July 18, 2012
Students build leadership skills in internships with legislators
By Ben Lawson, media assistant
For more information about legislative internship opportunities through Northwest, click here.
Gunner Sumy has developed a knack for politics in his leadership roles as a student at Northwest Missouri State University. Adrienne Cornelius, meanwhile, understands the importance of pacing and working fast as a member of the Bearcat track and field team. This summer both are putting their skills to use in internships with United States legislators.
Sumy, a senior political science major from St. Joseph, and Cornelius, a senior organizational communication major from Higginsville, are spending the summer in Washington, D.C., in internships with United States legislators. Sumy is working with Sen. Claire McCaskill and Cornelius is with Rep. Vicky Hartzler, both of Missouri.
Sumy is Student Senate vice president, and Cornelius competes in multi-events and hurdles for the track and field team.
Cornelius said learning how to keep pace on the track and the classroom helped her keep up in a speedy workplace.
“You learn to set specific goals, work hard and manage your time well to be most successful on the track and in the classroom,” Cornelius said. “Working on the Hill is nothing short of a fast-paced environment and all of these lessons learned have helped me be successful this summer.”
In addition to being a student-athlete, Cornelius is a peer advisor and actively involved with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Living Hope Church.
Along with lessons learned from her extracurricular activities, Cornelius said she was able to use what she learned in classrooms at Northwest when researching bills and communicating with constituents.
“While in D.C. I have also learned how to apply the communication and business skills I have learned in the classroom to the business world,” Cornelius said. “I had the background knowledge and skills to supplement my projects and tasks that I have completed.”
As part of their internships Sumy and Cornelius give tours of the Capitol, do background research on bills and communicate with constituents. Both agree that communicating with constituents is a really important part of their internship.
“Hartzler represents the district (Missouri's 4th District) that I am originally from so that makes it way more interesting for me,” Cornelius said. “I understand where people are coming from with their issues and can better relay them to the congresswoman.”
The interns also play an important role in building relationships with the representatives and constituents.
“It’s pretty interesting to hear from the different constituents, hear different opinions and hear where they are from within the state,” Sumy said.
Another big part of Cornelius’ job is creating co-sponsor forms for Hartzler to review. The forms lay out bills sponsored by other representatives and help Hartzler decide if she should co-sponsor it.
“Doing that is just so interesting to me,” Cornelius said. “I’m 21 years old and trying to guide a congresswoman on the signing of a bill.”
Sumy said he is interested in a career in politics and is thankful for the internship because has shown him what it takes to pursue that career. He is familiar with climbing a political ladder, having recently taken the step from junior class president to Student Senate vice president. But his time in D.C. has given him an idea of the field on a larger scale.
“I feel like some people think you come out to D.C., and you will already have the job of your dreams,” Sumy said. “What people have to realize is that when you come out here you really have to work your way up and earn your stripes as you go.”
For more information, please contact:
Mark Hornickel, Media Relations Specialist
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