University of Arkansas – Fort Smith student Keimi Driscoll of Fort Smith never saw herself working in politics.
But after spending a summer interning for the National Conference of State Legislatures in Washington, D.C. thanks to a grant from the bequest of late City Administrator Ray Gosack, Driscoll changed her major to political science when she returned to UAFS this fall.
“I was majoring in international business, but I started to realize that I was more interested in the international aspect than the business aspects of the major,” Driscoll said. “And in this internship, I really gained an appreciation for political science. Not only was I working in a government organization, but I was also sent to hearings on the Hill or to think tank events and things like that. And just being able to watch the political process was really cool and made me realize that was something I wanted to do.”
In the internship, which Driscoll did through the Washington Center, Driscoll worked in the international programs department, where she prepared briefing materials for legislators traveling abroad, assisted visiting foreign dignitaries and attended budget hearings, among other duties.
While she has always harbored an interest in working in an international capacity, she didn’t think to fuse it with politics until her experience this summer.
“I specifically would want to work in international relations and humanitarian aid,” she said. “Organizations like Amnesty International hire a lot of political science people because there’s a natural intersection between taking care of people and contending with the political climates and governments that those people live under.”
The internship experience helped prepare her for such a career.
“It’s really hard to get into D.C. without knowing somebody. You’re going to have problems getting international work if all your experience is based in Arkansas. I wouldn’t really have anything international-related on my resume if it wasn’t for this. Then in terms of the actual work, it was very analytical. When I was writing briefings for legislators, I had to figure out what information about the countries would be relevant to the lawmakers who were traveling there.”
As a non-traditional student paying her way through college, Driscoll said she would’ve never been able to experience something like this without the funds provided by Gosack’s gift.
“When I’m working full-time and trying to pay my way through college, there’s not room in my budget for something like this,” Driscoll said. “There’s no way I would’ve gone without it – it’s just an impossibility. I just want to stress that this is an opportunity that does not usually happen for people with my economic background. I’m still in awe and so grateful for it.”
About the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith
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