student athlete headshots

Game-changing summer internships for Spider athletes

January 9, 2024
This summer, four student athletes had internships within local, state, and federal government. The opportunities took them off the track and fields and into courthouses, city halls, as well as the U.S. Capitol Building.

Office of U.S. Senator Mark Warner

Izzy Blaylock, ’25
Politics, Philosophy, Economics, & Law and History Major
Cross Country and Track & Field

“My internship with the Office of U.S. Senator Mark Warner exposed me to the culture of working in politics and allowed me an incomparable opportunity to participate in meaningful legislative work,” said Blaylock. “I completed a host of projects, including vote recommendations for judicial nominees, preparing materials for Supreme Court and Senate Committee hearings, as well as drafting memos on current events affecting Virginia, such as agricultural and nutrition needs, racial diversity in farmers, and the Mountain Valley Pipeline.”

She also drafted a UYO, or "unless you object," which is a staff recommendation that a senator vote a certain way or cosponsor a bill based on their past legislative history on the issue. Her UYO recommended the Senator cosponsor the Equality Act, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex.

“This was likely one of the most impactful pieces of work I completed during my internship. From start to finish, I conducted research to provide ample background on the Senator’s voting record, statements, and actions regarding LGBTQ+ protections, as well as potential impacts/outcomes of the bill if it were to be passed. Doing legislative work on issues of equality in the federal judiciary is very important to me, but an absolute high of my internship was reading the press release that he had signed on to cosponsor the bill. Seeing my work come full circle like this on an issue that I am personally invested in was beyond rewarding,” she said.

The experience cemented her plans for post-grad. “From this internship I have decided that law school is the right path for me. I would absolutely love to come back and work on the Hill! Beyond law school, I see myself working with the Department of Justice before going into private practice or legal advocacy work,” she said.

Senate Democratic Media Center with Chuck Schumer

Elyse Kimball, '24
Visual and Media Arts Practice Major

“Working for the Senate Democratic Media Center under the Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer, was a once in a lifetime experience. Over the course of the internship, I shadowed his personal photographer, videographer, graphic designer, and even got to sit in the Senate Democratic Studio and witness other senators curate campaign and social media videos,” Kimball said.

“My favorite experience was helping design new branding and a logo for Senator Michael Bennett of Colorado and videotaping a live stream of Senator Mark Warner and Mike Crapo to unveil a new bipartisan caucus to fuel investment in rural and low-income communities. In that live stream the entire room was filled with the most powerful and influential bankers in the world. From CEO of Wells Fargo, Charles W. Scharf, to CEO of Bank of America, Brian Moynihan, to CEO of TIAA, Dave Dowrich. I was able to proudly shake these people’s hands, introduce myself, and tell them where I went to school,” she adds.

She hopes to continue to pursue graphic design or UX/UI and apply the skills she learned.

Richmond City Council

Kaiden Pritchett, '24
Political Science Major

Pritchett interned with the Richmond City Council where he worked on various projects.

One project in particular meant a lot to Pritchett. “The experience that stood out to me would be witnessing the renaming of a sign that held a lot of black history in Richmond. The sign was for the family who desegregated the first school in the Richmond Public School system. Although the lady who it was named after, Elizabeth Cooper, wasn’t there, her daughter and her family were. Her daughter was the one who desegregated Thomas Jefferson High School. Being able to give back and highlight such an impactful moment was truly amazing. It made me appreciate more the struggles of those who came before me and what they did to ensure I would have a better future,” said Pritchett.

“Not many can say they were able to be part of a city council and see the works and efforts done by the people there on a day-to-day basis. I now have this experience in my background and it will help me stand out more among my peers in this particular field. Hopefully, there will be a day where I will hold an elected position, such as this one, where people will look at me for help and change,” he added.

“My advice for someone who wants to get into this field is to be passionate about what you’re trying to do. For me, I want to see how change can be made in marginalized communities. This internship showed me a way I can make this happen. I know many politicians end up getting into this field for their own interests and goals. I just want to remind people that we have the ability to change people’s lives. This power should be used wisely and responsibly,” said Pritchett.

Montgomery County Circuit Court

Madison Sesay, '24
Politics, Philosophy, Economics, & Law Major

Searching for internships that would help her prepare for her future career as a medical malpractice attorney, Sesay came across an opportunity at the Montgomery County Circuit Court in Rockville, Maryland.

As an undergraduate law intern, Sesay filed old and new cases, composed briefs for pending and upcoming cases, as well as set up the courtroom every morning.

“This internship was a very rewarding experience - full of learning, affirmation, and promise for my future. My assigned judge, the Honorable Jill R. Cummins, was a brilliant woman who laid the foundation on how to become an attorney, what makes a good attorney, and how the court system works. Beyond that, Judge Cummins taught me the importance of empathy in the judicial realm and the significance of trusting your instinct,” she said.

"My next step is to study for the LSAT so that I can apply to law school. After I graduate, I plan on becoming a practicing medical malpractice attorney. Eventually, after years of practicing, I hope to become a wonderful judge like Judge Cummins," Sesay added.