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Junior spends summer interning at White House

August 8, 2014

Loyola University New Orleans political science junior Maya White has always been fascinated with the inner workings of Washington, D.C., and not just what you see in the media. With aspirations of attending law school after graduation, working on political campaigns and becoming a Supreme Court justice, White is well on her way to living her dream: This summer she is one of only two Louisiana students interning at the White House.

The White House Internship Program provides college students the opportunity to gain valuable professional experience, while building leadership skills. This hands-on program is designed to mentor and cultivate today’s young leaders, strengthen their understanding of the Executive Office and prepare them for future public service opportunities.

White interns at the White House in the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs where the bulk of her work centers on the Champions of Change Program. This program honors everyday Americans doing extraordinary work within their communities and the world at large on various issues. White also worked with individuals who worked on the topic of deferred action for childhood arrivals, which could allow immigrant children who came to the U.S. before age 16 to remain in the U.S.

“It is one of the most fulfilling experiences hearing the staff tell their personal stories and why they fight for the issues they believe in. There has not been one moment that I have not enjoyed working on this program,” White said. More recently, White added the topic of disabilities to the issues she has focused on. “I helped plan programs … to open dialogue of what can be done to enhance the lives of people with disabilities.”

White not only enjoyed her work at the White House, she enjoyed forging lasting relationships with the folks she worked with.

“Though only an intern, most staffers treat you with respect like you have been working there for years and not just a summer. I met some of the brightest interns from around the country and have made some life-long friends.”

As expected, the interview process for the White House internship was an intense one that required letters of recommendation, responses to essay questions and an interview portion.

“The interviews are serious, but they try to get a feel of your personality as well. I remember at the end of one of my interviews I was asked to tell a joke. I thought it was the worst joke ever, but it must have worked since I got the internship,” White said.

Her most memorable experience as a White House intern was volunteering at this year’s Fourth of July celebration.

“I was able to see President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and meet members of the military families that were honored. The high point of the night was watching the fireworks on the White House South Lawn. It was a Fourth of July I will never forget.”

Every time she walks into work at the White House, White still gets the same feeling she got her first day.

“I make a point every night to look at the West Wing as I leave. If you told me that I would be interning at the White House when I was 20 years old and about to start my junior year, I would have thought you were crazy. It shows me that I can truly achieve anything that I put my mind to. To have the honor to say I was able to work during the first African-American president’s administration is something that I will hold near and dear to my heart for the rest of my life.”

Before coming to Loyola, White set goals of all the things she wanted to accomplish during her college and professional career. On that list was finding meaningful summer internships. Little did she know that she would accomplish this during her first two summers in college, securing the White House internship but also interning with the NAACP last year.

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