Local alum commits summer to McCarthy internship

Local alum commits summer to McCarthy internshipAs our congressional representative continues to rise in political prominence, so do the learning opportunities for the interns chosen to serve in his district and capitol offices.

Each year, about 30 college students (from a pool of more than 100 applicants) are selected for an eight-week internship — two weeks in Bakersfield and six in Washington, D.C. About half those are typically from the local congressional district, and once or twice a decade, one of those selected is from our very own community.

This year, among the lucky few was Kelsey Hire. Despite only moving to Ridgecrest her senior year, in that short time she managed to impress her teachers with her drive and determination.

“I am not surprised that she pursued or received this opportunity,” said Susie Burgess, Hire’s former advanced-placement English and newswriting teacher at BHS. “Kelsey is a go-getter with clear goals, and this was a perfect fit for her interests, aptitude and demeanor.”

Burgess said that she always empathizes with students who transplant their senior year, “But Kelsey quickly found her niche at Burroughs.”

In addition to a rigorous academic course load, Kelsey was active in extracurricular activities such as tutoring for the Advancement Via Individual Determination program.

“She is remarkably curious, positive and poised, which made her a wonderful presence in the classroom and an ideal role model and support for our AVID students. Burroughs was lucky to have her!”

Kelsey similarly distinguished herself as a student at Cerro Coso Community College, where she won numerous honors and accolades, including the Exemplary Achievement Award, before graduating in spring 2017.

While she interned for McCarthy, Kelsey was responsible for writing constituent letters, answering phone calls, running errands, giving tours, greeting visitors and collecting co-sponsor signatures for bills.

Her first three weeks in our nation’s capitol were spent in McCarthy’s personal office in the Rayburn Building. A typical day included the aforementioned tasks, as well as compiling daily news stories that mentioned the congressman.

For the final three weeks in her internship, she served in McCarthy’s leader’s office at the capitol. Although the responsibilities were similar to her two previous stations, “The atmosphere was more serious in the leader’s office.”

Rather than the constituent visitors at the Rayburn building, Capitol visitors were typically foreign leaders, members of the president’s cabinet, senators, congressmen and other high-profile guests.

Despite McCarthy’s busy days, “he always made time to meet with his interns and make sure they were enjoying the internship experience.

“Congressman McCarthy put together a weekly Leader’s Lunch Series where he would invite his colleagues and friends to talk and eat lunch with the interns.

“These lunches were so much fun!” said Kelsey.

Prominent politicians and media personalities would interact with the interns and answer questions about their given fields.

Like other interns, Kelsey had an opportunity to shadow McCarthy at various meetings. She sat in on an interview with him by former first-daughter Jenna Bush Hager — with whom she got a picture.

“I am so thankful for this opportunity!”

But the highlight of the experience for her was when her mentor took her to the House floor during a vote. That led to an introduction to Congressman Fred Upton and even a chance encounter with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

“I shook his hand, introduced myself, and proudly told him I was from Ridgecrest, California,” she said.

“I will never forget that night. I felt so honored to be in the House of Representative’s chamber, where some of the most important decisions in the world have been made.”

Kelsey said the internship revealed confidence as one of the most important traits she had developed going into the opportunity. “Having a lot of confidence helped me to not feel intimidated by big tasks or talking to high-profile people.”

And having the courage to ask questions also turned out to be important. “My opportunity to go on the House floor with my mentor came after I asked a question … I got a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

“Kelsey was an excellent intern in our office,” said McCarthy. “She represented our community well and always treated our neighbors with respect and a sense of urgency related to office projects.

“Our country’s future is bright with young people like Kelsey interested in public service.”

Kelsey is continuing her online education at Cerro Coso while she applies to schools to transfer to in the fall of 2018 — she hopes the University of California, Los Angeles or Stanford — where she will seek a degree in political science with a focus on public policy.

“After I graduate I would like to join Teach for America, a nonprofit organization that hires recent college graduates to teach at low-income public schools.

“Then I would like to attend an Ivy League law school to study public law and become a constitutional law attorney.

“My dream job would be working for an organization like FIRE, which fights for fundamental individual rights and education — specifically freedom of speech on college campuses.”

Kelsey encouraged anyone considering applying to a similar internship to practice their writing skills stay up to date with news and politics, and “don’t be afraid to ask questions and be adventurous!

“It is so important to take risks, especially for an internship that takes you across the country for two months. It can be scary and intimidating, but the experience will change your life.”

Pictured: Kelsey Hire and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy in his office. -- Courtesy photo

Story First Published: 2017-09-08