first day of the internship.
For more information on the White House Internship Program, visit http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/internships.