Jared Vanhille-Senator Lee Intern

Before a friend in a psychology class told me about the internships in D.C., I had not considered doing an internship, much less a political internship in D.C.  Three weeks after hearing about the internship, I accepted an offer to intern in Senator Mike Lee’s Washington D.C. office in the Fall of 2014.  I am glad I did.  I learned from some of the nation’s most intelligent and talented individuals, gained a greater appreciation for politics, witnessed the writing process in the U.S. Senate, and improved my written and oral communication skills.

Jared and the National Mall

I wasn’t the typical congressional intern.  A large portion of the interns I met in D. C. studied things like political science or criminal justice, and they wanted to eventually work as lawyers or as staff members of government offices or agencies.  I am studying Psychology and English with the intent to get a Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Composition or in Educational Psychology, both degrees will land me in higher education as a professor.  Do I ever see myself working in politics?  No.  But, I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity I had to work in the Senator Lee’s office as a congressional intern.  It has been one of the most beneficial things I have done for my education thus far.

Over the course of my four month internship, I worked closely with Senator Lee’s Legislative Assistant (LA) over issues regarding education, religious liberty, and social and welfare issues.    I attended meetings and forums and learned from some of the nation’s top thought leaders in various areas.  Where I may have been unfamiliar with politics and our government system prior to my internship, I gained a greater appreciation and understanding for how our government works and for the important issues that call for and require productive discussion.

I watched a congressional bill go through the process of developing from an idea to a physical draft.  When I started in Senator Lee’s office, the LA had just started talking to Senator Lee about an idea for a bill on higher education reform.  I researched financial data from colleges and universities across the country and communicated with Financial Aid Directors from higher education institutions in Utah.  In addition to researching necessary information for the bill, I met with the LA regularly to tweak the ideas of this piece of legislation.  Before finishing my internship, we had reviewed a couple drafts of the bill.  It was an awesome experience to watch this bill develop and grow.  With my particular interest in writing, it was incredibly interesting to watch the writing process in a workplace situation outside of the classroom essays and reports.  Through this experience and the other meetings I attended regarding higher education, my understanding of the higher education system, the system in which I will eventually work, vastly increased.

I also gained written and oral communication skills.  As an intern, I talked with many people from around the United States, and even some from other countries.  I had opportunities to hone these skills through phone calls, emails, letters, tours of the Nation’s Capital Building, and by providing analytical memorandums for legislative assistants about various bills and legislative topics.  These skills and experiences will help me communicate in my family, academic, and community circles.

The bottom line is that my internship in Washington D.C. is one my most treasured experiences in my life.  I learned things in Senator Lee’s office that I could not have learned anywhere else.  I rubbed shoulders with highly intelligent and successful men and women, and I interacted with individuals who view the world entirely different from me.  With financial support from the Leavitt Center and a small stipend from the U.S. Senate, I was able to pay for food, housing, transportation, and play.  I would recommend an internship in D.C. to any student, no matter what your major or career path is.

Miranda Jones-Rep. Stewart Intern

“Experience More” was a line plastered across billboards, handouts, and mailers to bring prospective students to SUU, but experiencing more was exactly what I did when I interned for Congressman Chris Stewart in Washington DC.

Washington had been in my sights for quite some time, but when I finally learned just how easy it was to make it possible, I jumped on the opportunity.

So where did I live? – I lived smack dab on the top of Capitol Hill. My walk to the house office buildings passed the Supreme Court Building, Library of Congress, the Capital building, and took less than 10 minutes. Not only was I close to work, but I was also just a hop, skip, and a jump away from endless museums, galleries, and monuments that I had only seen in movies.


Did I like Washington DC? – Does the sun rise every morning? Of Course! Washington is one of America’s most beautiful cities with endless opportunities of people to meet and things to do. While not working I often found myself walking around the city, taking a jog next to the Anacostia river, finding the best cupcake shop in DC, visiting the Smithosian museums, attending free string quartet concerts at the library of congress, and walking down the national mall. Did I mention the foods? Founding Farmers, We the Pizza, and District Doughnut. Oh the Cuisine.


Was it Expensive? How did I pay for it? – Washington DC is not a cheap place to live by any means, but with a modest paycheck from the Congressman and a well-thought out budget, I was able to manage my money and finances just fine. However, I did save up a little bit of travel money before-hand so that I could take weekend trips to New York and Philadelphia.


What did I do at my internship? – I worked 40 hour weeks for the Congressman and did a variety of tasks to assist him and his legislative staff. Some of these included basic office responsibilities like answering phones, sorting emails, and greeting visitors. However, the favorite part of my internship was the extensive legislative research, academic writing, and committee hearings I was able to help with. One of my greatest accomplishments while out there was writing a floor-speech for the Congressman which he read and is now in the congressional record.


Did I take time off of school? – Although I was not at SUU for the spring semester, I was still taking 12 intern credit hours for completing my internship and was thus still enrolled. A lot of majors actually require an internship to fulfill requirements and my Political Science major is one of those. Even if the credits aren’t needed, the four months of experience was worth it, hands-down.

How did the internship benefit me? – The main reason I did the internship was to see if this was a career I could one day enjoy, and I came to find that it is. I fully intend on returning to Washington DC to pursue a career on the Hill. However I gained so much more. I gained experiential learning that expanded my knowledge of the classes I am currently taking. I am able to make critical connections between what I read in my textbooks, and what I experienced in my congressional office. I was also able to build and perfect my resume and create great relationships with future employers and networks.


How would this benefit you, even if you aren’t a political science major? – Don’t tell me a prospective employer looking at your resume wont ask you about when you worked for a United States official. Many of our interns don’t study political science, and the congressmen and senators like that. They are looking for a diverse group of interns that can bring different skill-sets and educational backgrounds to the table. Not only will you diversify your resume, you will also gain research, communication, and professional skills.


The months spent in Washington DC were easily the best of my life. I was able to gain a deeper understanding of my field of study, foster important relationships with prospective employers, and obtain first-hand experience that is enhancing my education here at Southern Utah University.

Miranda Jones is a junior Political Science and Economics Major and member of the Leavitt Center Executive Council.

If you are interested in a Leavitt Center Internship, email leavittcenter@gmail.com 

Iran Nuclear Deal: Prospect of Conflict or Possibility of Peace?


In a historic deal reached with Iran, six nations have chosen to remove the economic-crippling sanctions they placed on Iran, only if Iran submits to new regulations on their nuclear program.

With Iran as a known ‘terrorist sponsored state’, their nuclear capabilities and terrorist activities have been a worry to the United States and other countries for years. After various sanctions placed upon the nation crippled the economy, negotiations were brought to the table.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was signed by President Obama and other World Powers to limit Iran’s nuclear capability through reduced stockpiles of uranium, reduced enrichment capabilities, and inspections of facilities.

The Obama Administration and others argue that this is a long-term agreement that will drastically weaken Iran’s nuclear capability, improve the quality of living for Iranian’s, and bring peace to the region. However; others argue that any nuclear capability for Iran is unacceptable. They also argue that the money funneled back into Iran from the lack of sanctions will go to fund terrorist activity.

It may seem clear that we are taking a risk in trusting Iran with this agreement, but is that risk worth taking?

Join us for Pizza and Politics on Wednesday and share your opinions!

This blog post was written by Miranda Jones, a junior Political Science and Economics major and member of the Leavitt Center Executive Council. 

Riley Beck–Senator Hatch Intern

This Summer, I had the phenomenal opportunity to intern in Washington D.C. with Senator Hatch. The internship was truly an unforgettable experience. My main work (along with many other tasks) was covering concerns related to land and environment and conducting extensive research on the EPA for the Senator.

Being an intern, you have great opportunities to listen to and meet some of the most prominent people alive today in American government. I was able to sit in on countless meetings with business leaders, political leaders and many other influential people. I listened to lectures by people like Congressman John Lewis who marched side by side with Dr. King. He recounted his story with the civil rights movement and gave me insight I would have never known otherwise. I also enjoyed hearing from Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who shared her story and experiences about becoming a Supreme Court Justice. Not only was I able to be in the presence of these people, but I also had the opportunity to be present for history in the making. I was outside of the Supreme Court building when they announced the legalization of same sex marriage. Seeing the parades of American people celebrating because #lovewon was an experience that I will never forget.

Interning through the Leavitt Center in Washington D.C. has been one of the most remarkable experiences of my life. I received insight that I would have never been able to unless I did so. I had the opportunity to meet  with amazing people and take part in historical events. I highly recommend anyone contemplating this internship to just get up and do it. You will never regret it.
If you are interested in a Leavitt Center Internship, stop by our offices in the Student Center or email leavittcenter@gmail.com.

Police Brutality? Or Brutality TOWARDS Police?

“It is time that you guys know we are no longer playing around with the police departments…we are about to start striking fear shooting down all cops that we see by their selves.  This will go for the Sheriff’s Department.  You guys are evicting innocent people.  Let us catch you by yourself and it’s shots fired.”

The above quote is one of many threats to the police force in the United States of America.  In the last month, 8 police officers, all from different locations throughout the United States, have been killed.  In 2014, 36 officers were murdered.  As of today, 24 officers have been killed in 2015.

So often, we hear about police brutality in the sense of police officers’ actions being brutal towards American citizens, but what about American citizens being brutal towards the police?  Come join us at Pizza and Politics to discuss the backlash of police brutality.

We will also be discussing the definition and background of police brutality the ways in which citizens and police are treated differently according to the law.  We look forward to hearing your comments!

Alyssa Miller–Fifth District Court Intern

My name is Alyssa Miller, I am a senior here at SUU studying Political Science and Legal Studies and I am currently in the process of applying to law school. This summer I had the incredible opportunity to work as an intern at the Fifth District Court here in Cedar City. I was able to connect with and interview with Judge Higbee through my involvement with the Leavitt Center, and from there landed the position! Although this was technically an un-paid internship, I was able to receive funding through the Leavitt Center as well, which made it realistic. This internship as a whole was extremely valuable to my education, work experience and future career pursuits.

As an intern at the court, I had some amazing experiences.  My first few weeks, I spent learning a clerkship position, completing copy requests, filing case documents and even reviewing several Judge Opinions. This was a great hands-on opportunity to view legal documents, learn to understand the practicality of legal wording and locate the correct files and documents needed in a case.  One week I was able to learn the process of filing an appeal, and how the documents for that were prepared.  I was also able to observe several court proceedings in the first few weeks, including Preliminary Hearings, Trials, Sentencings and Civil Matters.


Some of the really unique opportunities I had this summer as an intern were shadowing the County Attorney, shadowing and working with Juvenile Probation, meeting and being able to talk to people in various legal positions including attorneys, correctional workers, judges, clerks and probation officers and sitting in on several jury selections and trials.  I was even able to witness a week-long double murder trial!

This internship was undoubtedly one of the most valuable additions I could have received toward my undergraduate education.  It taught me skills and practical knowledge that I would not have been able to learn in any other way.  It will be a major resume builder, and I was able to make some networking connections that will assist in my law school and career pursuits. Based on the awesome experience I had, I would encourage every SUU student to pursue an internship in their respective fields.

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If you are interested in a Leavitt Center Internship, stop by our offices in the Student Center or email leavittcenter@gmail.com.