Over the summer rising 6th former Heidi Small spent four weeks interning with Congresswoman Stacey E. Plaskett ’84 in Washington D.C. Heidi is participating in the John F. Kennedy ’35 Program in Government & Public Service, a five-term Signature Program at Choate that develops skills through curricular, experiential, and presentation components in topics including political science, economics, law, public policy, and social psychology.
Heidi leveraged the Choate Rosemary Hall alumni network to fulfill her internship requirement by reaching out to the Alumni Relations team, who connected her with Congresswoman Plaskett’s office. Through this connection, Heidi earned a spot as one of Plaskett’s four D.C. interns and the honor of being the youngest by half a decade. "This summer Heidi was the youngest intern in my office," Stacey told us. "Heidi held her own, and supported meaningful research, attended meetings with constituents and industry and nonprofit groups, and helped to prepare briefing material for me as I attended hearings on the Hill and at international meetings."
During her time in D.C., Heidi took on a number of tasks including answering phones and communicating with constituents, creating content for the Congresswoman’s social media platforms, working on press releases and assisting with speech writing, and attending hearings and staff meetings with the legislative team. “I’m grateful that I was never treated as less-than compared to the older interns because I am in high school,” says Heidi. “I was surprised by the breadth of responsibility and tasks the congresswoman gave me including drafting floor speeches and conducting media outreach.”
Beyond the depth of responsibility, Heidi was struck by the personal care the members of the office, including Congresswoman Plaskett herself, took for the constituents they serve. “Being in such a dynamic atmosphere with people dedicated to helping every constituent with any need, big or small, exposed me to the true mission of the government that is often overlooked: being an agent of public service for our citizens,” she shared. “The Congresswoman was always pushing to create more equitable policies and dismantle barriers for her constituents; the discussion in the office was rarely about the politics at hand, but instead about the people she represented.”
Being able to tap into their shared Choate experiences created an instant bond between Heidi and Plaskett. “I immediately felt welcomed by everyone in the office and valued by the Congresswoman. I was able to ask her about her experiences at school, and she openly and enthusiastically shared how she took her knowledge and skills from Choate beyond into college and life,” Heidi recounts.
Heidi, too, saw the value of her education being put into practice. “This internship was the first time I saw the knowledge and critical thinking skills I gained from my JFK classes apply to the real world; in conversations, speech writing, and interacting with others, I was constantly connecting what I studied back at Choate to the most pressing issues on the national stage.”
Stacey, an alumna, parent, and former trustee finds that having students work as interns is a wonderful way to stay connected to Choate and take an active role in our mission. "Heidi brought distinctively Choate qualities - a range of intellectual curiosity, discipline, and a can-do attitude about work and passionate care about the world and our responsibility to it," Stacey said of her time working with Heidi. "Maintaining those connections can sometimes be difficult, but having Choate students and recent graduates as interns is a great way to remain engaged. Having Heidi was why I love the Choate community."
- Alumni News