Mia Maginn ’19
Mia Maginn ’19 followed her political pursuits all the way to Capitol Hill this summer when she spent three weeks interning for Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fl).
“I’ve always had an interest in politics,” Mia said. “But I really wanted to learn more about how our government works from the inside.” Mia added that as an independent, she was also curious in learning about both sides of the political spectrum.
Along with 14 other high school and college students from across the country, Mia helped the senator by working 12-hour days answering phones, sorting mail, and writing memos after attending briefings or hearings chaired by senators or congressmen. At the hearings, government committees would invite a panel of experts to discuss specific topics. Although the topics were usually serious, Mia said, her favorite, “SHARKS!”, was more light-hearted.
“The hearing discussed important research and developments in shark technology but also included shark gummies and funny videos of sharks,” she said. “Politics can be really polarizing, and opinions can differ greatly, so it was nice to see people being friendly and cracking jokes with each other regardless of which side of the aisle they were on.”
Mia said that while her experience on Capitol Hill did not shift her political beliefs, the internship helped her see different perspectives that she normally would not get as a resident of Massachusetts.
“I also learned the importance of being active in your democracy and calling, writing, or emailing your elected representatives to make yourself heard,” she added.
By watching the activity on the senate floor every day, Mia said, she achieved her goal of learning how the government really works behind closed doors.
“I saw how many laws get passed that never even receive coverage from the media, and how many people are involved in decisions that might seem small to the general public,” she said.
Cat Buchatskiy ’19
With the midterm elections right around the corner, Cat Buchatskiy ‘19 knew she wanted to get involved in the political process over the summer and felt that working for a congressional campaign was the perfect opportunity, she said.
Cat spent three months as one of 70 fellows for the Rufus Gifford (Dem) for Congress campaign in Massachusetts’ 3rd Congressional District. She split her four-hour days between canvass shifts and phone bank shifts, both of which served as opportunities to discuss important issues with voters, she said.
“My favorite thing was talking to voters who care about the same issues that I do,” she said, citing a powerful conversation with a steel worker who expressed his concern about how the economy is treating the working class.
“As someone who’s passionate about issues surrounding labor unions, healthcare, and wages, it was amazing to be reminded of why I’ve been fighting for my beliefs,” she said.
While Cat said she enjoyed connecting with people who shared her political views, she said she found dialogue surrounding disagreement even more valuable and enlightening.
“Conversation has been missing from politics recently, causing a huge gap in empathy between the two sides,” Cat said. “In order to effect the best possible change, it’s good to understand the people who oppose you. It’ll make you stronger, and maybe it’ll even make you think twice about something after hearing the full story.”
Cat said she spoke with an independent who voted for both Obama and Trump for 31 minutes—an office record.
“It was interesting to see the fluidity in his beliefs and party alignment,” she said.
Cat added that the man seemed especially worried about paying for his daughter’s college tuition.
“We had a lot of the same concerns, just different ideas on how to fix them,” she said. “It was reassuring to know that in some ways we share the same end goals.”
Graham Huntington ’20
Graham Huntington ’20 joined Cat Buchatskiy ’19 this summer as an intern for the Rufus Gifford for Congress campaign in Massachusetts’ 3rd Congressional District. Graham said he first met Mr. Gifford two years ago at a Brown University reunion panel when Mr. Gifford was the United States ambassador to Denmark.
“I really connected with his ideas and personality as well as his experience in politics,” Graham said. “When someone knocked on my door this spring and I learned he was running for Congress, I immediately signed up online to try to help.”
Graham added that of all 10 candidates running, he stands with Mr. Gifford’s platform the most and would not be helping on the campaign if their political beliefs differed.
Graham began his work for the campaign—which has included canvassing, manning the phone bank, and making recruitment calls for campaign events and volunteers—the day after school ended. He said he hopes to keep working with Mr. Gifford through November if he wins the primary.
“I will be at Biv as a Junior Guide when the results come in, which will be both exciting and nerve-wracking,” Graham said.
As someone who wants to go into politics one day, Graham said that his favorite part of the internship was the opportunity to interact with other young, like-minded individuals.
“I love the people on the campaign,” Graham said. “We are all working towards the same goal and can nerd out about politics together all the time.”
Graham said that he would encourage his peers to explore a similar internship because of its accessibility.
“Campaigns always want more volunteers,” he said. “It’s so easy to get involved, and I’ve had a blast.”
In August, Graham split his time between the Gifford campaign and Elizabeth Warren’s office, where he worked two-and-a-half days a week in constituent services. A longtime fan of Warren, he said he helped out by handling constituents’ requests over the phone.
“It was interesting to see how many people called with a lot of different concerns that gave me a better perspective on how policy affects people and what works and what doesn’t work,” he said.