Colton French '19 interned at the Office of Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster '87 during the 2019 winter term. The following is an excerpt from his internship report.
This past Winter term I had the opportunity to intern in Washington, DC at the Office of Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster ’87. Each morning I was responsible for searching online news outlets for clips mentioning Rep. Annie Kuster, Rep. Chris Pappas, and New Hampshire’s senators. I then summarized each news article and compiled my findings into a document that was sent out daily to our DC staffers, district offices, and the Congresswoman. Additionally, I was responsible for communicating directly with constituents and logging their concerns into a database which allowed Rep. Kuster and her staff to respond effectively. In the event that our office did not have an adequate response to a constituent’s concern, I drafted form letters by researching Rep. Kuster’s past voting records and positions on specific policy areas.
When reflecting on my internship at the Office of Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster, one of the most positive experiences came through the emotional and somber topic of gun violence in America. After the mid-term elections, the democrats were determined to propose a series of legislative initiatives to combat the gun violence epidemic in America. As an intern on Capitol Hill this past Winter, I was able to attend the first House of Representatives Committee Hearing on gun violence in over a decade. Sitting in the Judiciary Committee Hearing room and listening to witness testimony from a young girl who was nearly killed during the catastrophe at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, was an experience that will stick with me forever. This experience gave me an understanding of how Congress can shape the lives of Americans in a positive way if they give the correct emphasis and attention to important issues.
Later in my internship, I was able to directly assist staffers with policy research. I worked with a congressional staffer who was in charge of housing and development to compile a database of carbon monoxide related deaths in the past six months. This research was aimed to highlight the risk of CO in an absence of detectors and to propose a bill that would equip all nursing homes across America with CO detectors. I was surprised to find that many assisted living facilities do not have CO detectors and many of their residents are unaware of this fact. This experience helped me understand the power that lawmakers have in addressing common sense issues that make Americans safer. Additionally, in an attempt to leverage Congress to appropriate increased funds to combat sexual harassment, I conducted research outlining the stark difference of congressional appropriations for anti-doping agencies in comparison to funds that combat sexual harassment. Outside my research responsibilities, I attended hearings and briefings on a variety of pertinent issues and drafted memos for staffers outlining the highlights of the event.
My experience at Congresswoman Kuster’s office has revitalized my desire to attend law school after graduation as I saw an integration of legal research and policy making. My experience in a congressional office heightened my interest in public sector law and a potential future career in politics. While working on legislative research and talking with staff about proposed bills, I became aware of the strong overlap and integration of legal research and policy-making. As a result of this internship, I will take courses focused on the American political system and hope to discover ways in which to improve the efficiency of our law-making process. I want to personally thank the Rockefeller Center and Charles F. Bass for their generous contributions to make this internship possible.
The Rockefeller Internships Program has funding for Dartmouth undergraduate students to help defray the cost of living expenses associated with a full-time, unpaid, leave-term internships in the fields of public policy, public affairs, and social entrepreneurship.