Meet Mary Kate Vanecko #CrusaderIntern at The Office of U.S. Senator Richard J. Durbin
What were you up to this past summer?
I spent my summer working on the Hill for my state Senator, Richard Durbin. I enjoyed the high-energy, purpose-driven environment of Washington and learned a ton about the behind the scenes work of our government.
Senator Durbin serves in leadership as the Democratic Whip, so he has two offices in the Capitol. As an intern, I assist with various administrative tasks in both offices. I answer phone calls from constituents, give tours of the Capitol and attend and write memos on legislative hearings. I have attended several hearings on public health, energy and foreign affairs and have enjoyed hearing experts from each field debate. It has been eye-opening to witness the legislative process from constituent concerns to the passing of a bill. Before the Senate went on recess, they were debating several bills on GMO labeling, Zika funding and gun control. I was surprised by how many constituents called into the office to voice their concerns to the Senator and how many groups came in to meet with staff to share their concerns.
What was your favorite part?
One of my favorite experiences was the intern lecture series where a variety of political figures gave talks to the summer interns. I heard from NASA Administrator Charles Bloden. Like many of the speakers, he started as a congressional intern then went on to be a marine and astronaut. In a political environment that is becoming increasingly polarized, he shared an inspiring story about looking back at earth from space and seeing so clearly how we are all one.