NWU Social Work Student Selected for White House Internship

Last year’s presidential election was the first time NWU senior Laurel Johnson could vote. In January she will head to Washington, D.C. to work in the house occupied by the man she voted for.

Laurel JohnsonJohnson is among a small group of students across the nation selected for a White House internship. She will work in the Office of Legislative Affairs, which serves as the President’s primary liaison to the United States Congress.

As an intern, Johnson will work alongside staff members in the Senate and House liaison offices and help notify senators and representatives about administration initiatives, assist with research on legislation and floor activity, staff legislative events, and serve as an initial point of contact for members of congress.

Among the issues she will encounter are health care reform, mortgage fraud protection, equal pay in the workplace and protecting children from the dangers of smoking.

It’s a golden opportunity for the social work major who is exploring career options.

“This will give me the opportunity to look at the big picture,” said Johnson who grew up in Johnstown, Neb. “If I can better understand the system then I’ll be in a better place to impact it.”

Johnson’s internship is made possible through the Capitol Hill Internship Program (CHIP), which gives students of any academic major the opportunity to live, intern and study in the heart of Washington, D.C. In addition to an internship, CHIP students participate in weekly seminars to enrich their internship experience. Twelve NWU students will spend the spring semester in Washington, D.C. interning at places like CNN, CSPAN, National Public Radio, the Council of Hemispheric Affairs, the Navy Museum, the National Center for Victims of Crime, and at several congressional offices.

Johnson admits the application process for the White House internship was lengthy — essays, letters of recommendation, a background check and phone interview — but well worth it.

“This is going to be an opportunity for me to be surrounded by others who are just as passionate about social justice issues,” she said.

In May, Johnson will return to Lincoln to graduate from Nebraska Wesleyan. She then plans to go onto law school and pursue a law degree and a master’s degree in social work.

“It will be a good challenge for me,” Johnson said of her internship. “And it’s an exciting time to be in Washington, D.C.