Salem State University students Abigail Mariano and Sabrina Mohamed are both 21-year-old political science majors pressed to graduate in May 2020, and that’s not all they have in common.
This past summer, Mariano, of Lynn, and Mohamed, of Boston, each spent nine weeks interning on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. For Mariano, her passion for education reform in combination with the advice she received from Salem State Political Science Professor Jennifer Jackman led her to intern in Senator Markey’s office.
“Jennifer Jackman was the one who pushed me to apply for the internship. She came back to campus after classes had already ended and booked a place for me to live at Georgetown Law,” Mariano said.
Mohamed, who has channeled her awareness of global issues into an international relations concentration and a double minor in health care studies and sociology at Salem State, chose to intern in Representative Seth Moulton’s office in part because of his strong stance on mental health as a growing epidemic.
“I was thinking that I’d be doing some type of non-profit, global work and to be on the Hill was an amazing life experience that I would do again 100 percent.”
The cost of living in the nation’s capital meant it was vital for both students to apply for stipends that would cover the cost of rent throughout their internships. Fortunately for Mariano, Salem State’s political science department awards two to three students per year a Congressional Internship Stipend.
Professor Jackman said, “With fundraising through crowdfunding and individual donors, we have been able to provide $5,000 for six-week internships and $6,000 for eight-week internships. These funds provide students with funding for housing, transportation, and a stipend.”
Mariano received a Congressional Internship Stipend of $6,000 and said that taking part in the internship would not have been possible without it.
Mohamed, on the other hand, was part of a new program engineered by Congressman Moulton’s office called the Congressional Fellowship Program, which allotted her a $6,000 stipend for living, traveling and food expenses.
“Housing cost $5,000 and I lived with four girls in a basement apartment, but I was literally living on the Hill, walking distance from the Senate,” Mohamed said.
Mariano said she is grateful for her unique experience in Senator Markey’s office for a number of reasons, including the connections she has made as well as her newfound understanding of what it means to work in government on the federal level, solidifying her decision to eventually work in education reform.
With no way of knowing what working in Congressman Moulton’s office would be like, Mohamed said she went in with no expectations, and after a few weeks of responding to constituents, sitting in on meetings, briefings and conference calls, she was glad she had.
Since 2003, Salem State’s political science department has sent 22 students to work in Washington D.C. as interns in the offices of members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives. Since 2013, Salem State’s political science department has raised funds to provide stipends to political science majors accepted to these internships.
Students who are selected for the internship receive academic credit, have the chance of receiving a Congressional Internship Stipend and most importantly gain an unparalleled experience working on the front lines of the political arena.