Salem State University’s politics, policy and international relations department is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Congressional Internship Program. Since 2003, nearly 30 Salem State students have had opportunities to intern in the Washington, DC offices of the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation and on congressional committees and caucuses.
The program provides stipends for one or two internships every summer and is supported through the Honorable Michael J. Harrington ’81H Washington, DC Congressional Internship Fund and the Rich Levy Congressional Internship Fund. A 20th anniversary committee, co-chaired by Michael Evans ’76, ’16H and Cynthia McGurren ’83, planned a commemorative event and spearheaded a fundraising effort that included a crowdfunding project and raised $30,000 for the program.
Evans recently completed 27 years working in the U.S. Senate, most recently serving as chief counsel to Committee on Finance, and in McGurren’s roles as special assistant for community affairs and vice president for advancement, she facilitated the connection to establish the Congressional Internship Program and collaborated with Michael Harrington on his internship endowment.
Evans recalls the beginning days of his political career, saying, “It all started in 1975 when I was a junior at Salem State working for political firebrand Michael Harrington. Since then, Congressman Harrington has continued his legacy by generously supporting Salem State congressional internships through his endowed fund, which recently reached $100,000.”
“During my time in public office, I had the opportunity to work with many talented students who would go on to become public officials or work in local state and government offices,” says Harrington. “I’m so proud to help support them, our next generation of leaders.”
The program was instrumental in shaping the career of 2018 graduate Errin Douglas who interned with the Congressional Caucus for Black Women and Girls. “I was awarded an opportunity to work for Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley as her staff assistant. I know that I would have only been afforded that opportunity because of my congressional internship. My career in politics has been directly impacted by my degree at Salem State.”
“The internship is really a dual opportunity,” explains Professor Emeritus Rich Levy. “It opens multiple paths for increasing activism and civic engagement, with civic engagement being one of the focuses of Salem State, and it opens doors to multiple career paths.”
Program participant Christine Belitsky ’23 found that her internship enabled her to affect change more directly. “All it took for me was one memo and talking to two staffers for Senator Elizabeth Warren to co-sponsor a bill I was passionate about. It makes me want to keep going, and I wouldn’t have known that without the stipend I received and my internship experience.”
“The 20th anniversary is a celebration of the contribution of political science majors to public service in the Commonwealth and beyond,” says Jennifer Jackman, intern coordinator and professor in the politics, policy and international relations department. “Our goal is to provide more internship opportunities to more students, so that we can have an even greater impact on the lives and futures of our students.”