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THE WELLMAN HILL POLITICAL SCIENCE INTERNSHIP GRANTS PROGRAM: THE SELECTION COMMITTEE’S FOURTH ANNUAL REPORT

Posted on September 1, 2011

September 2011

Selection Committee Members:
Karen Beckwith (Chair)
Ken Grundy
Kathryn Lavelle
Yuri Linetsky
Andrew Lucker

This document reports on the fourth year of the Wellman Hill Political Science Internship Grants Program. The grants were made possible by a generous gift from Elizabeth (Liz) Hill (B.A., M.A., 1997) to honor her grandfather, Wellman Hill. The program enables Political Science majors to accept public service summer internships that financial limitations might otherwise force them to decline.

The Selection Process
For a fourth year, Associate Professor Elliot Posner chaired the Wellman Hill Selection Committee comprised of Professor Karen Beckwith, Professor Emeritus Ken Grundy, Visiting Assistant Professor Yuri Linetsky of the School of Law and Adjunct Assistant Professor Andrew Lucker.

Professor Posner held an informational meeting in the Fall 2010 semester for potential applicants that included presentations from 2009-2010 grant recipients and the Career Center’s Experiential Learning Specialist Drew Poppleton. The committee officially launched the grants competition in November 2010, and students submitted their applications by February 11, 2011. We announced the winners and alternative candidates in mid-April. All of the 2011 winners found internships by the May 20 deadline.

The committee left the basic rules of the competition largely unchanged. The formal requirements of eligibility included: 1) a major in political science; 2) two semesters of coursework at CWRU; 3) a 3.0 minimum grade point average in political science; 4) a graduation date no earlier than December following the internship summer; and 5) a commitment to public service. Students completed an application form that included a personal statement and a letter of reference from a CWRU faculty member, and provided the committee with a one-page résumé. Professor Posner held a résumé-building workshop (led by Mr. Poppleton). The main criterion for selecting grant winners was the extent to which applicants’ personal stories and their selected internships matched the public service goals of the program.

The committee interviewed all eight applicants. A panel of Career Center staff members conducted mock interviews to help students prepare. As always, the students impressed the committee with their strong interviews, making the selection process highly competitive. This year’s five recipients found exciting and impressive internships and represented the Department of Political Science and the University well.

Liz Hill honored the finalists and alternates with a celebratory dinner at Lolita Restaurant in Tremont that included Ms. Hill’s parents. The event capped the fourth year of this inspired program, which has broadened the experiences and aspirations of our students and has had an immeasurable impact on the department and university.

The 2011 Wellman Hill Political Science Internship Grants Winners and Alternates

Winners:

 

  • John Drennan (International Institute for Strategic Studies, Washington, DC)
  • Daniel Griffith (West Roxbury Division of the Boston Municipal Court, Boston, MA)
  • David Holcomb (The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Cleveland, OH)
  • Apurva Kaushik (Misra Law Firm, LLC, for work with the Northeast Ohio Legal Aid Society, Cleveland, OH)
  • Nandini Sharma (Dr. Myron Allukian, President of the American Association of Community Dental Programs, MA)

Alternative Candidates:

  • Erica Brunken
  • T. Nick (Nick) Domitrovic
  • Tiffany Oliver

Reports by Grant Recipients on Their Internship Experiences

John Drennan
Senior POSC Major, Double Majors in ECON and INTL
Internship with International Institute for Strategic Studies
Washington, DC

In the summer of 2011, I used my Wellman Hill Grant to intern with the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) and live in Washington, DC. The Institute itself is a large, London-based think tank with satellites in Washington, DC, Singapore, and Manama, Bahrain; IISS considers itself “the primary source of accurate, objective information on international strategic issues for politicians and diplomats, foreign affairs analysts, international business, economists, the military, defense commentators, journalists, academics and the informed public.”

My duties included research and conflict analysis. I studied topics related mainly to the Middle East from both an international policy and domestic policy perspective. I had four big research projects for the Institute’s staff in addition to a handful of small, short-term projects. My first assignment was to investigate Egypt’s role in the creation of a Weapons of Mass Destruction-Free Zone in the Middle East.

Next, I received my first ongoing project from the Executive Director: I needed to track legislation, mainly in the House, related to sanctions on Iran and Syria as well as any Authorization and Appropriations bills that were making their way through the committee process. In some cases, I would attend the hearings and transcribe what was discussed. I think the most interesting hearing that I saw was the markup of House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ros-Lehtinen’s Authorization bill. The Committee members hold extremely partisan views about institutions like the United Nations and the Organization of American States, so the ensuing debates over funding were extremely heated.

My next project was also ongoing. For an upcoming article, the Executive Director needed to develop a comprehensive understanding of both the Obama Administration and Congress’s stance on War Powers and Libya. So, I needed to study prominent Senators’ and Representatives’ as well as the Administration’s press releases and statements about the role that the US military should take in Libya. I also looked at relevant legislation and the Kucinich court case against American military involvement.

The last research topic came at the end of the summer, and while I was not able to finish it, it was definitely one of the most interesting assignments. Under the umbrella of cyber security in Africa, I studied Chinese involvement in East Africa. As such, I tried examining stock prices of publicly listed companies, attempted to ascertain the degree of engagement between East African countries and Chinese companies, and researched the effects of the new broadband lines off the eastern coast.

In addition to my research for the staff, I had a second appointment as a conflict analyst for the Institute’s Armed Conflicts Database. I was responsible for monitoring the conflicts in Chad, CAR, Darfur, and South Sudan (which was particularly interesting to track because of its July 9th independence from Sudan). I published weekly timelines in the database that outlined political trends, military developments, and human security-related topics. Each month, I created a more in-depth analysis of Darfur and South Sudan that traced broader trends in the region.

Only the Wellman Hill Grant made this invaluable experience possible. Besides gaining better direction for my future career, it was extremely satisfying to know that I was contributing, even in a small way, to peoples’ understanding of conflicts in the Middle East and Africa. I am extremely grateful for the generosity of Ms. Hill in making this summer so successful for me.

Daniel Griffith
Sophomore POSC Major; Double Major in PHIL
Internship at West Roxbury Division of the Boston Municipal Court
Boston, Massachusetts

My summer internship at the West Roxbury Division of the Boston Municipal Court, made possible by the Wellman Hill grant, was split in two distinct and interesting halves. On my first day in mid May, I made the thirty minute drive to the court which would become my daily routine. I arrived at 8:00 am, and upon entering the courthouse I immediately sought out Margaret Bagley, the judge’s assistant who was my first contact at the court. She showed me around the judge’s lobby and set me up at a computer from which I could access years of Massachusetts court decisions at leisure.

At 8:30 am, Margaret introduced me to the court’s first justice, Judge Kathleen Coffey, who became my boss and supervisor. Over the first half of the summer, I performed multiple tasks for the judge. On some days, I would sit at the information desk in the lobby and direct people to one of the five Sessions, the Clerk’s office, or the probation department. On other days, I would shadow the judge and observe trials. For example, I observed trials dealing with a range of offenses, from illegal possession of firearms to drug offenses to sexual assault, as well as varying civil issues. The time I spent in the courtroom observing these trials gave me a good feel for the day to day business of a courthouse, and strengthened my conviction to become an attorney.

Perhaps the most important task I performed for the judge was putting together a binder for a criminal procedures course that she is teaching this semester. I spent hours finding cases and making photocopies for the class binder, which when completed somewhat resembled the curriculum of the “Civil Liberties: Rights of the Accused” course available at Case.

In mid July, after I had finished putting all eighteen course binders together, Judge Coffey informed me that she was moving me to the probation department so I could get a different perspective on public law. This started the second half of my summer internship.

Judge Coffey was correct in claiming that probation would change my views on American law. I spent the majority of my time in probation alerting probation officers to the presence of probates and doing “intakes”, or interviewing new arrestees. This process essentially consisted of inquiring about basic information, such as name, residence, income, and whether or not the person receives government aid.

As one might imagine, a diverse plethora of people come through the probation department. I met some people who simply had to clear up warrants from earlier in their lifetime but who appeared to be leading relatively normal lifestyles. However, the majority of people I interviewed were gangsters, prostitutes, criminal alcoholics, and batterers who showed little remorse or intention to change. One time, one of the probation officers brought me along for lockup interviews, and I came face to face with a serial rapist. At first I found these interactions disturbing, as they shattered my preconceived notion that probation was a practice in rehabilitation.

Nonetheless, despite the career-criminals I met who seemed unwilling to change, there were a few probates who convinced me that the system is worth the time. The primary example I experienced was a young man, no older than me, who had spent ten months in prison and in that time had acquired his high school diploma as well as taken courses in leadership and management.

Overall, my experience at the West Roxbury Division affirmed my interests in law and public service. Thanks to the Wellman Hill grant, I was able to come to appreciate what the American legal system strives for in a deeper sense than I could have without first-hand experience.

David Holcomb
Senior POSC Major, Double Major in ECON
Internship at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland
Cleveland, Ohio

This summer, I had the pleasure of interning at the research department of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland (FRBC). FRBC is one of the twelve regional banks that, along with the Board of Governors, make up the Federal Reserve System, our nation’s central bank. As a research intern, I worked directly with economists and research analysts on various projects related to macroeconomics, banking and finance, and regional issues.

My primary assignment within the research department was to assist the newly established Financial Monitoring Team for State and Municipal Finances (Muni FMT). The Muni FMT is one of five FMTs that the Board of Governors created as a result of the Dodd-Frank legislation passed in July of 2010. Working on the Muni FMT allowed me to learn more about conditions of state budgets and public pension systems, and about their relationship to the municipal bond market. I also assisted economists on projects related to home foreclosures and small business lending.

One of my favorite experiences of the summer was attending FRBC’s 2011 Policy Summit, “Housing, Human Capital, and Inequality.” The summit focused on community issues ranging from mortgage lending to education policy. The Federal Reserve System is so important to national (and global) macroeconomic policy that people often forget about the role that each of the twelve regional banks play in community development. The Policy Summit was a great opportunity to learn about the problems that Cleveland faces and the creative solutions being implemented by regional businesses, government, and non-profits.

Upon starting at the Fed, I expected to discover policy debates, but I did not expect to encounter much in terms of politics. The Fed strives to maintain its independence as a central bank, and therefore steers clear of political matters such as fiscal policy. In July of 2010, I had the opportunity to hear Chairman Bernanke testify before the Senate Banking Committee, and was amazed by his ability to remain neutral in his answers regarding legislative policies. While interning at the Fed, the common criticisms leveled at the central bank were part of my daily reading. Critics of the Fed have only become more vocal since the beginning of the financial crisis in 2008. After spending a summer at the Fed, I can understand the criticisms and why they arise. I also believe that many of them are a result of misconceptions of what the Federal Reserve actually does and how it functions.

My internship at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland was the best training in economic policy that I could have asked for, as well as a striking reminder of the need for thoughtful and rational discussion of economic issues. I am so thankful for the Wellman Hill Grant for facilitating my internship experience and look forward to following the experiences of future recipients.

Apurva Kaushik
Junior POSC Major, Double Major in PHIL
Internship with Misra Law Firm, LLC
Cleveland, Ohio

With my Wellman Hill grant, I undertook an internship at the law office of Misra Law Firm, LLC, principally involved in litigating consumer and employment class actions on behalf of individuals without the means to afford legal representation. The firm collaborates with the Northeast Ohio Legal Aid Society by either jointly representing low-income individuals or representing those who are unable to qualify for legal aid representation but also unable to afford counsel. I was fortunate enough to work under the direction of the principal of the firm, attorney Anand Misra, who defends people who are ignorant of the bureaucratic stipulations of the law and who would otherwise not be heard. I also had direct exposure to work done on behalf of Legal Aid clients, though my involvement with them was somewhat more limited because I was busy concentrating on my project.

My internship was structured around a project focused on the policy implications of recent changes in class action law upon unrepresented or low-income consumers. Data I collected by calling trial courts suggest that an overwhelming proportion of consumers who are sued simply do not understand their rights and obligations, and consequently do not even respond to the lawsuits, which are often without merit. Moreover, the entities bringing these lawsuits attempt to defraud customers for amounts that are not large enough to merit the expense of legal counsel. Thus, the abuses go unchallenged until a class action can be brought to aggregate the small claims of consumers. Class actions also allow courts to order the wrongdoers to stop the abusive tactics. However, a recent opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court, AT&T v. Concepcion (2011) has been expected to have the practical impact of preventing class actions by consumers. I studied this aspect of class actions and proposed policy considerations for legislative action that may reverse the effects of the Supreme Court decision.

My work at Misra Law Firm was the perfect synthesis of my passions for the law and aiding those in need. Thanks to the Wellman Hill grant, I was able to work as an intern at a law office helping underrepresented people find a voice, to battle the injustice against them. It was truly a remarkable experience. I am indeed much obliged to the Wellman Hill for making this possible.

Nandini Sharma
Senior POSC Major
Internship with Dr. Myron Allukian, President of the American Association of Community Dental Programs
Boston, Massachusetts

The spring of my junior year I remember making a detailed and extensive list of all the possible organizations and individuals I would want to work with over the summer. In the field of dental public health there are few dental public health summer internship positions, let alone paid positions. During the application process of the Wellman Hill Grant I received an e-mail from Dr. Myron Allukian informing me that his office would be interested in having me this summer; however, it would be an unpaid position. From past experience I knew that living in Boston would be extremely expensive. However, the Wellman Hill Grant made possible my most meaningful summer experience yet.

Dr. Myron Allukian is one of the early champions of dental public health in the country. He was the dental director for the city of Boston for 34 years, the second dentist to be the president of the American Public Health Association and the current president of the American Association of Community Dental Programs.

I came to Boston with the objective to learn about dental public health. Although I was relatively knowledgeable about national oral health policies and health center models before coming to Boston, I could not have the insights I have today without my experience this summer. I spent a majority of my time learning about community water fluoridation. Before coming to Boston I was knowledgeable about the benefits of community water fluoridation and did have a strong basic understanding of the positive aspects of such a program. However, little did I realize what an extremely controversial topic community water fluoridation is.

I was first exposed to this controversy by reading the various articles that Dr. Allukian had given me. Then using the information I had learned, I was asked to conduct a small study to learn about the knowledge of average individuals in Boston and the greater Boston area about community water fluoridation. In my questionnaire, I approached individuals near the location of my office, Government Center, to take my questionnaire. Surprisingly the majority of the individuals I approached were very receptive towards me. The questionnaire was mainly designed to ask individuals about their knowledge and opinion of community water fluoridation. (The results of the study have yet to be compiled.) Lastly, I researched information and created a packet about a community in Massachusetts that is debating on fluoridating their water system. This project helped me learn the tricky process of fluoridating a community. The packet I created detailing information about water fluoridation in this town was distributed at the meeting Dr. Allukian attended to fluoridate the town.

This summer I had the opportunity to interact with the Massachusetts Department of Health. By sitting in on the meetings of the Oral Health Task Force Steering Committee I was able to witness programming and legislative change in its infancy. Watching the group of individuals from various organizations, coming together at the Steering Committee meetings, I was able to observe the intricacies of government/private group dynamics.

Another aspect of my summer was interacting with the Advanced Education in General Residency residents of the Lutheran Medical residency program. I attended meetings involving the new residents and attending bi-monthly Video Teleconference (VTC) for all the AEGD residents in the United States. During my time there I helped two of the foreign-trained AEGD residents with their final public health studies. This experience gave me an idea of how to write a research paper and conduct a study. But more importantly, this opportunity allowed me to interact with the residents closely and learn about what brought them to where they are today. In the future I can see myself flourishing in this specific program.

This summer I had the opportunity to meet individuals in the oral health field, learn more about current status of oral health, become further educated on the issues relating to oral health, and finally learn lessons about a career in public health. From fluoridation to tobacco cessation efforts I was able to learn about the various facets of oral health. That said, I know that I have barely scratched the surface. Perhaps the most significant part of my experience here in Boston was my interaction with the different individuals that I was fortunate enough to encounter.

 

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