In 1972, as a student at the University of Massachusetts, I applied for an internship in Washington DC.Â Since I was a business major, I thought I wanted to work in consumer affairs. Working with my Democratic US Sentaor’s office, the University office in charge of arranging internships guided me through the process of applying for and receiving an internship for the Republican President’s Advisor for Consumer Affairs, one Virginia Knauer. I left for DC just after Christmas, moving into an apartment at 16th and P NW, only 16 blocks straight down the street from the White House.
Little did I know that I would outlast the President in Washington that year: I delivered press releases from Ms. Knauer with a friend from the office to the Washington Post in August the night Nixon resigned.
At 20, I really didn’t understand everything that I saw or did during that time. My experiences included covering hearings on the Hill, researching hundreds of consumer complaints, writing letters, preparing background briefs, and taking Ms. Knauer’s young relative on a tour of the city (the little girl had been many places “less boring” than the Smithsonian, she said.)Â Ms. Knauer did not ignore my office efforts, however; she once even took me to lunch in the White House and I still have the menu to prove it. I was hired in her office after my internship and only left to return to finish my degree.
The experience was invaluable for the rest of my life. There is no working situation that daunted me since. There is no person who can impress me to speechlessness after that time. Since then I spent my career in regional journalism, business consulting and education. I wrote for ten years and am actively writing part time now. I have had over 2,000 students from adults to young children. While the impact on my life will not make the list of Ted Kennedy’s accomplishments, his office connected an independent voter with a Republican office for an experience that helped me become a productive citizen.
I wish Senator Kennedy a miraculous recovery.