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Winter 1999-2000
Vol. 62, No. 2

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Go to: Mr. Kennedy Went to Washington . . . and Loved It

If You Think Nightline is a Tough Gig, Try Singing for Your Supper

Mr. Meier Goes to Washington . . .

Andrew Meier '01, of Medina, New York, is the latest in a long line of Rochester undergraduates to earn academic credit in the halls of Congress.

Meier spent the fall 1999 semester working as an intern in the office of Representative Lindsay Graham, a South Carolina Republican, as part of the Washington Semester Program.

"For someone who has always been interested in how Washington works," Meier says, "the opportunity to work on Capitol Hill is too good to pass up."

"I'm fascinated by the whole conflict of the political system," he says. "It's a friendly conflict, but I like the intellectual battle that goes on."

Begun in 1968 by Richard Fenno, Jr., the William Kenan Professor of Political Science, the Washington program annually selects a maximum of 10 students to work as full-time interns on the staff of a congressional representative.

"The theory is that the way to learn about the congressional system is to go down there and work for a semester," Fenno says. The students may start out opening mail and doing other clerical chores, but over time, he says, "they become an integral member of the staff--and that's the way they learn."

Fenno selects the candidates on the basis of depth of interest and classroom performance. He stands ready to offer advice, but has participants take the lead in finding their own internships and arranging for housing--an approach that helps weed out the unmotivated.

"Life in a congressional office is hectic, and only those students who are self-starters and have that entrepreneurial spirit will do well," he says.

Typically, students do their Washington stint during the spring semester of their junior year, for which they receive 16 hours of University credit.

Because of the particulars of Meier's studies, he was allowed to go this fall and left for Washington in September.

He's well aware, Meier says, that many Americans have unflattering images of politicians--thanks to recent scandals and the Clinton impeachment--but he still finds politics a career worth pursuing.

"A few poor examples have given the whole profession a bad name, and that's unfortunate," he says. "But I still think it's a noble profession."

Go to: Mr. Kennedy Went to Washington . . . and Loved It

If You Think Nightline is a Tough Gig, Try Singing for Your Supper

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