Contact: Tom Parisi, NIU Office of Public Affairs
May 6, 2009
DeKalb, Ill. — Three Northern Illinois University students will live, learn and work in the heart of our nation's capital this summer under a new university-established congressional internship program.
Hunter Huffman, Nma “Winnie” Okafor and Matthew Venaas have each won a $5,000 scholarship to defray the costs associated with the internships. The three NIU students will live in housing provided by George Washington University, located in the center of Washington, D.C., just a short walk from the Capitol.
Huffman will intern with U.S. Rep. Donald Manzullo (16th District); Okafor with U.S. Rep. Daniel Lipinski (3rd District); and Venaas with U.S. Rep. Bill Foster (14th District). Each of the students will report to work on May 25, work 40-plus hours per week and complete the internships Aug. 8.
“At NIU, we value experiential learning,” said President John Peters, who is a political scientist by training, specializing in studies of public policy and Congress. “These scholarships will allow some of our top students to work in the halls of Congress, network with our nation’s movers and shakers and participate in the inner workings of our democracy.”
NIU Political Scientist Matthew Streb and Department Chair Christopher Jones worked with President Peters and Vice President for External Affairs Kathryn Buettner to establish the scholarship program.
“This is simply an opportunity that we can’t provide in the classroom,” Streb said. “I can teach the theories of Congress, but I can’t show students the experience. And, from the point of view of members of Congress, it’s a great program because we're giving them top-notch interns.
“We’re hoping to expand the program a year from now,” Streb added. “We already have lawmakers lined up.”
The scholarships are competitive. More than 20 highly qualified students applied for the three internships this summer.
Each of the scholarship winners is not only a top student but also is highly involved in university and service activities.
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