- They've seen Washington, D.C., politicians at work on television
plenty of times, giving speeches, hearing testimony before Congressional
committees and crafting legislation affecting public policy.
this summer five University of Southern Mississippi students - working
as interns with members of Mississippi's congressional delegation
- witnessed firsthand our nation's government in action.
Miss students who participated in the internship program and the
congressman or senator they worked for include Jamie Hasty of Pascagoula,
Sen. Trent Lott; Chad Cornett of Brandon, Sen. Thad Cochran; Walt
Cain of Madison, Rep. Chip Pickering and Justice O'Keefe of Ocean
Springs and Molly Malone of Atmore, Ala., Rep. Gene Taylor.
really enjoyed the experience," said Cornett, who is the Southern
Miss Student Government Association attorney general. Cornett has
a variety of duties in Cochran's office, including special projects
that have involved preparation of briefings for Cochran on such
issues as European Union defense structure and national disclosure
policy. Cornett also worked with constituent services, helping with
capitol tours and speaking to student groups.
said the legislative process in Washington takes time and patience.
"Some people have this idea that politics is quick and just
involves making some speeches, but it's amazing to see that (Congress)
is still working on issues that began three or four years ago."
said he has gained a better understanding of the political process
by seeing it from the inside. He has been able to share his knowledge
with constituents from Mississippi who visit Washington and want
to know more about how government functions. "I've learned
so much that I wouldn't have otherwise," Cain said. "I'm
really thankful for the opportunity."
Miss' vice president for research and planning, Dr. Angie Dvorak,
said the internship program also helps students learn how important
federal funds are in supporting research at Southern Miss, and how
priority funding allocation is determined in the congressional committees
funding (for research) is predominantly federally generated, and
these students (as congressional interns) will understand how our
external dollars come into being," Dvorak said.
international relations major at Southern Miss, Cain said he would
like to return to Washington to attend graduate school and work
on an international issues committee for a congressman or senator.
Weidi, chief of staff for Taylor, praised the work of O'Keefe and
Malone. "They were a real asset to us," he said. "They
represented Southern Miss well."
said the internship program not only gives participants a chance
to learn more about politics but to make contacts and take in all
the points of interest in Washington.
get to meet so many people and interact with other students from
all over the country and make new friends," he said.
said working in Lott's office has helped her understand issues concerning
the legislative process, including recent hearings held by the rules
committee addressing the Senate filibuster rule, the rule on "holds"
on legislation before the Senate, and unauthorized earmarks on appropriations
bills. "These are issues that I never really understood until
now," she said.
chance to intern on Capitol Hill can be transformational for students,"
said Dr. Joe Paul, vice president for student affairs at Southern
Miss. "It gives them a deeper appreciation for the wonder that
is our democracy. Because of this experience, many of them will
enjoy careers in public service. Plus, it's great for Southern Miss
because our students are our best advertisement. We're very proud