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Northern Virginia Community College students interning on Capitol Hill

Several students at the Loudoun Campus of Northern Virginia Community College are gaining invaluable experience this semester through prestigious internships. Some students are interning with Sens. Jon Kyl, Mark Warner and James Webb, and Reps. Gerald Connolly and Frank Wolf. Other students are working in Gov. Robert F. McDonnell’s Capitol Hill Liaison Office or at the George C. Marshall International Center in Leesburg.

“The program began in 1996 as a modest attempt to place a few students and afford them a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that literally changes lives,” said Jill McKee, who teaches political science and coordinates the program.

Since that time, dozens of students have participated in the program that is highly respected by many Capitol Hill offices that continue to request NOVA interns every year.

Another measure of success: out of every intern class, two or three are offered full-time positions. Former interns have accepted paid positions with Sen. Webb, former Sen. John Warner, former Gov. Tim Kaine and the national campaign to elect Barack Obama. They have also continued their educations at Catholic University, Columbia University, the University of Virginia and other well-known institutions.

One member of the current intern class is Aldrich Camat, a Marine veteran who served in Iraq. His duties in Sen. Webb’s Capitol Hill office include helping with constituent services and assisting the senator’s internship coordinator.

“I feel excited and privileged to contribute in the legislative process,” said Camat, who lives in Herndon. “The internship further enhances my interest in politics and I hope to continue my education in political science at a four-year institution after graduating from NOVA this spring.”

Amanda Putprush of Clearbrook, Va., is also interning in Sen. Webb’s office. Putprush is majoring in liberal arts with a focus on international studies and hopes to transfer to Georgetown University to pursue a degree in foreign service. Her long-term plans include earning a law degree.

Putprush learned about the intern program while taking another of McKee’s courses. “I am only 19 years old, but this is something I really wanted to try,” she said. “I am thrilled that I got the position and I anticipate that my work will go far for my reputation as a politically evolved student.”

She has been attending hearings and votes and taking care of administrative work. When asked what she would tell other students, Putprush said, “This is a very time consuming position. If you are looking into the program, make sure you can give it the amount of time that is required.”

Lauren Boothby of Purcellville is studying political science and interning in Sen. Kyl’s Washington, D.C., office. She registered for the internship to experience everything she learned in her government courses.

“I’ve been doing research on issues for legislative aides and handling front desk duties such as greeting people and answering constituent calls. Also, Senator Kyl’s press secretary has taken me to press conferences so I can learn about the media portion,” Boothby said. “The internship has turned out to be one of the most valuable experiences I have ever had. It has offered me the chance to learn different things and meet many different people.”

McKee’s desire to help others gain this exposure grew from her own experience.

“I interned as a student through Georgetown University and I wanted to give our students the advantage of such an opportunity. My experience opened the door to my working for a career United States ambassador and later starting my own lobbying firm where I represented foreign embassies and other interests on Capitol Hill,” McKee said. “Opening doors for our students and watching their progress has been one of the true blessings of my career at NOVA.”

Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through NOVA Online. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.