East Central University political science student Hannah Hale will be spending her spring semester in Washington, D.C., interning for the senior Senator from Oklahoma, Jim Inhofe.
While there, Hale will attend the inauguration of America’s 45th President, Donald J. Trump.
Hale was visibly excited about the internship and the opportunity to attend the inauguration.
“I interned in (Sen. Inhofe’s) office when we went to D.C. last year for the Pi Sigma Alpha trip, so it just kind of worked out,” Hale said. “They don’t have any other interns this semester.”
Hale toured law schools in the Washington D.C. metro area over fall break and said she will apply to the University of the District of Columbia Law School in preparation for her graduation from ECU.
She plans to make the most of her time in the nation’s capital — plans which include trips to New York and Boston with her mom and dad, without whom, she said, she would never have made it this far.
Hale said the impact of the opportunity will be far-reaching.
“It’s life-changing,” she said. “You’re talking about a small school where you normally wouldn’t get this kind of opportunity to go intern at the Capital. It’s vital. There are kids here who have never left the state of Oklahoma, so it really is life-changing.”
ECU Political Science, Legal Studies and Sociology Chair Christine Pappas said Hale may be the first such intern to spend a semester in the nation’s capital, but she likely won’t be the last.
“We encourage all of our students to have these rich academic experiences,” Pappas said. “All the legal studies students already do legal internships, but this being a political internship and for such a long period of time, will really be an even more robust learning experience. We hope to pave the way for many more students to have this kind of experience in the future.
“When I speak to my colleagues at bigger schools, they’re jealous of the opportunities that we have to work with students so closely. I don’t know if this would actually be more common at a bigger school because they wouldn’t be able to take the time to develop these opportunities.”
Pappas said these types of academic opportunities are often the result of the closer relationship between faculty and students at smaller, regional universities.
“I think students at schools like East Central actually have more opportunities than the students at bigger schools,” Pappas said. “Our classes are smaller, and we come to know the students so well that we can design opportunities for them that fit their career goals. You’re not going to see that at a big school.”
This opportunity, Pappas said, was custom tailored to fit Hale’s needs.
“We designed a curriculum for Hannah that would help her amplify her experience,” Pappas said. “For example, one of the classes is U.S. Legislatures, so obviously she will be able to study Congress from right there. There’s another opportunity we put together surrounding how members of the Senate communicate with their constituents, so she’s going to be looking at media strategies and social media (use).”
Hale will complete assignments and write papers providing an overview of what she learns during her time in Washington, D.C., reporting back to Pappas and other instructors who will monitor her progress.