Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Liberal Lion of the Senate

When I heard about the passing of Senator Edward (Ted) Kennedy from a cancerous brain tumor on August 25th, I was saddened by the news. He was a U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, my home state. Even though I'm not a Democrat and I disagreed with a number of his views, I respected him very much for the service he gave our country. I had an experience with his Senate office in Boston in the summer of 2000 that solidified that respect.

In the summer of 2000 I was between my sophomore and junior years at Penn. I was home in Massachusetts and looking for a good job or internship for the summer. Since I was majoring in political science and was interested in going into behind-the-scenes work in American politics, I decided to look into getting an internship with one of my state's U.S. senators, either Kennedy or John Kerry. When I called both of their Boston offices to find out about their internship programs, I found out that neither of them offered paid internships. I needed to make money for school and living expenses, so this was not good!

Senator Kennedy's internship program, however, did offer a flexible part-time schedule so that students who needed to earn money over the summer (i.e., kids who don't come from very wealthy families) could do so. The woman in his office who I talked to about it was very friendly and encouraging, and I would have loved to apply and gotten that internship. I ended up not doing so because I got another job that was full-time, but I appreciated so much that his office offered an option like that. I felt like they weren't catering just to the more privileged kids who didn't need to earn money. This to me showed that Kennedy meant what he said about helping students out and that education was important. He practiced what he preached, and I'll always remember that. I guess it's a pretty small thing overall, but it made a big impression on me!