Thomas was a third-year undergraduate student in the College of Arts and Sciences, studying History and Foreign Affairs, when he completed his internship.
“Not only did the 22nd Century Scholars Program exceed my wildest expectations but in many respects I feel like the virtual format afforded us with a degree of flexibility that otherwise would not have been possible with a traditional internship."
Why did you choose to intern with the Cooper Center, Sorensen Institute?
I chose to intern with the Sorensen Institute because of my interest in state government. Unlike the federal government, it's much easier on the state level to tangibly see the impact of your actions and policies. After losing my summer internship due to the ongoing pandemic, I knew that I still wanted to be engaged and feel like I was doing something important. The Sorensen Institute's program really stuck out to me and so I put it as my top choice.
What was your favorite part of participating in this internship?
Definitely my favorite part of this internship was the speaker series. Being able to sit down and directly engage with current and former leaders in the Commonwealth — most notably former Gov. Bob McDonnell — was a once in a lifetime experience.
What did you learn as a result of this internship?
I think this internship not only instilled in me a deeper appreciation for state government but also a recognition of how complex it can be to respond to a crisis such as COVID-19. It's very tempting oftentimes to reduce public policy down to merely soundbites that you hear on the news. Throughout the five week long program, we really sat down and considered all of the factors and potential outcomes of a given policy or decision. This really enforced me to engage critically in a way that I had never done so before in the classroom.
Would you recommend the 22nd Century Scholars Program to future students?
I would absolutely recommend the 22nd Century Scholars Program to future students! Initially I was frustrated about losing my summer internship and really didn't know what to expect from an entirely virtual program. Not only did the 22nd Century Scholars Program exceed my wildest expectations but in many respects I feel like the virtual format afforded us with a degree of flexibility that otherwise would not have been possible with a traditional internship.